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Pa Gay Marriage Debate

PA State Senator Daylin Leach invited NOM's Maggie Gallagher to a debate on gay marriage in Harrisburg. It happened tonight, and I liveblogged it on Facebook. (Note: Senator Leach is introducing a bill to allow gay marriage in PA.)


5 minutes ago:
All in all a good debate. Gallagher wasn't exactly helping her case with some of her comments on racism. But I give her props for civility. Leach did a pretty good job, although perhaps he overused the agreeing-and-quoting tactic.

15 minutes ago:
Q&A5: Is it religious discrimination to not allow churches that recognize same-sex marriages to perform those marriages? Gallagher: If marriage is to mean anything in the culture... it's got to be some person's idea of marriage and not everyone's idea of marriage.

18 minutes ago:
Leach (still answer qa4): There is no constitutional right to vote on individual rights in PA. The basis for motion was let's see what the Supreme Court does with the prop 8 trial.

18 minutes ago:
Q&A4: She referred to a random poll (Primary Poll?). Some rambling.... What is your legal explanation for tabling sb707 and denying PAers "constitutional right to vote"? Leach refers to Pew polls. Points out that people who say they are for same-sex benefits by definition have to support repeal of DOMA (which questioner and Gallagher both deny).

24 minutes ago:
Q&A3: This is about respect and dignity... Why would you deny people who love one another that dignity and that respect. Gallagher: I don't believe those unions are marriages. Some rambling about respecting people, and how courts shouldn't be involved. Leach: It is the court's job to protect minorities. Some argument about whether or not it's a right.

29 minutes ago:
Q&A2: If a church will only perform charity for tax credits, then they're asking gay people to support discrimination. Why should us tax payers have to do that? Gallagher: Well there's a lot less money to do those charities... I don't think its discriminatory. Leach: Alot of senior citizens rely on social securities alot more than the catholic church on its tax exemption to survive.

32 minutes ago:
Leach: Seniors vote. Alot of them rely on the social security of their spouses. It's all part of a puzzle that allows them to eek out a living. What possible public policy is served by denying these people their social security benefits?

33 minutes ago:
Q&A1: What message would you give to LGBT elders who cannot receive social security benefits. Gallager: bad idea to depend on benefits that the law does not entitle you to

36 minutes ago:
Leach (closing args): Talks about why gay marriage is important, and that it's not an attempt to offrent anyone for the sake of offrenting anyone. General talking about equality, dignity, etc.

39 minutes ago:
Gallagher (closing args): Talks about how some anti-gay-marriage people are afraid to speak out because they're getting hate mail. And a general plea for people to be tolerant of each other (including the anti-gay-marriage views)

42 minutes ago:
Leach (re db5): When same sex marriage became legal in DC, we saw... same-sex couples who had waited for decades for the chance to get married... Just 5 years ago it was illegal in some states for people to be gay.

43 minutes ago:
Leach (re db5): We're still going through litigation with racial discrimination. These don't go away... The fact there are going to be these consequences is not a reason to deny people civil rights... We don't give any church veto power on how people who are not in their church want to live their lives...

49 minutes ago:
debate question #5: speak anecdotaly about consequences in state's with gay marriage laws. Gallagher: perceives that catholic groups that have stopped providing charity services as a result of this were forced to stop their services. Complains about churches that lose tax exempt status as a result of discriminating against LGBT.

53 minutes ago:
Gallagher (re db4): "it's not enough to block gay marriage... it's got to be a prelude to strengthening marriage as a whole"

about an hour ago:
Leach: The majority of pennsylvanians opposed sb 707

about an hour ago:
debate question #4: majority of Pa-ers don't support gay marriage, but do support civil unions. Why not CUs? Leach: I'm a big believer in incremental progress... but civil unions are totally unacceptable... [some talking about federal benefits]... seperate but equal is inherently unequal.

about an hour ago:
Leach: You can't say that family's fragmenting is a bad thing, but that it's not bad for gay people either.

about an hour ago:
Leach: "You don't deny someone civil rights because someone doesn't agree to it." "These are not compelling reasons do deny people their rights."

about an hour ago:
Leach: Responds to Gallagher's govt will make it harder for people to not approve of gayness argument: What _do_ we want the govt to teach about gay people. Talks about racial integration. "You're not guarenteed agreement with every aspect of the school system."

about an hour ago:
Leach: Responds to Gallagher's odd comments about no studies on children of gay married parents. Points out that gays are mostly not allowed to get married, and only recently have been allowed at all. But there are plenty of studies about children of same-sex couples.

about an hour ago:
debate question #3: How is a straight family affected by the couple across the street's marriage status? Gallagher: That the government will be telling anti-gay-marriage people that their definition of marriage is no good. (I think she's arguing that it's bad for bigots, 'cause it'll be harder to be bigots.) "The government gets involved to repress racism in a variety of ways."

about an hour ago:
Gallagher and Leach spend some time back on the children argument. Leach: allowing gays to marry won't remove fathers from straight marriages. Gallagher: thinks that kids are going to get hurt down the road as a result (but doesn't explain how)

about an hour ago:
Leach: "My bill allows gay people to marry. It does not require straight people to break up."

about an hour ago:
Leach: points out that every child being raised by gay parents has to be raised out of wedlock.

about an hour ago:
Gallagher: focusing on the children argument. She thinks that children do better with both a mother and father.

about an hour ago:
Leach focuses on Gallagher's book about the case for marriage. He points out all the grave consequences she mentioned for people who weren't married. She says that there isn't very much research on gay marriages.

about an hour ago:
I made a spelling error on that last one. I meant - Leach: Rights aren't a right if it can be taken away by the majority.

about an hour ago:
debate question #2: Right for straight strangers to get married in Vegas? Why is that better than committed gays getting married? Gallagher: Thinks that if this was a question about rights, then that might be one thing. Long weird argument about how racists were affected by racial marriage rights. Leach: Rights are a right if it can be taken away by the majority.

about an hour ago:
debate question #1: why change the status quo? Leach: marriage definitions have changed over time. refers to racial restrictions in the past. Asks what the compelling argument is for discriminating against gays and lesbians. Gallagher: Doesn't think comparing racial discrimiation with LGBT discrimination is appropriate.

about an hour ago:
Gallagher opens with stating that she believes same-sex unions aren't marriages. Focusing on definition-based argument.

about an hour ago:
Leach starts his opening statements with the "marriage is good for society" argument. Slight misstep there on "in our society gays are never allowed to marry ... except.. in some places"

about an hour ago:
Going to be watching the PA gay marriage debate on pcntv.com. In theory. It was supposed to start at 7:00pm. Wonder what's the holdup.


Mar. 25th, 2010 01:57 am (UTC)
The questioner had basically asked why he voted to table sb707 (amendment to ban gay marriage) and "denied pennsylvanians their constitutional right to vote" on that amendment. He pointed out there isn't a constitutional right to vote on an amendment, especially given that it relates to individual rights.

Does that make better sense? It was hard to blog that bit because the questioner was loony tunes, and so the question and the answer got a bit gnarly.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 25th, 2010 02:56 pm (UTC)

>> So it doesn't go out to an everybody vote like a proposition,
>> amendment, or ballot question but is just for those people you
>> elected to vote on.

Well, it does go to the electorate eventually, but that's not the point in the process we were at. Here's PA's constitutional amendment process:
1. Amendment passed by legislature through normal legislative process.
2. After the next election (so people can change their legislative body), amendment passed by consecutive legislature through normal legislative process.
3. People allowed to vote on amendment in referendum.

The normal legislative process involves a bill being moved forward by a committee. sb707 did not survive the committee process. This is constitutional and ok.

The questioner used a phrase along the lines of: "denied the people their constitutional right to vote on the amendment". There is no constitutional right to vote on an amendment that hasn't been passed by two consecutive legislatures. Leach was also adding the point that there is not a constitutional right to amendments that affect civil rights, and as he believes that marriage is a civil right, he's arguing additionally that there was no constitutional right to vote on this amendment at all.

Mar. 25th, 2010 02:57 pm (UTC)
oops. Forgot to answer this bit:
>> I'm pretty sure I have you friended on facebook and yet these
>> updates didn't make it into my regular stream of people's
>> updates. Did I do something weird with my settings?

Facebook - she is a mystery to me. So, I have no idea. I just clicka the buttons, and try not to have too many expectations.