Same-sex Marriage, Civil Union and Civil Rights Educational Information and Stats that Accompanied the PDN Photo Project
PA Diversity Network Photo Project – 800 Same-sex Couples: Facing Inequality Photos of 800 local same-sex couples serve to remind the mainstream public of the discrimination and inequality our community will experiences due to the lack of legal state and federal recognition of our relationships.
This is an on-going project. If you and your same-sex partner are located in the greater Lehigh Valley or Berks County and would like to join the project, please call Photo Project creator Liz Bradbury at the PDN offices at 610-432-5449, or email Couples from other parts of PA are also welcome to join the Project.

Project stats:
These stats will be updated soon

 * This exhibition includes photos of 847 same-sex couples. More couples are always needed.
* All are from PA. More than 90% of the couples are from the greater Lehigh Valley and Berks County. * At this point about 1/3 of the couples are male and 2/3 are female. * 1 in 3 of these Lesbian couples have children and 1 in 5 of the Gay male couples have children. * All of the photos were taken by PDN Executive Director Liz Bradbury except the one of Nadine Anderson and Jan Markee, which was taken by Carol Grow and reformatted by Liz Bradbury.
* This project was begun in February 2006. (Add to "years together" accordingly.)


This couple is holding a denial of marriage license form from Lehigh County Courthouse -- A PA State law passed in 1996 disallows marriage between same-sex couples.
HB 2381 (this is a bill that was introduced in 2006 and ultimately died) - The Anti-Equality State Constitutional Amendment that was pushed in the past by conservative PA Legislators:

"Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this Commonwealth, and neither the Commonwealth nor any of its political subdivisions shall create or recognize a legal status identical or substantially equivalent to that of marriage for unmarried individuals."

2009 - PA State Senator John Eichelberger announced that he intended to introduce a new Anti-Marriage Equality Constitutional Amendment in PA. He did so and it ultimately died in Committee after passing the Senate.

The aim of an anti-gay State Constitutional Amendment is to prohibit same-sex marriages, civil unions and any recognition of same-sex families in PA forever. Since there is already a law (The state Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as a union of a man and a woman), this effort is seen as a purely divisive and political move.
Besides enshrining discrimination against a specific minority group in the State Constitution this amendment could also have additional far reaching effects such as eliminating Domestic Partnership Benefits offered by state and local government, influencing adoption and making domestic abusive law applicable only to those who are legally married, disallowing protections for same-sex and opposite sex couples as well. The campaign to pass this amendment was be hateful, cruel and full of misinformation.
Previously - This PA Constitutional Amendment passed through the PA State House. When it was brought to State Senate committee, the anti-civil union and any recognition language was removed. Some Senators voted to replace that language, but that vote failed. The State Senate then voted to pass the anti-gay Amendment which would have prohibited same-sex marriage in the Constitution. All Lehigh Valley State Senators voted to pass it. However, it was then held by the House until the end of the term and it died without a vote on the new language. It may come up again at any time.
State Senator Eichelberger has introduced a new Constitutional Amendment Bill in 2011.

2009 - PA State Senator Daylin Leach has introduced a pro-marriage equality bill - SB 935 - that would allow same-sex couples to legally marry in PA and would recognize legal same-sex marriages in PA that were preformed in other States and Countries. In 2011, State Rep. Babette Josephs introduced a similar bill in the State House.

Similar Federal Amendment language and intent was pressed by far right extremists in Washington DC to add discrimination to the US Constitution. Though the passage of this amendment in PA has been unsuccessful, conservative Republicans are still trying to pass it.

Pennsylvania House Bill 300 and Senate Bill 300
HB 300 and SB 300 are acts that amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to add sexual orientation and gender identity or expression to the list of classes protected from discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodation, and education.

HB 300 was introduced on August 8th, 2013 and referred to the State Government Committee. Representative Dan Frankel, District 23, was the primary sponsor of HB 300, this bill has a total of 95 co-sponsors. Six of these co-sponsors serve the Lehigh Valley and Berks communities; Rep. Mark Rozzi, Rep. Thomas R. Caltagirone, Rep. Daniel T. McNeil, Rep. Michael H. Schlossberg, Rep. Robert Freeman, and Rep. Steve Samuelson.

HB 300 has not passed due to Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who is the Chair of the House State Government Committee. Because of his draconian anti-LGBT point of view Rep. Metcalfe has been very clear the he will never move HB 300 out of committee to a full floor vote. In General Assembly committee chairpersons essentially wield unlimited control over releasing any bills that have been sent to them to the floor of their chamber. Activists believe that if the legislation went for a vote of the full house, it would pass, because it already has significant bi-partisan support.

SB 300 has twenty-five co sponsors. It was introduced by Sen. Patrick Browne (R) in August 2013. It has half of the members on board and evidence of at least a dozen more Senators who would vote in favor of the bill, the next step is to get SB 300 out of the Senate State Government Committee for a floor vote.

The prime sponsor of SB 300 is State Senator Patrick Browne (R). State Senator Lisa Boscola (D) is also a co-sponsor of SB 300. Senator Brown and Senator Boscola represent the Lehigh Valley.

SB 300 and HB 300 are legislation to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in the same way we currently prohibit discrimination because of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, handicap or disability.

Twenty states have already amended their civil rights laws to protect against this kind of discrimination, including our neighbors New York, New Jersey and Maryland.

34 municipalities in Pennsylvania already have these policies in place to ban discrimination on sexual orientation and gender identity. Until, state wide anti-discrimination legislation is passed everyone is at risk for discrimination if they work, live, and use services in any municipality that is not one of the 34 municipalities that have a law in place.

According to the 2000 US census, over a million children are being raised by same-sex parents. This number has increased dramatically in the last 12 years.
A recent study of Philadelphia families has indicated that lesbian African-American couples are more likely to be raising children than opposite-sex African-American couples.

State Rep. Doug Reichley told local constituents that he didn't think gays have demonstrated that they deserve marriage. Which of these couples was he talking about?

Legally married people pay less for car insurance.

In 2007, Lehigh Valley State Senator Lisa Boscola voted to add the anti-civil union language back into the state Constitutional Amendment. She was the only Democrat State Senator to do so. She also tried to lobby other Democrat State Senators to do so. She has stated that gay families are not as deserving of equality as her family. In 2009, Lisa Boscola voted to defeat a Constitutional Amendment in committee. She has further stated that she does not believe marriage should be regulated by the Constitution of the State.
As a candidate for PA Governor Lynn Swann stated that he thought passing an amendment would "stop same-sex couples"

These nearly 800 couples will not disappear if an amendment is passed. We'll just continue to be treated as second class citizens.

"This sort of marriage is not in the best interest of children."  “God has a plan for marriage and this isn't it."  "Allowing this kind of marriage will pave the way for all sorts of moral depravity." -- 1960s comments against interracial marriage by far right extremists. Interracial marriage was illegal in many US States until the Loving vs. The State of Virginia Supreme Court decision in 1967. At that time, only 30% of US citizens supported interracial marriage. Currently over 72% of US citizens support legal rights for same-sex couples.

PA State Residents can get a civil union in New Jersey, but the state of PA will not recognize it.

PA State Residents can get married in Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Washington, Maine, Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico, the District of Columbia and other countries like Canada and Mexico which have marriage equality.
But PA and the US Federal Government will not recognize it.

There is no PA State or Federal law that protects people from employment, housing, or public accommodation discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
These couples risk discrimination by appearing in this project.

A Bill has been introduced in Harrisburg to add sexual orientation and gender identity the State Human Relations Act which bans discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation. It has been stalled in committee by most Republicans and some Conservation Democrats.

Over 1138 Federal rights and nearly 700 PA State rights are granted by civil marriage.
Federal Marriage Rights include:
Access to Military Stores

Assumption of Spouse’s Pension
Bereavement Leave
Insurance Breaks
Medical Decisions on Behalf of Partner
Sick Leave to Care for Partner
Social Security Survivor Benefits
Tax Breaks
Veteran’s Discounts
Visitation of Partner in Hospital or Prison

State Marriage Rights include:
Assumption of Spouse’s Pension
Automatic Inheritance
Automatic Housing
Lease Transfer
Bereavement Leave
Burial Determination
Child Custody
Crime Victim’s Recovery Benefits
Divorce Protections
Domestic Violence Protection
Exemption from Property Tax on Partner’s Death
Immunity from Testifying Against Spouse
Insurance Breaks
Joint Adoption and Foster Care
Joint Bankruptcy
Joint Parenting (Insurance Coverage, School Records) Medical Decisions on Behalf of Partner
Certain Property Rights
Reduced Rate Memberships
Sick Leave to Care for Partner
Visitation of Partner’s Children
Visitation of Partner in Hospital or Prison
Wrongful Death (Loss of Consort) Benefits

US States that perform same-sex marriages: *Massachusetts (2003)
*Connecticut (2008)
*California (2008) overturned by anti-equality bill Prop 8 but 20,000 marriages in the legal one year period were upheld by the court.
*Iowa (2009)
*Vermont (2009)
*New Hampshire (2009)
*District of Colombia (2010)
*New York State (2011)
*Maryland (2013) upheld by popular vote
*Maine (2012) passed by popular vote
*Washington State (2012) upheld by popular vote
*Rhode Island (2013) passed by Rhode Island General Assembly
*Delaware (2013) passed by the Delaware General Assembly
*Minnesota (2013) passes by the Minnesota Legislature
*New Jersey (2013) New Jersey Superior Court ruling in Garden State Equality v. Dow
*Hawaii (2013) passed by Hawaii State Legislature
*New Mexico (2013) New Mexico Supreme Court ruling in Griego v. Oliver
*Illinois (2014) passes by Illinois General Assembly; law goes into effect on June 1, 2014.
*Arkansas (2014)

US States that formally had civil union but found it to be discriminatory and so passed Marriage Equality:
*New Hampshire
*New Jersey
*Rhode Island

There are no longer any US States that have civil unions, they have all adopted Marriage Equality.
US States that have some form of Domestic Partnership Law that gives some rights to same-sex couples

Colorado, Nevada, Oregon

Recognition of some or all rights granted, same-sex marriage debated

Hungary, Ireland, Malta, Columbia, Ecuador, Australia, Switzerland, Austria, Switzerland and the United States (some states only, see lists above)
Countries that currently allow (and perform) same-sex marriage:
* Netherlands, 2001
* Belgium, 2003
* Canada, 2005
* Spain, 2005
* South Africa, 2006
* Norway, 2009
* Sweden, 2009
* Portugal, 2010
* Argentina, 2010
* Iceland, 2010
* Mexico, 2010 (in Mexico City and recognized in the entire Country)
* Denmark, 2012
* France, 2013
* Brazil, 2013
* New Zealand, 2013
* Uruguay, 2013
* United Kingdom, 2014 (excluding Northern Ireland)

Recognize but do not perform:
* Israel
* Netherlands Antilles (Dutch only)
* Aruba
* Tasmania (Aus)
* Queensland (Aus)
* Mexico (2010) Marriages in Mexico City are recognized in the entire Country.
* All
European Union Countries have significant equal legal rights for same-sex couples.

In PA when one of the members of these couples dies, the surviving member must immediately pay a 15% inheritance tax on the property they own together, as though they were strangers.

Legally married partners pay only 7% - and they defer that tax until after their own death.

Though Pennsylvania does not recognize same-sex relationships, 5 municipal governments have taken the legislative steps to grant domestic partner benefits to the same-sex partners of municipal employees.

These PA Municipalities are:


Allentown (passed in 2011) -- (note that Pennsylvania Diversity Network worked with Allentown City Council to pass this law.)

Easton (passed in 2011) -- (note that Pennsylvania Diversity Network worked with Easton City Council to pass this law.)

Though this project has many couples that have been together for many years, do not discount committed same-sex couples whose relationships have just begun. An opposite sex couple who legally marries gets full legal rights immediately, whether they have known each other for 50 years or five minutes. -- The United States has no time requirement for legal marriage.

An opposite-sex couple can be married and divorced in Las Vegas in one day.
A straight atheist who is a convicted felon and a child molester and who has been married and divorced 5 times and who is actually in prison for life, can get legally married again in PA.
But a law-abiding, gay Christian who has been in a 20 year monogamous relationship with their partner, cannot.

No law can compel a religious denomination to marry a couple. Many churches refuse to marry divorced people, or people of other faiths. The US Constitution guarantees their right to do so.
Even if a company gives domestic partner health benefits, the partner employee must pay federal tax on the value of the benefit. Legally married people pay no tax on their spouse's health benefits.

Civil unions do not confer federal rights. There are 1138 Federal Marriage Rights.

Civil Unions are not recognized in PA.

Civil unions never confer federal rights. They were only recognized in the state issued in. There is currently no US State that has civil unions. The US States found civil union to be discriminatory, which led to the passing of Marriage Equality.

The consideration of Civil Union is over because many of the couples in this very project were legally married in other states -- they are already married. The civil rights issue is that these marriages must be legally recognized by PA and the Federal Government.

Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, and Washington DC offer legal marriage to same-sex couples. However, because the US Federal Government does not recognize same-sex marriage, couples married in these states do not receive Federal marriage rights. These rights include immigration rights, social security, spousal benefits for armed services and 1138 other Federal rights.
Several couples in this project have civil unions or civil marriages - for which they get no rights in PA.

A Constitutional Amendment does not protect anyone's marriage.

A Constitutional Amendment will forever deny the children of same-sex couples legally married parents.
More than 60% of adoption agencies in Pennsylvania allow Gay and Lesbian couples to adopt children. The State allows Gay and Lesbian Couples and Gay and Lesbian single people to adopt children.
Educated young people move out of the state of PA at a high rate, making PA the second oldest state in the US. Many young people cite the lack of progressive laws and policies in PA compared with other states in this region, as their reason for migration to more GLBT - friendly states..
"Brain Drain" causes a huge tax burden on older residents who remain in the state while young educated move away to more progressive states.

Religious freedom means that your religion should be allowed to legally marry same-sex if the religion chooses to do so.
A company that does not give domestic partner benefits does not support its GLBT employees!
A company that does not give domestic partner benefits does not support its GLBT employees!!
A company that does not give domestic partner benefits does not support its GLBT employees!!!

There are at least five religious denominations in he Lehigh Valley that "religiously" marry same-sex couples.

Metropolitan Community Church
Unitarian Universalist
Reconstructionist and Reform Judaism
United Church of Christ
Same-sex couples already have religious marriage. It is civil marriage rights we lack.
Religious Denominations can choose whom they allow to marry regardless of the law. Some religions will not marry those outside the faith or those who are divorced - and they cannot be compelled to marry couple.

It is simply not true that legal recognition of same-sex marriage could in any way legally compel a Church to marry any couple.

Pope Benedict xvI has called same-sex relationships "weak," and said they should not be confused with the idea; marriage between one man and one woman. The pontiff may be trying to influence politics in Italy, where a poll finds 71% of respondents are in favor of civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.

Under "don't ask, don't tell" if a solider mentioned he or she was worried about their civil unioned same-sex partner or their same-sex married spouse back home to a military chaplain, a military counselor the soldier's CO., or any other military personnel, those people would be acting against military regulations if they did not move immediately to have the soldier discharged.

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is now over but the legal spouses of Gay and Lesbian soldiers receive no military benefits, housing, support, or pension if their spouse dies.

"I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of gay and lesbian people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice... But i hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King jr. said, ' injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere'." -- Coretta Scott King

We reject any attempts to pit the struggle of multiple communities against each other and firmly believe that "rights' are not in limited supple. -- From a letter by a group of immigrant glbt community leaders rejecting the suggestion that glbt people should not support the fight for immigrants rights and stressing the danger of bowing to the efforts of conservatives to pit one minority group against another.

In the United States...

Marriage is a legal term that means state and federal rights.

Civil Union is a legal term that means local state rights only.

In every state that has had civil unions - many cases have proved that civil unions do not equal legal marriage.

US census stats indicate that 1/3 of lesbian and 1/5 of gay male households are raising children. The families in this photo project reflect that statistic.

It is not true that the GLBT community makes more money or has more education than the straight community. That myth was made up by advertisers to sell ad space and now is used by conservatives to deny us Civil Rights laws. GLBT people do have stronger (pro-glbt) brand loyalty.
Civil marriage and civil unions are not the same.
Civil unions do not confer federal marriage rights.
Civil unions are not portable from state to state.

The State Representative of one of the participants in this project told him that Pennsylvania was a good state for health care and support of senior citizens. He also said that he supported the Constitutional Amendment and suggested that gays should just leave the state. The project participant replied, “I’m a physical therapist who works with the elderly, if I leave the state who is going to take care of the senior citizens I care for?” (Not yet updated to include the photo couples added in 2012.)

Among the 800 couples in this project over 200 are health care workers including:
17 - Certified Nurse Assistants / Aides
1 - Psychiatric Aide
16 - Social Workers
3 - Nursing Administrators
38 - Registered Nurses
3 - Licensed Practical Nurse
1 - Dialysis Technician
1 - MRI Technician
2 - Phlebotomist
1 - Laboratory Associate
1 - Laboratory Clerk
3 - Psychologist
1 - Licensed Professional Counselor
1 - Mental Health Case Management Supervisor
1 - Bereavement Counselor Hospice
1 - Hospital Director of Pastoral Care
1 - Hospice Chaplain
1 - Hospice Nurse
1 - Hospital Manager
1 - Hospice Volunteer Coordinator
5 - Home Health Aides
2 - Physical Therapists
3 - Physical Therapist Assistant
2 - Pharmacists
4 - Physicians
1 - Chiropractor
1 - Hospital Director (retired)
1 - Hospital Administrator (retired)
2 - College Students in Health Care
4 - Drug & Alcohol Counselor
3 - Dietary Aides
2 - Pharmacy Technician
1 - Radiographer
1 - Radiology Administrator
1 - Retired Radiology Tech
1 - Audiology Technician
1 - Therapist
1 - Medical Researcher
1 - HIV Care Provider
1 - Dental Lab Tech
1 - EMT
1 - Paramedic
1 - M.R. Aide
2 - Polysomnographers
1 - Paramedic
5 - Massage Therapists
1 - Occupational Therapist
1 - Health Coordinator
1 - Speech Pathologist
2 - Podiatrist
1 - Retired Registered Medical Assistant
1 - Behavioral Health Manager
1 - Biomedical Equipment manger
1 - Dental Assistant
1 - Pharmacy Supervisor
1 - Physician’s Assistant
1 - Medical Records Clerk
1 - Medical Records Coordinator
2 - Medical Assistant
1 - Medical Billing Specialist
1 - Senior Care Worker

Federal (United States Civil Rights Law) Protected Classes:
(for employment, housing and public accommodation) Race, Color, Religion, National Origin, Gender, Pregnancy, Age (over 40), Disabilities, Vietnam Veterans

State of Pennsylvania Protected Classes:
Race, color, religion, ancestry, age (40 and above), sex, national origin, non-job related disability, possession of a diploma based on passing a general education development test, willingness or refusal to participate in abortion or sterilization or to refuse to contract with certain independent contractors for the same reason  

Local Municipality Protected Classes: (including Allentown, New Hope, Scranton, Easton, Reading) Race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry or place of birth, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, family status (in housing only), age or use of a guide animal due to blindness, deafness or physical disability
Click here to see the list of PA Municipalities that have fully inclusive non-discrimination laws...

There is no PA State or US federal law that protects you from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, whether you are gay or not.


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