State Senator Daylin Leach's
Marriage Equality Bill SB 935
Press Conference in Harrisburg

at the
Capital in the Rotunda
See some of the statements and
more information on the bill below

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Senator Daylin Leach speaks for marriage equality
at the SB 935 press conference
Click Here to see a large
Photo Album of this
Harrisburg Press Conference event.


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Earl Ball & Tim Hare PA Human Relations Chair Stephen Glassman
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Supporters on the Rotunda Steps Kim Stephan & Kim LeClair
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PA Diversity Network Exec. Dir Liz Bradbury speaks
Click Here to see a large
Photo Album of this
Harrisburg Press Conference event.


Click here to read what Senator Leach says about this bill at his web site:



Click on these links for news reports and news video of this Press conference:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94xA59IQ_pA
http://whyy.org/cms/news/government-politics/2009/07/09/gay-marriage-proponents-rally-in-harrisburg/11758


Statements from some of the speakers at the Press Conference

Statement By PA Diversity Network Executive Director Liz Bradbury
Presented at the Harrisburg Press Release in support of
State Senator Daylin Leach's Marriage Equality Bill
SB 935


I’m Liz Bradbury, executive director of PA Diversity Network -- but I’m here to speak from the heart about marriage equality and Senate Bill 935 -

because when you talk about it - you are talking about My family - you are talking about me and my spouse Patricia - we’ve been together for over 21 years.

We have a Civil Union performed in the year 2000 in Vermont
and a Civil Marriage performed just a few weeks ago in Connecticut,
but right now Pennsylvania treats us as strangers.

We were even married in a Christian Church in Pennsylvania
- but Pennsylvania denies that Church
the religious freedom to marry us legally.
Senate Bill 935 would change that.

We want the 700 State Rights
and the 1100 Federal Rights
that opposite sex couples
who pop over to Las Vegas
and plunk down $50 in the Elvis Chapel
can get even though they may have
known each other for only 21
minutes
instead of
loved each other for 21 years.

We want the legal right to visit each other in the Hospital, to make medical and Financial decisions, to inherit without paying a crippling stranger tax that married couples don’t have to worry about.
When the time comes we want the right to make funeral decisions for the one we love.
SB 935 would grant us those rights.
......Pennsylvania Diversity Network has a Photo Project of over 300 photos of same-sex couples in the Lehigh Valley. It’s labeled with people’s names, professions, and the number of years each couple has been together and many of the photos show couples with their children.

I was told by one of the Photo Project subjects that his State Representative told him that Pennsylvania is a good state for Health Care, and for Senior Citizens -
but not for Gay people
and that it would be better
for him to just leave the state -

He responded to his Representative -
Well, I’m a Physical Therapist for Senior citizens -
and if I leave who will take care of my patients?

Among the 300 couples in the PA Diversity Network Photo Project - there are
106 Health care workers -

including Doctors, Speech Pathologists, Pharmacists, MRI Technicians, Hospice workers
and no less than
37 nurses.
Why exactly does a State Representative
want to encourage these essential workers
who support this State’s health care system
and also this state’s aging tax base
to
leave the state?

...American History has told this story before,
a group of people who just want the same rights as everyone else,
and another small group of people who want to keep those rights to themselves and not allow this other group to get them
as though rights are in short supply.

We know that’s wrong though -
because even in this
economy
there is still something that this
country
and the state of Pennsylvania
have in inexhaustible supply -

and that’s civil rights -

and it’s fair-minded legislation
like Senator Leach’s Bill SB 935
that is on the right side of history
to guarantee
that all families
are treated equal



Liz Bradbury
Executive Director
PA Diversity Network
610-432-5449
lbradbury@padiversity.org
based in Allentown

*******************************************************

Statement By Timothy Hare and Earl Ball
Presented at the Harrisburg Press Release in support of
State Senator Daylin Leach's Marriage Equality Bill
SB 935

Introduction of
Pennsylvania Senate Bill SB935

July 8, 2009
Capitol Rotunda
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Timothy Hare:

Good morning to the honorable Senator Leach and the many distinguished visitors.
In response to the kind invitation of Senator Leach, Earl and I stand here today to briefly share our love story.
We are grateful that Senator Daylin Leach found the courage to launch this historic journey to marriage equality for us all this day!

I am Timothy George Hare, a Pennsylvania Architect and Architectural Historian.

Beside me is my beloved, the Rev. Earl David Ball, who is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ Earl is the Director of Pastoral Care and Chaplaincy program in a Pennsylvania hospital in Bucks County.

Our home is in beautiful, historic and colorful Easton, Pennsylvania.
Earl and I are simply a couple of Pennsylvanians who fell in love at first sight in 1976.
We’ve been together these past 33 years -- whether in sickness or in health, whether richer or poorer, whether rejected, shunned, or accepted by our families of origin and fellow Pennsylvanians.

Speaking of sickness, I remember an event 20 years ago when I had a heart attack.
I realize now how important it could have been for Earl and I to be married in Pennsylvania where we live.
We were having breakfast Sunday morning at home and suddenly I fell to the floor with a coronary thrombosis - I didn’t know what it was.
We live a near a hospital. Earl got me to the car and within 3 minutes we were in the ER.
A cardiologist was fortunately in the ER at the time and did all the usual things to keep me alive.
When I came to she said, “Do you know how lucky you are to be alive? 20 more seconds and we could not have saved you.”
So I nodded, ‘Yes, I know.’
She saw my ring and immediately said, “I’ll go get your wife in the waiting room. What’s her name?”
I was able to say, his name is Earl.
With that, I thought she was the one who was having the heart attack!
Lucky for me and Earl, she dared to break the rules.
She went and got the person I needed the most at that scary hour.

Today I realize all the more how lucky we were that she dared to be so humane in the face of the rules, laws and prejudice that say "Earl and I are not family."
Since that awful hour, by the grace of God who brought us together in 1976, our life together just gets better and better over the decades.
Yet our 33 years together in love still make us legal strangers in Pennsylvania - where we pay our share of taxes and have been contributing citizens to the Commonwealth.
Solely because of how we were created, Earl and I are denied nearly 1,400 protections and benefits that state and federal governments automatically bestow as an immediate wedding present to couples who are either created heterosexual or pretend to be.

We've traveled far beyond Pennsylvania's borders to take whatever steps we can to try to protect our love.
We entered into Civil Union in Vermont in 2000, the first state to provide that ability.
We married in 2003 in Canada, the first kind and hospitable country to offer marriage to Americans created like us.
When we crossed the border back home from Canada on our honeymoon, we became painfully aware that in our own state we remain legal strangers.
How sad it was to know that any opposite-sex American couple that also married in Toronto that day returned with automatic and full marriage benefits everywhere in Pennsylvania and across the entire USA.

Today, by virtue of our Canadian marriage, we are also married in six other states and some municipalities where prejudice against us has begun to diminish.
In the face of such prejudice and the false witness against us that creates great risk of violence to Earl and I, we have always been rigorously honest about our being a couple in love.
We knew from day one together that dishonesty would poison and destroy our life together, more so than getting fired, attacked, shunned, disinherited, or much worse.
Our honesty has helped us survive and thrive amid our many friends, our families of origin, and our enemies who seek to deny and destroy our humanity.

Earl and I have been waiting for 33 years to be married in Pennsylvania.
Yes, ‘love is patient,’ but 33 years is a very long engagement for two adult human beings who simply want to marry.
I know of no heterosexual in love who would accept that indignity.

Rev. Earl Ball:

Hello, as you know, my name is Earl.

Now that we are in our golden years, Tim and I feel especially vulnerable because we are ‘legal strangers'.
We need what heterosexual couples have:
We need the automatic right to make medical decisions for one another.
We need access to health insurance through our employers.
We need to be able to bequeath our shared home and assets to the survivor without the crippling taxes that all heterosexual couples are exempt from.
We don’t want the survivor to lose their home.
We need sick and bereavement leave.
We need the right to file a wrongful death claim.
We need the ability to claim the survivor’s Social Security when one of us is gone.

The list goes on and on and on – it would stretch out this door and down the steps and into the street and how far across Harrisburg!
Yes, marriage is a personal commitment but marriage is also a civil bond between a loving couple and their government.
Civil Marriage is the only guarantee of a vast array of protections and benefits.

Most of those protections cannot be replicated in any other way regardless of how much money Tim and I have spent on attorney’s fees assembling documents to try to protect us.
Civil marriage is a civil right, a human right, and our birthright as Americans and Pennsylvanians.
Prejudice and discrimination against us are the true enemies to the Commonwealth – not a loving marriage.

Outside the bronze doors of this magnificent rotunda, carved boldly into marble walls are the visionary words of Benjamin Franklin,
“Where liberty dwells, there is my country.”
Today liberty dwells in this rotunda.
We pray that someday soon, liberty for us to marry in Pennsylvania will dwell throughout the Commonwealth - where American liberty began in 1776.

Thank you again, Senator Leach for your brave and humane leadership.
This is a very bright morning indeed for Pennsylvanians who wishto marry the one they love!

---------------------------

About Timothy George Hare
Timothy George Hare, R.A., M.A., Architect, was born in Harrisburg, PA, in 1947.
Tim and Earl have been together in love for 33 years and have lived in Easton since 1981.
Tim has a degree in architecture from Penn State University and studied at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London.
After graduating from Penn State, Tim worked as a Vista volunteer architect for 2 years in Pittsburgh. In his 40s he earned a Master of Arts Degree in History from East Stroudsburg University.
Tim has worked in the profession of architecture around the world -- including Wales, London, Australia, New York City, New England and Pennsylvania.
Three of his books have been published capturing the historic architecture of Australia, Pennsylvania and Easton.
Recently Tim retired as a state government architect for 12 years in Harrisburg. Presently he is an architectural historian in Easton.
About Earl David Ball

Rev. Earl David Ball, M.Div., S.T.M, was born in Buffalo, NY in 1947.
He had Tim have been together in love for 33 years and have lived in Easton since 1981.
Earl received a B.A. degree in anthropology from the State University of Buffalo, and a Master of Divinity Degree from Lancaster Theological Seminary, Lancaster, PA.
He then received a Master of Sacred Theology degree from New York Theological Seminary and studied at the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health in New York City.
In his 40s Earl trained and received Clinical Pastoral Education certification from Abington Hospital, Easton Hospital, and Trenton Psychiatric Hospital.
Earl has been the pastor of several United Church of Christ congregations in Flicksville, Martin’s Creek and Easton, PA.
He worked at the United Church of Christ headquarters in New York City with the Stewardship Council and Office of the President.
For the past 17 years Earl created and directed the Pastoral Care/Chaplaincy Department at Grand View Hospital, Sellersville, PA.
Earl is a member of St. John’s United Church of Christ,Lansdale and Metropolitan Community Church, New York City.
Earl was honored to have received a Community Civil Rights Award from the Pennsylvania Diversity Network in 2008 for his leadership in initiating and securing the passage of a non-discrimination ordinance in Easton, PA, which includes sexual orientation and gender identity.
Earl is a city commissioner with the Easton Human Relations Commission.





About SB 935 from State Senator Daylin Leach's web site:
http://www.senatorleach.com
You can see more about Sen. Leach's recent efforts for SB 935 at his web site.
Senator Daylin Leach Seeks Equality for All Pennsylvanians

I have recently drafted and am shortly introducing legislation which would cause Pennsylvania to join the other states that recognize same-sex marriage.
I do so now for several reasons. Many other states are moving to consider this issue, including Maine, Vermont and DC which have passed legislation in just the past few weeks. Also, a bill banning same-sex marriage was recently introduced in the Pennsylvania State Senate and it is important to provide the legislature with a timely pro-civil rights, pro-family alternative. But mostly, I feel that every day we spend living under a law which treats an entire category of citizens as second-class, and denies them their fundamental human rights is a profound injustice.

The case for same-sex or gay marriage is a simple one. The state and federal government confer hundreds of benefits upon married couples that are unavailable to single people. This is done to encourage marriage which society considers to be good, for both the couple and for the community at large. We should be doing with gay couples what we do with straight couples; namely encouraging them to enter permanent, monogamous, stable and legally recognized unions.
The arguments against gay marriage are much more complicated. I’d like to briefly address each argument that I’ve heard.

First, we are told that we need to “protect traditional marriage”. But this argument begs the question: From what? Same-sex marriage has been legal in several states, in some cases for years. If something bad had happened to traditional marriage as a result, you’d think we’d have noticed. But in fact, opposite-sex marriage rates remain the same in those states. So do divorce rates, birth rates, and rates of domestic violence. We see no change whatsoever in the status, behavior or happiness of married heterosexual couples when a married gay couple moves in down the street.

The only tangible problem asserted by anti-equality forces is that someone who is unhappy that gay people can marry will act out in some way as a result. For example, we hear that in Massachusetts a Catholic adoption agency didn’t want to adopt kids out to gay couples and closed down. First, even if true and valid, this still wouldn’t be evidence that “traditional marriage” was in jeopardy. But even on its own terms this argument is weak.

This argument is akin to the “Heckler’s Veto” concept. In First Amendment law some have tried to ban speech by saying it would upset the listener who would then “Heckle” or otherwise cause a disturbance by expressing their disapproval. For example, if black civil-rights workers were allowed to march in the South, that would upset local racists and they might throw rocks. The Courts have consistently rejected the argument that threats based on disapproval were a justification to ban speech. In my view, they are not a justification to stop people from marrying the person they love either.

We also hear the frankly strange argument that if we legalize gay marriage we will somehow have no choice but to legalize polygamy, incest and inter-species marriage. Ironically that is an argument against legalizing any marriage. If we do that, we have to legalize all theoretical marriages. Not so. We draw reasonable lines all the time in all areas of the law. You can drive 65, but not 95. You can keep a gun, but not a truck bomb. Similarly, you can marry one partner, but not an Aardvark. Any law involves line drawing. It seems reasonable that the line should be drawn where it allows each person the opportunity to have a life partner.

The more one analyzes the situation, the clearer it is that there is no reasonable alternative to recognized same-sex marriage. Same-sex couples exist and always will. Many of them are raising children. Conservatives preach that children should not be raised out of wedlock, but the one sure way to raise the number of children being raised out of wedlock is to deny their parents the chance to marry in the first place. Conservatives urge young people to delay sexual relationships until marriage. But if they would deny gay people the chance to marry, what would they tell a gay teen about when it is appropriate for them to have a sexual relationship?

Gay couples who cannot marry are denied many of the basic rights and services straight couples take for granted. This includes everything from Social Security Survivor Benefits to mandatory leave to care for a sick partner. Gay couples can’t file for joint bankruptcy protection and are not considered “family members” for seeking custody of their partner’s children, even if they raised them. They are ineligible for spousal veterans’ benefits or immunity from testifying against their partner in court. There are literally thousands of such unjust burdens placed upon people who want nothing more than to start a family. Simple decency demands an end to this.

I am under no illusions that this bill will become law in the short term. However, I also have no doubt that 15 years from now same-sex marriage will be legal in all 50 states, and people will be as ashamed that we ever banned it as they are now that we ever banned inter-racial marriage. My hope is that by introducing this bill now, we start the discussion we need to have, and bring the day of equality a little closer.