More gay marriage travestyMy home state of Pennsylvania has voted to ban gay marriage. Interestingly, the state itself is a microcosm of the country -- legislators from Philadelphia and its environs, as well as Pittsburgh's metro region, were generally amongst the "no" votes. Legislators from rural areas, such as "God's country" in the centre of the state and the dying rust-belt towns in coal country and the Erie coast, were in favour. The phenomenon is not uncommon -- the trend is best summed up by the popular cliché that "Pennsylvania is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh separated by Alabama."
While the party-line vote was slightly skewed towards Republicans supporting establishing gay Pennsylvanians as second-class citizens, Democratic "support" for gays against the bill was far from consistent. In general, geography told more of a story than party affiliation.
My local representative, a Republican, voted against the measure. . . likely to the ire of his party committee.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia's economic recovery -- driven heavily by the city's reputation as a burgeoning yet gritty bastion of urban culture returning from its horrifying forty-year decline -- is in jeopardy. With New Jersey and New York right across the river, why are gay folks going to bother to take a chance on Philly? It's still suffering from crime, urban blight, property investment risk, and assuming the Republican state senate passes this amendment, a legal framework which makes partner benefits and personal arrangements of gay couples legally iffy. This is a dreadful situation for a city whose comeback has been heavily reliant on gay couples restoring once-abandoned homes in once-blighted neighbourhoods, and which relies heavily on gay tourism to the point where it markets itself as "a place to get your history straight and night life gay."
New Jersey and New York, in comparison to Pennsylvania, offer healthier economies, provisions under the law for gay couples (New Jersey even has a civil partnership law), lower taxes, and in New York's case, a more prestigious address in its largest city. Philadelphia, meanwhile, remains chained to the revenants in Harrisburg.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's government -- and rural legislators in particular -- have not only gleefully taken a swipe at gay Pennsylvanians, but also undermined the hard-won comeback of my hometown. The political and economic price to be paid will be severe, and for Philadelphians and Pittsburghers alike, undeserved.