Same-sex marriage battle is simply history repeating itself

Regardless of the year, June 26 is a date that LGBT Americans will never forget. On that day in 2003, the Supreme Court of the United States found Texas’ anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional in Lawrence v. Texas and, 10 years later, the top court gave us another huge victory when it ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional because it violated our Fifth-Amendment rights.

It was a palpable moment where our government validated and deemed equal the love shared between two people in the LGBT community. But the tears of joy have long since dried, the rainbow flags have been folded and put away and here we are in Pennsylvania still waiting for our state to acknowledge us. I don’t know about you, but as state after state (TEXAS?!) begins to stand on the right side of history, my patience for Pennsylvania is wearing thin. Yet, as we look back 50 years ago to the not-too-distant past, the timeline for same-sex marriage is shockingly on par with that of the anti-miscegenation laws overturned to fully legalize interracial marriage.

PhillyGayLawyer in Legal Intelligencer: Residency Requirements Leave Couples ‘Wedlocked’ in PA

Remember the good old days of marriage when all you had to worry about choosing was a centerpiece and whether or not to invite that annoying second cousin on your mother’s side of the family? These days, as the battle for national recognition of same-sex marriage rages on, choosing what state you get married in is more important than ever—and not just the venue.

What very few heterosexual people know and, shockingly, very few gay people realize, is that while 18 states will now grant and recognize same-sex marriages, they almost all have residency requirements, often for up to a year, in order to file for a divorce—essentially leaving a couple “wedlocked.” Your state of celebration and state of residence might not see eye to eye on the issue of same-sex marriage and, while the federal government will now recognize your nuptials after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional because it violated Fifth Amendment rights in United States v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675 (2013), you could find yourself wedlocked if you do not choose wisely.

LGBTQI: Seven People to Know in the Community

Philadelphia has gained national recognition for its growing number of influential lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) organizations. Organizations such as The Attic Youth Center, the Mazzoni Center, Galaei and the Black Gay Men’s Leadership Council have been trailblazers concerning progressive grass roots efforts on behalf of the LBGTQI communities. This notoriety can be greatly attributed to the work of Philadelphia entrepreneurs and organization founders, leaders and staff. These community leaders have revolutionized how LGBTQI political and social rights are fought for, how services are formed and how eventually these services will be provided. These leaders have increased the level of intra-community compromise and cooperation to ensure the protections afforded one community would be shared with the others. Introduced below are seven of the most influential Philadelphia LBGTQI leaders we think you should know.

A new home for LGBT seniors in Philadelphia

Rainbow ribbons were ceremoniously cut this week at the John C. AndersonApartment building at 249 S. 13th Street in the heart of Philadelphia’s Gayborhood. The residences are the third of its kind in America — after Los Angeles and Minneapolis — offering affordable housing to Philadelphia’s LGBT seniors, and the first to be developed in the country financed in part with the sale of low-income housing tax credits.

PhillyGayLawyer in Legal Intelligencer: Principle 6 Provides a Free-Speech Loophole at Sochi

When Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into Russian legislation a law that criminalized all conduct supporting, encouraging or positively portraying the LGBT orientation in June 2013, it sparked an international outcry that has been growing in intensity, especially leading into the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. This broad law specifically bans “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations,” making it illegal to distribute information on gay rights or even suggest that homosexual relationships are equal to their heterosexual counterparts. The law was originally conceived and enacted to protect the well-being of minors, but it has been enforced through countless brutal civil rights violations that have outraged human rights activists and world leaders alike.

Olympics and Beyond

Undeniably, 2013 was a landmark year for LGBT rights in the United States, yet as we celebrate the many victories at home for LGBT citizens, other countries are not faring as well. And as the world comes together on the Olympic stage, all eyes are on Russia, which is currently undergoing a homophobic renaissance under President Vladimir Putin’s ban on “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.”

PhillyGayLawyer in Legal Intelligencer: Reflecting on Victories and Losses for LGBT Rights in 2013

Will 2014 be the year when opponents of progress will finally stand alone on the wrong side of history? The forecast looks cloudy, at best. But as I look back at 2013—the battles we’ve won and the battles we’ve lost—I see tremendous potential for advances in LGBT equality in the New Year.

It is always difficult to quantify progress in struggles for increased basic human rights. Looking at 2013 cumulatively, though, there is no doubt that the United States is picking up momentum and moving toward LGBT equality faster than ever.