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Five Reasons Why Marriage Equality Isn’t The Be All And End All Of The Fight

Monday, June 1st, 2015

Gay WeddingTwo years after striking down DOMA, the U.S. Supreme Court is once again set to issue a ruling on same-sex marriage. If everything goes as expected and the Court lifts the remaining state bans on same-sex marriage, it will make history. But it won’t be the end of the fight for equality.

In fact, here are five reasons why achieving marriage equality is only the beginning of the end…

Nondiscrimination laws

More than half (29 total) of the states lack laws banning sexual orientation discrimination, and even more (32) don’t prohibit it when it comes to gender identity. And (thanks, Republican Congress!) there is no federal statute either. What does this mean exactly? In a nutshell: That there some states where gay people can both get married and be fired.

Authored By Graham Gremore – See the Full Story at Queerty

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

Arkansas House Sends Right to Discriminate Bill to Governor

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

ArkansasFirst the state legislature wiped out all local LGBT protections in the state. Now they are sending a bill to the Governor that’s similar to Indiana’s new right to discriminate law:

LGBT Weekly reports:

A religious freedom bill that is similar to the Indiana law that has faced national backlash for legalizing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people cleared the Arkansas Legislature Tuesday. The bill will now go before Gov. Asa Hutchinson, where it is expected to be signed. According to The Huffington Post the Arkansas legislation allows a person who feels his or her exercise of religion has been “substantially burdened” to cite that argument as a claim or defense in a private lawsuit. The legislation also grants corporations the right to religious freedom. This language is not in the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), and critics say it could be used to override existing anti-discrimination protections.

The Mayor of Little Rock asked the Governor to veto the bill:

Little Rock’s mayor is urging Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto a “religious freedom” bill that critics have said sanctions discrimination against gays and lesbians and that the mayor argues will hurt the state’s economic development efforts. Mayor Mark Stodola called the bill “simply too divisive” in a letter sent to Hutchinson and released by the city on Tuesday.

So did Walmart:

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest company, on Tuesday asked Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto the freshly-passed HB 1228, a so-called “religious freedom” bill that is really a “religious bigotry” law. Immediately after the bill was passed, Wal-Mart released a statement from its CEO, Doug McMillan, asking the governor to veto the bill. In the statement, McMillan says: “Every day in our stores, we see firsthand the benefits diversity and inclusion have on our associates, customers and communities we serve. It all starts with our core basic belief of respect for the individual. Today’s passage of H.B. 1228 threatens to undermine the spirit of inclusion present throughout the state of Arkansas and does not reflect the values we proudly uphold. For these reasons, we are asking Governor Hutchinson to veto this legislation.”

But the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown is calling on the state to hold the line:

Dear Marriage Supporter, DON’T LET THEM DO TO ARKANSAS WHAT THEY DID TO INDIANA! Minutes ago Arkansas passed a religious freedom bill. We know the other side is going to try to bully and intimidate Governor Hutchinson out of signing this bill. The time to act is NOW! Support Governor Hutchinson and urge him to Not be Bullied and Sign the Law. Also tweet out #IStandWithArkansas and get onto Facebook and let everyone know your support! It’s urgently needed that you forward this message to your friends and family and ask them to take action as well. We must stand up against this pernicious assault against religious liberty.

The Governor has previously indicated that he plans to sign the bill.

Indiana Right to Discriminate Law Updates – April 1st

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

A lot more news on the state’s right to discriminate law yesterday.

Governor Pence, appearing once again on Fox, claimed to abhor discrimination, invoking Selma:

Indiana Governor Mike Pence appeared on FOX & Friends this morning again drawing false comparisons between Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act and legislation that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama signed years ago. Pence was also asked by Steve Doocy about accusations that the law is also racist.

Pence’s response was to invoke Selma: “Five years ago my wife and my family walked the Edmund Pettus Bridge with John Lewis when I co-chaired the pilgrimage to mark the 45th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. I abhor discrimination. If I was in a restaurant and saw a business owner deny services to someone because they were gay, I wouldn’t eat there anymore. Frankly, that’s how most Hoosiers are.”

Governor Pence then held a Press conference, continuing to insist that the law does not allow discrimination, but calling again for a “fix”.

Meanwhile, two GOP leaders admitted it’s legal for a business to discriminate against the LGBT community in the state:

“This law does not create a license to discriminate, and this law does not give businesses a right to deny service to anyone,” Pence said. “I think it would be helpful if the general assembly were to get legislation to my desk that were to make that clear.” The governor, who repeated that he was “proud” to have signed the bill into law last week, rejected allegations that lawmakers intentionally sought to draft a bill that would make Indiana a less welcoming state. “I don’t believe for one minute that it was the intention of the general assembly to create a license to discriminate or deny services to anybody,” said the governor, then reiterating that he would “welcome” legislation to make that clear.

Despite Gov. Mike Pence’s insistence that Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act is all about protecting religious freedom and not about discriminating against folks, two Indiana lawmakers have admitted that even without the RFRA, businesses in their state can legally post “no gays allowed” signs. Raw Story reports that Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, and House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, acknowledged that because the state has no law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, such discrimination is legal in most parts of the state.

Think Progress looks at four kinds of discrimination Pence’s track record shows he doesn’t abhor, including:

Discrimination Based On Sexual Orientation In The Workplace: While in Congress, then-Rep. Pence voted no on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which proposed to ban discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation. (Gender identity was considered too controversial at the time and stripped out of the bill, but all subsequent versions of the bill have included protections for gender identity as well as sexual orientation.)

Seth Meyers jumped into the debate, taking Governor Pence to task:

David Letterman also mocked the Governor:

Rachel Maddow also looked at the issue:

“It is a clear as day reminder of how conservative politics works in this country — at a very different level from public opinion….In the Terri Schiavo case 10 years ago and the Indiana legalize discrimination case today the rest of the country may have a very distinct revulsion for what is going on, for what politicians are doing…but inside the conservative movement they are listening to different voices, they are hearing different people, and if enough of them are in power, they get their way, as the country watches, slack-jawed and shocked, and they don’t care.”

Actor Nick Offerman, from Parks and Recd and also married to Megan Mullally, had this to say to Governor Pence:

Nick Offerman Tweet

Newsman Keith Olbermann wants the Final Four moved out of Indiana:

“The football league in this country and the college sports league in this country are tacitly supporting a law that allows those that have voluntarily chosen to join a group to discriminate and be prejudiced at the expense of those who may or may not have had any choice at all and the reality of course is not. The NCAA needs to move the Final Four out of Indianapolis and the NFL must warn Indiana and the Colts. Because ultimately you and I have a choice – do we participate in these laws, or do we do only as much as even the narrow prejudiced sports leagues of the 1930s, the 40s, and the 50s did. Opt out. Stay away, keep our business elsewhere until the laws of hate are gone.”

Meanwhile, CT Governor Dannel Malloy called on the NCAA to move the 2016 women’s Final Four out of the state:

Connecticut’s governor and UConn’s athletic director called on the NCAA on Monday to consider moving next year’s Women’s Final Four out of Indianapolis unless changes are made to Indiana’s new religious-objections law.

Greg Louganis, Jason Collins, and other gay athletes plan to protest at the NCAA Final Four:

Greg Louganis and Jason Collins and other gay athletes are planning to protest Indiana’s ‘religious freedom’ law during the NCAA Final Four, despite Gov Mike Pence’s promise to ‘fix’ the law before the national college basketball championship begins on Saturday… ‘It should be totally repealed,’ Louganis, whose husband is from Indiana, said on the ABC podcast Capital Games. ‘Everybody should feel embraced. And I feel that the majority of the populace of Indiana do embrace all people. I felt very embraced… They’ve been so wonderful. This is just so contrary to my feelings of Indiana people.’

Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie attacked the law:

“The recent passage of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act has brought significant negative attention to the state of Indiana throughout the nation and indeed the world, because the law is widely viewed as signaling an unwelcoming and discriminatory atmosphere in our state. For its part, Indiana University remains steadfast in our longstanding commitment to value and respect the benefits of a diverse society. It is a fundamental core value of our culture at Indiana University and one that we cherish. To that end, Indiana University will recruit, hire, promote, educate and provide services to persons without regard to their age, race, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, marital status, national origin, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status. Equally importantly, we will not tolerate discrimination on the basis of any of these same factors.”

Even Nascar has denounced the new law:

“NASCAR is disappointed by the recent legislation passed in Indiana. We will not embrace nor participate in exclusion or intolerance. We are committed to diversity and inclusion within our sport and therefore will continue to welcome all competitors and fans at our events in Indiana and anywhere else we race.”

Nike also stood up against the new law:

“NIKE proudly stands for inclusion for all. We believe laws should treat people equally and prevent discrimination. NIKE has led efforts alongside other businesses to defeat discriminatory laws in Oregon and opposes the new law in Indiana which is bad for our employees, bad for our consumers, bad for business and bad for society as a whole. We hope Indiana will quickly resolve this.”

Honeymaid once again supported LGBT rights

Honeymaid Indiana Ad with an ad targeting the state:

Towleroad.com has a list of many of the companies who have now come out in opposition:

Dozens of companies are taking action against Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act including NASCAR (below), Anthem, Cummins, Dow, Roche, Starbucks, Apple, Angie’s List, PayPal co-founder Max Levchin (below), YELP, Salesforce, Eli Lilly, NBA, WNBA, Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever (below), Marriott (below), NCAA, and Gen Con:

The New York Times looks at how tech companies have come together in opposition to the law:

The technology industry’s leaders have found their collective voice on a social issue in the last week, rallying with great intensity against a new Indiana law that will allow businesses, they predict, to discriminate against gay couples. The heads of Apple, Salesforce.com, Yelp and Square have all publicly criticized the law, as have some leaders from other industries. But on many other issues of the day that ignite strong passions — from race relations to income inequality to gun control — tech leaders are much quieter.

Washington DC just banned official travel to the state:

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Tuesday issued an executive order banning the use of city funds for travel to Indiana in response to the state’s approval of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which critics say will allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT people. – See more at: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2015/03/31/bowser-bans-d-c-government-travel-to-indiana/#sthash.Tehxv4Gz.dpuf

Former Maryland Governor and likely Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley called out GOP candidates for their support of the law and others like it:

“I think it’s shameful that presidential candidates in this day and age would try to give cover to a law that is sweeping across a lot of Republican-governed states,” he said, and that would “give license to the discrimination of gay and lesbian people.” He said: “It’s not who we are as a country.”

The Indianapolis visitor’s bureau hi-lighted the city’s LGBT friendliness yesterday:

Yesterday, visitindy.com added a new graphic to its website to highlight that it welcomes everyone to the city of the Indianapolis. While the nation has been focused upon the issues surrounding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed in Indiana last week, it gets lost that many of the citizens of Indiana are fair-minded welcoming people.

VisitIndy

In the midst of the controversy, the Rolling Stones announced their tour dates:

The Rolling Stones announced a North American tour Tuesday which will include a stop in a now-controversial location — Indianapolis, Ind. The band has scheduled a concert at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 4 near the end of the two-month tour. The Speedway is one of the largest venues they’ll play in, capable of holding roughly 400,000 fans.

Although Connecticut’s Governor has banned official state travel to Indiana, a UoC coach may still attend the Final Four:

University of Connecticut basketball coach Kevin Ollie could still travel to Indiana for the Final Four and the National Association of Basketball Coaches convention this week, despite an Indiana travel ban Connecticut Gov. Daniel Malloy imposed on all state employees, CT News reports… Ollie’s appearance at the hoops extravaganza is likely part of a contractual obligation that was hammered out long before the controversy, Hearst Connecticut Media has learned.

An Indiana Pizza Shop is thrilled they can now legally discriminate against gays without fear of penalty:

Memories Pizza, a pizza shop owned by the O’Connor family in Walker, Indiana, says they’re happy Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act because it backs up their beliefs, and if they were asked to cater a gay wedding, they wouldn’t. Said Crystal O’Connor to ABC57: “If a gay couple was to come in and they wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no…We are a Christian establishment…We’re not discriminating against anyone, that’s just our belief and anyone has the right to believe in anything. We definitely agree with the bill. I do not think it’s targeting gays. I don’t think it’s discrimination. It’s supposed to help people that have a religious belief.”

Anti-gay commentator Todd Starnes is pissed that Pence is not holding the line on discrimination:

Pence in reaction to question about protecting Christian business: This law does not give anyone a license to discriminate.” #shameful. Pence wants a religious liberty bill that does not protect religious liberty. #cowardice #capitulation #spineless

Glenn Beck thinks the reaction to the bill will lead to concentration camps:

The Advocate rounds up GOP Presidential candidate reactions – so far all in favor:

Except for Chris Christie and Rand Paul, who haven’t yet commented directly on Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act… several Republican heavy hitters have lined up to echo Gov. Pence’s unwavering support for the law as it was passed. Here’s what the Republicans reportedly considering a presidential run in 2016 have said about Indiana’s law.

Focus on the Family claims liberals have launched a war on the freedom of religion:

Rush Limbaugh also “rushed” to the law’s defense:

Good old Rush Limbaugh. Not content with claiming that same-sex marriage will lead to incest, he’s now got a bee in his bonnet because you might want to marry your dolphin or something. Addressing the backlash to Indiana’s ‘right to discriminate’ law on the March 31st edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, he argues that the ban is “not about honoring…discrimination against homosexuality, it’s about people whose religious beliefs prohibit them from engaging in activity which lends credence in support of gay marriage.” Nothing out of the ordinary so far. However, Limbaugh goes on to claim that a “UK woman who wanted to marry her dog…I think..and did…you remember that? She married a dolphin… ok, whatever. She wanted to marry an animal that was not a man…”

Rick Santorum announced his support of the state’s law and others like it:

The only sensitivity training we need is to respect every person. Tolerance is the most misused word in the English language. Tolerance means you can say really horrible nasty things that I hate and offend me. That’s how we get along. You have a right to be mean — a right to be nasty to people. That’s how this country works, because we have thick skins and we aren’t offended. Should a gay or lesbian-owned printshop have to print signs for the Westboro Baptists that say ‘God hates fags’? Should a Jewish printshop have to make signs for the KKK? Should a kosher deli have to serve non-kosher food? It’s a two-way street. Tolerance is a two-way street. If you’re saying that ‘your religious liberties are not as important as my — fill in the blank,’ then I’ve got a problem with that.

Several anti-gay “Christian” groups are now boycotting Angie’s List to punish the company for its opposition to the law:

The FRC’s boycott announcement came hours after the same move yesterday by the AFA’s One Million Moms: Angie’s List, a company that lists crowd-sourced recommendations for local services, decided that religious freedom wasn’t good for business and has threatened to suspend plans to expand its Indianapolis headquarters because of the passage of the law. Bottom line: Angie’s List takes the position that religious freedom is bad for business. We, on the other hand, think freedom is the foundation for good business. Businesses that undermine freedom — especially our First Freedom — ultimately undermine their own business. If you have a membership to Angie’s List, I urge you to cancel your membership and show them that as a supporter of religious liberty, you won’t stand for paying dues to a company that disregards the freedom of people to live their daily lives according to what they believe. When you cancel, politely let them know the reason why.

The Washington Post looks at how businesses have shifted on anti-LGBT discrimination:

Economists used to assume that discrimination helped firms attract customers and workers who themselves supported discrimination. As economists such as Gary Becker and Milton Friedman argued, if the customers didn’t care, the owner would pay a penalty in higher wages or lost business from refusing to hire or serve certain groups. As Rampell writes, the Indiana example shows that businesses’ concerns have shifted.

The Indy Star looks at the impact the controversy in the state is having on similar bills in other states:

A “religious freedom” measure similar to Indiana’s is close to becoming law in Arkansas, despite the national uproar and economic boycott Indiana faces as Gov. Mike Pence scrambles to change his state’s law… “To the extent that both Georgia and Indiana have larger populations, and Atlanta and Indianapolis are big magnets for large events, I think the business pressure is more salient there than it is in Arkansas,” he said. And that’s despite the fact that one of the opponents to the Arkansas measure is heavyweight Wal-Mart.

Governor Mike Pence Gives Indiana the Right to Discriminate Against Gays

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Governor Mike PenceGovernor Mike Pence opened the floodgates to anti LGBT discrimination, signing a right to discriminate bill yesterday.

Think Progress reports:

As expected, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed into law the so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA) Thursday morning in a private ceremony. Proponents of this bill had openly admitted that its intent was to enable businesses to discriminate against same-sex couples, but Pence dismissed those claims in a statement he issued about the bill. “This bill is not about discrimination,” he said, “and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way in Indiana, I would have vetoed it. In fact, it does not even apply to disputes between private parties unless government action is involved. For more than twenty years, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act has never undermined our nation’s anti-discrimination laws, and it will not in Indiana.”

Somebody has his head, um, let’s just say in the sand.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Indiana.

Image via FB – Governor Mike Pence

Discrimination is Not Religious Freedom

Saturday, March 14th, 2015

Reverend Irene MonroeA movement is afoot in state legislatures across the country to disenfranchise LGBTQ Americans. There are a surprisingly number of bills being introduced in state legislative session, which outrightly sanction and enforce LGBTQ discrimination. These bills are called “Religious Freedom Restoration Acts” (RFRA), but don’t be fooled. These lawmakers are looking to codify LGBTQ discrimination.

This week the Georgia Senate, with a vote of 37-15, approved controversial RFRA (House Bill 1023). The bill doesn’t want the state’s Christian religious conservatives, fundamentalists and evangelicals to “substantially burden” their personal religious practices and beliefs. What, you may ask, could possibly be such a burden to Christians in Georgia that a state law is necessitated? Burden, according the bill, is defined as:

“‘Burden’ means any government action or implementation or application of any law, including, but not limited to, state and local laws, ordinances, rules, regulations, and policies, whether statutory or otherwise, that directly or indirectly constrains, inhibits, curtails, or denies the exercise of religion by any person or that directly or indirectly pressures any person to engage in any action contrary to that person’s exercise of religion, including, but not limited to, withholding benefits, assessing criminal, civil, or administrative penalties, and exclusion from government programs or access to government facilities.”

But let’s be clear, the only religious folk lawmakers hope to protect from a “substantially burden” is Christians. Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and other non-Christian Georgians don’t merit protection. As a matter-of-fact, these demographic groups — along with atheists and LGBTQs — can easily be subject to egregious forms of discrimination, bigotry and hate crimes under the guise of religion.

Authored By Reverend Irene Monroe – See the Full Story at SDGLN

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Matt Baume’s Field Guide to Sneaky Homophobic Bills

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Matt Baume

In a special two part video, Matt Baume takes viewers on a safari adventure through the country as he points out the four major types of anti-LGBT laws that are stealthily stealing away civil rights for everyone and what we can all do to stand up to this homophobic backlash.

Said Baume:

“Anti-gay discrimination is going extinct. But it’s not going without a fight. A beast is at its most desperate when its facing starvation. So it will do anything to adapt, to survive, and to pass itself on to the next generation.”

See the Full Story at Towleroad.com

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Bigotry in Arkansas and The Roadmap For Future Discrimination

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Matt Baume

In a follow-up video to last week’s yummy fireside chat on the ongoing “cake wars” and why bakeries in certain states can’t refuse to do business with gay folks, Matt Baume tackles Arkansas’ new law banning local governments from passing LGBT anti-discrimination protections.

Taking viewers on a trip back in time to uncover the insidious origins of the bill, Baume reveals how the benign-sounding “Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act” could very well serve as a blueprint for future anti-LGBT laws across the country.

As Baume says, if there’s anything we learned from Star Wars Episode I, it’s that “the best way to conceal a great evil – an evil that can shake a Republic to its very foundations – is to make it incredibly boring.”

Authored By Matt Baume – See the Full Story at Towleroad.com

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Why Bakeries Must Sell Wedding Cakes to Same Sex Couples

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Matt BaumeMatt Baume, who you know from AFER’s weekly marriage equality news round-up (and from schooling Mary Cheney on the differences between drag and blackface), has a new video diving fork first into why bakeries in certain states have to sell wedding cakes to same-sex couples.

Baume also gets to the bottom of why bakeries aren’t forced to bake cakes with slurs or hate messages and what’s ultimately at stake in these various “cake wars” currently playing out across the country.

Authored By Kyler Geoffrey – See the Full Story at Towleroad.com

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Pennsylvania Bakery Turns Away Lesbian Couple

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

The Cake ProsAnother wedding vendor in Pennsylvania has turned away a lesbian couple.

Towleroad.com reports:

A popular bakery in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania is making headlines after denying a wedding cake to a gay couple, WFMZ reports: Bethany and Jennifer Petrich now have to make a change of plans for a ceremony to renew their vows, WBRE reported. The women wanted to get a cake from The Cake Pros, a bakery in Schuylkill Haven. “I loved the work they did and it tasted great. It’s a hometown bakery. I wanted to support my hometown,” said Jennifer Petrich. “My mom, who is planning our wedding, called and made the appointment for us. It was okay at that time and she was open and honest and said it’s for Bethany and Jennifer.”

But the women say things took a not-so-sweet turn when Jennifer’s mom received a phone call. “They had called and said to her that they were a Christian bakery and the owner had talked to Jesus for two weeks and that because it was two females getting married she couldn’t make our cake,” said Jennifer.

It should be noted that Schuylkill County is the same county with the zombie clerk who keeps trying to singlehandedly turn back marriage equality in the state.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

Scranton Wedding Venue Turns Away Lesbian Couple

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Inne of the Abingtons - Scranton

Marriage equality may have come to Pennsylvania, but not everyone got the memo.

Joe.My.God reports:

A wedding venue near Scranton is refusing to host same-sex ceremonies: When Pennsylvania’s gay marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional by a federal court, Desiree Mark of Greenfield Twp. abandoned her plans to be married in New York or Connecticut and happily focused on planning a wedding in her home state. When the 29-year-old sent queries to Scranton area wedding venues requesting an appointment, she learned that marriage equality does not mean equality for gays and lesbians. “Unfortunately, we do not hold same sex marriages at our facility,” read the email from Courtney Killeen, wedding and event planner for Inne at the Abingtons. “I truly do hope you find somewhere that will fulfill all your wedding dreams.”

Met at the North Abington Twp. venue Thursday, Ms. Killeen confirmed the email was authentic and reflected the policy of the Inne, not her personal belief. “I don’t agree with it,” she said, adding the owner, John O. Antolick, would be unlikely to comment publicly. Mr. Antolick did not respond to several requests for an interview.

As Joe points out, it’s perfectly legal for the venue to discriminate against same sex couples this way, as Pennsylvania has no protections for the LGBT community in state law. Efforts to pass such a bill have been repeatedly blocked by the GOP majority.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Pennsylvania.