Radio PA Roundtable – May 23, 2014

On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, the results in the race for the Democratic nomination for governor are in, as voters let their voices be heard on Tuesday. And, reaction from a landmark court ruling overturning Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage…

Radio PA Roundtable is a 30-minute program featuring in-depth reporting, commentary and analysis on the top news stories of the week.

Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:

Radio PA Roundtable – October 25, 2013

On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, our Friday taping coincides with Governor Tom Corbett’s monthly visit to our studios for “Ask the Governor,” so we’re combining the two shows and bringing you the governor on a variety of topics, including the continuing challenges of passing a transportation funding bill, his controversial remarks on same sex marriage, the recent federal government shutdown and much more.

Radio PA Roundtable is a 30-minute program featuring in-depth reporting, commentary and analysis on the top news stories of the week.

Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:

Capitol, State Capitol, Dome

Ask the Governor (Audio) for October 2013

This edition of Ask the Governor was recorded on Friday, October 25th, 2013 and featured comments on the the continuing battle to pass a transportation funding bill, the war of words between a state lawmaker and the state Attorney General, the governor’s comments on same sex marriage, the government shutdown, small games of chance, your emails and much more.

You can listen to the entire program on and/or watch video clips of specific topics. And we now offer this audio version COMMERCIAL FREE. Click the play button to get started…

Sen. Casey Issues Statement in Support of Same-Sex Marriage

During his reelection bid last year US Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) favored civil unions but did not take a position on the same sex marriage debate.  Now, with the question before the US Supreme Court, Casey says he favors marriage equality and believes the federal Defense of Marriage Act should be repealed.

Casey’s official statement concludes: “I understand that many Americans of good will have strong feelings on both sides of this issue.  I believe elected public officials have an abiding obligation to refrain from demonizing and dividing people for partisan or political gain.  Rather, Democrats and Republicans should come together and find areas of agreement to do what’s best for the country, including lesbian and gay Americans.” 

Marriage equality advocates have been putting the pressure on Senators like Casey for weeks now, and Equality Pennsylvania executive director Ted Martin released a statement that applauds Casey’s courage and leadership.  “Marriage matters for all families,” Martin writes, “and Senator Casey’s support for marriage for all committed couples puts him squarely on the right side of history.”

Last week state Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) sent Casey an open letter urging him to support LGBT equality.  Sims – PA’s first openly gay elected lawmaker – says Casey’s statement shows that he’s listening to the millions of voices of Pennsylvanians calling for him to support same-sex marriage.

Will the Supreme Court Redefine Marriage?

Marriage equality advocates are calling this week’s US Supreme Court arguments a watershed moment.  Two cases were argued before the high court: one challenges California’s voter-approved same-sex marriage ban, while the other takes to task the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

“In light of everything it really says whether or not fairness and equality mean something to everyone in America, or just certain people in America,” says Equality Pennsylvania executive director Ted Martin, “and that’s really the significance for gay people.” 

Martin points to the long list of federal benefits available to straight married couples, which aren’t available to legally married same-sex couples.

But redefining marriage would open a door that cannot be closed, according to Pennsylvania Pastors’ Network president Sam Rohrer.  He says marriage is not man’s idea; it’s God’s idea.  So changing the definition, Rohrer says, would remove any view of higher law. 

“This is the message that is sent to young people who say ‘why be concerned? I can do whatever I want to do.’ That concept is what the changing of the definition of DOMA actually communicates.  That’s a dangerous communication.”

Like many court observers, Rohrer expects the Supreme Court will largely leave the California case untouched.  While hoping the court does the same with DOMA, Rohrer is bracing for a more convoluted decision. 

Regardless of the outcome, Ted Martin hopes all of the attention will promote discussion in Pennsylvania about how to treat its LGBT citizens. He points out that in Pennsylvania a person can still be fired or evicted simply for being gay. 

Recent polling has shown growing support for same-sex marriages in Pennsylvania, but it appears there’s little appetite in the General Assembly to take up legislation that would make them legal.

Opinions Shift on Same-Sex Marriage

Public opinion is changing when it comes to same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania.  Today’s Franklin & Marshall College Poll finds that 52% of Pennsylvania voters now favor legal marriage for gay and lesbian couples, compared to 41% who oppose it. 

Terry Madonna

Terry Madonna

Poll Director Terry Madonna believes this is the first poll to show majority support for the issue in PA.  “Some polls gave gotten up to 47, 49, even 50% support – depending on how the question was worded – but not a majority support for gay marriage,” Madonna tells Radio PA, “heavily driven by young voters whose attitudes on gay marriage are very different from seniors who oppose gay marriage.” 

Just seven years ago, in May 2006, Madonna’s poll found just 33% support for same-sex marriage in the Keystone State. 

Democratic state Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) has long been pushing marriage equality legislation, and is already circulating a co-sponsorship memo this session, which would legalize same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania.  However, while public opinion may be changing, Madonna believes the Republican-controlled General Assembly is still many years away from changing state law. 

The F&M Poll provides a number of compelling results aside from the same-sex marriage issue.  Here’s a sampling:

– Governor Tom Corbett’s job performance rating has hit a new low, as just 26% indicate that he’s doing a “good” or “excellent” job. 

– 64% oppose plans to put Pennsylvania Lottery operations in the hands of a private manager

– 82% want more money being spent on transportation infrastructure, but only 47% support the main recommendations of the TFAC report

– 53% support privatizing state-run liquor stores.