2 celebrations of love - why is Pa. late to party?
ON SATURDAY in South Jersey, I was with Daily News colleagues at the wedding of sports-desk copy editor Deb Woodell and her partner of 28 years, Fran Clark.
I wish Gov. Corbett could have been there to share the moment after his pal Chris Christie finally got out of the way so that Debbie and Fran and folks like them could wed. An Episcopal priest married them in a modest A-frame church across the street from Clementon Park & Splash World.
The next day, my wife and I took the train to Washington for the wedding of my first cousin Joel Wind and his partner of 33 years, Dr. Alfred Munzer, the former president of the American Lung Association. Folks like them began to get married in D.C. in March 2010, but Joel and Al waited until the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act over the summer. A rabbi married them in the largest Conservative synagogue in our nation's capital.
It was a heartwarming weekend, but also embarrassing because Gov. Corbett is still holding Pennsylvania back from joining the rest of the Northeast in embracing gay marriage. In all, 14 states and the District of Columbia have legalized it. It becomes legal in Hawaii next month.
Pennsylvania still doesn't allow civil unions, let alone same-sex marriages - which Corbett compared to incest on a Harrisburg TV news show last month. On Friday, a federal judge rejected two attempts to block a challenge to Pennsylvania's 17-year-old law banning recognition of same-sex marriage, bringing the case closer to trial.
I met Fran for the first time Saturday, but let me tell you about my colleague Deb. For a decade at the Daily News, she was one of the nation's first newspaper columnists on lesbian and gay issues. In 2007, she advised readers to "keep a watchful eye on how your government officials behave. But don't let it stop you from picking out that china pattern, or setting up your gift registry. There is no need to worry about putting off that wedding. Unless, of course, you just want to wait those couple of years for the real thing."
A few years ago, Deb invited me to go with her to her alma mater, Rowan University, where she teaches copy editing, to see rock poet Patti Smith get an award. She knew that I'd written about taking Patti to the Camden tomb of poet Walt Whitman a few years earlier.
This is all ironic because Walt was probably gay, yet if Deb were to get into an accident in Philly after crossing the bridge named for him, Fran would have no greater legal authority over her care than a stranger.
Although I didn't know Deb's Fran, I know Joel's Al because Joel is my cousin. Born in the Netherlands, Al survived the Holocaust as a child, hidden by an Indonesian-Dutch family for three years in The Hague. He became an internist and pulmonologist, and he helped care for Joel's parents, my aunt and uncle, as their health declined.
And let me tell you about my cousin Joel. I remember visiting him as a boy, when he was in basic training at Fort Dix before he left to serve our country with the U.S. Army in Vietnam. After his return, he worked in computers for many years and later became director of administration for the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington.
I don't know about you, but I think gays have suffered enough from the devastation of AIDS and the stigma of being considered second-class citizens.
Here in the Keystone State, where the Philadelphia School District had to lay off 3,800 employees to close a $304 million budget deficit, we're missing out on much-needed revenue. Neither Debbie nor Joel will honeymoon with a heart-shaped tub in the Poconos because our governor still doesn't consider them to be married.
Oh, well. It was nice to share in a weekend of love celebrating the weddings of a colleague and a cousin.
I don't have any weddings on my calendar next weekend, so I'd like to invite Gov. Corbett down to Philly. He can meet me at Woody's; I'll buy him a Cosmo. If I can't twist his arm on this issue, we can always talk fracking.
On Twitter: @DavidLeePreston