The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

July 11, 2013

ACLU needs to give peace a chance


Daily Item

---- — Certain battles require baby steps to start. There is, however, a difference between those first steps and jumping the gun.

The contrast between those approaches is about to be put to the test in Pennsylvania.

For many, the fight for marriage equality in the United States has been a slow-moving, or even starting, process. Each time another state approves same-sex marriage, however, the movement gains momentum.

The recent ruling by the Supreme Court against the Defense of Marriage Act seems to have eliminated what many view as the final roadblock for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups.

Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union jumped into the fray, filing a lawsuit on behalf of Pennsylvania residents who wish to marry or have their out-of-state unions recognized. Pennsylvania is the only Northeastern state that still bans gay marriage or civil unions. The commonwealth also does not recognize unions from other states.

"It is an important step toward supporting all families equally in the eyes of the law," said Bill McCoy, the director of the LGBT office at Bucknell University.

But is this the right tone from the ACLU?

As is often the case with the ACLU and its approach to civil rights, it is either all in or all out. With the iron still hot from the Supreme Court ruling, the ACLU has gone all in, pushing the envelope in Pennsylvania.

You have to wonder about the timing of it. Is there a strategic viability for this approach right now? Or is it a bit of self-indulgence from a group known to grab headlines at the expense of achievement?

Raising the question of marriage equality is the right move. The ACLU is taking an abrasive "or else" tone at a time when thoughtful persuasion is the wiser move.

Right now, Pennsylvania is populated, significantly, by mature voter blocs that came to age with different set values -- good people who prefer to be asked for consideration rather than be threatened.

Marriage equality will come to Pennsylvania, as it will to the rest of the nation. It is moving at a good pace, supported nationally by political leaders and the highest court.

The indicators were there for friendly persuasion rather than adversarial confrontation.

It is hard to tell whether the ACLU has an ounce of "friendly" in its genetic makeup. All we are saying is, sometimes, give peace a chance.