By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – More than 40 courtroom battles are underway in 25 states that challenge prohibitions on same sex marriage. The momentum is building and could be on its way to Pennsylvania.
Lawsuits are pending in both federal and state court in Pennsylvania and some say the question is not whether marriage equality will exist in the Commonwealth, but when.
“Fifty-four percent of Pennsylvanian’s now support gay marriage,” says Terry Madonna, political science professor and pollster at Franklin and Marshall College. He says roughly 70-percent of young voters believe in marriage equality and the older voters who do not support it are not as strongly opposed as they once were.
He says movement on laws allowing marriage equality has reached a stalemate for two reasons: lawmakers are more conservative than voters and voters do not see gay marriage as a defining issue.
“Voters are still deeply concerned about jobs and the economy and because of recent cuts, education has emerged as the number one policy issue in the state,” says Madonna.
Penn Law professor Kermit Roosevelt says in race to marriage equality the courts will likely get there first.
“There have been 30 judges to consider the question of same sex marriage,” he says, “and everyone of them has said a state law banning same sex marriage is now unconstitutional.”
He says tradition once dictated that issues such as who could get married were determined at the state level, but recent federal case law shows that old habits are dying fast.
“There’s some things states can do and there’s some thing states can’t do under the law because of constitutional rights,” says Roosevelt, “but one of the most interesting things is how fast this has gone.”
Roosevelt says the “coming out” of gay Americans has really helped change voter sentiment over gay marriage, which aids in the momentum of the court’s ruling.
Even if Pennsylvania fails to follow courts in the rest of the country, Roosevelt predicts the multiplicity of cases will end with the US Supreme Court making the final decision.