The afternoon started with a simple but depressing act of direct action. Two same-sex couples entered the Dauphin County Courthouse in Harrisburg, PA to request an application for a marriage license.
The woman working in the Register of Wills gave the couples a curt rejection, stating simply that Pennsylvania does not allow same-sex couples to apply for marriage. When asked if she would someday be able to offer an application, she dispassionately replied, “If that was the law.”
An hour later, the couples and their supporters joined up with the Unitarian Universalist Pennsylvania Legislative Advocacy Network for their annual Valentine’s Day marriage equality rally.
Flanking all four corners of the busy intersection of Front St. and Market St. in downtown Harrisburg, a crowd of 40 braved harsh winds to spread a message of love and support. Many of the passers-by, stuck in rush hour traffic, cheered, shouted their support through their car windows, and started chain reactions of raucous honking.
Though the rally is held annually, several participants commented that they had never received so much enthusiastic support.
Others who passed by were not as enthused by the signs calling marriage a civil right and a union based on love and commitment. One driver confused the ralliers by honking and then offering his middle finger. Another woman made a cross with her fingers as if anyone who supported marriage equality was a vampire. (She had apparently not considered that the rally was occurring outside in the daylight.)
Still, despite detractors, the rally was a rousing outreach effort for marriage equality in Pennsylvania, complementing the steps taken by state legislators earlier in the day to achieve legal recognition for same-sex couples.