Kenney, Sestak react to same-sex marriage ruling

Joe Sestak

Democratic mayoral nominee Jim Kenney and Democratic Senate candidate Joe Sestak supported last Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage.

Before the ruling, 13 states still prohibited same-sex marriage. Only 11 states have approved same-sex marriage by a vote of the people or legislature. Twenty-six states were forced to recognize same-sex marriage by courts.

The Supreme Court vote was 5–4. The ruling was expected. The four liberal justices were certain to approve same-sex marriage, and Justice Anthony Kennedy has previously authored pro-gay rights decisions.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., in his dissent, said the new law “will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy,”

Kenney said, “Today’s ruling is a tremendous victory, but it is also a call to action. Philadelphians must rally together and demand a statewide non-discrimination law that protects on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. As one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the nation, it is our responsibility to continue fighting until complete equality is a reality in every corner of this state and this country.”

Sestak, a former congressman, said, “Today’s ruling affirms what I learned in my 31 years in the U.S. Navy, where I went to war alongside men and women who were gay. I could never fathom a justification for any of these warriors going home to the one he or she loves and not having the same equal right to marry that person.”

Sestak co-sponsored legislation to end “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” a policy instituted by President Bill Clinton in 1994 that barred openly gay people from serving in the military.

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Meanwhile, Sestak applauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the King v Burwell case.

The court ruling affirmed the federal government’s ability to provide nationwide tax subsidies to help people buy health insurance, a centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act.

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey opposes Obamacare, and wants to replace it to make healthcare more affordable.

“I am gratified by today’s Supreme Court decision yet again upholding the Affordable Care Act (ACA),” Sestak said in a statement. “Health security is what I went to Congress for. After my daughter won her battle with brain cancer thanks to the health care provided by this nation in the military, I got into public life because I wanted all Americans to have access to the same quality care.

“I think it shows a lack of leadership that Sen. Toomey would say, ‘The American people deserve more access to the word’s best health care,’ and continue to call for full repeal of the ACA, which has helped so many. While Toomey was a congressman, over 160 Pennsylvanians each day were losing health care coverage — and he did nothing.”

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Jim Kenney released a statement on last week’s Commonwealth Court ruling that Act 192 is unconstitutional. The law allowed the NRA and other groups to sue municipalities that enact gun ordinances that are stricter than state laws.

“Today’s decision is a crucial victory for our city. In the last week alone, two mass shootings have severely injured six children and put the lives of eleven other Philadelphians at risk. So far this year, Philadelphians have suffered nearly 1,200 robberies at gun point and 1,000 cases of aggravated assaults involving a gun. At a bare minimum, municipalities must have the power to set regulations that keep our residents alive without fear of being sued by the NRA or other special interests.”

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Kenney has launched a campaign to register thousands of new voters before the general election.

The field program will train volunteers from across the city, who will then assist with registration efforts in the late summer and fall.

Field director Steve Preston released the following statement on the voter registration effort.

“All too often, voter apathy is the result of confusion and a feeling of disconnection from the electoral process,” he said. “This effort will seek to address both problems by training the next generation of neighborhood leaders, who will then register and inform their communities about their voting rights. In cooperation with our get out the vote program this fall, we’ll energize these new voters every step of the way, from registration all the way to the polls.”

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Joe DeFelice, executive director of Republican City Committee, said he is pleased that the district attorney’s office charged three Democratic election officials with committing fraud in the 2014 and 2015 elections.

“We’ve been repeatedly pointing out there are election officials gaming the system. It’s about time someone else has finally been starting to take this seriously,” he said.

During the May 19 election, a judge of elections at a polling place at Castor Avenue and Cayuga Street in Juniata allegedly went into the voting booth to tell her husband who to vote for and then signed the register as her son in order to cast a second vote. An inspector was also charged in the alleged scheme.

In the 2014 primary, a woman voted in her mother’s name at a polling place at 1410 S. 20th St. in South Philadelphia.

The charges are the third set in two years that the district attorney’s office has leveled against a total of eight people.

“There is still much more to do in the fight for clean elections in Philadelphia; couple this with the guilty pleas of several Democrat judges, state representatives and a state senator in the last year shows that widespread corruption continues, and the people of Philadelphia deserve better,” DeFelice said.

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The 31st annual Republican City Committee Bill Meehan Clambake will take place on Sunday, Aug. 30, from 4 to 8 p.m. at Cannstatter’s, 9130 Academy Road.

The band Blu Dogz will entertain.

The Times will conduct a straw poll, asking guests to choose their favorite Republican presidential candidate.

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Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey leads two possible Democratic opponents, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll of 970 Pennsylvanians.

Toomey leads former congressman Joe Sestak, 47 percent to 36 percent. He narrowly defeated Sestak in 2010. Toomey leads Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, 52 percent to 28 percent.

“With healthy job approval and favorability ratings and opponents who have very weak or even negligible recognition, Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey seems to be on cruise control — for now,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

President Barack Obama has a negative job approval rating in Pennsylvania, 42 percent to 55 percent.

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Megan Sweeney, communications director for the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, released a statement regarding Gov. Tom Wolf’s newest political action committee, “Rebuild Pennsylvania.”

Wolf unveiled the PAC on June 22, just eight days before the state’s budget deadline.

“With just days to go before Pennsylvania’s budget deadline, it appears that Tom Wolf is more concerned about politics than the future of our commonwealth,” Sweeney said. “Following an embarrassing and unanimous defeat of his tax hikes in the state House, Tom Wolf has decided to engage in the type of cheap political tactics that don’t result in solutions.

“At such a critical time in Pennsylvania’s budget history, Tom Wolf has chosen to focus on his political distortions than on the future of this commonwealth. It’s time for Tom Wolf to stop focusing on his political career and start working with the state Senate and House to create a fiscally responsible budget that puts Pennsylvania families first.” ••

Jim Kenney