HARRISBURG, PA - The Value All Families Coalition today released recent polling data that showed that by a margin of 65% to 27% Pennsylvanians support civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. Pennsylvanians understand the distinction between civil unions and marriage for same-sex couples and expect their elected officials to do so as well. This polling data undermines the main argument offered by the proponents of the Pennsylvania Marriage Protection Amendment, Senate Bill 1250.

"This support for civil unions is consistent with the position that the Pennsylvania Senate took in June of 2006," said Stacey Sobel, Executive Director of Equality Advocates Pennsylvania. "Then the Senate was asked to vote on an extreme constitutional amendment that is strikingly similar to the one that was recently introduced. The Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee and the Pennsylvania Senate rejected the radical approach of that amendment and altered the proposal to allow for civil unions."

The poll was conducted by Susquehanna Polling and Research and also found majority support across significant demographic groups such as party affiliation, geographic location, gender and age group. The polling data found that 57 percent of Republicans support civil unions while only 35 percent oppose them and even 48 percent of self-described conservatives support civil unions versus 43 percent opposing them.

The issue of same-sex marriage has not been much of a factor in this year's highly competitive primary elections. Voters all across the country have indicated that they are very concerned about the economy, health care, national security and the environment. In fact, Pennsylvania is one of the few states where legislators are spending any time trying to write discrimination into their state Constitution rather than focusing on the issues that are of greatest concern to the voters.

"This is an issue being driven by a special interest group who are misleading our elected officials and the public by implying that our legislators have not dealt with this issue," Sobel said. "Same-sex marriage is already against the law in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Defense of Marriage Act was enacted in 1996. Surely, the majority of the members of the House and Senate realize that they have been elected to deal with real problems and we urge them to spend their time on more pressing issues."

The Value All Families Coalition is comprised of diverse organizations that support equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pennsylvanians.