A Supreme Court justice has ruled that same-sex marriages will continue in Pennsylvania, even though a clerk requested to revive the state’s ban on marriage equality.
Pennsylvania’s marriage equality ban was struck down in May, in yet another legal victory for same-sex marriage.
Jones and a federal appeals court said Santai-Gaffney lacked the legal right to get involved in the case. Those rulings prompted Santai-Gaffney to ask the Supreme Court to block Jones’s marriage ruling while she tries to press her appeal.
The Supreme Court will almost certainly have a chance to take up the issue of gay marriage in its next nine-month term, which starts in October. Advocates of same-sex marriage are on a legal roll, winning at least 18 straight court rulings.
At the foot of the Betsy Ross Bridge that connects Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey lie a myriad of headstones along the Delaware River. After navigating through overgrown weeds as tall as me, my tour guide onlygoodlooks guided me through strategic holes in a barbed wire fence where we discovered these headstones.
The story of how they ended up there is interesting, albeit very tragic. Monument Cemetery used to be located at 15th and Montgomery in North Philadelphia. This was a classic, Victorian Garden style cemetery, very similar to the impressive and beautiful Laurel Hill Cemetery along Ridge Avenue. By the 1950’s, the cemetery was filled to capacity (over 28,000 people were buried there), and the grounds fell into disrepair as the owners ran out of money for maintenance. Seeking an opportunity to expand their campus, Temple University began making phone calls and completing paperwork.
Temple University saw a chance to build a parking lot in the hopes that it would assist its commuter students. After trying to buy the cemetery from its owners and being denied, Temple appealed to the city to have the cemetery condemned. The city agreed, and Temple was now the owner of this cemetery after buying it from the city. Next came the question of what to do with all of the people who were laid to rest in this former cemetery.
The city and Temple University sent letters out to the families associated with this cemetery, informing them of their plans to move their headstones and caskets. Roughly eight-thousand bodies were claimed, and the rest of the bodies were rumored to have been moved to an unmarked grave at the Lawnview Cemetery in Northeast Philly.
Here’s where things go from weird to weirder. The headstones contained valuable limestone, which was desperately needed at the time for construction of the Betsy Ross Bridge. The university, seeing an opportunity to make some money, sold the unused headstones to the contractor in charge of the project. The ones not used were dumped along and probably into the river. When the water level is low, as it was when we were down there, several gravestones are clearly visible.
The destruction of Monument Cemetery by Temple University and the City of Philadelphia is a testament to the times. World War II was over, and the United States was in a time of expansion. This was the same time when thousands of homes were destroyed under eminent domain in order to construct the Eisenhower Interstate System. I’m not sure if the same series of events would (or could) occur in 2014, but in 1950’s post-war America there was lots of emphasis put on infrastructure and if it meant people could experience more freedoms and expansion, it was an easy sell to the parties involved. For the families involved, this is a travesty that was disrespectful to the people who were laid to rest. For people like myself who are constantly amazed by the incredible history this city has to offer outside of the typical tales of the Liberty Bell, a kite with a key attached, and a balmy day inside Independence Hall, this is one more story to add to our history books.