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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 16, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 11
Same-sex relationship ban fails in Pennsylvania
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Same-sex relationship ban fails in Pennsylvania

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A proposed amendment to Pennsylvania's constitution banning recognition of any same-sex relationships was abruptly withdrawn just prior to a scheduled committee hearing on March 13.

The Pennsylvania House State Government Committee announced it would postpone a vote on HB 1434, the so-called 'Marriage Protection Amendment.'

The measure was introduced by Republican committee chair Rep. Daryl Metcalfe after the Obama administration announced it would no longer defend the federal DOMA in court.

'The institution of traditional marriage has never been under greater attack,' Metcalfe stated at the time.

'This not only includes the special interests who want to permanently redefine marriage, but unfortunately the executive branch and the federal Department of Justice who have blatantly and recklessly refused to uphold and defend its constitutionality.'

The measure drew sharp criticism from former committee chair Rep. Babette Josephs, a Democrat. On March 11, she demanded that Metcalfe remove the bill from the committee's agenda.

'I call on the gentleman from Butler County to withdraw this discriminatory backward legislation,' Josephs said.

'Instead of finding ways to create jobs and promote a healthier, more prosperous commonwealth, Harrisburg Republicans have started a war on women's health and now they're attacking committed LGBT couples and families all over the country.'

Josephs, who has been described by the PoliticsPA website as 'the anti-Metcalfe,' has introduced legislation to recognize same-sex marriages in Pennsylvania.

Even if it is reintroduced at some point in the future, Metcalfe's amendment is considered a long shot. An amendment to Pennsylvania's constitution must pass both chambers of the General Assembly during two consecutive sessions, and then pass a public referendum.

EqualityPA's Ted Martin has suggested that Metcalfe's real motive for introducing the bill was presidential politics.

'People know this kind of stuff incites a certain base of people. But I think there are people who are really true believers, who see Pennsylvania slowly being surrounded by states with marriage equality,' which alarms them. Martin said that the amendment is 'more restrictive' than it seems.

'It would outlaw any discussion of domestic partnership benefits and civil unions in Pennsylvania,' he said.

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