Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Pennsylvania Shame

A proposed constitutional amendment blocking same-sex marriages overwhelmingly passed in the Pennsylvania Legislature today.

According to AP:

The proposed amendment to Pennsylvania's constitution would define "marriage" as a union between a man and a woman. It also would prohibit state, local and county governments from legally recognizing the unions of unmarried same-sex or heterosexual couples.

The 136-61 House vote sends the measure to the Senate in the first step of a complex constitutional amendment process.

I'm sorry to say, the impetus for this came from a state rep. from my current county of residence.

It's still a long way from becoming law. In Pennsylvania, a constitutional amendment must be passed by both the House and the Senate in two consecutive sessions and then placed on the ballot for a statewide vote. Even here in my very conservative county-of-residence, a recent informal poll showed 52% of the respondents against it.

As one local gay man said in an article recently, “People keep saying the amendment would ‘protect’ marriage. But no one can explain to me what from. I support marriage; who doesn’t?”

The legislative sponsors of the amendment talk in terms of blocking judicial activism, preserving the status quo, and letting the people decide. The letters to the editor in support of it consistently have taken rather a different tone:

Naturally, opposition to the Constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage would be from those who support homosexual marriages

These people have little or no Christian values or appreciation for the intentions of our forefathers when they first fought for independence and then drafted a Constitution that provided this nation with the enduring fundamentals for the principles of freedom and liberty based on Christian values.

It's still not clear what impact the amendment would have on gay rights now existing in the state, domestic violence cases, adoptions by same-sex couples and unmarried heterosexual couples, and domestic-partner benefits offered by private employers. The sponsors say those things won't be harmed; advocates say they will; it looks like a series of court cases would have to settle the matter. So much for preventing judicial activism.

According to AP, 19 states have adopted constitutional definitions of marriage. Pennsylvania is among 26 that have enacted statutes, but not constitutional amendments.

Rep. Dan Frankel, a Democrat from out by Pittsburgh, said, "Clearly, we're trying to replicate what's happening in Washington. I'm not sure why this issue has risen to such a priority in this legislative body when we need to be dealing with substance." Such as tax reform and education.

So Pennsylvania's place of pride, earned in a primary election that threw out 15 bums who voted themselves a whomping big pay rase in a midnight session with no debate, lasted less than a month.

Not surprisingly, of the 15 lame duck legislators in both parties after the May primary, 12 voted "yes" to the amendment, and two were no-shows. And the men who will steer the bill through the State Senate and have vowed to pass it also are on the way out.

For the same reason: Not having their priorities in place.