PA Senator plans to introduce marriage equality bill

OK, on the one hand we have the “marriage protection” amendment that would embed discrimination in to the Pennsylvania Constitution.  Been there, tried to do that.

Today comes word that another Pennsylvania Senator plans to introduce a marriage equality bill.

Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, today announced plans to introduce a bill that would offer “full and equal marriage rights to same-sex couples in Pennsylvania.” The measure also would recognize same-sex marriages conducted in other states.

“There has never been a more propitious time for Pennsylvania to embrace equality and enshrine the civil right of all Pennsylvanians to marry,” Mr. Leach said.

But don't tell that to Sen. John Eichelberger, R-Blair. He wants to strengthen Pennsylvania's 1996 law, the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as only permitted between one man and one woman.

Mr. Eichelberger has a bill to amend the state constitution to define marriage as only allowable between one man and one woman. He thinks that would make it more difficult for an “activist court” decision to overturn the 1996 law.

Before you raise the religious infringement argument, please note that Senator Leach's legislation would not require any religious group or organization to recognize or perform marriages which they “don't sanction.”  No word from Diane Gramley and the American Family Association of Pennsylvania on this newest twist in Pennsylvania equality efforts.

Wow.  I am very curious as to how this will play out. The argument against the “marriage protection” amendment has been the Pennsylvania DOMA which prohibits same sex marriages.  In other words, the existing law was good enough to “protect” opposite sex marriage so no need to amend the Constitution.  That's no longer absolutely true.

Will this move force socially conservative legislators to move to the right in support of the amendment or to the middle in support of neither bill (and perhaps to pass the less scary HB 300 as no one has argued that housing protections will destroy heterosexual marriages — yet)?  Will this galvanize the progressive wing of Pennsylvania and create a surge of grassroots energy to move the Commonwealth closer to equality for all citizens?  I'm fairly certain it will galvanize the wingnuts, but the trifecta of state legislation might just divide their energies as folks pick their poison to speak. 

I had a conversation with the President of the Steel City Stonewall Democrats who continues to urge concerned citizens to schedule face to face meetings with their legislators.  That is the single best tool you have to push for full equality. 

There's a lot on the table — the two anti-discrimination bills, the pending hate crimes bill, the anti-gay “marriage protection” and now this effort to promote marriage equality.  This is an important time to take action.  Make a Pride resolution to add a few hours of meeting time to your celebration time. 

Remember, Stonewall was about standing up and fighting back against oppression and discrimination.  Celebrate the spirit by being part of the solution.



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  • Stonewall Democrats continue to be ineffective. There candidates that they endorse continue to lose. Patrick Dowd and Hugh McGough are 2 recent defeats.
    Now…I don't want this to get into a debate about the Mayor vs. Patrick Dowd and Hugh McGough is 110% qualified to be on the bench but that organization in the minds of political type folks has to be ineffective.
    If they actually would find a race, get behind a politician thats facing opposition that's again the LGBT community and make a difference, the would become credible. Until that point they are spinning their wheels in place!

  • I disagree. Steel City backed Joe Williams, Bruce Kraus, Natalia Rudiak, etc. Your are speaking in broad terms that are just not accurate.
    But if you think the organization is ineffective, what do you propose as an alternative mechanism to galvanize LGBT voters? Or how would you propose to galvanize Steel City to be more effective?
    I think the wheel spinning may be a little on the mark, but that is due to a really limited pool of resources. If they could redirect some energy to recruitment and building a solid membership base, it would be a very good investment of time and energy. Still, everyone who reads this blog should get that membership is critical and failure to take action is really on our shoulders.

  • I think they should focus on a race that makes a significant change. Maybe they go after someone that doesn't support the Human Relations Ordinance. Maybe the target a member that doesn't support HB-300.
    You can't be everything for everyone when you don't have the resources to do as such.
    Start small…build the coalition and become effective!

  • I'm glad you are offering constructive suggestions. Are you a member? If not, what would it take for you to join and get involved?
    I do think Steel City has invested resources wisely, but I see there is tension between a general education approach so voters have the most comprehensive information possible when going to vote (current strategy) and focusing on the value of the endorsement by eliminating honorable mentions to hone in on the few races that are the most significant.
    The current leadership prefers the former approach so it would really require a group of involved and dedicated members to change that direction. I think they are open to it, but when 10 people are doing everything the emphasis really needs to be on recruiting members before those 10 folks burn out.
    I think electing Bruce Kraus is significant and I think the eventual election of Hugh McGough will be equally important. As Anonymous II said, Joe Williams is another significant election.
    Still, the key is to be involved. Join, attend the meetings, attend the social events, etc.
    My personal opinion is for the group to get out of the bars and reach out to the untapped audiences who spend their time elsewhere. Keep some presence in the bars, but go to the scores of other events to recruit and promote SCSD. A regular column in Out. A lively blog. Twitter. Year round opportunities to meet candidates (not in bars). Educating members about the ACDC system. Coffee house events. So forth and so on.

  • I don't think that Joe Williams and Bruce Kraus were helped that much by Stonewall. I could be wrong…but
    If they focused on 1 candidate any effectively lent supprt, $$$$, volunteer time, ground work, grassroots etc and the candidate won, they would become credible. This would also help them attract more members. I would want to be part of something that is effectively changing (I am a member currently). It would also make others look at the group as a political force as opposed to a bunch of politicos!

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