Marriage Equality: Small Victory in Pennsylvania

Not exactly a step forward here, but a backward move averted.  In an unusual move, Democratic members of a Pennsylvania Senate committee held firm against a proposal to write a marriage ban into the state constitution – and three out of nine Repugs broke ranks to kill the proposal.  There have been increasing signs for months that  this is no longer the vote getter for the GOP that it once was, and this confirms that some moderate GOP politicos are starting to find anti-gay bigotry is becoming politically toxic instead.

For all Maggie Gallagher’s triumphalism last November over the “victories” in Maine, and later NY and NJ, it is worth remembering that these were essentially “as you were”, stalling decisions. The cause of full marriage equality has yet to win at the ballot box, although Washington came close with its “everything but the name” alternative, and there have been the well known victories in the courts and the state legislatures.  For the opposition, it is now some substantial time since her NAM (National organisation Against Marriage) had any success in pushing back existing marriage or civil union rights, anywhere.

This does not yet leave Pennyslvania in the clear: the bill could conceivably still be revived, and if not there remains on the statute book a ban in law, if not in the state constitution.  Still, stalemate is better than a clear  backward step, and local activists will be pleased at the evidence that GOP opposition is no longer monolithic. Perhaps it is now time to develop a strategy, even along term strategy, to change the existing law.

From On Top Magazine:

3 Republicans Cross Aisle To Defeat PA Gay Marriage Ban

Three Republican senators crossed the aisle Tuesday to help defeat a Pennsylvania resolution that sought to define marriage as a heterosexual union in the state constitution. The 8-to-6 vote in favor of tabling the measure in the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee leaves the joint resolution on limited life support. Senator John H. Eichelberger, Jr. first announced he would sponsor the resolution in May of last year but postponed its introduction until January due to the economy, the conservative lawmaker said. Eichelberger’s resolution would insert the following language into the state constitution: “Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid and recognized as a marriage in this Commonwealth.” But three Republican and five Democratic lawmakers disagreed. Joining all the committee’s Democrats in killing the resolution were Republicans Pat Browne, Jane Earll and Mary Jo White.

(Read More)

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5 Responses to “Marriage Equality: Small Victory in Pennsylvania”

  1. william Says:

    What the opposition simply doesn’t seem to understand or to admit too is that this is a civil rights issue and not a religious or moral issue and that this is a losing battle. There will be a time when America recognizes this fact and equality for all is a reality but until that time we all need to keep fighting for what our constitution guarantees. All are equal. Thank you for posting this and maybe the republicans will realize that all they are doing is driving people away and realize that they need to distant themselves from the religious right and their lies.

  2. Etienne Caruana Says:

    What I really fail to understand is how the USA – with its proud human rights tradition – is lagging behind Europe in such an important matter, and this, when even its northern neighbour has settled the matter a few years ago. The stance in America on gay marriage, as well as on other unrelated yet equally important issues such as capital punishment, only serves as a bad role model to countries with a horrible track record with regard to human rights. Oh yes, I forgot, not only is it a bad role model, but there are those in the US who seek to impose their ideology on other countries, such as is happening in African states such as Uganda.

    • Terence@queerchurch Says:

      Etienne, you raise an important issue here. A big part of it is the much greater prominence of religion in the US, and within the churches a vociferous claque for a conservative view of what they think the Bible says. Here in Europe, religious affialiation and attendance are far lower – in many respects, much of Europe is now a post-Christian society – and at least in northern Europe, I suspect there’s stronger emphasis on social justice issues than on personal sexual ethics.

  3. Etienne Caruana Says:

    Absolutely correct, Terence. I live in Norway so I can see this at first hand. I also have this strong suspicion (now that’s a James Alison term!) that the European continent has had more than its fair share of pummelling in the name of religion, more precisely Christianity. Is it any surprise why people are sick and tired of organised religion? Unfortunately we’ve thrown out the baby with the bath water. I’m NOT God’s ambassador, but I it must ache God’s heart. My experience is that there is a sizeable segment of the population (in any European country) that would respond very positively to a proper image of God, i.e., one that is more in keeping with the image Jesus gave of the Father.

  4. william Says:

    We have a similar situation here in America. There are many young and old who do not want anything to do with Christianity or any faith in part from the model most of these “professing christians” present. One of hate and condemnation. I can’t say that i blame them.


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