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Pennsylvania House committee abruptly yanks anti-gay marriage bill

Tuesday, March 13, 2012
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HARRISBURG, Pa. — The House State Government Committee on Tuesday abruptly delayed its vote on a measure that would establish an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution, redefining marriage as “the legal union of only one man and one woman.”

HB 1434, known as the “Marriage Protection” amendment, has been target of intense criticism from LGBT advocates across the state and nationally in a campaign launched by Equality Pennsylvania.

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler County), who currently serves as the committee’s chair, came under withering criticism from former committee chair, Rep. Babette Josephs (D-Philadelphia).

Josephs argued Monday that Metcalfe’s bill should be pressured to remove from the committee’s agenda.

“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,” said Josephs, who has introduced separate legislation to give legal recognition to same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania.

Ted Martin, Executive Director of Equality Pennsylvania, the state’s largest LGBT political advocacy organization, suggested a different motive for the bill — presidential election year 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,” Martin told Philadelphia’s City Paper.

Martin said that the amendment is “more restrictive” than it appears.

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

Capital observers in Harrisburg agree that such an amendment is a long shot, as it would need approval by both chambers of the General Assembly during two consecutive sessions, and then pass a public ballot referendum.

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