Calls for Pennsylvania Gay Marriage Amendments Following Obama Announcement
Pennsylvania politicians and activists had all sorts of reactions to President Obama’s announcement yesterday that he supports gay marriage. Many of those have already been dissected by the media, but in some local instances, advocates have been using the president’s words as fodder to promote not just a political agenda, but enthusiasm for specific legislation.
“[Obama] is dependent upon the homosexual vote and the only way he could guarantee their continued support was to endorse same gender ‘marriage,’” Diane Gramley, president of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania, said in a statement—noting the word ‘marriage’ in quotation marks.
Further, according to the group’s release, Obama’s announcement “should also energize the Republican legislators in Harrisburg to stop obstructing our Marriage Protection Amendment — HB 1434 — and do what the majority of Pennsylvanians want and that is to protect natural one-man one-woman marriage.”
House Bill 1434, introduced by State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, would amend Pennsylvania’s Constitution to read, “Marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife and no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.”
The bill was referred to the Committee on State Government over a year ago and has 36 co-sponsors.
State Rep. Dwight Evans of Philadelphia had a different reaction. “The President has spoken,” he wrote on Twitter. “Now is the time to act on HB 708. Change is good.”
Call House Bill 708 the yang to 1434’s yin. Sponsored by Philly Rep. Mark Cohen, it’d amend Title 23 to define “Civil union” as “a union between two adults of the same sex.” It would go on to say, “All of the rights, protections and duties created by the Commonwealth that are applicable to a marriage shall apply to a civil union, unless the General Assembly expressly states otherwise.”
Equality PA released a statement shortly after Obama’s announcement, too, saying the president expressed “the singular truth about marriage equality that all of us have known all along — the ability for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) couples to formalize their relationships in the official bonds of civil marriage is fair, just and simply the right thing to do.”
They went on: “Earlier this year, Equality Pennsylvania unanimously endorsed President Obama for a second term. We did so because we believe him to be the best president ever for the LGBT community. His announcement today fully reinforces our choice.”
Much like the president’s statement, the local rhetoric might have little immediate meaning—neither a civil union nor anti-gay marriage bill is likely to be taken up before the 2012 election, if ever, in our weird bookended-by-liberals state. We’re still at that embarrassing standstill when it comes to gay marriage.
The American Family Association is at least partly right: A recent Public Policy Polling poll showed Pennsylvania opposition to gay marriage at 50 percent, with only 38 percent approving, leading Byron Tau at Politico to note the president “appears to have gone against the safest read of polling data on gay marriage.” And Pennsylvania is not unlike other swing states: Ohio and Florida appear to have similar approve/disapprove numbers.