Attempting to quell momentum, anti-gay marriage bill introduced in PA House
There’s always someone willing to fight the inevitable. In Harrisburg this week (and most weeks), that someone is state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who did his best to cut the introductory celebration of an LGBT nondiscrimination bill short, with some legislation of his own.
Metcalfe, 50, is a Butler County Republican well-known for being Pennsylvania’s most staunch right-wing misanthrope. In the past, he’s introduced Obama “birther” legislation, co-sponsored an anti-Sharia law bill, and has hosted eight Right to Keep and Bear Arms rallies in the Capitol over the last eight years. Now, he’s taken it upon himself to ignore the will of the people and nationwide trends to re-introduce one of his hallmark ideas: House Bill 1349: an anti-gay marriage, civil union and domestic partnership bill, which he claims is necessary because “marriage is a sacred bond that can only be fulfilled by one man and one woman, as established by God.”
Earlier this week, members of the Pennsylvania Legislature introduced House Bill 300 and Senate Bill 300, both of which would ban discrimination against Pennsylvania’s LGBT citizenry, which is, incredibly, still legal throughout the commonwealth. During a press conference unveiling the bills, it was noted this is the first time nondiscrimination legislation has hit the General Assembly with bipartisan support (both bills were sponsored by a Democrat and a Republican). There are 102 co-sponsors in the House and Senate.
“The American spirit, American dream, and most important, American values demand that we as a commonwealth finally evolve,” state Rep. Brian Sims (D-Phila), Pennsylvania’s first openly gay man elected to the state Legislature, noted at the press conference surrounding the bills.
Equality PA, a statewide advocacy group dedicated to LGBT issues, also released a poll showing 72 percent of residents statewide support a nondiscrimination law. “Currently, our state is the only one in the Northeast where gay and transgender citizens can be fired, denied a mortgage, or refused a hotel room simply because of who they are or who they love,” wrote EQPA executive director Ted Martin in a news release.
Franklin and Marshall also released an unrelated poll this week showing a majority—54 percent—of Pennsylvanians either “strongly” or “somewhat” favor gay marriage rights. That’s up 11 points from last year, as noted by Keystone Politics.
The number of anti-discrimination co-sponsors made clear that legislative support for an anti-gay marriage bill is at an all-time low. But what’s that mean to Metcalfe and his ilk? Nothing, basically.
He noted on his website that his bill would “settle the marriage protection debate for Pennsylvania,” adding: “Neither homosexual special interests gathered under the immoral umbrella of the ACLU, nor the Obama administration’s Department of Justice or any activist court should decide this critical issue for our Commonwealth.”
The American Family Association of Pennsylvania sent out an email blast telling their supporters to lobby for Metcalfe’s bill.
Still. It’s safe to say HB 1349 will not become law. Even if the legislature was willing to overrule the will of the people (which in many cases they are, and do), Metcalfe’s bill calls upon the citizenry of the commonwealth to actually amend more discrimination into our state’s constitution. And amending is hard. The legislation would have to be approved in two consecutive sessions of the General Assembly, then be approved on the ballot through voter referendum.
To make matters even weirder, HB 300, the anti-discrimination bill, heads to the State Government Committee in the House—of which Metcalfe is chairman.
He told PennLive yesterday that he was “throwing around the idea of starting a heterosexual caucus” to counter the LGBT caucus. And while that’s a stupid idea, perhaps meant tongue-in-cheek, it’d be interesting to see which legislators would join.
UPDATE: There are 27 co-sponsors for Rep. Metcalfe’s bill, down from 40 last session. Equality PA is rightly raising funds off of Metcalfe’s ugly comments about discrimination.
In a press release from state Rep. Brian Sims, he notes of Metcalfe’s waning support,
This year, his support has hit an all-time record low and at this rate, in the 2015 session he may be introducing this bill by himself. Ultimately, what matters here is that common sense, decency and compassion are winning the day against cruel attempts to harm Pennsylvania’s families.
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