Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pennsylvania Senate to consider conflicting same-sex marriage measures

06/03/09 Philadelphia Inquirer:

Hoping to capture the pro-gay-marriage momentum in other state legislatures, Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery) today introduced the state's first bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

Meanwhile, a colleague across the aisle, Sen. John Eichelberger (R., Blair), is preparing to introduce a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage, to prevent court decisions, such as the recent one in Iowa, allowing gay people the right to marry.

Senator Leach's bill is S935. It was just given a bill number today; the electronic version is not yet available through the state legislature's website. Here is the bill, which I received from the Senator's very helpful staff. The bill has a provision for religious liberty that already has ample legal protection. So it does not begin to cover the scope of religious-conscience exemption that same-sex marriage legislature should include, according to several legal scholars on religious liberty and the law. The provision reads:

"Nothing in this title shall be construed to compel a religious sect to perform same-sex marriages."

This provision will likely be amended, if the legislation gains traction in the state Senate.

Senator Eichelberger's "Marriage Protection Amendment" has been introduced as S707; it will become available next week through the state legislature's website. Senator Eichelberg's staff told me that it is modeled after Arizona's "Marriage Protection Amendment." (Art. XXX, Sec. 1, added by Prop. 102)

05/27/09 press release by Senator Daylin Leach:

HARRISBURG, May 27, 2009 – Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Delaware/Montgomery, today announced plans to introduce a bill that would offer full and equal marriage rights to same-sex couples in Pennsylvania. Under the new legislation, Pennsylvania would also recognize same-sex marriages conducted in other states.

While the bill would not require religious institutions to perform any marriage ceremonies or recognize any marriages that they do not wish to sanction, Leach said his legislation would dissolve all of the barriers to building families that gay and lesbian couples currently face, both at the state and federal level.

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