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Monday, March 12, 2012

Metcalfe bill would end domestic partner benefits

Posted By on Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 4:00 PM

Advocates and LGBT-organizations across the state are gearing up for what could be a marriage-battle on Pennsylvania's own soil.

An anti-marriage bill from Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Cranberry), is up for discussion and potential vote tomorrow before a state House government committee that Metcalfe chairs.

The bill, according to Metcalfe's web site, would amend the state's constitution to read "only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this Commonwealth, and neither the Commonwealth nor any of its political subdivisions shall create or recognize a legal status identical or substantially equivalent to that of marriage for unmarried individuals."

Same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania is already illegal. But as Ted Martin, executive director at Equality PA points out, "this bill is much worse and meaner." Martin says that if it passed, future discussion of civil unions or domestic partnerships "would be off the table." And, it would forcefully terminate domestic partnership benefits provided to public employees. 

"But it doesn't create one job and will cost taxpayers to advertise this," he says.

Martin also points out that no one in the state is calling for such a measure and that support in it is waning as there are more than 50 less co-sponsors this year then in 2006, the last time such an amendment was attempted. But, with every state bordering several states near Pennsylvania either allowing marriage or civil unions, Martin says his sense is "that the crazies feel surrounded and said ‘we have to do something.'"

Martin and other advocates are lobbying for citizens to call their representatives. "This issue is radioactive," says Martin. "We have to tell people how ridiculous this [is]."

Local blogger Sue Kerr has a nice take (and social media strategy) here, as does Tom Waters.

Equality PA is also circulating an online petition against the bill: http://equalityfederation.salsalabs.com/o/35029/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=602

The committee convenes tomorrow at 9 a.m. in room G-50, Irvis Office Building; advocates are meeting at 8:30 a.m. in the Capitol Rotunda to gather to go to the meeting together.

You can find your state representative here: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/index.cfm.

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