News broke a few minutes ago that the House State Government Committee will delay its vote on HB 1434, known as the “Marriage Protection” amendment, proposed by State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler). The legislation, which drew intense criticism from gay rights advocates, would establish an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution that would redefine marriage as “the legal union of only one man and one woman.”
Metcalfe currently serves as the State Government Committee chair.
When he introduced the legislation in May, Metcalfe cited the Obama administration’s decision not to use federal resources to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court.
“The institution of traditional marriage has never been under greater attack,” said Metcalfe at the time. “This not only includes the special interests who want to permanently redefine marriage, but unfortunately the executive branch and the federal Department of Justice who have blatantly and recklessly refused to uphold and defend its Constitutionality.”
It’s another example of a hot-button social issue taking center stage in Harrisburg. It’s already facing criticism from former committee chair Rep. Babette Josephs (D-Phila), the anti-Metcalfe. Yesterday, she, “demanded that Rep. Daryl Metcalfe remove from the State Government Committee’s agenda a vote on H.B. 1434.”
“I call on the gentleman from Butler County to withdraw this discriminatory backward legislation,” Josephs said. “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.”
Josephs has introduced legislation to recognize gay marriage in Pa.
Philadelphia’s City Paper quoted EqualityPA’s Ted Martin, who suggested a different motive for the bill: presidential 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,” which alarms them.
Martin argues that the amendment is “more restrictive” than it seems. “It would outlaw any discussion of domestic partnership benefits and civil unions in Pennsylvania,” he said.
In any case, it’s a real long shot. An amendment to the Pa. Constitution must pass both chambers of the General Assembly during two consecutive sessions and then pass a public referendum until 2014.