HARRISBURG, PA – The Value All Families Coalition commends the Pennsylvania General Assembly for rejecting the Marriage Protection Amendment. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate failed to pass the proposed state constitutional amendment, House Bill 2381, prior to its summer recess.
On June 6, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a version of the amendment that would have permanently barred same-sex marriage and civil unions.The amendment could also have negatively impacted rights that are currently available in the Commonwealth for all unmarried couples such as domestic partner health benefits, domestic violence protections and medical decision making, among others.
On June 21, the Pennsylvania Senate rejected the House’s sweeping language, adopting a much narrower version of the amendment that would have outlawed same-sex marriage, but left open the possibility of legal recognition for civil unions or domestic partnerships.Because the House and Senate did not pass identical versions before breaking for the summer, the legislation failed.We are pleased that the Pennsylvania legislature chose to not advance legislation which would have written discrimination into the state constitution.
"The Value All Families Coalition appreciates the efforts and leadership of many legislators, both Republicans and Democrats, who understood that this legislation was unnecessary, divisive and dangerous,” said Stacey Sobel, Executive Director of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights.
Larry Frankel, Legislative Director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said, “Over the last six months, Pennsylvania’s legislators learned a great deal about this state’s non-traditional families.The bill’s failure is due in large part to our lawmakers’ better understanding of how this amendment could have adversely impacted thousands of Pennsylvanians.”
The coalition is comprised of diverse organizations that opposed the constitutional amendment and support equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pennsylvanians.Coalition partners include: Human Rights Campaign; Liberty PA; Log Cabin Republicans; National Association of Social Workers, Pennsylvania Chapter; OutFront; Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence; Pennsylvania Gay and Lesbian Alliance; Pennsylvania NOW; Pennsylvania Service Employees International Union (SEIU);Parents and Friends of Lesbian and Gays; Planned Parenthood; SeniorLAW Center; Support Center for Child Advocates; and Womens Law Project.
Jeff Hunsicker of the Pennsylvania SEIU stated, “SEIU has bargained for a variety of domestic partner benefits in many contracts.Our members welcome the defeat of this constitutional amendment which threatened their bargaining rights and all working families.”
In order for a constitutional amendment to be put before Pennsylvania’s voters, the amendment must first pass both legislative houses in two consecutive legislative sessions.The amendment must have identical language each time it is passed.In order to have the 2005-2006 legislative session count toward this requirement, identical versions of the bill would have had to have passed the House and Senate prior to the summer recess.