News

Shifting views on PA's same-sex marriage ban

Written by The Associated Press | Jul 14, 2013 7:41 AM
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(Harrisburg) -- When a proposed ban on same-sex marriage came to the floor of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in June 1996, Speaker Matt Ryan warned distracted lawmakers to listen because it might be controversial.

The amendment passed easily, but the commonwealth's 17-year-old ban on same-sex marriage is even more controversial now that a lawsuit filed in federal court is seeking to overturn it.

Currently, 13 states have laws supporting same-sex marriage, and a handful of lawmakers who voted for that law now belong to the Legislature's 60-member lesbian and gay rights caucus.

The Republican governor who signed the law, Tom Ridge, has also had a change of heart. In February, he signed on to a brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down California's ban on gay marriage.

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Comments: 1

  • Chuck Anziulewicz img 2013-07-14 09:53

    There is a big difference between enforcing a law and defending it in court. Take the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA): It was transparently unconstitutional, since it set up differing legal standards for legally married Gay and Straight couples. That's why the Obama Administration chose not to DEFEND it in court. This doesn't mean that the law was not enforced while it was still on the books.

    Similarly, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane will continue to enforce Pennsylvania's ban on marriage for Gay couples for as long as the law is on the books. But in terms of its constitutionality, why should she be forced to defend in court something that she knows is indefensible?

    Those of us who support marriage equality for law-abiding, taxpaying Gay couples didn't really have a choice but to "target" all the piecemeal, state-by-state bans, didn't we? The Supreme Court could have issued a comprehensive ruling requiring Gay and Straight couples to be treated equally, at ALL levels of government, but instead they chose to punt on the some of the details.

    So what now? Most of the legal benefits of marriage come from the federal government. Take survivor benefits under Social Security, for example. Legally married Gay couples in Iowa are now entitled to those benefits, but suppose one of those couples relocates to West Virginia, which has a statutory ban on same-sex marriage. Does the state have the power to forcibly annul that marriage? And if so, does the couple now LOSE those federal benefits?

    Don't fault US for continuing this fight. The Supreme Court left us no choice.

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