LGBT Rights Battle on PA House Floor; New Marriage Equality Bill to be Introduced

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When the federal Defense of Marriage Act which banned recognition of marriage equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans under federal laws was recently struck down as unconstitutionally discriminatory by the US Supreme Court, a Democratic state representative who happens to be the first openly gay person elected to the state legislature and a civil rights lawyer took to the floor of the PA House to speak about the ruling and was blocked from talking about it by anti-equal rights conservative Republicans. It turned out not to be a total loss, as shortly thereafter it was announced that a bill to legalize marriage equality will be introduced in the PA House.

Randy LoBasso of PhillyNow writes that “At the end of the session, representatives can ask to be recognized to speak under unanimous consent of the House, in which legislators can speak of uncontroversial issues. … As per House rules, Sims asked Speaker of the House Sam Smith … if he could speak on the DOMA case. ‘I promised him that I was going to be very respectful, I wasn’t going to talk about how far Pennsylvania has to go or that the Republican caucus is an obstacle to equality. I really was just going to speak about—as a civil rights attorney—a major civil rights case,’ Sims told Philadelphia Weekly. … After getting about ‘three or four words’ into his speech, Smith cut him off, citing another legislator’s wishes. Several members of the Democratic caucus then began grabbing microphones to speak on the DOMA case—and each were shut down. … The objection had been made anonymously, and the Democrats on the floor wanted to know who did it. Smith would not say. After a bit of ruckus, state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), an outspoken conservative and prime sponsor of an anti-gay marriage bill in the Legislature, began shouting at Sims and the Democrats to quit it. As Sims tells it, Metcalfe yelled out, ‘If you need a name, use my name.’ Metcalfe was one of the representatives who had objected.” Metcalfe later justified his objection that silenced Sims to the media by saying that Sims was going to be engaging in quote, “open rebellion against God’s law,” but more on that later this week in my homage to Keith Olbermann, the Worst Pennsylvanians of the Week.

The day after the stand-off on the PA House floor, however, state Representative Brian Sims and his fellow Philadelphia Democratic state Representative Steve McCarter made an announcement that they will be introducing a bill that would legalize marriage equality for LGBT Pennsylvanians in the PA House. A similar bill has already been introduced in the PA Senate by Democratic state Senator Daylin Leach. It’s probably safe to assume these bills aren’t going anywhere in the immediate future with anti-equal rights conservative Republicans dominating state government, but with recent polls from Franklin & Marshall showing a majority of Pennsylvanians in favor of marriage equality, all it takes is enough of them realizing that turning out on election day to vote for Democrats can make it happen to turn that around.

*This is a transcript of a video from the only grassroots progressive newscast exclusively about Pennsylvania politics, Counterpoint PA. You can watch the video for this segment here.*

This entry was posted in LGBT / Gay Rights, Religion.