PA may amend state constitution to ban gay marriage
Amending Pennsylvania's constitution requires the approval of two consecutive legislative sessions, followed by the approval of voters. The earliest voters could see the issue on the ballot is 2011.
Pennsylvania state Senator John H. Eichelberger Jr. has introduced a joint resolution to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage.
Last May, Eichelberger announced the effort in a press conference held at the Blair County Courthouse.
A representative of Pennsylvania's 30th district, which includes Blair County, the Senator said that introduction of the bill was postponed due to the economic crisis.
Pennsylvania voters are clearly divided on the issue. This divide is indicative of the state being much the same as the rest of the nation on the matter of cultural issues, with generational and partisan divides fracturing the monolith of any cohesive group or locale.
A June, 2009 Franklin & Marshall statewide poll, revealed that 48% of respondents support defining marriage as a heterosexual union in the state constitution, while 46% said they were opposed. However, a majority of voters (58%) support civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.
Once more, this might be said to be a microcosm of the national landscape.
In the current situation, opposers of gay marriage are worried that the legal ban could be overturned by a judge's ruling.
On January 20, a key Senate committee in the state of Indiana endorsed a measure which seeks not only to ban gay marriage, but to prohibit civil unions as well. This has set a precedent which has the opposition to the Marriage Equality movement reflecting on what if any options they have in seeking to restrict marriage to its traditional form.
“Pennsylvania voters have the opportunity to decide how they want marriage to be defined and not allow an activist judge to make that decision for them,” the Republican senator said in a statement. “Thirty one other states have already gone through a similar process and in each state, the definition of marriage was upheld.”
The joint resolution introduced Tuesday enjoys the support of 15 co-sponsors. It would insert the following language into the state constitution: “Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid and recognized as a marriage in this Commonwealth.”
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Passage in the Republican-controlled Senate appears to be a given, but the proposal might encounter turbulence from Democratic leaders in the House, who control the chamber.
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