Main | Thursday, June 27, 2013

PENNSYLVANIA: Openly Gay State Rep. Brian Sims To Introduce Gay Marriage Bill

Openly gay Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims today announced his plan to introduce a same-sex marriage bill.
“About two hours ago, I shopped around a co-sponsorship memo for a marriage bill, and I’m going to introduce an LGBT marriage equality bill,” he says, adding the Supreme Court cases “helped light the fire under my colleagues to do it now.” The co-sponsorship memo, which is sent out to House members for additional support, notes it “would re-define the definition of marriage as a civil contract between two people who enter into matrimony, and eliminate the current prohibition against same-sex marriage in our Commonwealth. It is important to note that this bill provides protections for religious organizations and entities that do not wish to sanction, perform, or in any way recognize such marriages.”
A marriage equality bill was introduced in the state Senate in March, but it has not yet been considered. Same-sex marriage is banned by state statute (Sims' bill would undo that), but repeated attempts to place a ban in the state constitution have all failed. Still pending is a constitution ban introduced in March by virulently anti-gay GOP state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, about whom I posted when he introduced the same item in 2011 and 2012.

RELATED: After yesterday's historic Supreme Court rulings, Sims attempted to speak on the topic from the House floor, but he was stopped by Metcalfe, who used a chamber rule to denounce Sims as being "in open rebellion against God's law." Today Sims asked his chamber to formally reprimand Metcalf, saying, "His comments did not live up to the standards set by this body."

“For me to allow him to say things that I believe are open rebellion against God are for me to participate in his open rebellion,” Metcalfe told the AP. “There’s no free speech on the floor.” Members have the right under House rules to veto another’s remarks under “unanimous consent,” and when Sims got up to speak on Wednesday, Metcalfe and at least one other representative withdrew their consent. He spoke on the floor Thursday under a different rule, “point of personal privilege.” On Thursday, House Speaker Sam Smith, R-Jefferson, told Sims the proper procedure under the circumstances would be either going through the Ethics Committee or seeking a House resolution. Sims said he plans to pursue the matter. “This is a guy who hates women, he hates gay people, he hates minorities and he hates immigrants,” Sims said.
NOTE: Amendments to the Pennsylvania constitution must be passed in two successive two-year sessions by both chambers of the state legislature and then approved by a public referendum. A marriage ban is not going to happen. Metcalf is just showboating for the teabaggers.

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