Pa. lawmakers unveil new marriage equality bill

Two Pennsylvania lawmakers will introduce a new bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania.

State Reps. Brian Sims and Steve McCarter, both Philadelphia Democrats, announced plans Thursday to introduce House Bill 1686, also known as the Pennsylvania Marriage Equality Act.

The measure would also recognize marriages legally performed in other states.

Marriage equality bills have been introduced in the General Assembly during the past three legislative sessions, but Sims and McCarter said support for same-sex marriage has been growing since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act in June.

More than 30 lawmakers have signed on to the bill as co-sponsors.

“Marriage equality and the benefits associated with it need to be afforded to all of our citizens, and the people of Pennsylvania support that idea,” McCarter said at a Philadelphia rally announcing the bill. “The issue is getting our fellow legislators to listen to their constituents and the voice of Pennsylvanians who are calling for this bill to proceed.”

Pennsylvania is the only northeastern state that does not allow same-sex marriage and civil unions.

“The time has come for Pennsylvania's legislature to stand up and let our citizens know we see them as truly equal members of society and they have the right to choose whom they marry,” said Sims, the first openly gay candidate elected to the legislature.

If approved by the legislature, the bill would head to the desk of Governor Tom Corbett, who supports a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and has lawyers defending a lawsuit against Pennsylvania's 1996 law defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman.

 

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