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Pennsylvania House advances bill calling for same-sex marriage equality

Pennsylvania House advances bill calling for same-sex marriage equality

Pennsylvania House advances bill calling for same-sex marriage equality

(Credit: Anastasiia Chepinska / Unsplash.com)

(Credit: Anastasiia Chepinska / Unsplash.com)

The state House of Representatives has approved a bill that would protect same-sex marriage by repealing an invalid section of state law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

The U.S. Supreme Court banned same-sex marriage a decade ago, but House Bill 2269 would remove outdated language that remains in the Pennsylvania statute.

“For my part, Madam Speaker, I do not rise today to ask anyone to vote any way other than their heart,” Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia), the bill’s author, said on the House floor, adding that he was not necessarily seeking anyone’s acceptance or respect for his marriage.

“What I want and what this bill is about is for Pennsylvania and our law to reflect established jurisprudence that says: I can go home to the man I love and call him my husband because he is. If you still want to fight a culture war, if you’re still angry about my marriage, that’s on you, on your God, on your newspaper, on whatever.”

Rep. Stephanie Borowicz (R-Clinton) spoke out against the bill, saying that “marriage is not a civil contract between two individuals,” but rather a “sacred covenant institution created by God between one man and one woman.”

“This is not about hate, even though the media portrays it as such,” Borowicz continued. “It is about the Judeo-Christian values ​​and principles upon which this nation is founded, and marriage and family are one of those pillars.”

Rep. Jessica Benham (D-Allegheny) said that as a proud queer woman and the daughter of a pastor, she was asking for support for the bill. She noted that laws around religious freedom already protect religious institutions that don’t want to perform same-sex weddings, “and besides, who wants to get married in an environment that doesn’t support or celebrate you?”

“There are loving couples across this state raising families together who do not deserve to have their families torn apart because of court decisions overturned,” Benham added.

“I ask my colleagues to vote for this legislation, because there are young people looking at our world today who are afraid – afraid that they will never fit in, that they will never be accepted, that they will never be loved for who they are,” Benham continued, “and those young people deserve to know that there are people who look like them, love like them, and live like them, who are fighting for their fundamental freedoms right here in their state capital.”

The language defining marriage in Section 1704 of Pennsylvania’s Domestic Relations Law was declared invalid after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2013 to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional. Under that ruling, the federal government cannot discriminate against married same-sex couples when determining federal benefits and protections.

President Joe Biden signed a marriage equality law into law in 2022, to ensure that same-sex and interracial couples would continue to have many of their existing rights if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the cases that established those constitutional protections.

House Bill 2269 passed 133-68 and now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate for consideration.