Details on Pa. same-sex marriage bill

State Rep. Brian Sims (D., Phila.) in LOVE Park describing the bill. Rep. Steve McCarter is the cosponsor.
State Rep. Brian Sims (D., Phila.) in LOVE Park describing the bill. Rep. Steve McCarter is the cosponsor. (DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer)
Posted: October 05, 2013

Two legislators released new details about a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania while recognizing unions from other states, and exempting clergy from marrying gay couples if they did not wish to do so.

About 50 people gathered Thursday at LOVE Park as State Reps. Brian Sims and Steve McCarter introduced House Bill 1686, called the Pennsylvania Marriage Equality Act.

"This bill is not innovative. It's not progressive. It's not even all that forward-looking anymore," said Sims, noting that 100 million Americans live in states where gay marriage is legal. "What this bill does is recognize a fundamental right in our Constitution that all people will be treated equally."

He and McCarter, both Philadelphia Democrats, have 33 cosponsors.

They acknowledge that the bill faces a difficult path, as previous attempts to legalize gay marriage have gone nowhere.

But they say they are encouraged by recent court rulings and lawsuits around the nation.

The bill's language takes up less than a page. It removes language from the state law that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, and inserts words saying marriage is "between two people."

It amends the law to say that all marriages performed outside Pennsylvania will be recognized as valid.

A lesbian couple who married in Massachusetts and moved to Pennsylvania recently filed suit in federal court, attempting to force their new state to recognize their union.

Many in the crowd brought signs supporting same-sex marriage. One man flew a rainbow flag.

"My faith tells me that God believes in love, and God believes in equality," said one of those who attended, the Rev. Stina Schaeffer, associate pastor at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Huntingdon Valley. "Again and again, Jesus makes the case for equality."


jgammage@phillynews.com

215-854-4906

@JeffGammage

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