Three senators renew push for same-sex laws

From left, State Sens. Larry Farnese, Daylin Leach, and Mike Stack at a news conference in favor of two Senate bills pertaining to sexual identity.
From left, State Sens. Larry Farnese, Daylin Leach, and Mike Stack at a news conference in favor of two Senate bills pertaining to sexual identity. (CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer)
Posted: January 08, 2014

Three Democratic state senators vowed Monday to renew their push for same-sex marriage and antidiscrimination laws in Pennsylvania despite deep partisan divide on the issue.

Sens. Mike Stack and Larry Farnese of Philadelphia and Daylin Leach of Montgomery County said at a news conference that the tide was shifting in their favor, particularly on Senate Bill 300, which would make it illegal to deny employment or housing because of a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.

"If we had this legislation kicked out of committee," Farnese said, "we have the votes, Democrat and Republican, to pass Senate Bill 300."

The bill and its companion bill in the House have 100 cosponsors from both sides of the aisle. Gov. Corbett reversed course in mid-December and said he would support the bill.

Both bills remain before the state government committees and have yet to be scheduled for hearings.

On Monday, Stack urged Corbett to lobby fellow Republicans to send the bill up for a vote.

Twenty-three states - including New Jersey, New York, and Maryland - have nondiscrimination laws that include sexual orientation and gender identity.

The U.S. Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in November, with key support from seven Republicans, including Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey and Arizona's John McCain. Analysts say it has little chance of passing the House.

Leach was also upbeat Monday about the chances of Senate Bill 719 to legalize same-sex marriage.

Leach has been introducing that bill since 2009, but he said that in the last year, the number of states allowing same-sex marriage had roughly tripled, whether by legislation or court order.

"History is moving inexorably in that direction," he said. "It's already too late to be in the very front, but we can still move forward."

That bill faces a much higher hurdle, with little Republican support.


jparks@philly.com

610-313-8117 @JS_Parks

www.inquirer.com/MontcoMemo

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