Like WI Ban, PA Measure Would Threaten Existing Protections

A Pennsylvania Senate committee will take up a civil unions and marriage ban today. Last week, the Pennsylvania House passed the measure. It reads:

“Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this Commonwealth, and neither the Commonwealth nor any of its political subdivisions shall create or recognize a legal status identical or substantially equivalent to that of marriage for unmarried individuals.”

Not too different from what will be on the ballot in Wisconsin.

An article in The Philadelphia Inquirer does a good job of picking apart what it would mean for gay couples--and unmarried non-gay couples.
If the constitutional prohibition of same-sex marriage is successful, it would alter the state’s legal landscape and create a chilling effect - as it has in several of the 20 other states that have passed similar bans - on a whole range of existing rights and benefits, from adoption and foster care to pensions and wills, say legal experts.
And more:
In a memo drafted for State Rep. Steven R. Nickol (R., Adams), an opponent of the amendment, Ray cited cases in Michigan, Missouri and Ohio in which employers either withdrew pending domestic-partner plans or dropped existing plans after the passage of constitutional bans on same-sex marriage.

One Ohio lawmaker sued a private college, saying its domestic-partner benefits program violated the state’s anti-gay marriage amendment.

There also is concern that the amendment would undermine long-standing domestic violence protections in Pennsylvania. In Ohio, there have been several cases of individuals charged with domestic violence, who were not married to the victims, who have argued the amendment makes the charges unconstitutional.

Lawyers say the amendment also could threaten existing rights of heterosexual couples who entered into common-law marriages before Pennsylvania’s legislative ban on such unions went into effect on Jan. 1, 2005.
Sound familiar? We face the same concerns in Wisconsin. Click here for the full article.

If you know people who live in Pennsylvania, they can learn more and take action online with The Center for Lesbian & Gay Civil Rights.

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