Philly Rep. Proposes Civil Unions Bill in Harrisburg

Rep. Mark Cohen's legislation would provide same-sex couples many of the same benefits as hetero married couples.

Cohen at a recent Capitol news conference.

This has been a huge week for gay people in Harrisburg. A day after we learn about state Representative Brian Sims’s winning battle to eliminate LGBT discrimination on an important tax bill, Philadelphia Democratic Representative Mark Cohen has proposed legislation that would legalize civil unions in Pennsylvania. More specifically, House Bill 1178 “would amend Title 23 (Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in marriage, adding a definition; and providing for civil unions.”

According to a press release I received from Cohen’s office, the bill would define a civil union “would make all state laws applicable to marriage also applicable to a civil union. The bill also would allow reciprocity for civil unions performed legally in other states and the recognition of same sex-marriage in other states as civil unions in Pennsylvania.”

In the press release, Cohen calls civil unions exactly what they are: a “middle-of-the-road compromise position between constitutionally banning and permitting gay marriages.” And just to appease those religious dissenters, he states that, “Nothing in this bill would require any religion or any clergyman to perform any ceremony uniting people in a civil union. This legislation will merely offer committed gay couples the same legal rights that are bestowed upon married people without the status of marriage.”

It’s not the sweeping “let everyone marry” kind of legislation we’ve been hoping for, but it’d be nice to have something like this legalized while we wait for that. Currently, the bill has 27 supporters, a list of which can be seen here, and has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. Stay tuned to G Philly for updates.

Follow G Philly on Twitter | Like G Philly on Facebook | Follow G Philly on Instagram

Have gay news you’d like to share with G Philly? Send tips to