The Gay Marriage Debate Rages

State Rep. Babette Josephs gives her two cents on the bill to ban same-sex marriage in PA






State Rep. Babette Josephs (D-Phila.) is not very fond of the new bill we discussed recently that seeks to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions in Pennsylvania. After Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) introduced the bill this week, Josephs sent out a statement blasting the pending legislation for being discriminatory.

And while we applaud Josephs, who regularly advocates on behalf of the LGBT community, for her criticism that the bill would ban same-sex marriage to the detriment of the state, we think there’s a better way to defend the rights of same-sex couples rather than simply calling the bill a “distraction.”

“Never is the right time for this discriminatory legislation, in my opinion, but especially today what with all of the challenges Pennsylvanians face, constitutional amendments making certain people second-class citizens are especially repugnant,” Josephs says. “This Republican-supported plan detracts from the serious issues resulting from our difficult economy, including high unemployment, educating our children properly, protecting our environment and filling a significant state budget gap.”

We’d argue that while the bill may have little to do with job creation and the environment, it does address a very serious issue impacting many states in the Union – the rights of LGBT taxpayers. This issue impacts everything from taxes and healthcare to civil liberties and economic development. Without an equal playing field, same-sex couples are, quite simply, left out. Marriage, insomuch as it’s a public testimony to love, is also an economic partnership. And with it comes financial incentives. Fighting for these rights is both a civil rights and economic issue – not a distraction.

Of course, Josephs not only bashed the bill, but she also took PA Governor Tom Corbett to task for devaluing education and opportunities for low-income and marginalized Pennsylvanians.

“We have a governor who has demonstrated that he doesn’t value learning, the environment or the working poor,” she says. “Our task now is to restore public education funding, strengthen the safety net programs and to ensure health care for the 41,000 working poor he kicked out of the adultBasic program and to eliminate the governor’s $2 billion slush fund. It is also imperative that we protect our public forests and drinking water from international oil and gas conglomerates drilling in the Marcellus Shale. Raising the issue of same-sex marriage is at its best frivolous, and its worst, destructive and profoundly un-American.”

Frivolous? The issue of gay marriage is anything but. And as Josephs herself admits, discrimination is dangerous, especially when we consider that more Americans support same-sex marriage rather than oppose it:

“Now a majority of Americans (51 percent) look favorably at same-sex marriages and unions. It is contrary to their American sense of fair play and justice; they want their elected representatives to tackle the real problems they face,” says Josephs. “Furthermore, under this constitutional amendment, our fight against domestic violence is stymied. A woman who faces abuse, or even death, at the hands of a tormentor to whom she is not married, has no way to remove that person from the home, because government would not recognize her domestic partnership status. Children in the household will suffer. This has occurred in states that have adopted similar measures.”

She goes on to say: “Domestic partners who are recipients of public sector union bargaining benefits will lose them, because government may not recognize any relationship other than formal marriage. Blameless children of these unions will be especially hard hit. Discrimination has no place in our constitution. All families deserve to be valued. All individuals have something to contribute. Considering what we all face in the present and in the future, I know we need everyone. This is certainly not the time to discourage anyone from participating by treating him or her as second class. I am unalterably opposed to this amendment and the mean-spirited, small-minded mentality that supports it. …I intend to do all in my power to make sure that marriage between Pennsylvania citizens of the same sex becomes legal.”

What do you think? Is the bill to ban same-sex marriage really a distraction? Or a way for Republican legislators to appeal to conservatives throughout the state? Tell us your thoughts.