Rep. Josephs Talks Gay Marriage

Will Pennsylvania really outlaw same-sex marriage? Plus: Josephs refuses to debate primary opponent at Liberty City

Not only does Pennsylvania not have laws granting same-sex marriage, but the commonwealth could be on the brink of outlawing it completely. State Rep. Babette Josephs says she’s calling for the defeat of a bill that she says would legislate marriage discrimination as the House State Government Committee gets ready to debate the issue on March 13th.

“Why the Republicans are focusing on same-sex marriage when Pennsylvanians are facing high unemployment, an economic recession, and the lack of job-creating businesses is beyond me,” Josephs says. “We have a crisis in transportation funding; we are leading the race to the bottom in public education; we are ruining our natural resources – and perhaps our multi-billion-dollar farming industry – by allowing unrestrained drilling in the Marcellus shale formation. Voters are very angry about the Republican failures, so I have to believe that the majority party is only trying to distract the citizens. It seems they are only satisfied when they are picking on populations that don’t have the numbers or clout to defend themselves.”

House Bill 1434, as it’s known, would define marriage as the union between one man and one woman in the state constitution. As a result, the commonwealth would not only refuse to recognize same-sex marriage, but also any other kind of legal union – including common-law marriage or a partnership between a heterosexual couple. And even same-sex couples legally married outside of Pennsylvania would find themselves single when they entered this state.

Josephs and other opponents of the bill object on the basis of it being discriminatory to both LGBT people and straight couples.

“It runs counter to the favorable view a majority of Pennsylvanians have of non-traditional unions, including same-sex marriage, because of their sense of fair play and justice,” says Josephs. “This bill would serve only to make lesbian and gay voters second-class citizens.”

She says that the law could have a serious impact of victims of domestic abuse who are not legally married to his or her abuser. Other issues at stake: inheritance, health benefits, tax incentives and parenting rights.

“Domestic partners, both opposite and same-sex, who are recipients of public sector union bargaining benefits will lose them, because government may not recognize any relationship other than formal marriage,” says Josephs. “Blameless children of these unions will be especially hard hit. If marriage is good for opposite-sex couples, then it good for everyone. I am unalterably opposed to this amendment and the mean-spirited, small-minded mentality that supports this constitutional amendment.”

Interestingly, The Inquirer reported recently that Josephs, long considered to be an LGBT advocate, refused to debate Brian Sims, the openly gay attorney who is challenging her seat in the April primary at a meeting of the Liberty City Democratic Club.

“I’m committed to your discussions with my campaign manager,” Josephs said in a video being circulated by the Sims campaign. “I don’t make those kinds of commitments. I am not in control of my schedule. I will not make a commitment here.”

If you are also opposed to this bill, please considering contacting your local senator, representative and the governor to let them know why marriage discrimination isn’t very American.