At a time when our governor’s budget includes 50% cuts in funding for higher education and drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus shale is raising issues about (the lack of) a severance tax and (already occurring) environmental damage, Pennsylvania State House Rep. Daryl Metcalfe has introduced a marriage protection amendment in the Pennsylvania legislature. From the press release:
Pennsylvania House State Government Committee Chairman State Representative Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) announced today the introduction of a Constitutional amendment to allow the citizens of Pennsylvania to precisely define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
“The institution of traditional marriage has never been under greater attack,” said Metcalfe. “This not only includes the special interests who want to permanently redefine marriage, but unfortunately the executive branch and the federal Department of Justice who have blatantly and recklessly refused to uphold and defend its Constitutionality. Once again, it falls to the responsibility of state lawmakers to restore the rule of law and carry out the will of the people.”
Once House Bill 1434 is approved in two consecutive sessions of the General Assembly, Pennsylvanians would then have the choice, through voter referendum, to amend the state Constitution to include a provision containing the following language:
“Marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife and no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.”
The language contained in Metcalfe’s legislation is modeled after Florida’s marriage protection amendment, which was approved by more than 60 percent of Florida voters in 2008. The amendment was also unanimously ruled Constitutional by the Florida Supreme Court, after being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
To date, voters in 30 states have ratified similar amendments to their state constitutions.
“Pennsylvania voters deserve the opportunity to do the same,” Metcalfe said. “The definition of marriage as ‘the union of one man and one woman,’ defended and upheld by this legislation, is the traditional definition of marriage that has been recognized and accepted throughout history and the world for centuries. It should not be the Obama administration’s Department of Justice and the executive branch bureaucrats that decide this critical issue for our Commonwealth, but rather the voters.”
Though the text of the proposed amendment differs slightly from the version that failed last time around, the attempt to score cheap political points is ever present. Notably, from the last sentence of the press release, it appears that Rep. Metcalfe does not understand that President Obama ordered the Department of Justice to cease defending the portion of the federal DOMA that defines marriage for purposes of federal law. The President’s decision has nothing to do with the definition of marriage in Pennsylvania. But why bother with such legal niceties when you can fire up reactionaries by going after the LGBT community and the President all at once.