Sims, McCarter to introduce Pa. marriage equality bill in House

State Reps. Brian Sims, D-Phila., and Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery/Phila., will introduce a bill in the state House of Representatives to provide civil marriage equality in Pennsylvania.

Sims, the first member of the Pennsylvania legislature elected as an out gay candidate, will be the lead sponsor. He said, “After Wednesday’s decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court, it is past time for Pennsylvania to join the 12 states – soon to be 13 because of California – and the District of Columbia that already provide this basic measure of equality and dignity to their residents.

“LGBT Pennsylvanians are seeing their neighbors in New York, Maryland and Delaware, among other states, now qualify for the approximately 1,000 federal rights and benefits that come with civil marriage and they are increasingly asking why they don’t have those same rights, as well as the state rights and benefits. Marriage equality has steadily grown, now standing at majority support in recent Pennsylvania polls. I believe that more and more legislators from both parties will decide to be on the right side of history.”

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McCarter said, “I am proud that Rep. Brian Sims and I have joined together in introducing this landmark legislation calling for marriage equality in Pennsylvania. With the recent Supreme Court ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act, it is time for the Pennsylvania General Assembly to finally take swift action in ensuring that all our citizens have fair and equal rights in choosing whom they may marry. All marriage is equal and government has no role in weighing the value or legitimacy of a couple’s love based on their sexual orientation. This bill should already be law, but sadly because it is not, I urge the Majority Leadership in the House and Senate as well as the Governor to embrace this measure and move it as quickly as possible.”

Ted Martin, executive director of Equality Pennsylvania, said, “Across Pennsylvania, thousands of loving couples are doing the hard work of building strong families, and yet they’re denied the protection they need to take care of the ones they love. Now that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act has fallen, it’s more important than ever that Pennsylvania legislators act to provide committed same-sex couples with the security that only marriage can provide.

“Pennsylvanians are ready for a conversation about why marriage matters to all families. We applaud our lawmakers for being willing to start that conversation with this critical legislation. It’s time that we allow all families to share in the freedom to marry.”

The bill, like an equivalent bill (S.B. 719) introduced by state Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery/Delaware, would provide protections for religious organizations and entities that do not wish to sanction, perform or in any way recognize same-sex civil marriages.

Submitted by the House Democratic Communications Office.