Pennsylvania Threatened With Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

Timothy Kincaid

March 19th, 2008

The Pittsburg Post-Gazette is reporting that an anti-gay bill to amend the state’s constitution to permanently exclude same-sex couples from marriage has passed the Judiciary Committee of the Senate.

Over the protests of Sens. Jay Costa Jr., D-Forest Hills, and Jane Earll, R-Erie, the committee voted 10-4 to approve Senate Bill 1250 and send it to the Appropriations Committee, its next stop before it hits the Senate floor.

This proposed amendment is arrogant and punitive in that it not only reserves the privileges of marriage to heterosexuals but it also prohibits this legislature or future legislatures from providing civil unions or any other functionally equivalent consideration:

No union other than a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognizeds as marriage or the functional equivalent of marriage by the Commonwealth.

Not content to “protect marriage”, these anti-gays also want to ensure that gay couples cannot get equivalent workplace benefits, establish next-of-kin, visit their sick or make end of life decisions for their partner of decades, or many of the other accommodations that can be established by “functional equivalents”. This isn’t good government. It isn’t good religion. It’s bigotry and cruelty dressed up as piety.

To enshrine discrimination into the state’s constitution, this bill must do the following

The gay marriage ban has a long way to go. The bill must be approved not only by the current General Assembly, but also by the 2009-10 Legislature, whose members will be elected in November. If both sessions of the Legislature approve it, the amendment would go to a statewide referendum in November 2009.

Currently, the Senate has a Republican majority of 29 to 21.

In the Judiciary, only two Democrats and two Republicans voted against the bill. And in addition to the three Democrats who voted for the anti-gay bill in Judiciary, two others are listed as sponsors. In total 25 of the 50 Senators have either voted for or endorsed this amendment, fairly ensuring its passage should it reach the floor of the Senate.

The House has a narrow Democratic majority of 102 to 101. But as we have often seen, a Democratic majority in one house is not an assurance that anti-gay bigotry will be thwarted.

Now is the time for Pennsylvania gays to contact their legislators, especially those in the House of Representatives. We need every Democrat to hold fast against institutionalized discrimination. We need every fair-minded Republican to recognize that even if they don’t favor marriage equality, this amendment is over-kill. The “functional equivalent” clause proves that this is discrimination for the point of discrimination, not a measure to “protect” marriage.


March 19th, 2008

That would be a “narrow DemocratIC majority” in the House.

Democrat is a noun–a person can be a democrat or a Democrat. Democratic is an adjective–you use it to modify a noun like majority or party.

Just saying it so Zeke doesn’t have to… At this point it’s kind of an endearing tic.

Timothy Kincaid

March 19th, 2008

I started to argue because I think Democrat in this usage is a noun (as in a majority of Democrats)… but now I’m not sure. “Democratic majority” may be correct, but it sounds confusing, like it was a majority that was democratically selected rather than a majority of Democrats.

But I’ll change it to “Democratic” for now. And if some English teacher is reading, tell me if it should be changed back to “a Democrat majority”.

Jason D

March 19th, 2008




March 20th, 2008

Using a capital “D” makes it clear that you are referring to the Democratic Party. Using a lower-case “d” would imply a majority that is democratically elected or democratically inclined.

Regardless, context makes it obvious what you mean. In the preceding paragraphs you refer to the Republican majority in the Senate, so it’s clear that you are referring to the Democratic Party when you discuss the “narrow Democratic majority” in the House.

Why wait for an English teacher to weigh in? There are plenty of perfectly sound resources on the web that explain the proper use of adjectives and nouns. Any dictionary should help you understand that democrat is a noun and democratic is an adjective.

There are, of course, some instances where it is accepted for a noun to modify another noun (phone call, toothpaste, Iraq war, etc.). In this case, however, the choice to use “Democrat” rather than “Democratic” is, as has been discussed at great length in previous posts, seen by many as provocative and partisan. The adjectival form is the neutral and preferred form.

Jim Burroway

March 20th, 2008

Hey, have you heard? I read somewhere that the Pennsylvania legislature is poised to pass an overly broad anti-marriage constitutional amendment.


March 20th, 2008

Marriage is a basic civil right that should be attainable by all Americans if they choose. For the truth about gay marriage check out our trailer. Produced to educate & defuse the controversy it has a way of opening closed minds & provides some sanity on the issue:


March 22nd, 2008

I came to leave a comment to say how much I appreciated the well written and informative commentary.

I didn’t even notice the “ic-less” thing when I read it. Maybe it was fixed before I got here.

I have to say, in its current form, this commentary was quite impressive in its fairness and ability to inform without preach.

Thanks Mr. Kincaid.


March 22nd, 2008

Oh, I just caught what werdna was pointing out and although I agree with his/her explanation Mr. Kincaid’s original post wouldn’t have struck me as odd or out of line.

To be honest I don’t think I would have even caught that one or thought it was out of line.

It’s only “Democrat Party” that rubs me wrong because of the intentional use of it as a taunt by conservative media pundits and radio talk show hosts.

Again, great post!

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