On the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, Pennsylvania State Reps. Brian Sims, D-Phila., and Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery/Phila., say they will introduce a bill in the state House of Representatives to provide civil marriage equality in Pennsylvania.
"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," Sims said. "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."
The bill is a house version of a state Senate bill (SB 719) introduced earlier this year by state Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery/Delaware.
He said the Supreme Court decision was inspiring him in the timing of the announcement but he said efforts to improve Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgendered rights in Pennsylvania have been ongoing.
"Right now, we have the strongest sport for LGBT issues in Pennsylvania's history," said Sims, who noted that the LGBT rights caucus is the third largest in the State House.
The bill, like the equivalent bill introduced by Leach, would provide protections for religious organizations and entities that do not wish to sanction, perform or in any way recognize same-sex civil marriages.
Sims said that while he is making the announcement now, he plans to get as many co-sponsors as possible and likely won't officially introduce the bill before the end of the summer.