Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Why Are These Men Smiling?

Harrisburg keeps serving up surprises.

Sen. Jane Earll of Erie was the latest to serve one up Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee by taking the knife to a proposed Constitutional amendment designed to outlaw gay marriage.

As originally drafted -- and as passed by the state House -- the amendment read thusly:

"Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this Commonwealth, and neither the Commonwealth nor any of its political subdivisions shall create or recognize a legal status identical or substantially equivalent to that of marriage for unmarried individuals."

Here is the language, apres the Earll amendment, which was approved by the committee 13-1.

"Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this Commonwealth."

What's it all mean?

To quote that noted political analyst Mother Goose, Earll took the amendment and turned it in, turned it out and turned it into sauerkraut.

No wonder the pro-Family groups are in a dither.

By indirection, the Earll amendment allows counties and the state to approve domestic partnerships and/or civil unions. The original amendment banned such arrangements.

What's the difference between a marriage and a civil union? You got me. I thought marriage was a civil union (as opposed to Matrimony.)

Why the 13-1 vote? It was the Senate's way of saying to the House: "Go away and don't bug us with this cockamamie issue now."

My bet is, it kills the amendment.


Anonymous CENTRIST said...

Marriage provides the sanctity of a union that is joined usually by the clergy with the blessing of the state. Further, such unions legally allow for the carrying on of the husbandf's name by any progeny issued by the married couple.

Civil Marriages are marriages performed by a government official so empowered. Legally, they are the same as marriages.

Civil Unions are what State Government wants to allow the counties to allow or not, as the case may be. These would include same-sex marriages.

Why is this fight brewing now?

If you think it is about gay marriages, you are dead wrong. The Gay and Lesbian community would have you think that.

Rest assured, this issue has far reaching ramifications down the road for future generations in terms of inheritance rights, and legal rights of 'legitimate' chidren versus 'illegitimate' children.

It has ramifications involving gene manipulation and human cloning.

While we are discussing popular cultural-societal changes in how same-sex unions are viewed, science is creating moral and legal dilemmas for the next generation faster than we can comprehend, that have little to do with the same-sex union issue.

Constitutionally putting marriage in its traditional role does not preclude legal benefits for other types of unions. What it does is frame marriage as what it is, the traditional, time tested way a man and a woman join their lives and procreate.

10:34 AM  
Blogger rasphila said...

My bet is, it kills the amendment.

So is mine.

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is both an effort to continue a form of unequal treatment, which is in direct violation of our constitution and also a distraction from the real issues. While the senate's amendment is better than that of the house, I say vote out anyone who wastes the voters/taxpayers time with this garbage.

2:51 PM  
Anonymous CENTRIST said...

There is nothing unequal in what they are trying to do.

The inequality exists in the capabilities of the various types of unions.

Those religiously and civilly blessed as marriages carry the "procreation" capability.

Same sex unions do not.

Those are facts.

Those facts make a difference legally, for the members of the various unions, and for any offspring from religious/civil marriages.

You cannot make something mean the same as something else simply because you want it to.

3:59 PM  
Blogger rasphila said...

Centrist argues that marriage is about "carrying on the husband's name by any progeny issued by the married couple," and that marriage is about procreation.

On the first point, the husband's name, there is at least one legal marriage that I know of where the husband took the wife's name in order to continue her family's name, which otherwise would have died out. Both state and church recognized this marriage. Were they wrong?

As to whether marriage is about procreation, if this were true it would invalidate thousands of marriages—those between partners who are infertile, either because of age or medical condition. Plenty of couples in their 50s and 60s who have never had children marry and are recognized by state and church even though the female partner in most (if not all) of them is unable to conceive and bear offspring.

If the main point of marriage is to perpetuate family names and procreate, then a lot of marriages which do not do so come into question under Centrist's standards. And if procreation is not essential to marriage, what is the objection to same-sex marriages? Gay couples may not be able to procreate (at least not with each other), but the same could be said of many heterosexual couples.

5:42 PM  
Blogger rasphila said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:42 PM  
Blogger Donna said...

There are certain rights and benefit afforded to couples in this country that are based on no other criteria than marriage.

The right to inherit from a spouse.

The right to participate in medical decisions.

Protection from testifying against a spouse.

Tax benefits.

Pension benefits.

Social security benefits.

Alimony payments.

Child support.

Health insurance.

These are all issues at stake in the marriage/same sex union debate.

If the state eliminates the option of civil unions, citizens in committed same sex partnerships will be denied access to rights afforded to other citizens who are participating in exactly the same type of relationship with the only difference being the gender of their partner.

If the idea of a civil union between same sex partners is so offensive to our legislators that they have to draft a bill defining the parameters of what constitutes a legal union, then I suggest they repeal all the legal and financial rights afforded to married couples.

Otherwise, we will have a separate, but not equal treatment of one segment of our society and that, I believe, is defined as discrimination.

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since 1996, PA's Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as being between “one man and one woman.” Since 1996, same-sex marriages and “civil unions” have never been recognized as having legal standing in Pennsylvania.

Thanks to the Defense of Marriage Act, persons of the same sex cannot even apply for, let alone be issued a marriage license in our Commonwealth. The law also prevents our courts from recognizing the validity of any so-called “civil union” and, therefore, ensures that persons of the same sex cannot be granted any of the legal rights that married couples now enjoy.

House Bill 2381 would amend our state Constitution to prevent any court in Pennsylvania from ruling that our Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

If HB 2381 is passed by the Legislature in two consecutive sessions and then approved by statewide voter referendum, it will ensure that the institution of marriage remains only between one man and one woman.

Furthermore, any same-sex marriage or “civil union” granted in any other state or country would not be recognized as legal here in Pennsylvania.

10:35 AM  
Anonymous phillydem said...

Bravo, Donna, well said.

12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What Donna is saying is really what is at the heart of the whole movement behind reviewing these laws. Hopefully Pennsylvanian’s will come around some day to recognize that what is at stake is equality, freedom and equal rights.

9:14 AM  

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