WEST CHESTER — A group of Chester County legislators are pushing for legislation they say would update Pennsylvania law to reflect the relatively newfound state of marriage equality and the right of same-sex couples across the nation to marry.
Though the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges on June 26, 2015, made it clear that marriage should be available to all, Pennsylvania retains outdated and unnecessary sections of law that prohibit marriage equality, say those involved in the bills in both the state Senate and state House of Representatives, according to a press release.
State Sen. Carolyn Comitta, D-19th, of West Chester, introduced the legislation along with fellow county senators in the Harrisburg upper chamber.
“During my tenure as mayor of West Chester, I presided over numerous weddings of loving same-sex couples,” Comitta said in the release.
“Our laws should reflect our values. In Chester County and Pennsylvania, we value compassionate, welcoming, inclusive, and diverse communities that recognize the rights and contributions of every individual, including same-sex couples and LGBTQ-plus individuals and families,” the first-term senator said.
Comitta, who serves on the General Assembly’s LGBTQ-plus Equality Caucus, said the change is not only a matter of upholding the constitution, but is also a matter of recognizing and reinforcing the rights of same-sex couples at a time when members of the community continue to face discrimination, bigotry, and hateful rhetoric from opponents of same-sex marriage.
“Nearly six years ago, our nation enshrined the right to marry and all of its privileges and responsibilities for same-sex couples. It is past time that we update our state laws to follow suit and reflect the modern, legal, and widely-accepted definition and view of marriage,” she said.
Comitta’s bill, as yet unnumbered, is a companion of House Bill 824, introduced by state Representatives Malcolm Kenyatta and Danilo Burgos, both of Philadelphia.
“The promise of America has to include every single one of us – and because of generations of activists and LGBTQ-plus leaders, marriage equality is the law of the land. However, outdated and discriminatory language still exists in commonwealth statute, and that must change. This bill will ensure that our laws reflect who we are and further clarify that in Pennsylvania, who you are and who you love is seen and valued,” Kenyatta said, according to the release from Comitta’s office.
Specifically, the bill would repeal a section of state law that currently only recognizes marriage between a man and woman.
Comitta’s bill is co-sponsored by her fellow state senators representing portions of Chester County – John Kane, D-9th, of Birmingham, and Katie Muth, D-44th, of Royersford – as well as Sens. Wayne Fontana, Vincent Hughes, Judy Schwank, Tim Kearney, and Jay Costa, the Senate Democratic Leader.
The companion House bill is co-sponsored by several Chester County lawmakers, including state Representatives Kristine Howard, D-167th, of Malvern; Dianne Herrin, D-156th, of West Chester; Dan Williams, D-74th, of Sadsbury; and Melissa Shusterman, D-157th, of Tredyffrin.
To contact Staff Writer Michael P. Rellahan call 610-696-1544.