Pennsylvania state Senator John H.
Eichelberger Jr. has introduced a joint resolution to amend the state
constitution to ban gay marriage.
Eichelberger announced the effort last
May during a press conference held on the steps of the Blair County
Courthouse in Hollidaysburg. The freshman senator represents
Pennsylvania's 30th district, which includes Blair County.
Introduction of the bill was postponed due to the economy,
“Pennsylvania voters have the
opportunity to decide how they want marriage to be defined and not
allow an activist judge to make that decision for them,” the
Republican senator said in a statement. “Thirty one other states
have already gone through a similar process and in each state, the
definition of marriage was upheld.”
The joint resolution introduced Tuesday
enjoys the support of 15 co-sponsors. It would insert the following
language into the state constitution: “Only a union of one man and
one woman shall be valid and recognized as a marriage in this
Amending Pennsylvania's constitution
requires the approval of two consecutive legislative sessions,
followed by the approval of voters. The earliest voters could see
the issue on the ballot is 2011.
Passage in the Republican-controlled
Senate appears to be a given, but the proposal might encounter
turbulence from Democratic leaders in the House, who control the
Pennsylvania voters – like much of
the country – are clearly divided on the issue. According to a
2009 Franklin & Marshall statewide poll, 48% of respondents
support defining marriage as a heterosexual union in the state
constitution, while 46% said they were opposed. However, a majority
of voters (58%) support civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.
Currently, Pennsylvania bans gay
marriage by law, which anti-gay marriage foes say leaves the law
vulnerable to being overturned
by a judge.
Last Wednesday, a
stricter measure that seeks to ban gay marriage and civil unions won
the endorsement of a key Senate committee in Indiana.