In a Dec. 12 memo, state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-12th Dist.) announced his plan to introduce an amendment next legislative session that would define marriage in the Pennsylvania constitution as being between one man and one woman.
Metcalfe first introduced the bill in 2011 and rallied 35 cosponsors, but it died in committee. Similar legislation was introduced in the Senate the previous two sessions but failed.
The bill had previously been in the House in 2006, where it was approved. The Senate also approved a similar measure that year, but the effort to conjoin the legislation for final approval failed.
Pennsylvania adopted a law in 1996 that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, but the constitutional amendment would make that statute even firmer.
Ted Martin, executive director of Equality Pennsylvania, said that Metcalfe’s proposal is based on fear.
“He is a tenacious man,” Martin said. “I think people who believe in what he believes in see that they are losing this fight, especially with this past election and four states supporting marriage equality.”
Metcalfe did not respond to a request for comment from PGN.
In his memo, Metcalfe said it was important to defend “traditional” marriage.
“Marriage is a common good, not a special interest. Special interests should not have the right to redefine marriage for all of us,” he wrote.
Martin said Equality PA has worked to inform its network about the amendment.
“We sent out an email as soon as we heard about it. It is very important for the community to know about this,” he said. “He has tried to introduce this amendment before, and we are ready for him this time.”
Metcalfe wrote in the memo that he planned to introduce the amendment in the “near future,” although no specific timeline was given.
“This constitutional amendment will eliminate confusion as to what constitutes a legal marriage, and it will also designate marriage as the only type of union that will be legally recognized in Pennsylvania,” Metcalfe wrote. He will base the language in the amendment on Florida’s marriage-protection amendment.
Martin said that although he would never bet against Metcalfe’s success, he is optimistic that legislators will vote against this.
Martin encouraged the LGBT community to contact their state legislators before the next term starts in January.
“Right now, they are out of the office and are in their separate communities, at holiday parties and preparing for their terms. We need to call them and let them know about this amendment,” he said.
Martin encouraged face-to-face communication with state representatives, which he said could be more effective than writing or calling.
“If you see them out somewhere, let them know about this amendment,” he said.