Leach announced May 27 that he would introduce the bill sometime this week, but on Tuesday a spokesperson for the senator said the timeline will be slightly delayed.
“We had to send it back for redrafting of some of the language, so we’re hoping to introduce it sometime early next week,” said Casey Kockler, Leach’s media outreach and research specialist.
Kockler said the bill currently has only one cosponsor, Sen. Larry Farnese (D-1st Dist.).
“I’m pleased to join Sen. Leach in his effort to ensure that the freedoms of an entire class of productive, law-abiding Pennsylvanians will not be jeopardized,” Farnese said this week.
Kockler said Leach will be making phone calls and visits to other lawmakers this week to “draw up more support.”
Of the state senators who represent Philadelphia, Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-7th Dist.) said he hasn’t “made a decision yet [on cosponsorship] but [does] support Sen. Leach in his efforts,” while the other five local legislators — Sens. Christine Tartaglione (D-2nd Dist.), Shirley Kitchen (D-3rd Dist.), Leanna Washington (D-4th Dist.), Michael Stack (D-5th Dist.) and Anthony Williams (D-8th Dist.) — did not return calls for comment.
The introduction of the bill will mark the first time this commonwealth considers marriage-equality legislation.
“The introduction of marriage-equality legislation gives the legislature and the public an opportunity to discuss this important, yet controversial, issue from both sides of the argument,” said Steve Glassman, chair of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. “For the first time, we’re not just fighting a constitutional amendment to ban recognition about relationships, but are able to educate the public and elected officials of the value to the economy and to the lives of all Pennsylvanians by recognizing the importance of equal treatment under the law for everyone who lives in this state.”
Leach’s announcement came a week after another state legislator, Sen. John Eichelberger (R-30th Dist.), pledged to introduce a bill to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
A staff member at Eichelberger’s office said the senator is still finalizing the language of the bill and probably will not introduce the legislation until at least next week. The legislation currently has 10 cosponsors, and the staffer noted that number is expected to grow, as lawmakers just recently returned from a break.
Similar legislation was introduced in the Senate last session with 16 cosponsors and was tabled before it could come to a vote.
Eichelberger’s bill seeks to add language to the constitution that defines marriage as existing only between one man and one woman. In order for the amendment to be adopted, the bill would need to pass in the same format in both the House and Senate in two consecutive sessions, and then would be posed as a ballot question to Pennsylvania voters.
The Pennsylvania Senate is the only Republican-controlled state legislative chamber in the Northeast.
Jen Colletta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.