State Senate tables bill against gay marriage

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HARRISBURG -- The state Senate this evening voted to table a bill that would have amended the state constitution to ban gay marriage.

The main sponsor, Sen. Michael Brubaker, R-Lancaster, said it had become clear to him that the bill would not pass in the House and he therefore saw no point to a lengthy debate in the Senate.

The bill might have passed the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans 29-21.

Up to 14 amendments were planned on the bill, which would have meant a long night.

One of the amendments was by Sen. Vincent Fumo, D-Philadelphia, who proposed that Pennsylvania outlaw most divorces.

His amendment would "outlaw the dissolution of most marriages in Pennsylvania," he said in a news release. That would mean there would be few legal ways for the divorce of a married couple, a man and a woman.

Mr. Fumo, who leaves the Senate on Nov. 30, said the stated goal of Senate Bill 1250 is to "protect the sanctity of the marital institution" by defining a legal marriage as only between one man and one woman.

The next logical step, according to Mr. Fumo, is to also outlaw divorces, except for five specific reasons: if one spouse "willfully or maliciously" deserts the other; if one spouse uses "cruel and barbarous treatment" on the other; if a person endangers his or her spouse's health or life; if one spouse is found to be a bigamist; or if one spouse "imposes indignities to make the other spouses's life intolerable and burdensome."

Because Republicans control the Senate, there was virtually no chance that Mr. Fumo's radical amendment would have passed. But it would have given Mr. Fumo a chance to attack the marriage amendment for "taking away the rights of some citizens based on their sexual orientation," as his release states.


More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


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