The bill in the Pennsylvania Senate that seeks to legalize same-sex marriage now has one more legislative supporter.
Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-38th Dist.) announced this week that he has signed on as a cosponsor of SB 935, which Sen. Daylin Leach (D-17th Dist.) introduced last month. Sen. Larry Farnese (D-1st Dist.) is also a cosponsor.
“When you review our great American story, the expansion of our civil rights and liberties always came about as a result of the people’s demand for justice and fairness,” Ferlo said this week. “This is now true for the GLBT community who are rightfully seeking equal rights — not any special rights, as foes would argue — for marriage or recognition of civil unions between consenting adults.”
Ferlo is also spearheading a bill in the Senate that would add sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, ancestry and physical and mental disability as protected classes under the state’s hate-crimes law. The state legislature had approved the inclusion of these classes in 2002, but in 2007 a state court found that the legislative process by which the bill was passed was unconstitutional.
While Ferlo endorsed marriage equality, he also noted that this may not be the most appropriate time to consider the bill, as the legislature is currently focused on the state budget and the legislation doesn’t have enough broad support. Ferlo did, however, state that both the hate-crimes legislation and a bill that seeks to protect the LGBT community from discrimination on a statewide level both have a “strong likelihood of passage” this session.
Ferlo commended Leach for putting the issue of same-sex marriage in the public consciousness.
“Sen. Leach should be given recognition and applauded for his effort to advance this cause further so as to allow public debate and discourse on an issue whose time has come,” he said.
Leach said this week that he expects Farnese’s and Ferlo’s support for marriage equality to encourage other lawmakers to back the bill.
“I’m very grateful to both Sen. Ferlo and Sen. Farnese. This is a process, but I think over time we’re going to see more and more people supporting us,” Leach said.
The bill is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where supporters do not expect any movement on it until the fall.
Sen. John Eichelberger (R-30th Dist.) announced in May that he would introduce a bill to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. The bill has not yet been introduced.