Just when you think there might be a lull in LGBT news — bam! — breaking news all over the place. This week, there were three major stories that bubbled up: the indictment of businessman Michael Weiss, the introduction of a so-called “Marriage Protection Amendment” to the state constitution by Sen. John Eichelberger and the announcement of domestic-partner benefits for Pennsylvania Court employees.
If the allegations against Weiss prove to be true — that he cooked the books at Palmer Social Club — the club manager/owner could spend up to nine years in prison and pay $750,000 in fines. Though it’s never a good idea to defraud Uncle Sam, it’s also unfortunate that the bad behavior of some can reflect poorly on the rest of the community.
The news of the introduction of Eichelberger’s legislation, which he first threatened last May, is perturbing. The state already has a law defining marriage as between one man and one woman. The federal government already has a law defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
Eichelberger, a Republican elected in 2006, sits on the committees of Agriculture and Rural Affairs; Communications and Technology; Finance; Game and Fisheries; and Local Government, of which he is chair.
Interestingly, it seems that Eichelberger’s campaign was aided by Bob Guzzardi, whom you may remember as the former owner of 12th Street Gym, who divested his interest in the Gayborhood gym after LGBT activists protested his support of former Sen. Rick Santorum. Small world.
Since he’s been in office, Eichelberger has signed on as cosponsor of a number of bills, such as SB 600, which provides for limited immunity for persons who sponsor farm-related tourism, e.g., hay rides and corn mazes. And he’s a cosponsor of SB 812, which seeks to limit campaign contributions by gaming employees. Both are still in committee.
He’s introduced a handful of bills, including a ban on bonuses for employees of commonwealth agencies.
In 2008, Eichelberger introduced a “conscientious objector” bill to allow healthcare providers to refuse to provide products, services and procedures they disagreed with, such as abortion, assisted reproduction and contraception.
After these two news items, the announcement that the Pennsylvania Courts would be providing domestic-partner benefits to same-sex couples was the good news for the week.
The decision to grant the benefits was unanimous, which shows progress at the state’s highest court.
Thank goodness for small favors.