by Damon Boughamer
Public Radio Capitol News, serving Pennsylvania
Harrisburg, Penna. (PRCN, 16 March 2006) -- A proposed state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage cleared a Pennsylvania House committee today.
Dozens of lawmakers, aides and observers packed into a hearing room that was too small. The crowd extended out the door.
Sponsor Scott Boyd – a Lancaster County Republican – said there was no need for public hearings.
"A constitutional amendment requires, in Pennsylvania, a voter referendum," Boyd said. "What broader public hearing can you have than a voter referendum, where each individual – not just selected interest groups – has the ability to go and vote on this issue?"
Democrat Louise Bishop of Philadelphia said this is not what Pennsylvanians want.
"My constituents – including the religious community – want me to vote no. It’s explosive. From Lancaster to Allentown to Philadelphia County, I have had e-mails, and 90 percent of them want a ‘no’ vote," Bishop said.
This amendment could be timed to the 2008 presidential election.
A motion to table the bill failed on a tie vote, with two Republicans – Dave Steil and Katharine Watson of Bucks County – joining every Democrat in an effort to block its advance.