Melanie Nathan – Feb 15, 2011
Pennsylvania Representative Mark Cohen has announced that he will introduce a bill to legalize civil union throughout the state of Pennsylvania. Cohen , a Democrat held a press conference in Harrisburg this week to discuss the legislatiion together with more than 40 co-sponsors of the initiative.
“Support for civil unions today does not preclude support for marriage equality now or in the future,” Cohen said at the news conference. “The issue as I see it is whether we can grant meaningful rights and recognitions in the GLBT community within a reasonable period of time.”
The proposal – H.B. 708 – would allow same-sex couples to enjoy civil unions throughout the Commonwealth. The same state laws that apply to heterosexual married couples would also apply to gays and lesbians. Cohen described the civil unions as a compromise between marriage equality and banning marriage for gay couples completely through a constitutional amendment. He also affirmed that the bill would not require any religious institutions or clergy persons to perform ceremonies for same-sex couples.
“I believe that there is a reasonable chance that, with a strong organizational effort, we can enact civil union legislation by the end of 2012,” said Cohen. “Doing so would require the support of the vast majority in the House and Senate, and the backing of a substantial number of Republicans in each chamber.
About 60 percent of Pennsylvanians support civil unions.