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Pennsylvania Republicans Silence Gay Lawmaker

Flag_of_Pennsylvania.svgWould it be alright if, the next time I’m sitting in an august state legislature that I be allowed to cite The Goddess’ law in order to shut someone up? There is a lot going on in Pennsylvania right now regarding same-sex marriage, but the most egregious bit of news came at the expense of State Representative Brian Sims. Still, despite what happened to him, it looks like Pennsylvania will soon be battling over same-sex marriage as well.

To begin with, State Representative Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) took to the House Floor to discuss the recent ruling by the Supreme Court which overturned the Defense of Marriage Act. Sims’ remarks were blocked by several other state lawmakers who used procedural maneuvers to do so.

One of those lawmakers, theocrat Representative Daryl Metcalfe, informed reporters that he blocked them because he believed that Sims’ remarks violate “God’s law.” Metcalfe said “I did not believe that as a member of that body that I should allow someone to make comments such as he was preparing to make that ultimately were just open rebellion against what the word of God has said, what God has said, and just open rebellion against God’s law.”

Sims, though, said he “wasn’t planning on chastising anybody. I wasn’t planning on discussing how far we have to come in Pennsylvania or that we really have no civil rights in Pennsylvania.” Two other Democrats who attempted to support Sims, who is openly gay, were also blocked from saying anything.

At the end of the session, Sims did rise and criticize Metcalfe and others saying “A few months ago I reminded this House that we put our hands on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution, not the other way around. What I did was in no way against the law of any God. I can’t call anyone a bigot, a homophobe or racist, but language used against me does not live up to the standards of this body.”

Sims and fellow Democratic Representative vowed to also introduce legislation allowing same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania. Sims said in a statement that “LGBT Pennsylvanians are seeing their neighbors in New York, Maryland and Delaware, among other states, now qualify for the approximately 1,000 federal rights and benefits that come with civil marriage and they are increasingly asking why they don’t have those same rights, as well as the state rights and benefits.”

Unfortunately, such a measure is unlikely to get much support since the Republicans control the government in Pennsylvania. In fact, Republican Governor Tom Corbett has repeatedly opposed same-sex marriage and called for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages.

Though, lawmakers have noted that the decision by the US Supreme Court to gut the Defense of Marriage Act could drive businesses away from the state since it would be less expensive for them to set up shop in neighboring states like Delaware, New York and Maryland, all of whom have same-sex marriage.

Lawyer Ruth E. Harlow said that “Pennsylvania isn’t going to be as attractive for progressive businesses and gay and lesbian couples, and I think that’s going to grow into a more significant issue than the state may have realized.”

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