WATCH: Out State Rep. Brian Sims Introduces Pa. Marriage Equality Act
BY Sunnivie Brydum
October 03 2013 8:36 PM ET UPDATED: October 04 2013 12:26 PM ET
One of Pennsylvania's two out state legislators is ready to help his state catch up to its regional neighbors and enact marriage equality.
Speaking in his own district's famed Love Park in Philadelphia, Rep. Brian Sims, a democrat, announced the introduction of House Bill 1686, the Pennsylvania Marriage Equality Act, reports Philadelphia's CBS affiliate.
"This bill is going to become law," Sims said at a press conference announcing the legislation's introduction Thursday morning. "There is no chance that Pennsylvania will not join the states that recognize marriage equality. The question is how and when."
The bill is cosponsored by fellow Democrat Steve McCarter, who represents part of Montgomery County, where the register of wills married more than 170 same-sex couples in defiance of a statewide law that prohibits such marriages. A state court September 12 ordered that official, D. Bruce Hanes, to stop issuing those licenses.
State and federal courts are also considering two cases challenging Pennsylvania's version of the Defense of Marriage Act; a key section of the federal version was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in June. The state's Democratic attorney general, Kathleen Kane, has said she will not defend the state law in court, since she believes it to be "wholly unconstitutional."
But Pennsylvania's Republican governor, Tom Corbett, has stepped in to defend the state DOMA, and attorneys for his office filed a brief in support of the existing law claiming that marriage between same-sex couples is no more valid than marriages between 12-year-olds.
Just a day before Sims and McCarter introduced the marriage equality bill, a Pennsylvania official compared extending benefits to legally married same-sex couples to "giving money to people's pets," reports The Morning Call.
While promoting an amendment to the county budget that would deny benefits to legally married same-sex couples who married elsewhere, Lehigh County commissioner Tom Creighton cited the statewide ban on marriage equality and asked, "Why should the county be offering benefits for same-sex marriage? I don't feel the county should be looking for new ways to give away taxpayer money. Next it could be giving money out to people's pets or whatever. No, it probably won't go that far."
Watch the CBS station's report on Sims and McCarthy's introduction of the Marriage Equality Act below.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that Rep. Brian Sims was Pennsylvania's only out state legislator. In fact, Rep. Mike Fleck, a Republican, came out in 2012, and still serves in the state House of Representatives.