Wednesday, May 07, 2008BY JAN MURPHY Of The Patriot-News:
An effort to add an amendment to Pennsylvania's Constitution banning gay marriage was dealt a major setback in the state Senate on Tuesday.
The Senate was expected to consider legislation to limit marriage to a union between one man and one woman, and not recognize any other "functional equivalent of marriage," such as civil unions.
The Senate tabled the bill, signaling it is unlikely to move anywhere this year. The Democratic-controlled House has shown no interest in taking up the measure.
A majority of Democratic senators and enough Republican senators struggled with the proposal's inclusion of "functional equivalent." Some considered it discriminatory. Others, such as Sen. Patricia Vance, R-Cumberland County, found it to be too nebulous.
"If you say marriage will be between a man and a woman, that's not hard to understand. But if you say functional equivalent, I'm not sure what that means," Vance said.
She said she was prepared to offer an amendment on the Senate floor striking the term "functional equivalent" from the proposal.
Sen. Vincent Fumo, D-Philadelphia County, a staunch opponent of the amendment, and others predicted Vance's amendment would have garnered at least the 26 votes needed to pass.
They claimed that was the real reason why the measure was tabled and not the excuse offered on the Senate floor. Sen. Michael Brubaker, R-Lancaster County, the bill's sponsor, said there was no point in passing the bill, since the House leaders indicated they had no plans of moving it if it came to that chamber.
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