Sen. Vincent J. Fumo

District Office

1208 Tasker Street
Phila, PA 19148

Harrisburg Office

545 Main Capitol
Hbg, PA 17120



On June 21, the State Senate debated a proposed constitutional
amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
The bill originated in the House of Representatives, where it was
written to outlaw civil unions or “legal unions identical or substantially
equivalent to that of marriage for unmarried individuals.” That version
could have prevented civil unions and other arrangements akin to
marriage, and could have been used to deny many social benefits
to gays and others who live together without being married.
On June 13, however, the Senate Judiciary Committee amended 
the bill to remove the language pertaining to unions identical to or
equivalent to marriage, leaving only the provision stating that
marriage shall be defined as between one man and one woman.
When the bill reached the Senate floor on June 21, there were three
votes. The first was to restore the language that the Senate Judiciary
Committee had deleted. The second was to amend the bill with
language very similar to what had been deleted, and the third was
on final passage.
Senator Vince Fumo argued against reverting to the House version,
and against adding the amendment that was similar to the House
version. Both of those efforts were defeated. Fumo also argued
against final passage, but the proposed constitutional amendment
did pass. Because it was in a form different than the one passed by
the House, however, it must return to that chamber.
What follows is the debate on all three votes of June 21, with Fumo’s
comments in bold face type. Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll is presiding
over the Senate.

The PRESIDENT. House Bill No. 2381.

On the question, Will the Senate agree to the bill on third consideration?

The PRESIDENT. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Allegheny, Senator Orie.

Senator ORIE. Madam President, I move to revert to House Bill No. 2381 to Prior Printer's No. 4145.

The PRESIDENT. Senator Orie moves to revert House Bill No. 2381 to Prior Printer's No. 4145.

On the question, Will the Senate agree to the motion? 

The PRESIDENT. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Erie, Senator Earll. 

Senator EARLL. Madam President, I request a "no" vote on the motion to revert. 

The PRESIDENT. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Lackawanna, Senator Mellow. 

Senator MELLOW, Madam President, I join with Senator Earll and ask for a "no” vote on the motion to revert. 

The PRESIDENT. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Allegheny, Senator Orie. 

Senator ORIE. Madam President, in 1996, when the State passed the Defense of Marriage Act, there was no threat that any other type of relationship identical to marriage could be constructed. Since then, three states, California, Connecticut, and Vermont, have filed unions identical to marriage in all respects except the name "marriage." In Vermont and Connecticut, these relationships are called "civil unions." Massachusetts allows marriage between same-sex couples. The proposed marriage protection amendment does not intend to stop by reverting this back to the prior printer's number. I believe right now if you would leave it the way it is, we would not prevent these civil unions that are identical or nearly equivalent to marriage, and we would only right now be protecting marriage in the namesake only and preserving the word "marriage." The point of this legislation and the substance of this legislation was in the prior Printer's No. 4145 to prohibit civil union and prohibit the extension. Madam President, this is not only about same-sex marriages, this opens the door for marriage to be defined between, perhaps a father and daughter, uncle and aunt,  this is to ensure the sanctity of marriage and the tradition of marriage in the history of Pennsylvania. So I would state, Madam President, a vote against the reversion to the prior printer's number or against reinstating the language that prevents identical relationships under another name, is a vote against marriage in Pennsylvania. 

The PRESIDENT. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Montgomery, Senator Greenleaf. 

Senator GREENLEAF. Madam President, I rise in favor of the motion to revert. Let me first of all say that you will hear nothing today in regard to condemnation or judgment in regard to our fellow Pennsylvanians, and in fact, we are dealing with public policy here and not evaluating or judging them, or anyone in Pennsylvania. Certainly, this body in 2002 passed the hate crimes legislation to make sure that individuals who have different lifestyles were not subject to violence or criminal activity against them, and that people who participate in those types of activities will be punished and punished severely, so we continue to maintain that stance. You also will hear no one say that they want to take benefits away from individuals, their health benefits, life insurance, protection from abuse actions, estate, wills, power of attorney, and guardianships. That is not the purpose of this debate. There may be a disagreement on the consequences of the different versions that are going to be discussed during this debate, but I do not believe anyone wants to accomplish that. What they want to accomplish is a public policy that marriage is one man and one woman. How do we protect that concept? We all have different ideas about doing it, and I believe that the original proposal will most likely accomplish that concept and that ideal and protect it in the future against litigation and challenges that certainly will come in the following years facing us, so I rise in favor of the motion to revert. 

The PRESIDENT. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Philadelphia, Senator Fumo. 

Senator FUMO. Madam President, I am a little bit confused as I hear the two Senators speaking a little bit differently. Senator Greenleaf speaks about this having nothing to do with anything but the preservation of the definition of marriage between a man and a woman.  I believe that is what the bill says in its current form. The revision would do what I think Senator Orie wants it to do, which would bring in the whole issue of everybody else, whether there is a civil union, whether there are two heterosexual senior citizens living together for the purpose of preserving their Social Security, and everything else. But to accomplish what Senator Greenleaf wants, you do not have to revert. If you want to go further and deal with civil unions, and if you want to take away benefits and want to discriminate against people, which very rarely constitutions do, constitutions usually prevent discrimination, then I guess you do revert. I am confused between the two Senators who are both espousing, I believe, reverting to the prior printer's number for directly opposite means. I ask Senator Greenleaf if he would stand for interrogation? 

The PRESIDENT. Senator Greenleaf, will you stand for interrogation? The gentleman indicates he will. 

Senator FUMO. Madam President, I would like to ask the gentleman if the bill in its present form does not do what the gentleman says he wants to do, and that is to not only codify, but put in the Constitution the definition that a marriage shall be between one man and one woman? Does this not do that in its present form? 

Senator GREENLEAF. Madam President , I guess if the gentleman would have asked me that question 5 years ago, I would have said yes. But unfortunately, with the history of litigation in this nation, it has shown that it is not enough. We have to met forth provisions that make sure the original language or the language that may be proposed by Senator Gordner later, if the revision is not passed, is a scenario that will go like thin: we pass the legislation as it is, and then either we authorize civil unions or some alternative form of relationship, or the courts establish such a thing through litigation, and then we have a challenge to that situation saying that we have separate but equal statuses in Pennsylvania, either in State or Federal courts, and then the whole thing is thrown out. That has happened in Connecticut and in other States in the nation, and we lose the legal battle. So what the original legislation did was ensure that it was a one man and one woman amendment, and that any similar arrangement would not be recognized by government. That does not mean a private business cannot issue and grant benefits, health, insurance, and others, that I mentioned before. They can also, as in the Devlin case in Philadelphia, where the Supreme Court said that even municipal subdivisions could issue same-sex benefits, and I do not believe this would interfere with that. So what we are trying to do is pass legislation that only says one man and one woman, and then lose the battle ultimately later in the courts. So we were trying to be smart here, and if we really truly mean that, if we really think a public policy issue is that one man and one woman is marriage in Pennsylvania, then we should also be smart and make sure that what we pass will withstand challenges. That is why I wanted to emphasize, because that is what the debate is going to be about on this issue, and that is why I stressed, in my initial comments, that is not my intention, and I do not think anyone on this floor wants to take away benefits from people, even in the original form of the legislation. 

Senator FUMO. Madam President. I thank the gentleman. Madam President, I completely disagree with the gentleman on his interpretation. I do not even agree that we should be having this constitutional argument about one man and one woman being the only kind of marriage, but that is my particular view. I do believe that his argument that we now have to include everything else as a way to protect ourselves from whatever it is we are trying to protect, and I guess we will get into that when we get into the actual amendment, when we vote on whatever we are going to vote on today. But I believe that you do not have to revert to accomplish the goal that the gentleman wants to accomplish, but you do have to revert if you want to outlaw civil unions as Senator Orie speaks about, which means that in Philadelphia, people who have gotten benefits through same-sex relationships and things of that nature, senior citizens who are living together as heterosexuals but do not get married because they will lose some of their Social Security benefits, if we put this language in, they will not be able to decide anything about each other when they are in the hospital, or anything else. I do not think we have to revert, Madam President. I commend the Committee on Judiciary, which Senator Greenleaf chairs, for their far-reaching, intelligent amendment, and I do not think we should go against the committee. This is one time I agree with the committee, that the bill that came out as amended ought to stay that way. Thank you, Madam President. 

The PRESIDENT. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Allegheny, Senator Orie. 

Senator ORIE. Madam President, just in response to Senator Fumo's remarks, in Devlin vs. the City of Philadelphia in 2004, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, when it was asked to review the city of Philadelphia's benefit program, asked whether the city could provide health benefits to domestic partners, and the court stated there are considerable differences between marriage and the life partner relationship. Life partnership is simply not the functional equivalent of marriage. The court went on to postulate that the benefits may be provided for a myriad of reasons, having nothing to do with marriage.  Life partners' benefits may be provided to compete with industry to attract the best and brightest employees. Again, I am emphasizing this does not affect the benefits. I could even go further and use the court decision in Utah from the Third District Judge Stephen Ross, who concluded that adult designees or dependent insurance plans are defined as a relationship between an employer and an employee and has nothing to do with marriage. Thank you. Madam President. 

Senator FUMO. Madam President, this is in response just for one brief second. That particular Supreme Court decision that the Senator refers to was decided before this amendment, and my argument is that if it had this amendment, it could never have reached that decision. That is what the essence is. Thank you, Madam President. 

And the question recurring, Will the Senate agree to the motion? 

(The Clerk called the roll.) I9 to 31. 

Senator GORDNER. Madam President. I offer the following amendment. 

(The Clerk proceeded to read.) A8317 

On the question, Will the Senate agree to the amendment? 

The PRESIDENT. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Columbia, Senator Gordner.  

Senator GORDNER. Madam President, at this time I am offering an amendment which would add some language that was different than in the bill that came over from the House of Representatives. The language I would add says that neither the Commonwealth nor any of its political subdivisions shall recognize any other legal union as the functional equivalent of marriage, we will return a little bit later to the words "functional equivalent." I would like to first explain that when the bill was originally introduced in the Senate, and we are doing the House bill at this point, but when the bill was originally introduced in the Senate, I did not immediately sign up as a cosponsor of it, and I do not even think to this day I am a cosponsor of this particular bill, and I did not do it because I had some concerns, very frankly, in that I did not want to support legislation that would harm benefits or other existing rights of gay and lesbians in this Commonwealth. So I went about doing some research on that issue, and certainly leading up to this debate, there has been a lot of information out there. It is going to affect domestic violence statutes, it is going to affect rights in Philadelphia and Montgomery County with colleges and private businesses, and so I did some research on that, and let me introduce at least some information that I have gleaned which makes me believe that a lot of those arguments were more of a smoke screen, and get back to really what the focus of this vote is all about. Let me first talk about domestic violence. Many of us received information saying that there were challenges in Ohio, and that we would face similar challenges in Pennsylvania. So I did some research in regard to the Ohio law and how it compares to the Pennsylvania law. Basically, if you want to get relief in Ohio, you have to be a spouse, a former spouse, or a child in order to get relief. The good news is that in Pennsylvania our Protection From Abuse Law is different. In Pennsylvania, one of the provisions is that if you are a former sexual or intimate partner, you can get relief under our Protection From Abuse law. Let me just repeat that. If you are a current or former sexual or intimate partner, you can get relief. That way, if you are boyfriend and girlfriend or boyfriend and boyfriend or girlfriend and a girlfriend, you can get relief under our Protection From Abuse law. So I just want to set that issue aside in saying that this will not affect our domestic violence law, it will not affect our PFA law as it currently stands because it is significantly different in that regard than Ohio. The other big issue is benefits. Whether it is the city of Philadelphia, the county of Montgomery, whether it is colleges and universities that must decide if they want to give benefits to gay and lesbian partners in order to attract folks to their campuses, whether it is private businesses that are in competition with other companies and other states that also want to be able to provide those benefits, I had a concern in regard to that. So what I did was pulled out a decision called Devlin vs. Philadelphia, a decision that went to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, a decision that was decided unanimously by the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court. The Democratic and Republican members on the Supreme Court, the conservative and liberal members on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, decided this decision unanimously, and it was actually written by Judge Nigro, as a matter of fact, who wrote the majority opinion, and what the Supreme Court did was look at the law that Philadelphia passed, and what Philadelphia did was come up with a life partnership, and they defined life partnership. What our Supreme Court did was look at the 1996 law, the Defense of Marriage Act, and asked, does the municipal ordinance violate that statute? And they decided that it does not. As a matter of fact, let me give you some of the quotes from that Devlin decision. It says there are considerable differences between marriage and a life partner relationship as described in the Philadelphia ordinance. Judge Nigro goes on to say that a life partnership is simply not the functional equivalent of marriage. A life partnership is simply not the functional equivalent of marriage, and they go on to explain all the things that go along with marriage, the rights and everything else, then they list the limited things that life partnership involves, in regard to those health benefits. So in crafting an amendment that I hope addresses an issue that some people have on this floor, I lifted the language that the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court adopted by unanimous decision, which said that neither the Commonwealth nor any of its political subdivisions shall recognize any other legal union as a functional equivalent of marriage, which is the same language that Judge Niqro used as part of a unanimous decision in Devlin. So, what does the amendment do? There is no doubt that in the amendment we are not going to have gay marriages in Pennsylvania. It also says we are not going to have gay civil unions in Pennsylvania. But, any other benefits, any other rights that are currently available to gays and lesbians in regard to those issues, in the city of Philadelghia, in Montgomery County, in colleges and universities, in private business, would not be affected by this language that the State Supreme Court has already decided. Let us go back to what the Committee on Judiciary did. There is no doubt in reading from the press that they interpreted what the Committee on Judiciary did. A gay wedlock ban would permit civil unions according to the Morning Call. On gay marriage bans in Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Inquirer talks about allowing domestic partnerships. An Associated Press writer says that a Pennsylvania Senate panel passes a gay marriage ban, but no ban on unions. And certainly in the e-mails and such that I am getting, there is no doubt that what is left in the bill, as currently in front of us, says marriage is between a man and a woman, but definitely allows either the legislature or the courts to impose civil unions in our State. Let us go back to the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996. When this General Assembly passed that by an overwhelming margin and Governor Ridge signed, the word "civil union" was not out there. We did not know of civil unions. Actually in that same year, Congress passed and President Clinton signed into law basically the same language. It was not really until I believe the year 2000 in Vermont that civil unions really came about. Why do we need that extra language? Why do we not just put the Defense of Marriage Act in the Constitution? Because there are civil unions out there in a number of States, and for those of us who are opposed to it, that language needs to go in so that courts may not step in and allow civil unions. Let me just finalize by talking about Connecticut. In Connecticut they had a ban on gay marriages. What ended up happening was the State adopted legislation that would allow civil unions, so a ban on gay marriages and an allowance of civil unions. What has happened just in the last few months? Eight gay couples have sued in court to overturn the gay marriage ban. Why are they doing that and how are they doing it? They are using the separate but equal clause of the Constitution. So that is what can happen here in Pennsylvania. If we solely have a gay marriage ban, and either the legislature or the courts allow for civil unions, we could have the same sort of effect where gay couples could sue under the U.S. Constitution that there is a violation of the separate but equal clause. So, for those members of the General Assembly who are opposed gay marriages and want marriage to be between a man and a woman, and for those members of the General Assembly who do not believe we should allow courts to potentially allow civil unions in our State as they have in other States, but want to preserve benefits and rights that gay and lesbians currently have, in Philadelphia, in Montgomery, in private contracts, then you need to support the language that I have crafted, based upon the unanimous decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Devlin vs. Philadelphia. Thank you, Madam President. 

The PRESIDENT. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Lackawanna, Senator Mellow. 

Senator MELLOW. Madam President, I was not really going to speak on the issue, although I probably disagree with just about everything the previous speaker just said. Madam President, the language of the amendment may be different than the reversion that we just voted, which is no more than an amendment, but the end result is exactly the same. Madam President , there is no question whatsoever in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania this evening, the first day of summer of the year 2006, at a little past 5 o'clock on Wednesday afternoon, in Pennsylvania, a marriage can only exist between one man and one woman. Madam President, there is no civil union in Pennsylvania that is legal. It cannot be recognized in the great State of Pennsylvania. There is no challenge to the statute that was passed in 1996 that made it the law of the State that marriage could only exist between one man and one woman. What the gentleman is trying to put forth on the floor of the Senate this evening is a hypothetical scenario of what may take place in some future court somewhere in Pennsylvania, or eventually in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Madam President, I do not believe at this point in time that is an issue that should be addressed on the floor of this Senate. There are many, many more important issues than the issue that has been brought up by the gentleman and the previous speaker, because, Madam President, and I am going to repeat it for the third time, in Pennsylvania, for anyone who might be listening to the program, or for all e-mails and phone calls we will receive after the vote today, so there is no mistake, because there are a lot of people being misled on the issue, marriage in Pennsylvania can only be one man and one woman. The law has been in existence in this State for the past 10 years. There were only five dissenting votes when it passed. There is no exception to that in Pennsylvania, there is no court challenge to it, there is no civil union in Pennsylvania, and everything else the gentleman said is only hypothetical, and we can deal with hypotheticals in your wildest imagination on any particular issue as to what may happen. If there was a challenge or something taking place in the court, or if civil unions were authorized in Pennsylvania and being addressed in certain counties, then maybe we should be looking at the issue, but right now that is not the case. We are wasting a lot of time on an issue that should not be addressed on the floor of this body today. So, Madam President, having said that, as an individual who did not want to speak on this issue, I ask for a negative vote on the amendment. 

The PRESIDENT. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Westmoreland, Senator Regola. 

Senator REGOLA. Madam President, first of all, I rise today to thank my colleague, Senator Gordner, for his fine effort on this, and also to make it clear that I was in support of reverting to the prior printer's number. I am also in support of the Gordner amendment. I understand issues like this. Social debates become very passionate. However, we ultimately have to decide what type of world or how we would like to see the future of marriage in this Commonwealth. Today this debate goes beyond the word "marriage." We are talking about the institution of marriage. I personally believe marriage should be between one man and one woman. I feel that to keep marriage between a man and a woman is the way that our society should be. If we do not do this, essentially we will be creating a civil union, or something very equivalent. On one hand, we will have marriage, on another hand, we will have civil union. What is the difference? To me, we are creating a second-class citizenry. Then the issue becomes separate but equal arguments. Now I know I am not an attorney, nor am I going to pretend to be an attorney on the floor here, but I know under the U.S. Constitution, under the XIV Amendment, the equal protection amendment, they have already ruled separate but equal unconstitutional. I would also like to make it known for the record today, in no way am I against people losing their benefits, nor would this legislation or this language prohibit people from losing their benefits. But one thing I do know, I am pretty good with numbers and when 73 percent of the people in Pennsylvania tell me that they would like an opportunity to vote on this issue, I feel we in this body should give them the opportunity to vote on this issue, rather than the courts to decide this issue. To allow this language to remain the way it is currently, without introducing the Gordner amendment, we are going to allow the courts to decide this issue. Once again, I do not think 50 Senators or 203 House Members should decide this. If you are for it, put the vote up. If you are against it, put the vote down, but I ultimately feel the voters should decide this issue. Who are we to decide this issue? Why not let the voters decide this issue? Why not let the voters decide what they want in their Constitution? Once again, I strongly urge my colleagues to vote for this amendment to preserve the sanctity of marriage between one man or one woman. Thank you. 

The PRESIDENT. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Philadelphia, Senator Fumo. 

Senator FUMO. Madam President, I just have a few simple comments. I do not want to belabor the debate either. This amendment does, as Senator Mellow said, exactly what the reversion. Does. You can get up here all you want and say you are not against taking away anyone’s benefit, but you want to make sure that they do not get them, and then cite a case that has been decided under the Constitution of Pennsylvania, without this amendment. If this amendment goes in, as in the fashion of the Gordner amendment, then you would be taking away benefits. I am not even going to talk about lesbians and gay men, and all that. I am talking about senior citizens who live together because they choose to do so, because if they got married they would lose Social Security benefits. This would harm them as well. If you are really worried, and I do not know why you would be, but if you are really worried about the Supreme Court saying that marriage is something other than one man and one woman, therefore overturning the statute that was passed in this General Assembly, then this constitutional amendment, in its current form does that. But if your real agenda is discrimination, if your real agenda is to set up two categories of people, then you do not want what is in this amendment. I heard a lot of talk in the House debate, and thank God, I have not heard much of it in here yet, except for Senator Regola, about the, quote, "sanctity of marriage." If we are concerned about the sanctity of marriage, I do not know how it hurts a marriage, anyone's marriage in this Chamber, if some gay couple in Philadelphia is living together. If your marriage is in that bad of shape that you cannot withstand that challenge, then I question your marriage. Who are we kidding here? Mind your own business. Stay out of the bedroom. You know, the great conservative Republican philosophy was get government off our back. I never heard the extra phrase, and into your bedroom, You live your life in your house, you live your life in your bedroom, and let other people live their lives in their bedrooms. That is what America is about, and as far as the Majority wanting to do something like this, our Founding Fathers feared the tyranny of the majority. Our Bill of Rights wag not designed for the majority, it was designed to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority, and that is what Constitutions are about. That is why you have them, because they defend everybody's rights, whether you agree with them or not. If it was a legislative decision, we would still have slavery in the South, maybe even in Pennsylvania. If it were a legislative decision, and not a court decision, we would still have segregation in schools. That is not what this country is about. This country, on a conservative level, is about minding your own business and not worrying about your neighbor's business. This kind of legislation and this kind of constitutional debate says, oh no, I want to worry about your business because it is going to affect my business, When I hear about the sanctity of marriage, why do we not pass a constitutional amendment that says you cannot get a divorce in Pennsylvania? Now that would hurt me twice, and it would hurt some others once or twice, and there are a lot of people in here, when we talk about the sanctity of marriage, who could not live under that. It would be a lot less expensive, I have to admit. If you want to talk about statistics, let us talk about the statistics of marriage in America, where I believe at last count one in every two marriages ends in divorce. That is not because of some gay couple in Philadelphia. In fact, I submit to you that from everything I have seen, homosexual relationships last a lot longer. If we would let them get married, our national statistics would go up. We would look like a better country. When you talk about the sanctity of marriage, worry about your own marriage, and if your marriage is in trouble because a gay couple in Philadelphia lives together and they love each other and they have lived together for a long time, and if your wife or husband is going to leave you because of that, then you have deeper problems than this amendment is ever going to solve. Madam President, I ask my colleagues to vote "no" on this amendment. If you are really about what you say you are about, the language is in here. We want to prevent activist courts, the ones that gave us Brown vs. Board of Education, even the one that gave us George Bush as President. That was an activist court, but if we are worried about that, then just leave it the way it is. It says clearly to our Supreme Court that marriage is between one man and one woman. That is enough. But if you are really about discrimination, if you are really about going after people who you may not like or whose lifestyle you may not like, or if you are about putting religion into the Constitution, something our forefathers feared, then do all this other nonsense. You know, a long time ago, and I believe Thomas Jefferson and James Madison have been quoted, but I want to read something to you from Alexis de Tocgueville, who in the 1830 ~ wrote a treatise called Democracy in America, and it has been cited many, many times, and I quote from that. "If ever freedom is lost in America, it will be due to the omnipotence of the majority driving minorities into desperation, forcing them to appeal to physical force. We may then see anarchy, but it will come as a result of despotism. "The big fear was, all in all, and many times over in the Federalist Pagers of our Founding fathers, the tyranny of the majority. The majority, and yes, we are a country that gives the majority power and gives them certain authority, but we are also a country unique in the world with the Bill of Rights that says the majority cannot discriminate or hurt the minority, simply because there are fewer of them. We recognize certain human rights in this country. We do not use a constitution or an amendment process to discriminate against anyone. We use it to protect everyone's rights. So, Madam President, I do not even support the bill as it is, and I will be honest about that , and I will have more to say about that later, but let us not kid ourselves about this amendment. This amendment does the same thing as the reversion, and do not cite to me Supreme Court cases that have already been decided, because you cannot use them as precedent if, in fact, you pass this constitutional amendment. The whole ball game changes. So if you are saying that you are not against taking benefits away from people, then leave them alone. Do not take a pound of flesh, take what you are afraid of, a marriage is between one man and one woman, and if you are really about the sanctity of the preservation of marriage, let one of the righteous people on that side of the aisle, more than me, because I am not qualified on this, but somebody over there should offer an amendment making it unconstitutional in this State to dissolve a marriage contract once it is entered into. That will get you the sanctity of marriage. Thank you, Madam President. 

The PRESIDENT. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Montgomery, Senator Connie Williams. 

Senator C. WILLIAMS. Madam President, House Bill No. 2381 was amended already in the Senate Committee on Judiciary to eliminate the questions related to benefits, domestic violence, hospital visitation, and the concerns of child advocate. We do not need to put back language which we do have, nor the language that was just offered to raise these concerns again. I do have a question. What is a functional equivalent of marriage? I mean, someone said something like that, but it sounds like a lot of nonsense to me. What is it? It sounds like there is a dysfunctional equivalent of marriage that goes along with that. You know, the intent of House Bill No. 2381 was not to protect the sanctity of marriage, but to limit health benefits to certain couples, to make it difficult for widowed and divorced seniors who would have to choose between losing their Social Security or pension benefits to remarry, or being denied inheritance rights, or limiting the right to see their partner in a hospital or make medical decisions for each other. Marriage is about a loving commitment between two people. Two people can love each other and respect each other and support each other without marriage. If we are truly talking about protecting marriage, we need to look at divorce and adultery, as my colleague, Senator Fumo, mentioned, and I agree. Should we amend the Constitution to outlaw that? Should we say adultery is a felony? According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the U.S. Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control, in the United States in 2004, the marriage rate was 7.8 per thousand of the total population, and the divorce rate was 3.7 per thousand. This bill is not only mean-spirited, it denies the humanity of our fellow citizens and seeks to dilute the power of Pennsylvania's Constitution to protect the rights of all citizens. This bill will not prevent sexual activities, and this bill could mark Pennsylvania as a regressive State that is so busy trying to legislate morality that we have turned a blind eye to growing economic problems, to growing our economy, and developing new businesses. Madam President , we should be discussing minimum wage right now. We should be discussing health care insurance, and I would just like to quote one of the most distinguished Catholics in the United States, a Catholic who has been held in high esteem by everyone in this country. Earlier this month outgoing Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., said that the Catholic Church " ...can live with civil unions between homosexual couples... in order to protect their right to take care of each other." We are a civilization that should take care of each other. Thank you, Madam President. 

The PRESIDENT. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Allegheny, Senator Orie. 

Senator ORIE. Madam President, in response to Senator Fumo in regard to not mentioning any case law prior to 2004 indicating that their benefits are recognized, maybe I could refer Senator Fumo to the ACLU Web site ,, where they say, do not just sue, do something useful to constitutional amendments. While these civil union amendments do invalidate civil unions, they almost certainly do not invalidate domestic partnerships, health or pension plans, wills, or property agreements, It goes on further to state that the amendments usually say they forbid things that are substantially similar to marriage, or things which are incidents of marriage, but anyone can be named in a will, anyone can have property agreements. These are not legal rights that are special to marriage, and typically, marriage does not legally entitle you to health insurance. On their Web site , the ACLU indicates that this does not take away benefits, does not interfere with any of these things that you are throwing out there. In addition to that, when you mentioned that in prior laws, for example, prohibiting bigotry, or something along those lines, the United States Supreme Court, the last time that it addressed this issue, this issue has everything to do with one man and one woman coming together, The United States Supreme Court in Murphy v. Ramsey put it best when they indicated this in describing what marriage is. Certainly no legislation can be more wholesome and necessary than the founding of a free, self-governing Commonwealth, fit to take rank as one of the coordinate States of the Union, than that which seeks to establish the basis of the idea of the family, as consisting in and springing from the union of life of one man and one woman in the holy estate of matrimony, the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization, the best guarantee of that morality which is the source of all benefit, progress, and social and political movement. That is what this is about, Madam President. I would just like to conclude in stating not only does the ACLU indicate this, but they have been arguing in 20 other states that this does not affect the benefits that all of them are conjecturing that it affects. So I would just like to state for the record that the ACLU has put to bed any issues in regard to any rights that are interfered with or health plans or will or property agreements. 

The PRESIDENT. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Philadelphia, Senator Fumo. 

Senator FUMO. Madam president, my only comment is that I am a member of the ACLU. I do not read their web site , but I am glad to see that Senator Orie does and thinks we should listen to them all the time, so I will start looking at their web site and make sure you know what they say. 

The PRESIDENT. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Columbia, Senator Gardner. 

Senator GORDNER. Madam President, I do again want to mention that we are not ahead of the curve on this issue. There are 20 states that have already considered marriage protection amendments, 14 of those 20 States talked about not only marriage but civil unions as well. So in 20 States, in Alabama, 84 percent approved, that just happened a few months ago; Alaska, 68 percent of the voters approved it; Arkansas, 74 percent; Georgia, 77 percent; Hawaii, 69 percent; Kansas, 75 percent ; Kentucky, 75 percent; Louisiana, 78 percent; Michigan, 69 percent; Mississippi, 86 percent; Missouri, 71 percent; Montana, 66 percent; Nebraska, 70 percent; Nevada, 67 percent: North Dakota, 73 percent; Ohio, 62 percent; Oklahoma, 76 percent; Oregon, 68 percent ; Texas, 75 percent; and Utah, 66 percent. When these issues have gone on the ballot, they have been overwhelmingly approved by the electorate. They understood what these issues involve and what the language means. Why be afraid to put this issue on our ballot and let the voters decide in Pennsylvania? Let me also say that if courts in other states would not have come up with civil unions, we would undoubtedly not be having this debate today. If courts would not have imposed civil unions in other States, we would not be having this debate, but they have. It happens. And here is something else that is a new twist. In the State of Washington, they are in the process right now of not only coming up with gay marriage, but having the provision that says that anyone who comes from out of state to the State of Washington, gets married in Washington, and goes back to their home state, that marriage is legal. That is something that did not happen in Massachusetts. That is something that did not happen in California. But now we have a state that is saying not only can couples come from out of state into their state and get married, but it is legal when they leave the state. So what happens in a month or two from now when a Pennsylvania gay couple goes to Washington, gets married, and comes back and says I want my marriage from Washington enforced? We need to address this issue. Again, this amendment would say no gay marriage, no gay civil union, period. That is it, and we do have a Supreme Court decision in Devlin that was unanimous that goes through a long process. I encourage people to read the decision. It is very declaratory in regard to this type of amendment. We have taken their language, and it would allow what is currently in law to continue, Again, it is clear. I mean, if you do not support gay marriage, if you do not support gay civil unions, you need to support the amendment. If you have no problem with civil unions and you want the version of the bill that came out of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, again, as the media has reported, Pennsylvania Senate panel passes gay marriage ban, no ban on unions. So if that is the version you want, if you have no problem with civil unions, then you need to support House Bill No. 2381 as it currently exists. If you have a concern about it and do not want courts to impose it, then you need to support this amendment. Thank you, Madam President. 

The PRESIDENT. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Lackawanna, Senator Mellow. 

Senator MELLOW. Madam President, I have one final comment. First of all, the gentleman talked about a same-sex couple who would get married in the State of Washington and then come to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and say that they want the State to recognize this marriage. Well, the gentleman is a very bright lawyer and knows full well that cannot take glace unless we in Pennsylvania would secede from the Union, and if we would secede from the Union, then perhaps we could recognize that same-sex marriage because the law in this tate is very, very clear. Let us not confuse and deceive people who are either watching the session tonight or listening to the session in the gallery or on the floor. In Pennsylvania, you cannot have a civil union. It does not matter what happens in the State of Washington, in the State of California, in the State of Massachusetts, or in the State of Vermont. This is the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in case people are not aware of that, so you cannot have that particular kind of union right here in the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For someone to go to another state and have their same-sex marriage recognized, it can only be recognized in that state. When they come back to Pennsylvania, they must live with the laws of Pennsylvania that say marriage must take place between one man and one woman only, so let us not try to deceive people this evening. Let us not be hypothetical about what may happen in a court in some future date. It has not happened in 10 years, and there is no reason why it should happen pver the next 2 months where a challenge potentially could be filed to that particular statute that is now 10 years in the running. So, Madam President, let us be clear about this, This is the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is not California, it is not Massachusetts, it is not Vermont, and it is certainly not the State of Washington. Also, Madam President, the gentleman talked about the states that have adopted a marriage protection amendment, and we all have the same information. It was given out by the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, so there is no mystery about the information. Everyone was given a copy of the same thing, but there are a number of States that have the marriage protection amendment that also allows civil union, so it is not like every State has passed a marriage protection amendment or has considered one. The gentleman talked about the States of Alaska, Arkansas, and Georgia. I can read them the same way he did, but there are still states within that group that will provide for a civil union, So, let us get on with business, vote the amendment, and let us start dealing with more important things, as was stated by our good lady Senator from the wonderful county of Montgomery when she talked about the important issues that are confronting the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and this right now, which may be an issue somewhere down the road, if, in fact, there ever is a challenge to the statute, is not an issue in Pennsylvania today unless we as elected officials of the Commonwealth want to make it an issue, f o r whatever those reasons may be. Again, Madam President, I ask for a negative vote on the amendment. 

And the question recurring,

Will the Senate agree to the amendment? 

(The Clerk called the roll.) 23 to 27. 


The PRESIDENT. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Columbia, Senator Gordner. 

Senator GORDNER. Madam President, I have obviously seen the votes on these two issues, a motion to revert and on the amendment, and we do have other issues to discuss, minimum wage and others, so at this point I will willingly make a motion to table this bill. 

The PRESIDENT. Senator Gordner proposes a motion to table House Bill No. 2381. The motion is not debatable. 


The PRESIDENT. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Lebanon, Senator Brightbill. 

Senator BRIGHTBILL. Madam President, I ask for a brief recess for the purpose of a Republican caucus in the Rules room. 

The PRESIDENT. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Philadelphia, Senator Fumo. 

Senator FUMO. Madam President, since the Republicans are going to caucus, we will also caucus. 

The PRESIDENT. There will be a brief recess for Republican and Democratic caucuses. Without objection, the Senate will stand in recess. 


The PRESIDENT. The time of recess having expired, the Senate will come to order.

And the question recurring, Will the Senate agree to the motion? 


The PRESIDENT. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Columbia, Senator Gordner. 

Senator GORDNER. Madam President, at this time I wish to withdraw my motion to table. 

The PRESIDENT. Senator Gordner withdraws his motion to table. And the question recurring,

Will the Senate agree to the bill on third consideration? 

The PRESIDENT, The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Allegheny, Senator Ferlo. 

Senator FERLO. Madam President, I would like to speak on final passage. I know the hour is getting late, but I feel compelled to come to the podium to express my concern and reservations about the final passage of this bill. As they say in the supermarket business, clean up in aisle 1. Madam President, House Bill No. 2381, no matter how we cut it or no matter how we finesse it here today, we are basically enshrining in our State Constitution a principle of discrimination. This measure is disheartening, it is divisive, and it is diversionary, to say the least. This bill is not about embellishing our Constitution with further democratic appurtenances and Civil Rights' privileges, but it would violate the basic tenet and purpose of our State Constitution which states that the great and essential principles of liberty and free government may be recognized and unalterably established. Our State Constitution is as historically significant in its age and durability as our nation's Constitution and Bill of Rights. Article I, Declaration of Rights, Section 26, enumerates this further by establishing that neither the Commonwealth nor any political subdivision thereof shall deny to any person the enjoyment of any civil right, nor discriminate against any person in the exercise of any civil right. Section 28 explicitly states that quality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania because of the sex of the individual. The legislation before us today is not about protecting or enhancing a cherished principle, but a bill that reflects pandering and political posturing on a hot-button, emotionally-charged issue. I believe its sole purpose and only impetus, whether on the nation or here in the State Capitol, is to polarize the electorate in hopes that people forget about truly substantive issues that the legislature has failed to act on for the benefit of our very constituencies. The political timing of this legislation, even down to the week of Gay Pride celebrations around the State and nation, takes a page right out of the Karl Rove school of defensive politics. When your polling and confidence numbers are way down because of the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, the lopsided economy, the dwindling middle class, joblessness, underemployment, unwarranted and illegal spying, lying to Congress, outrageous trade deficits, and a staggering strangling national debt, lack of a national health care plan, confusion and resentment on the pharmaceutical-serving contrived Medicare Part D program, or a plethora of critical life and death issues affecting the American people and the residents of our Commonwealth, then throw out the smoke screens, sharpen the finger pointers, and start appealing to people's fears and misconceptions.  Pennsylvania law already exists and allows only a legal marriage between one man and one woman. The Pennsylvania Bar Association rightfully points out that this amendment may preclude future judicial scrutiny in the defense of marriage act and may infringe upon the independence of and the integrity of our judicial branch. The institution of marriage is not under threat from gays or lesbians seeking legal legitimacy of their loving relationship any more than financially struggling seniors who need and desire to live together without penalty to protect their Social Security income, or millions of heterosexual couples who choose to live together in what some may consider in sin or are not yet ready to take the plunge and make the commitment. This legislature needs to get off of its high moral horse and stop telling people how to live their adult lives. If you want to help preserve, protect, and enhance marriage in any of its forms, then let us help struggling couples meet their day-to-day economic and household needs, or maybe give people support when the chips are down, or encourage people to pull together as a family when dark clouds loom overhead. Our society, a truly unique and great American experience, has been nourished because of the extension of rights to women, to racial minorities, to those who may be physically or mentally challenged, to immigrants, and to children who cannot advocate for themselves in all instances, and to sexual minorities who ask that their conduct be treated equitably in a democratic society. We are truly great and envied because of our tolerance and because of our acceptance. Let this not be undermined today with an affirmative vote. Should House Bill No. 2381 be approved, we will once again be thrust into a time of discrimination and intolerance, and for the first time in our history, discrimination of a select minority could be written into our State's Constitution. That is why I am strongly against making a constitutional amendment that bans same-sax marriage. Legislation and legal rulings represent the ever-changing fluidity of our society and reflect the ever-changing opinions of the period in which they are made. Fundamental changes to our Constitution should not be done in an expedient and fusillading manner. To my knowledge, no formal public hearings have taken place, and many weighty issues that need careful deliberation and thought have not been explored or debated, albeit to some extent here today. For instance, what is the urgency of this bill in light of current law clearly defining marriage, as Senator Mellow rightfully pointed out repeatedly, between a man and a woman? Do church and State separation issues need to be explored further through public discourse? What is the impact of existing rights and protection afforded to currently unmarried couples who reside in our Commonwealth? And although I recognize that House Bill No. 2381 was amended in committee, I believe we still have to grapple with questions regarding the effects of this bill on domestic partnership benefits afforded to thousands of Pennsylvanians through collective bargaining, benefit plans offered by public institutions, or the right of the private sector to entice the best and the brightest in their place of employment. What about the numerous local ordinances? Philadelphia was mentioned, but Pittsburgh and many other communities across the State provide Civil Rights' protections based on marital status or domestic partnerships. What about other states that extend legal recognition to same-sex couples, and are those couples to lose their rights when they reside or move to Pennsylvania? Are we going to place a do not enter sign at the doorway of Pennsylvania? Many domestic abuse counselors and advocates, notwithstanding the comments made earlier today, have expressed fear that a court may narrowly interpret this law to mean that individuals seeking a protection from abuse order can only be married, not dating or living together, let alone be gay or lesbian, or considered a sexual minority. The list of policy questions is seemingly endless, and it is irresponsible to approve this bill without further public comment and discourse. Writing discrimination into our Constitution, as far as I am concerned, would be unconscionable and immoral. The Pennsylvania Constitution should not be tarnished with this measure, and as I pointed out earlier, we already have a Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage solely between a man and a woman. To perceive the attack on the institution of marriage from an activist Pennsylvania court is not proven to exist. No reasonable, legal threat has been mounted in Pennsylvania that would make me believe that there is a rational cause for adding this unprecedented amendment. Pennsylvanians deserve better leadership. The legislature is distracting itself from the necessary work we should be doing, such as crafting a quality budget, providing health care coverage for as many of our Pennsylvanians as possible, building a stronger economy, and creating new jobs. We should be drafting policies that help create stable, healthy families, and not imposing a narrow-minded definition of what constitutes a family and effectively undermining what is a vibrant, healthy and productive part of our community. This brings me to another point. What are we losing by gutting bigotry on display and enshrining it into our State Constitution in this manner? The GLBT community, individually and collectively, participates in the productive and meaningful day-to-day life of every community and workplace in our Commonwealth, recognized or otherwise. You do n o t have to celebrate diversity, you do not have to appreciate diversity, you can continue to have your own personal right to your own prejudices and biases, but why deny others the same civil and human rights that you seek for yourself? Those who some consider to be in the sexual minority, they pay taxes, they live and work and contribute to society. They may be teachers and preachers and politicians. They have families and pay bills. They have good times and bad times, just like anybody else. Set aside your prejudice for just a minute and imagine that you have been in a loving and caring relationship for many years and your loved one is on his or her death bed and the hospital personnel tells you that you are not family, so you cannot stay in the room at your loved one's final passing. I do not believe morally that this is what God ordained for humanity. Imagine the relatives of your loved one, who may be ten times removed, and not even friends any longer to the now deceased, legally inheriting the house and property that the two of you built and shared during your relationship, because you are not recognized in legal standing. We cannot even count the number of children in loving and nurturing homes across our Commonwealth who will be threatened with hateful reprisals should the next bill seek to ensure that children be adopted or raised by heterosexual married couples only, and believe me, this is part two of the agenda for many. Placing this amendment on a general election ballot I fear will subject our state to a vicious campaign that will be divisive to Pennsylvania citizens, and downright hurtful to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender residents of our state. We are today choosing between alienating our neighbors and loved ones, and possibly pushing them out of communities. Defeating this amendment would gave the way toward an integrated, open-minded, caring, and democratic community that offers equal rights and liberties to all and at the expense and infringement to none. Society is always evolving, and acceptable convictions, prejudices, and standards continue to be modified. One hundred years ago women did not have the right to vote. Racial minorities faced societal prejudices and second-class citizenship. You could be jailed for what now may be considered acceptable forms of free speech, and only the well off received public education as the social norm. Many closed minds have thankfully been reversed in our now diverse society, and one day it is vary possible that our society here in the Commonwealth will come to accept same-sex marriage and legitimize civil unions, which is now the acceptable norm in Italy, Canada, Spain, England, Sweden, and many other nations in the world, Catholic nations I might add, as well. Regardless of what many of you feel about same-sex marriage, it is necessary that we take a step back and realize the enormity of tampering with the Constitution. It should not be our first course of action, ladies and gentlemen, and I believe very strongly, at the least, it should be the last resort. Amending the Constitution should not be taken lightly. This process is difficult for a reason. The strength and well-being of cur Commonwealth is at stake. A law is enough to accomplish a ban on same-sax marriage. Amendments like these take away the rights of all men and women, regardless of their sexual preference or personal proclivities. While the Constitution has been amended in the past, it has never been altered with the express intent to deny equal protection to an entire class of citizens, and now is not the time to start. Please reject House Bill No. 2381 and Senate Bill No. 1084, and let us get back to the people's business. Thank you, Madam President. 

The PRESIDENT. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Philadelphia, Senator Fumo. 

Senator FUMO. Madam President, I believe it was on October 2, 1996, that the bill we have all been referring to, the Protection of Marriage Act , came over here for a vote, and the vote that day or night, I do not remember which, was 43 to 5, but I am proud to say I was one of those 5. I am also proud to say there was at least one Republican. Madam President, we all know what this bill is about. This is a polite way to try to discriminate against people who are different than some of the people in here, not necessarily all of the people here.  Madam President, I mentioned earlier Alexis de Toegueville and his observations. Let me read to you now from James Madison, who was one of the principle authors of the Federalist Papers, when he observed in Federalist No. 51, quote, "It is of great importance in a republic, not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers; but to guard one part of society against the injustice of another part . . . . In a society under the forms of which the stronger faction can readily unite and oppose the weaker, anarchy may truly be said to reign. ..." That was James Madison. Thomas Jefferson, who I believe was quoted many times in the House when they wrapped themselves in the flag and the cross and religion and everything else they could think of, Thomas Jefferson in writing to James Madison and commenting about his fears of tyranny that the majority said, guote, "The tyranny of the legislature is the most formidable dread at the present, and will be for many years to come." End quote. Madam President, we have heard about activist judges, as I stated earlier. "Activist judge" is only a term used when people are disappointed in a court decision. There was no greater activist judicial act than Bush versus Gore in the year 2000, when Republican judges on the United States Supreme Court, who had always guarded steadfastly States' rights, decided in that particular case that States' rights were irrelevant. There are many other cases in which there were so-called activist judges. Brown vs. Board of Education, which I mentioned, striking down the separate but equal rule . Abrams v. the United States in 1919 that said the government cannot criminalize anti-American speech. Gideon vs. Wainwright, due process guaranteed for indigent defendants. Loving vs. Virginia where they had state laws, state laws that prohibited interracial marriage, and there were some other ones, too, that you may or may not believe in. But thank God for some of those courageous courts back in those days that stood up for decency and equal protection under law. Madam President, I remember hearing about a time when signs read no Irish need apply, no Italians need apply, no colored can use this water fountain. They were bad times. Because of activist judges, and through our own hard work, those days are now gone, although in some parts they may still exist, but they are now gone in reality, and, Madam President, we are a better nation for it. This country was founded by a bunch of immigrants, people who had the courage to come and give us everything they had to come to this country. We were founded by our Founding Fathers who were afraid of tyranny, but had the vision and foresight to understand that if you oppress the rights of this minority, some day you will oppress mine. That is what this is about. This is the slippery slope. Today you say this, tomorrow you say something else. Eventually, you will say something that offends me or someone else, then we have gone too far. Madam President, I cannot for the life of me understand why, why in the name of God, who is supposed to be all-loving,  we want to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation. Madam President, it is like saying I want to discriminate against someone because they were born with a deformity, or like saying I want to discriminate against somebody because they were born with blue eyes instead of brown.  If we are really a country and a state that is about equal protection for all, that means all. It does not mean all in the sense that all is defined by what the majority wants it to be. It is all.  The least among us deserves protection and equal rights.  As I said before, if anyone's marriage anywhere in this Commonwealth is in danger because there may be a gay couple somewhere in Pennsylvania, and by the way, I gave a speech in Gettysburg a couple of weeks ago, and you may be surprised to learn, that there are gay people there, too, but if anyone’s marriage is threatened because two people love each other and they happen to be of the same sex, then God help your marriage. What you are saying is that the institution of marriage in this Commonwealth is so weak that we need a constitutional amendment to say it can only be between one man and one woman to protect the sanctity of marriage.  Madam President, what nonsense, what hypocrisy, what blasphemy. Madam President, I am for the sanctity of marriage, but I think anyone should be allowed in it. Marriage is about people, two people loving each other, caring for each other, wanting to make a commitment to each other, and living together.  It does not make any difference what they look like.  It does not make any difference what the color of their skin is, and it does not make any difference what their sexual preference is.  Marriage is about love. God is supposed to be about love. It is blasphemy to use the name of God to perpetuate a force and foist upon people segregation and discrimination. I may not be the best Catholic in the world, but I did get some Catholic roots that taught me about an almighty God who cared and loved and forgave, not one who condemned and said to people: you are no good because you are this or that.  And if you are Christian and you believe in Christ, if Christ were alive today, you would be condemning him. He was a poor Jew speaking blasphemy. You would be in here today, if this were the Roman senate, condemning him just as they did. They crucified Christ for his beliefs. They did not crucify him because he killed somebody, they crucified him because he did not believe in what they believed in. So do not come here and tell me it is Christian. It is for sanctity. It is for other reasons. Discrimination is despicable, no matter where it lives, no matter what form it is in, and no matter how it is expressed, because when you allow discrimination to be put against any one human being, you open the door for it to eventually be against you. That is what I was taught coming from a family that was second-generation Italian, and what I saw and lived with in my lifetime. Hopefully, some day in the future, people will look back on this as they probably look back on the debates of Alabama and Mississippi over slavery, and hang their heads in shame, One of the Senators gave me the statistics of all the wonderful States that approved this. I am not happy to be compared with Arkansas, Mississippi, or Alabama. Is that our standard for this state, that we are for prejudice? If it were up to those States , we would still have slavery. They are not the statistics that I want to see put into the record in this Commonwealth as something to emulate. They are a disgrace. They are an absolute disgrace. Hopefully some day in the future, people will look back on this the way they look back on Mississippi and Alabama in the days of slavery, and be ashamed, Canada allows for gay marriage, and nobody got divorced because of it. In fact, now 60 percent of Canadians accept it. If you want to talk about polls, there is polling data. Fox News, Roger Ailes' company, in their opinion dynamic poll, June 13 and 14, 2006, asked, do you support gay and lesbian couples being able to be legally married? Twenty-seven percent said yes. Have a legal partnership? Twenty-five percent said yes. That is 52 percent. Thirty - nine percent had no legal marriage condition. Pew Research Center, July 13 to 17, 2005, do you strongly favor or oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to enter into legal agreements with each other that would give them many of the same rights as married people? That was one of the amendments we dealt with, something that looked like a marriage, and 53 percent said yes, 40 percent said no. In an ABC News-Washington Post poll, 27 percent were for marriage, 29 percent for civil unions, adding up to 56. Forty  percent had no opinion, and 4 percent were unsure. Madam President, even this conservative nation of America is finally coming around to recognize that we are not hurt by a gay couple in love, who happen to want to live together and exercise their rights as human beings.  In this Chamber, I do not know. I bet if this were a secret vote, it would never pass, and I understand political reality in some areas of this Commonwealth, and that is maybe because our school system has not done as good a job as it should have in teaching our kids about individual rights for all. But some day, and I think this will pass tonight, not with my vote, but it will pass, but some day we will look back on this and hang our heads in shame, maybe not this generation, but the next generation will. Madam President, I urge those colleagues with courage to vote "no."  I understand the ones who cannot for political expediency. I am glad and proud that I come from a district where I can vote my conscience on this issue, and it will be a loud and resounding "no. "  

And the question recurring, Will the Senate agree to the bill on third consideration?

Agreed to. 

And the question recurring,

Shall the bill pass finally? 

(The Clerk called the roll.) 38 to 12.


Copyright 2000 Sen. Vincent J. Fumo