RESOLUTION OPPOSING AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA PROHIBITING MARRIAGE BETWEEN SAME SEX COUPLES

WHEREAS, bills have been introduced in the Pennsylvania General Assembly (Senate Bill No. 1084, Printer’s No. 1502 and House Bill No. 2381, Printer’s No. 3754) proposing to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to provide that “[o]nly a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this Commonwealth, and neither the Commonwealth nor any of its political subdivisions shall create or recognize a legal status identical or substantially equivalent to that of marriage for unmarried individuals;” and

WHEREAS, the history of amendments to both the Pennsylvania Constitution and the United States Constitution is one of expanding and reinforcing the freedoms guaranteed to the people rather than restricting them (for example, the Pennsylvania Equal Rights Amendment); and

WHEREAS, passage of the proposed amendment could adversely affect the viability of second parent adoption as well as adoption or foster placement with unmarried couples, thus depriving needy children of permanency and financial security; and

WHEREAS, passage of the proposed amendment could prohibit the courts from recognizing the rights of people married at common law prior to January 1, 2005 to receive death benefits, pension benefits, health insurance, spousal support, alimony or distribution of property; and

WHEREAS, passage of the proposed amendment could invalidate local laws, such as Philadelphia’s Domestic Partnership Ordinance, which grant certain legal rights and benefits to unmarried domestic partners; and

WHEREAS, passage of the proposed amendment could result in the denial of benefits such as health, life and pension to the domestic partners of both public and private employees in the Commonwealth; and

WHEREAS, passage of the proposed amendment could prohibit the courts from enforcing private contracts between unmarried domestic partners, should those contracts be deemed to create rights “substantially equivalent” to those of marriage; and

WHEREAS, passage of the proposed amendment could result in the denial of medical decision making and hospital visitation rights to those validly registered as members of domestic partnerships or civil unions under the laws of other states; and

WHEREAS, passage of the proposed amendment could invalidate local zoning laws which permit non-traditional families to reside in the same household; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Bar Association opposes the passage of Senate Bill No. 1084, Printer’s No. 1502 and House Bill No. 2381, Printer’s No. 3754 and any other proposed amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution which would define marriage as between one man and one woman or would prohibit the Commonwealth or its subdivisions from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or substantially equivalent to that of marriage.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association authorizes the Chancellor or his designee to communicate the content of this resolution to members of state legislature, state and local public officials, other bar associations, and the public at large and to take such other action as may be appropriate.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: MARCH 30, 2006