Marriage bill passes, but opposition lingers

Pennsylvania’s senators are readying for a vote to enshrine same-sex and and interracial marriage in federal law, weeks after a divided House voted in favor of marriage rights.

The sudden push to put the rights in law — years after the Supreme Court established them nationwide — follows the earth-shaking reversal of the Roe v. Wade ruling that confirmed the right to abortion.

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, has spoken in favor of the bill, while Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville, has so far remained quiet.

Since the abortion decision, a cohort of mostly Democratic lawmakers has rushed to protect other rights that depend on the Supreme Court’s backing. While the high court can rule against federal laws as well, passage would send a message and ensure individual states can’t chip away at protections.

“It’s more important than ever that marriage equality be enshrined into federal law,” Casey tweeted this week. “I support the Respect for Marriage Act and look forward to voting for it on the Senate floor because LGBTQ rights are human rights.”

As of Thursday, Toomey remained publicly undecided on the bill.

“I don’t have a comment just yet,” he said Wednesday, according to Vox.

The short bill ensures no official can deny rights and protections to married couple on the basis of gender, sex or ethnic and national background, and opens those who violate it to lawsuits.

The measure passed the House earlier this month in a 267-157 vote, with all Democrats and a minority of Republicans in favor. Of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation, three Republicans voted for the bill: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Middletown Township, Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Dallas, and Rep. Scott Perry, R-Carroll Township.

The rest of the state’s Republicans voted against the bill.

Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Howard, drew national attention this week after he attended his son’s wedding to another man — three days after voting against a federal right to that marriage. A Thompson spokeswoman called the bill “nothing more than an election-year messaging stunt for Democrats” in a statement to the Tribune-Review.

Same-sex marriage remains broadly popular in the U.S., including among Republicans, according to polls. Many GOP candidates, including Pennsylvania U.S. Senate hopeful Mehmet Oz, have signaled support for it.

But in some states, segments of the party are moving to roll back policies in favor of same-sex marriage.

In Texas, the state’s Log Cabin Republicans — a group of LGBTQ party members — have lamented recent defeats at party gatherings. Last month, the Texas state party passed a platform plank calling homosexuality an “abnormal lifestyle choice.”

For some Pennsylvania Republicans, it seems the LGBTQ legal battleground has simply shifted — with transgender rights replacing same-sex marriage as the topic of debate.

“This vote was not difficult for me, as it does not infringe upon anyone’s personal and religious rights,” Meuser told reporters after he voted for the federal marriage bill. But, he stressed: “I will continue to push for restrictions on men entering women’s sports.”

High-tech bill means

factory subsidies

Lawmakers and manufacturers hailed a bill, passed this week in the U.S. Senate and House, that would pump billions of dollars in public money into high-tech industry in states including Pennsylvania.

The House passed the CHIPS and Science Act on Thursday, clearing the way for $52 billion to be spent on industrial subsidies in a bid to compete with China. Hundreds of billions more are set to be spent on high-tech research.

Casey praised the bill’s 64-33 passage in the Senate earlier this week, pointing to high-tech research hubs in Pittsburgh and semiconductor manufacturing in eastern Pennsylvania.

“By investing in technology and manufacturing, we will create countless jobs, shore up supply chains and protect our national and economic security,” he said in a written statement.

Manufacturers lobbied for the bill, and governors in several states — including Pennsylvania — had long called for investment in high-tech industries that could boost job numbers in their states.

Last year, Gov. Tom Wolf joined several counterparts across the country in calling for an earlier version of the bill to be passed. Computer chip manufacturers have signaled they could expand production in several states if the bill became law.

It passed the House Thursday in a 243-187 vote, setting the stage for President Joe Biden’s signature.

Biden sung the plan’s praises this week, hailing it as an advance for national security and the economy.

“Manufacturing jobs are back,” he said. “Thanks to this bill, we are going to have even more of them.”

Ryan Brown covers statewide

politics for Ogden Newspapers.

He can be reached at



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