At the behest of Republican Rasputin-wannabes such as Karl Rove, Pennsylvania, not unlike many other "swing" states, has recently been subjected to repeated efforts by Christian extremists (who receive much of their funding from forces outside the commonwealth) to ratify a constitutional amendment that would relegate our law-abiding and tax-paying gay and lesbian citizens to permanent second-class citizenship by denying them legal recognition of any marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships they might choose to form. Before any constitutional amendment, even bigoted and Nazi-apartheid-like amendments such as this one, can be put to the citizens of Pennsylvania in a referendum, it must be passed by both houses of the legislature in two consecutive sessions with reconciled language. Last session, the House and Senate each passed very different versions and then did nothing to reconcile the versions, putting the Christian extremist bigots back at square one. This session, the extremist forces managed to convince one bigoted freshman lawmaker to re-introduce the failed legislation.
They didn't anticipate the reaction they would receive from Senator Vince Fumo this time around. No one did. Fumo has always believed that gay and lesbian people deserve equal treatment under the law. Now that he's announced he's retiring because of health issues and an ongoing corruption investigation, he apparently feels more free to really say what's on his mind. During testimony before his committee, Fumo informed one Christian extremist who happened to be African American and was speaking in favor of the amendment that Fumo's more conservative colleagues in the Senate would certainly vote to re-legalize black slavery if they could do it on a secret ballot. People pretended to be shocked, but anyone who knows upstate Pennsylvania (anywhere besides Philadelphia and its adjacent suburban counties), knows that Fumo was telling the sad truth, not committing hyperbole as the Daily diplomatically asserts in this op-ed.
After the slavery revelation failed to derail the legislation (which would be surprising almost anywhere besides Pennsylvania), Fumo attached an amendment to the amendment so that it would also outlaw most heterosexual divorces. Up to that point in the debate, the bigots kept asserting that they were not bigots, and all they wanted to do was to protect the institution of marriage. However, when they were faced with the prospect of legislation that might actually preserve a few marriages (on legal paper at least) but would do nothing to subjugate gay and lesbian citizens, they turned around and went home as very unhappy and unfulfilled bigots. The amendment was promptly tabled. The next time it could possibly come up for debate would be after the 2008 presidential election.
Thanks to the infinite fuck-ups and abuses of the Bush-Cheney junta, our beloved country is in a sorry state. It's nice to know (and it gives me hope that we may re-establish democracy on a national level very soon) they don't always get their way.