FUMO AMENDMENT PROTECTS SANCTITY
OF MARRIAGE FROM DIVORCE
HARRISBURG, May 6, 2008
– With proponents of a proposed constitutional amendment on
marriage claiming that they are not attempting to discriminate against gays but
merely to protect the sanctity of the marital institution, state Sen. Vince Fumo
(D-Philadelphia) intends to offer an amendment that would outlaw the dissolution
of most marriages in Pennsylvania.
Fumo will propose his measure when the Senate considers
SB 1250, which would amend the state constitution to say that only the union of
one man and one woman would be recognized as a marriage or the functional
equivalent of marriage. That debate could occur today.
“Listening to the supporters and advocates for SB 1250,
they tell me that their goal is not to hurt any group of people, but to protect
the valuable yet beleaguered institution of marriage. In my view, there is no
greater threat to families and to marriage than the high divorce rate in our
society. So if we truly want our Constitution to guard the institution of
marriage, we should focus on keeping those marital unions together,” Fumo said.
His change to SB 1250 would prohibit divorce except
when specific causes are present.
Fumo will propose inserting the following language into
“No law permitting the dissolution of marital status
shall be valid except in the case of willful and malicious desertion, cruel and
barbarous treatment of a spouse, endangerment of the life or health of a spouse,
a bigamous marriage or imposition of such indignities as to render a spouse’s
condition intolerable and life burdensome.”
Fumo has opposed SB 1250 on the grounds that it embeds
discrimination into the state Constitution by taking away the rights of some
citizens based on their sexual orientation. Constitutions, he has argued, are
documents to protect the rights of all people, especially minorities, from the
potential tyranny of the majority.
He considers the language in SB 150 that excludes
same-sex couples from not only marriage but also “the functional equivalent of
marriage” as a threat to other legal rights. He voted against the legislation on
Monday when it was reported from the Senate Appropriations Committee on an 18-8
Senate passage SB 1250 would be only the first step on
a long path toward including it in the Constitution. It would also have to pass
the House of Representatives in this session, then pass the Senate and House
again during the two-year legislative session that will begin in January of
2009, then be approved by a majority of the voters of the state in a referendum.
Fumo is twice divorced.
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