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Lawmakers want to wipe same-sex marriage ban from state laws

Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Philadelphia, speaks during a news event last fall.

Same-sex marriage has been recognized in Pennsylvania since 2014 via court decision, but state laws banning same-sex marriage remain on the books in the commonwealth.

State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Philadelphia, has introduced HB 824 to repeal provisions in Title 23 of the state Domestic Relations Law that recognizes marriage only between a man and a woman. The legislation has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

“Unfortunately, there are still many states, including our own, that retain outdated, unconstitutional and unnecessary sections of law that prohibit marriage equality,” Kenyatta wrote in his legislative memorandum. “My legislation will bring our laws up to date by repealing Section 1704 (Marriage Between Persons of the Same Sex) of Title 23 (Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, which currently only recognizes marriage between a man and woman.”

Same-sex marriage has been legally recognized in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania since May 20, 2014, when a U.S. federal district court judge ruled that the commonwealth’s 1996 statutory ban on recognizing same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. The state had prohibited recognition of same-sex marriage by statute since 1996. It had never added such a ban to its state constitution.

The state has never recognized civil unions or domestic partnerships and was the last state in the Northeast region where same-sex couples could not legally marry.

“Marriage equality has been enshrined as a right by both our state and federal governments, and this section of law no longer represents the modern definition and view of marriage. As legislators, it is our duty to make sure that we continue to retain laws that reflect the will of our constituents,” Kenyatta wrote.

“It is a disservice to all of our fellow Pennsylvanians in loving, same-sex marriages to continue to allow this obsolete section of law to exist. Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation to protect and show continued compassion and support for marriage equality in our great state.”

Kenyatta is the first openly gay man of color to serve in the Pennsylvania General Assembly,

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