Philadelphia Passes LGBT Health Bill, and a Civil Union Bill is Introduced in Pennslvania

Pennsylvania Rep. Mark Cohen has introduced a civil union bill in Pennsylvania.

Mark_cohenPhilly Mag's Josh Middleton reports:

According to a press release I received from Cohen’s office, the bill would define a civil union “would make all state laws applicable to marriage also applicable to a civil union. The bill also would allow reciprocity for civil unions performed legally in other states and the recognition of same sex-marriage in other states as civil unions in Pennsylvania.”

In the press release, Cohen calls civil unions exactly what they are: a “middle-of-the-road compromise position between constitutionally banning and permitting gay marriages.” And just to appease those religious dissenters, he states that, “Nothing in this bill would require any religion or any clergyman to perform any ceremony uniting people in a civil union. This legislation will merely offer committed gay couples the same legal rights that are bestowed upon married people without the status of marriage.”

In other LGBT-related Pennsylvania news, the Philadelphia City Council has voted to approve a broad LGBT health benefits bill, PGN reports:

Bill 130224, which passed with a 14-three vote, would not only give a tax credit incentive to businesses that offered employee health plans that would include same-sex partners and children, but it would also include a substantial amount of benefits to the transgender community as well.

The bill ,which was introduced by Councilman Jim Kenney, would revamp the city’s health care plan to ban discrimination against non-union transgender city employees and would instate a Transgender Health Tax Credit that would allow companies to offer healthcare specific-needs to the transgender community.

City buildings would also be required to provide gender-neutral bathroom and would also ban employment discrimination in the city’s non-discrimination law.


  1. Au says

    Take it and fight for more next year if the condition for marriage is not realistically possible as of yet.
    There is no contract saying if you take civil union, you cannot ask for marriage at a later time.

  2. JONES says

    Francis, this isn’t good. Civil unions aren’t recognized for federal benefits. This is anything and everything about last ditch efforts to make us ‘other’ and ‘less’ than. The tide of public opinion is turning against anti-equality zealots and this is their attempt to save face and not accept us as equals in the eyes of the law.

  3. Francis #1 says

    The civil union bill is bad, I agree Jones. The LGBTQ health bill is good. The LGBTQ health bill in Philadelphia is going to help a lot of people.

    Pennsylvania is several years away from seeing marriage equality, realistically. This is the problem with the state by state measures, especially if Republicans win many seats in 2014, we’re going to see marriage in maybe 15 states and then nothing in the rest.

  4. Emmile says

    The “LGBT health bill” is 90% about transgenders. So this is yet another example of how gay political capital is coopted and redirected for the benefit of trans activists. And there won’t be a word of gratitude from these trans activists, many of whom are deeply anti-gay. Not a modicum of reciprocal support. All there will be is more demands.

  5. will says

    Why are we now LGBTQ?

    We have enough letters! If you are “questioning”, then take a few months to make up your mind and then pick from one of the pre-existing categories! We don’t need 17 letters strung along an acronym like misshapen pearls.

  6. disgusted american says

    MeriKKKa is Pathetic…Liberty & Justice for All my ass…MeriKKKan Exceptionalism my ass…….GROW UP MeriKKKa, and stand up for what you say you do!

  7. JONES says

    Those ‘letters’ are about inclusiveness.
    I lend my voice in the fight for equality for everyone.

    If the branding label has all the letters of the alphabet and is about equality for everyone then so be it.

  8. gehrett says

    Let’s be realistic. In regards to changing people’s views, can we really expect to change beliefs that have been around for over 2000 years so fast? I don’t agree with those who are intolerant and don’t accept other points of view, but we can’t expect to change things so fast. Real change takes time and hard work. I just think it’s important that there has been even one more step forward.

  9. john says


    Many other states in our homophobic Union that have passed Anti-Gay Marriage amendments that also outlawed Civil Unions.

    These little nasty laws forbid recognition of ALL Civil Unions too…just to make sure those Pesky Gays couldn’t legally weasel into a relationship and take some of that golden hetero-pie known as “Benefits”.

    PA’s proposal forgets one critical thng:

    If a Straight couple opts for a PA Civil Union, and then that couple moves to one those Anti-C.U. states, their C.U. will NOT be eligible for benefits and perks that their adopted state gives to the”Traditionally Married” folk.

    That couple would have to Re-Marry in their adopted state, which even then might not be legally void back in PA…especially if it was a Civil Marriage, not religious.

    Obviously, this shell game with ‘Civil Unions’ is designed only to continue institutionalized discrimination qgainst us in place.

    The only progress we see from the haters today is that they are so desperate to discriminate against us, they are now willing to injure themselves.

    And guess where THAT blame will fall!

    Needless to say, this is a gross violation of the U.S. Constitution and will never be signed into law.

    Heterosexuals are very reluctant to strip themselves of their own civil rights.

    Right, Mary???!!!

  10. Rick says

    I hate to break it too some of you, but we are very near the end of the line in terms of states that are likely to legalize same-sex marriage any time soon.

    It is highly unlikely that any state outside the Northeast and the West Coast will do so for at least another decade….and in many states, it won’t happen for at least 50 years.

    Two-thirds have Constitutional bans on same-sex marriage which will be very difficult, if not impossible, to dislodge legislatively.

    So you are going to experience a lot of frustration if you are expecting national legalization in your lifetimes, barring sweeping action by the Supreme Court.

  11. Mary says

    Rick, your scenario for gay marriage being illegal in some states DECADES from now is even more pessimistic than my own scenario -and I’m usually the queen of pessimism. I’d give the whole process about a decade or slightly longer to play out. 50 years? Heck, in 50 years the red states may be electing gay governnors at the rate society is progressing! Think of it. We already have gays gaining respectability in the conservative movement – something that would have been considered fantasy only 20 years ago.

    Even the reddest of states will slowly accept the inevitable and change their constitutions to put SSM up for a vote. And more and more traditionalists will quietly stop fighting yesterdays battles. It DOES get tiring for them. I wonder if even Maggie and Brian would secretly like to call it quits at this point.

  12. Jay says

    Somewhere, deep down, I really hope a) this passes and b) the Supreme Court rules very narrowly on the marriage cases before it now.

    Okay, really, I want this over, but here is why I said the above:

    The bill also would allow reciprocity for civil unions performed legally in other states and the recognition of same sex-marriage in other states as civil unions in Pennsylvania.”

    That is a court case I want to hear! That is the most awesome stupidity I have EVER EVER seen in print anywhere! “As a state, we are reserving the right to invalidate and rewrite the contract you entered into legally in another state.” Ohhhhh…the sweet beauty of it’s asshattery!

  13. Rick says


    Write me a letter when a state legislature in the Deep South votes to legalize same-sex marriage…..or Utah or Idaho, either.

    Not gonna happen.

    The Supreme Court will intervene long before that.

    That said, this whole exercise is ludicrous, in my opinion. The reality is that no more than 2% of gay men are ever likely to marry and when that becomes apparent to the public–that we were demanding something that we really were not even interested in–I suspect there is going to be a big-time backlash

  14. says

    When Section 3 of DOMA falls, which is likely this year, where will that leave couples with CUs? In unnecessary legal limbo. As a stepping stone in 2000 in VT they were essential to the progress we’ve made. Now, they’re widely recognized as what they are: 2nd rate and wrong-headed. And the right-wing support for CUs is really no greater than for civil marriage equality, so it’s a solution for no one. But that’s for PA to figure out. Kudos on the health bill.

    Rick, you keep making this ridiculous only 2% of gay men will marry statement as if you know anything about it. And of course lesbians are left out of the picture, as women don’t exist in your fantasy world. We get it, you’re threatened by marriage because you have to have an open life to have an open relationship, one that can be legally recognized.

    The most likely scenario is that DOMA will fall, gay couples in some states like mine will have full federal marriage equality soon, and the absurd disparity between my state and backwards states will be unsustainable and will require a judicial solution within a few years. In the meantime, other states will join the equality column, adding momentum to the inevitable.

  15. JONES says

    Sorry to read that our fight for civil rights in America is ludicrous, in your opinion.

    How do you deal with reports of LGBT children killing themselves because society and religious institutions condemn them? Or with ‘alphabet’ kids as young as 8 years old living on the streets because their parents disown them. Or the ones sent for conversion therapy to ‘fix’ them? Do you turn a blind eye when visitation rights are denied to life partners? How about when your loved one dies and their family who disowned them for years prevents you from seeing to their last wishes? Do you have a loved Niece or Nephew who are bullied for perceived ‘otherness’ ?

    This is a much larger issue than gay marriage. Marriage is the topical frontman for all of the other abuses that are included when anti-gay marriage laws are enacted.

    This fight is really about civil rights equality and whether or not it benefits me personally I don’t see it as ludicrous.

  16. Francis #1 says

    Decades? No, it won’t take decades.

    A lot depends on what SCOTUS does. If SCOTUS punts on DOMA, the timeline is extended. If SCOTUS eliminates Section 3 then the pathway is accelerated.

    It’s true that there aren’t a huge amount of available states remaining for us to know we can and should absolutely win in, but we should get California and New Jersey soon. Illinois could come this year or next. Those are three big states and winning in those states that will lead to more momentum. Ultimately it will be through litigation more than likely, that full equality will be achieved.

    This isn’t an easy fight but it’s one we will do everything we can to win. And win we will.

  17. Emmile says

    Wrong again Rick. Undoing the constitutional amendments on the state level will be no more difficult than it was for the other side to put them in. In most cases, that means one statewide vote. In a few cases, it means a vote by the state legislature followed by a statewide vote. That process will occur in waves.

    First, there are states w no amendments to deal with. Then, we deal with the amendment states. Oregon is going to happen next year. We will work the easier states first and while that is going on, public opinion will continue to move. After states like NJ, HI, OR and NV are done, we move on to the purple states like CO and OH and MI. All this will take time and by the time it is done, even southern states like FL and VA will have moved a lot and will be do-able. This can all happen within 10 years.

    IMO, by the time we get to about 25 states or so, SCOTUS will find a federal constitutional right to marriage. But even if it doesn’t, we will get the job done, no thanks to you.

  18. JONES says

    Undoing amendments to state constitutions that have been passed will take a bit more effort and we all have to be willing to participate.

    Districts for state assemblies (like the federal House of Representatives) have been gerrymandered over the years to almost guarantee that certain districts stay conservative. Trying to change district zoning is a decades long process. Trying to change the conservative mindset from either constituents or legislators, especially those from areas with heavy right wing religious populations, will not be easy.
    It’s a battle that we have to face up to.

    Don’t start to relax if you’re from a state that has passed equality legislation.
    This is a nationwide battle.

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