We have a joke in our office about how our civil liberties are safer when the legislature isn’t in session. Well, we aren’t laughing today. The legislature came back from the break today, and eighty-nine of the 203 representatives in the PA House lined up to co-sponsored HB 2381, or what the other side calls the “Marriage Protection Amendment.” We like to call it the “Let’s Write Discrimination into the Constitution! Amendment.” (A personal aside: Can someone please, please explain to me why some people are so interested in controlling the personal lives of others? I sincerely just don’t get it.)
The one bright spot in Harrisburg today was that the House Judiciary Committee did not get to House Bill 698 on mental retardation and the death penalty. The version they would be looking at would have a determination of mental retardation made by the jury after they’ve convicted the defendant. (We, and advocates for the mentally retarded like ARC, support a different version of the bill which states that a judge would make the determination before the trial. For more on this issue see yesterday’s blog entry.) Nonetheless, we expect this bill to surface again soon, so call your representative if he or she happens to be on the Judiciary Committee to encourage him or her NOT to support HB 698. Here’s a list of the committee and their phone numbers.