Fumo said to push bill for same-sex-partner rights
Embattled state Sen. Vince Fumo may take on a hot-button legislative issue this fall - rights for same-sex partners. Philadelphia Gay News editor Mark Segal wrote in his column this week that a Fumo aide had contacted him to say the senator thought "the time has come for civil-union legislation to be introduced in Pennsylvania."
NOTE: THIS STORY HAS BEEN CORRECTED.
Embattled state Sen. Vince Fumo may take on a hot-button legislative issue this fall - rights for same-sex partners.
Philadelphia Gay News publisher Mark Segal wrote in his column this week that a Fumo aide had contacted him to say the senator thought "the time has come for civil-union legislation to be introduced in Pennsylvania."
New Jersey's civil-union law took effect in February. Since then, more than 1,300 couples have taken advantage of it.
But Fumo's spokesman Gary Tuma said his boss, who has long been supportive of the gay community, is considering introducing legislation, but probably not on civil unions.
Tuma said any bill introduced would likely deal with the economic rights of gay partners, like joint ownership of property.
"One of the major considerations as he looks at all of this is what can actually be enacted," Tuma said. "He's not interested in introducing something to say he introduced it."
Anything Fumo would introduce would face an uphill battle in the conservative Legislature. Political analyst G. Terry Madonna, of Franklin & Marshall College, said this issue is likely dead on arrival.
"You've got to take the Senate Republicans who control the agenda to even put this on the table and they won't agree to it," Madonna said.
Still, Segal yesterday said any legislation would be an important first step.
"You have to start the debate somewhere," he said.
Of course whether Fumo could see such a debate through is questionable.
Fumo is scheduled to stand trial in February on a 139-count federal corruption indictment. Anti-casino community activist Anne Dicker has announced plans to run against him in the Democratic primary next April.
So could there be any political motivation behind Fumo's pledge to look at this type of legislation?
"I don't think he'd introduce this to play on a particular interest group," Madonna said. "He's been there before on this issue."
But Madonna did wonder if Fumo wanted to introduce this now, just in case he isn't successful in court.
"He might be doing it knowing that he has to go face a pretty tough trial," Madonna said. *