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PHILADELPHIA - Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the City of Philadelphia is permitted to extend benefits to the same-sex partners of its employees. In September 2002, a Commonwealth Court, in a unanimous decision, struck down Philadelphia’s 1998 Life Partnership ordinance, saying that the city was "defining and creating a new marital status" – something only the state has the power to do. The Supreme Court disagreed that the city had overstepped its authority, saying that "the city has [not] legislated in the area of marriage here."

Although Justice Russell M. Nigro claimed in his written opinion that the extension of benefits to same-sex partners is not equating "life partnerships" to marriage, homosexual advocates admit that their goal is "full marriage rights," and consider granting of benefits to be the first step toward government-recognized same-sex marriage. Municipalities across the country have instituted "domestic partnership" registries. Even in the absence of legal or financial benefits, these registries lend social legitimacy to same-sex relationships.

Christians across the country are alarmed by the increasing trend toward legitimizing immorality by legislation. "The ramifications of this decision will be extraordinary," stated Michael Marcavage, director of the Philadelphia-based Repent America. "Now, with the high court's backing, homosexual activists will lobby local governing bodies all across Pennsylvania to setup similar registries, utilizing taxpayer money to fund and encourage abominable behavior. In time, without a aggressive Christian response, these types of registries will be common-place in Pennsylvania, and throughout the nation."

In Monday’s Supreme Court ruling, the court let stand the health benefits for registered life partners of Philadelphia workers, but disallowed a "life partner" anti-discrimination provision on the basis that sexual preference is already protected under other city laws. They further disallowed an exemption from the city’s real estate transfer tax on the basis that others in long-term non-marital relationships cannot likewise benefit, and that taxes must by Pennsylvania law be assessed evenly within a class of people.

Pennsylvania Governor Rendell – who as Mayor of Philadelphia signed the original "Life Partnership" benefits bill in 1998 – has already extended family and sick-leave benefits to same-sex partners of some state employees. At least 10 state governments offer their employees health benefits for same-sex couples – and some also include opposite-sex unmarried couples. More than one-third of Fortune 500 companies offer domestic-partner benefits.

In neighboring New Jersey, State legislators passed a similar bill in January 2004, offering financial and legal benefits for same-sex partners who are registered as domestic partners. The New Jersey Court of Appeals heard arguments Tuesday in the case of seven same-sex couples now suing for the right to get married in New Jersey. New Jersey Governor McGreevey, who signed the benefits bill but claimed he opposed same-sex marriage, submitted his resignation in August 2004 after being caught in an adulterous homosexual affair with an appointed official.

Repent America’s Marcavage laments the lack of Christian values in all branches of government, saying, "This is even more reason for Christians to become involved in their local governing bodies, to run for office, and upon victory, rule in the fear of God."

The spokesperson for current Philadelphia Mayor Street, Barbara Grant, stated that the city’s intent in offering "Life Partnership" benefits was not to recognize gay marriage, but to provide equality to homosexual employees. William Devlin of the Philadelphia-based Urban Family Council, a organization advocating for life, marriage, and family, contends that "the City of Philadelphia has created a new class of marital rights," and vows to appeal the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.


"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." II Chronicles 7:14 KJV

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