Gov. Wolf pushes for vote on LGBT non-discrimination protections

HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)- Governor Tom Wolf is urging the General Assembly to pass the PA Fairness Act.

The bipartisan legislation extends non-discrimination provisions in state law to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation, and gender expression or identity. Pennsylvania is the only state in northeastern U.S. without a law protecting individuals from this discrimination.

"For years, citizens, regardless of who they love or their gender identity or expression, along with hundreds of businesses, mayors and universities, have called on the General Assembly to simply create fairness under state law for employment, housing and other services," said Governor Wolf. "Despite broad, bipartisan support, these bills have been blocked from a vote. Our nation has made great progress in recent years, and marriage equality is now the law of the land. Yet across our commonwealth, a Pennsylvanian can be fired, evicted or denied service because of their sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identity. This is simply wrong and it hurts our economy and our future by closing the door to new businesses and residents. It is time for the PA Fairness Act to get a vote and remove this black-eye from our commonwealth's laws."

The bipartisan PA Fairness Act has been proposed in both chambers. In the Senate, Republican Senator Pat Browne and Democrat Senator Larry Farnese have introduced Senate Bill 613, and, in the House, Democrat Rep. Dan Frankel introduced House Bill 1410.

Governor Wolf is calling on legislative leaders to send these bills to committees willing to have a fair hearing and give them a vote. 

"For too long this commonwealth has allowed legalized discrimination to continue," said Farnese. "It is unconscionable to me that there are legislators who are comfortable with allowing a person to be denied housing, employment, or access to public accommodations simply because of who they are or whom they love. These are basic human rights that have been systematically denied to LGBT Pennsylvanians, and I urge my colleagues to recognize that and get the PA Fairness Act to the Governor."

"People that I speak to are shocked when they learn that, outside of the 44 municipalities with their own protections, discrimination is still perfectly legal in Pennsylvania, said Representative Dan Frankel. "That a woman can get married on Saturday, and get fired for putting up wedding pictures with her wife on Monday. That in Monroeville, in Allegheny County, a gay couple holding hands over dinner can't be refused service, but if they try to dine across the border in Westmoreland, Beaver or Washington Counties, they can. I'm grateful that the Governor is forefronting this issue for the three-quarters of Pennsylvanians who believe this legal discrimination is unacceptable and want to join every other state in the northeast that provides civil rights protections to members of the LGBT community."

The bills extends current protections against discrimination based on an individual's race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, education status, handicap, or disability, to include sexual orientation, and gender expression or identity. 

Last year, Governor Wolf signed two executive orders that expanded non-discrimination protections for all state employees and employees of contractors doing business with the commonwealth. 

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