Equality PA Pushes to Pass Nondiscrimination Bill

Here we go again: There’s a bill cranking through the PA House that would amend the state Human Relations Act to prohibit LGBT discrimination in the workplace, public accommodations and housing. Equality PA and others are pushing strongly to make sure it gets passed. But we’ve gone down this path before. Can this time possibly be different?

Senate Bill 910 introduced by (Your) Senator Larry Farnese, co-sponsored by Senator Anthony Hardy Williams and Senator Christine Tatagloine (as well as Daylin Leach, Jay Costa, Pat Browne and Wayne Fontana) is one progressives have been trying to push through for years. Browne, Majority Whip, is the only Republican co-sponsor and introduced the same bill back in 2007 with Rep. Dan Frankel of Allegheny County. At that time, 70 members of the House signed on as co-sponsors and the ACLU of Pennsylvania helped champion the bill. But, like a myriad of progressive legislation in Pennsylvania, it was put on the backburner. (Note: It looks as though Browne may introduce his own legislation relating to this issue, as well.)

Farnese told Philadelphia Gay News that Pennsylvania “needs to catch up with other states, especially our sister states who have address this head-on and put a stop to this baseless discrimination. It sends a very bad message that here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, we don’t have a very strong and well-positioned antidiscrimination policy. We want people to come to Pennsylvania and to raise families in Pennsylvania. We welcome everyone here in the Commonwealth, and this bill reflects that.”

He said the law’s not-so-updated status is “unthinkable.”

Equality PA sent out an email urging support of the bill, heralding Pat Browne above others. The bill “will prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in the same way we currently prohibit discrimination in these areas because of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, education status, handicap, or disability,” they write. “We also know that the majority of Pennsylvanians believe employment decisions should be based on a person’s qualifications and work ethic. And it goes inherently against our American values to fire someone based solely upon who they are.”

It’s so far unknown what Governor Tom Corbett would do if such a bill fell on his desk. That’s a big “if” and even in the dimension where Corbett does take a glance, we’re not optimistic.

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