Is Liquor Privatization an LGBT Issue? Some Say Yes
Add this to the list of groups who may oppose liquor privatization: Equality PA today says privatizing the state’s wine and spirits stores “is an issue LGBT citizens need to understand thoroughly.” And it may come up in debate this week, as the state Legislature is set to vote on House Bill 11 which would sort of privatize the state liquor industry, eventually.
Currently, Pennsylvania state employees—including those at state stores—are protected against unfair termination or discrimination based upon who they are, including their sexual and gender identity. This law does not exist in the private sector throughout the state and likely won’t any time soon. See, all the way back in 1975, Pennsylvania Governor Milton Shapp banned discrimination in state employment based on sexual orientation. The order has been reissued by Shapp’s successors, even though no such bill for private industry has ever gone through the legislature.
Twenty-one U.S. states currently have sexual orientation employment discrimination laws on the books. Pennsylvania is one of five with discrimination laws in place for just public employees.
But if state stores are privatized, liquor store employees will no longer be state employees and, therefore, will not be privileged to these protections throughout the state, unless they live in one of the several local municipalities which have passed their own ordinances. Those include Philadelphia, Allegheny County, Allentown, Harrisburg, State College, Lancaster, York, and others.
“Pennsylvania already suffers from a less-than-stellar comparison to other states in the protections we offer our LGBT citizens,” notes Equality PA. “Why make it worse?”