HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Wolf has urged the General Assembly to pass the PA Fairness Act, bipartisan legislation that 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 the northeastern United States 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 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 Sen. Pat Browne and Democrat Sen. Larry Farnese have introduced Senate Bill 613, and, in the House, Democrat Rep. Dan Frankel introduced House Bill 1410.
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.”
Frankel added, “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.
“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 fore-fronting 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 extend 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, Wolf signed two executive orders that expanded non-discrimination protections for all state employees and employees of contractors doing business with the commonwealth.