|Posted:||March 25, 2013 02:08 PM|
|From:||Representative Dan Frankel and Rep. Chris Ross|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Re-introduction of House Bill 300 to prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression|
|In order to promote fairness and economic development in the Commonwealth, Representative Ross and I will soon introduce legislation to prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Currently, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act prohibits discrimination in the areas of employment, housing and accommodations based on an individual’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, education status, handicap, or disability. We believe the time has come to update this list to include a basic level of protection for members of the LGBT community in Pennsylvania.
The introduction of our legislation will mark the first time that a non-discrimination bill has been co-prime sponsored by a Republican and Democrat in both the House and the Senate. Furthermore, the introduction of this legislation comes at a time when evidence and polling confirm a genuine shift in public opinion and support for LGBT fairness. According to a new poll from CivicScience, nearly 70% of Pennsylvanians agree that LGBT workers should not be fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression and 72% agree that it should be illegal to refuse service to someone based on the person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
In addition to promoting fairness, our legislation promotes another important factor: economic development. All 26 of the Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Pennsylvania already have non-discrimination policies that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and most have a gender identity or expression policy in place as well. These successful companies recognize that it is good business practice to protect workers from discrimination. The Commonwealth should be seen as a place that welcomes any individual who wants to work hard, succeed, and grow our economy without the fear of being fired or refused services simply because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of Pennsylvania municipalities that have taken it upon themselves to pass non-discrimination ordinances. Currently, 30 local governments in Pennsylvania (city, county and township) have ordinances in place to promote workplace and housing fairness for its LGBT citizens (see attached list). Outside of our state, Pennsylvania is surrounded on three sides by states with comprehensive non-discrimination laws. West Virginia appears likely to pass their version of this bill this spring, and if that happens, Pennsylvania will be left alone as the only state in the Northeast without these protections in place.
Our legislation is a matter of fairness, a matter of economics, and a matter of common sense. The time has come for Pennsylvania to embrace this fact. We hope you will join us in support of this important legislation.
Introduced as HB300