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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: January 28, 2015 04:26 PM
From: Senator Patrick M. Browne and Sen. Lawrence M. Farnese, Jr.
To: All Senate members
Subject: Prohibiting discrimination based on an individual's sexual orientation, gender identity or expression
 
In the near future, we will re-introduce legislation to prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. This legislation is identical to Senate Bill 300 introduced last session and seeks to promote fairness and economic development in this Commonwealth.

Co-sponsors from last session were: COSTA , McILHINNEY , HUGHES , BOSCOLA , SCHWANK, FONTANA , SMITH, BLAKE, WILLIAMS , WOZNIAK, STACK , TEPLITZ, LEACH , TARTAGLIONE , DINNIMAN , KITCHEN , WILEY, BREWSTER, YUDICHAK , and TOMLINSON.

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. This legislation will provide a basic level of protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals. According to recent surveys, over 70% of Pennsylvanians support amending state law to protect members of the LGBT community from discrimination.

Our legislation is not simply the right thing to do, it also makes economic sense. More than 400 companies in Pennsylvania, including some of the largest employers, have non-discrimination policies in place that include sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Additionally, all Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the Commonwealth have non-discrimination policies that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and most have a gender identity or expression policy as well. These employers recognize that by respecting diversity, they can attract and retain the best workers and maintain a competitive advantage – a key factor in stimulating economic growth.

Pennsylvania should be seen as a place that welcomes any individual who wants to work hard, succeed, and contribute to our economy without the fear of being fired or refused services simply because of who they are. Although there has been an increase in the number of Pennsylvania municipalities that have passed non-discrimination ordinances, without a statewide law, thousands of individuals not residing in one of these thirty-four (34) municipalities are not covered. Moreover, Pennsylvania has the distinction of being the only state in the Northeast without a law protecting individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

If you have any questions regarding this legislation, please contact Vicki Wilken, Esq. at vwilken@pasen.gov or Sally Keaveney at skeaveney@pasen.gov.


Introduced as SB974