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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: January 14, 2015 09:17 AM
From: Representative Dan Frankel and Rep. Chris Ross
To: All House members
Subject: Prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression (PA Fairness Act)
In the near future, we will re-introduce legislation to prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. This legislation is identical to House Bill 300 introduced last session and seeks to promote fairness and economic development in this Commonwealth.

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 strongly believe the time has come to update this list to provide a basic level of protection for our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) brothers and sisters. We are not alone in this belief. At this writing, our legislation enjoys the support of vast majorities of people from one end of Pennsylvania to another. In fact, 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 or who they love. 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. Yet without a statewide law, thousands of individuals not lucky enough to live in one of these thirty-four (34) municipalities are left out in the cold. 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.

Our legislation is a matter of fairness, a matter of economics, and a matter of common sense. The time has come for the Keystone State to embrace this fact and end one of the last vestiges of legal discrimination in this Commonwealth. LGBT men and women are not strangers living in the shadows – they are our parents, sons, daughters, siblings, friends and co-workers. They play integral roles in our communities and should be afforded basic protections under the law.

Last session, House Bill 300 enjoyed the support of a record ninety-seven (97) members, including both Republicans and Democrats. We only hope to build upon this support in the coming months and invite all members to sign on to this important effort.

Introduced as HB1510