|Posted:||January 31, 2017 09:58 AM|
|From:||Representative Dan Frankel|
|To:||All House members|
|As in years past, I will soon re-introduce legislation to prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. This legislation, known as the PA Fairness Act (previous House Bill 1510), seeks to promote fairness and economic development in this Commonwealth and enjoyed broad bi-partisan support in both the House and Senate last session.
Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Act currently prohibits discrimination in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations based on an individual’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, education status, handicap, or disability. I, along with vast majorities of Pennsylvania residents, believe the time has come to update this list to provide a basic level of protection for our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) family members, neighbors, and friends. In fact, unless told otherwise, most people already mistakenly believe LGBT men and women are protected from discrimination on a state or federal level.
Pennsylvania is currently the only state in the Northeast without a law protecting individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity – putting us at a competitive disadvantage with our neighbors. While marriage equality is now the law of the land, a hard working person can be fired from their job today in most areas of Pennsylvania not because of their job performance, but because of who they are or who they love. Our country was founded on a set of shared values such as freedom, opportunity for all, and personal responsibility. When it comes to earning a living and providing for their family, obtaining housing, and being served in a store or restaurant, individuals who are gay or transgender should be treated like everyone else – a key American value.
It is an imperative matter of moral fairness and economic competition to ensure that employees in our state will no longer fear being fired just because they are gay or transgender, or that customers will no longer worry about whether they will be denied services for the same reason. More and more businesses nationally and right here in Pennsylvania, are realizing that by respecting diversity and creating a welcoming environment, they can attract and retain the best workers and maintain a competitive advantage. In fact, hundreds of companies in Pennsylvania (with more and more being added each year), including some of our largest employers, have non-discrimination policies in place that include sexual orientation and/or gender identity – including all Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the Commonwealth.
With the General Assembly failing to act on this issue, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of Pennsylvania municipalities that have taken it upon themselves to pass non-discrimination ordinances in recent years – including our latest success in Carlisle. Yet without a statewide law, thousands of individuals not lucky enough to live in one of Pennsylvania’s thirty-seven (37) municipalities with a LGBT ordinance on the books are left out in the cold and could be subject to discrimination. A statewide, uniform law would signify that Pennsylvania is a place that welcomes any individual who wants to work hard, play by the rules, and contribute to our economy without the fear of being fired, denied housing or refused services.
Introduced as HB1410