The struggle of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people for full equality is one of this generation’s most important and galvanizing civil rights movements. Despite the many advances that have been made, however, LGBT people continue to face discrimination in many areas of life.
No federal law prevents a person from being fired or refused a job on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Twenty-nine states (including Pennsylvania) also lack employment protections based on sexual orientation and 37 states do not protect transgendered people. Although 24 local governments in Pennsylvania have local ordinances prohibiting employment discrimination against LGBT people, approximately 70% of the state's population remains unprotected.
While five states (Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut) currently permit same-sex marriages, giving LGBT couples access to the same legal rights and obligations as opposite-sex couples, gay marriage has been repealed by popular vote in two states and is prohibited by amendments to state constitutions in many others. The Pennsylvania legislature passed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, expressly prohibiting the issuing of marriage licenses to same-sex couples or the recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, but the state's constitution remains discrimination free, with proposed anti-marriage amendments failing in two sessions to date.
The ACLU of Pennsylvania actively supports the struggle for lesbian and gay civil rights, participating in a broad range of legal, legislative, and public education activities. Our legal clients have included numerous high school students working to form Gay-Straight Alliances at their schools, while our legislative department works to secure passage of statewide employment protections, anti-bullying statutes, and other beneficial legislation while opposing measures like the proposed anti-marriage amendment.
Don't Filter Me: Students, Check Your School's Web Filter!
Did you know that it’s illegal for public schools in the United States to use their web filtering software to deny students access to positive, affirming information about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues – especially if a school DOES allow access to anti-gay websites? The American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT Project, along with the Yale Law School LGBT Litigation Clinic, is asking public high school students throughout the U.S. to check out your high school’s web filters and help us make sure you’re not being blocked from information you have a right to have! More>>