HARRISBURG - The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania praised a state House committee after the passage of legislation today to include sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in the commonwealth’s nondiscrimination law, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
Sponsored by Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta and Rep. Jessica Benham, House Bill 300 passed the House Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote, with all Democrats voting in favor and all Republicans voting against it.
The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, the agency that enforces the law, currently interprets the protected class of sex to include sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. If House Bill 300 is enacted, those protected classes would be explicitly named in statute.
The law prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.
The following can be attributed to Elizabeth Randol, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania:
“The ACLU has advocated for this change for decades. While this committee vote is merely the first step in the process, it’s a significant step. This change in the law is long overdue. LGBTQ Pennsylvanians who experience discrimination have recourse today, but enacting this bill will strengthen that protection. We look forward to doing whatever we can to help the legislation get to the governor’s desk.”
The following can be attributed to Naiymah Sanchez, senior organizer for the ACLU of Pennsylvania:
“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender, and nonbinary Pennsylvanians face discrimination on a regular basis. And people in our communities have worked hard for years, even decades, to have this protection written into law. This is a good day. But we have more work to do and can’t be satisfied until this bill is signed by the governor.”
House Bill 300 now heads to the floor of the state House of Representatives for consideration.