HARRISBURG – Governor Tom Wolf today will sign executive orders to boost legal protections for gay and transgender workers in the business of the commonwealth, a move that drew praise from the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.
The first of two orders to be signed by Wolf this afternoon will prohibit discrimination against state employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, a long-standing protection that has overlapped the administrations of multiple governors of both political parties. Wolf will further expand those protections by signing a second order that prohibits discrimination against gay and transgender workers by state contractors.
“This is an issue of fundamental fairness,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “To be competitive in a 21st century economy, Pennsylvania workers need to know that they have protection in their place of employment.
“We are grateful that Governor Wolf has shown leadership on this issue.”
While the executive orders will outlaw discrimination in state agencies and state contracts, Pennsylvania still lacks statewide protections from discrimination for gay and transgender workers in private employment and in housing and public services.
Legislation currently in both the state Senate and the state House, dubbed the Pennsylvania Fairness Act, would amend the commonwealth’s non-discrimination law to include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
“The governor’s orders are the next steps but not the last steps on this issue,” said Andy Hoover, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “The legislature has debated this bill for over a decade. It is past time to pass it and update the law.”
House Bill 1510 and Senate Bill 974 were introduced this session with bipartisan sponsors. Both bills are currently in committee.