HARRISBURG, PA – Members of the Pennsylvania House State Government Committee today passed legislation out of their committee prohibiting discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in housing, employment, and public accommodations by a vote of 12-11.
“Thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people across Pennsylvania thank members of the State Government Committee for their commitment to basic fairness,” said Jake Kaskey, policy and outreach coordinator of Equality Advocates Pennsylvania. “This legislation has broad support from all corners of Pennsylvania, so we look forward to the bill moving to the floor of the State House for a vote.”
Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny County) introduced the bill, House Bill 300, which would amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” as protected classes, on March 4 with a record 79 co-sponsors from both parties and from across the commonwealth.
“I'm very pleased committee members took the first step in providing basic protections for all Pennsylvanians,” Frankel said. “Pennsylvania is at a competitive disadvantage when it does not protect all of its citizens against discrimination, and I look forward to the entire House voting to pass this important legislation.”
House State Government Committee Chairperson Babette Josephs (D-Philadelphia) held public committee hearings on similar legislation in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Erie last session. “I'm excited that the committee has finally passed this important legislation,” Josephs said. “Ensuring every citizen of this state has the opportunity to work, and retain housing, is a core principle of fairness for all Pennsylvanian.”
House Bill 300 will now move to the entire House of Representatives for a vote.
“We are very encouraged to see this important legislation successfully passed through the State Government Committee,” added Andy Hoover, legislative director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. “We hope the full House takes up this bill quickly and deliberatively.”
Current Pennsylvania law provides basic legal protection against discrimination on the bases of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, handicap or disability, education and the use of a guide dog. Thirteen Pennsylvania municipalities have already enacted civil rights laws including protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, but nearly eighty percent of the state’s twelve million residents live or work in communities that do not provide these protections. Twenty states in the country have similar laws, including our neighboring states of New Jersey, Maryland and New York.
Pennsylvanians from every corner of the state are meeting in the Capitol Rotunda at 1:00pm on Tuesday, March 17, to rally in support of House Bill 300.
The Value All Families Coalition is comprised of diverse statewide, regional, and local organizations that support equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pennsylvanians.