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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Citing "record" support, state lawmakers introduce non-discrimination bills — again

Posted By on Tue, May 7, 2013 at 1:24 PM

Update 2:48 p.m.: We inadvertently misquoted Sen. Farnese at the end of an original posting. We have corrected it to attribute the quote to Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery/Delaware, and co-chairman of the LGBT caucus

Could Pennsylvania be moving forward in terms of protections for its LGBT citizens?

Possibly. A broad group of state lawmakers today introduced bills HB 300/SB300, which would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression statewide in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations. And they cited a record high level of support for the measures.

"These identical proposals have a common goal — to end, once and for all, the last vestige of legal discrimination in Pennsylvania based on an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity or expression," said state Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Squirrel Hill), a co-sponsor of HB300 with Republican state Rep. Chris Ross, and sponsor of the bill in previous years.

Frankel noted that its the first time the bills have had such broad, bipartisan support, with 77 sponsors in the House and 25 in the Senate.

"We believe today marks a significant step for LGBT equality in Pennsylvania," Frankel said.

Frankel said he hoped that lawmakers could build momentum to pass the bills. "We know the climate is still difficult," he said. "LGBT progress lags behind in Pennsylvania at an alarming rate, especially when compared to 21 states across the country that already provide for LGBT protections in employment and housing."

(Indeed during the press conference announcing the legislation, ultra-conservative Republican and pride of Cranberry Daryl Metcalfe introduced, yet again, a constitutional amendment to define marriage in Pennsylvania as being between a man and a woman.)

Ted Martin, executive director of Equality PA, announced the findings of a new statewide poll indicating that about 72 percent of Pennsylvanians supported anti-discrimination measures.

Legislators also announced private-sector support from UPMC, SEIU and AARP of Pennsylvania.

"The fact is the only reason to oppose this bill is you don't support equality," said Philadelphia Democratic Senator Larry Farnese, whose the lead Democratic sponsor of the bill in the Senate Sen. Daylin Leach, , D-Montgomery/Delaware, and co-chairman of the LGBT caucus. "I am tired and have no respect for the argument that this bill won't change anything. If there is one case of discrimination in Pennsylvania, it's one too many."

Equality PA is encouraging residents who support the measures to contact their legislators.

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