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Equality PA and Bi-Partisan Leaders Launch Campaign to End Discrimination
On June 16, 2014
Co-prime Sponsors of HB/SB 300, business leaders, and faith leaders announce the launch of a statewide campaign to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people
Harrisburg – Today, legislators stood with faith leaders, business leaders, and members of the LGBT community to advocate for the passage of SB/HB 300 to end discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodation.
Co-chair of the LGBT Caucus, Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) opened the event saying, “Marriage equality is now the law in Pennsylvania, and that is wonderful news. However, the majority of Pennsylvanians who support equality in civil marriage may be surprised to hear that same-sex couples can marry on Sunday and get fired for it on Monday. That’s just wrong. Being LGBT has nothing to do with a person’s ability to fix a computer – or a car, or to be a good neighbor or tenant.”
“In a Country that was founded on the declaration that all people are created equal, it is astounding that Pennsylvania does not ensure those same equal rights to all of its citizens regarding employment, housing and public accommodation,” said Senate Majority Whip Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), the lead Republican sponsor of S.B. 300. “It’s time the Commonwealth joined twenty-one states, many local jurisdictions and over 480 of the Fortune 500 employers in ending legal discrimination solely based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.”
All four co-prime sponsors of the bills SB/HB 300 spoke about the importance of ending unfair discrimination against LGBT people in Pennsylvania including Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), Sen. Larry Farnese, (D-Philadelphia), Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny), and Rep. Chris Ross (R-Chester).
Sen. Farnese pointed out that his constituents are all too often confronted by discrimination, “Unfortunately, I’ve heard stories and have talked with Pennsylvanians who have been discriminated against in the workplace and in the housing market because of who they are and whom they love – simply put, it’s disgraceful. Every citizen of this commonwealth deserves equality and equal respect under the law and Pennsylvania’s gay, lesbian and transgender citizens deserve to be a protected class, just like the law does today for ethnicity, religion, age, gender and disability.”
Ted Martin, Executive Director of Equality PA, outlined the statewide campaign to talk to voters about legal discrimination against LGBT people in Pennsylvania. Equality PA organizers have already gathered support from small businesses and faith leaders around the state. Fortune 500 companies and local Chambers of Commerce are also showing strong support for ending discrimination.
“I am proud to say that today over 350 faith leaders, over 300 small business owners, three major chambers of commerce, and multiple Fortune 500 Companies have all stood up in support of ending unfair discrimination in Pennsylvania,” said Martin. “Most people in the commonwealth are surprised to learn that it is still legal to be fired from your job, evicted from your home, or turned away from a business just because of who you are. That’s why we are here today to show that the time has come to end unfair discrimination and pass SB/HB 300. ”
David E. Black, President & CEO, Harrisburg Regional Chamber of Commerce, noted that, “Fairness in the workplace is simply good for business. Employers in Pennsylvania want to be able to recruit the most talented employees. Those employees want to feel welcome in our communities. This commonsense law makes sure that everyone has a level playing field and is treated fairly and with dignity.”
Hava Pell, uFinancial Group, Small Business Owner, said, “As a small business owner who works with many people in the LGBT community, I know that we experience discrimination in many ways. What is important to me is to treat people fairly and to know that I will be treated fairly.”
Rabbi Carl Choper, President, The Interfaith Alliance of Pennsylvania, said that, “As a representative of a diverse and broad community of faith leaders around the commonwealth, I know that our faith commitments lead us to believe that all human beings deserve the dignity of work and the ability to use their gifts for the good of the community. Nobody should live in fear that they might be denied housing or turned away from their home simply because of who they are.”
Rev. Chris Hart, a pastor at Grace United Church of Christ in Lancaster, spoke of his work with a member of his church, “I hope every person of faith will join me in working to change the laws in Pennsylvania so that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people can be treated justly as they live in our communities. Let us do justice together and help to create a better community in our state!”
Jeanine Ruhsam, President of Transcentral PA, focused on the serious impact that discrimination can have on people’s lives saying, “Discrimination disproportionately affects the transgender community. The fact is that more than one in four transgender adults have lost at least one job due to bias. This is a crisis in our community and can be remedied with this commonsense update to the law. All people should have the opportunity to work hard, pay their dues, contribute to society, and provide for themselves and their families.”
SB/HB 300 would update the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to make sure that all Pennsylvanians, including LGBT people will be treated fairly at work, in housing, and in public accommodation. Right now, SB/HB 300 is supported by the Governor, co-sponsored by 96 Representatives and 25 Senators, and has consistently enjoyed around 70 percent support in Pennsylvania polls. More information about the campaign for fairness in employment, housing, and public accommodation can be found at: CampaignforFairnessPA.org.
ABOUT EQUALITY PENNSYLVANIA
With 60,000 members across the commonwealth, Equality Pennsylvania is the leading organization advancing equality and opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Pennsylvanians.