Harrisburg, May 6, 2019 – Pointing to growing public support, Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) and Sen. Larry Farnese (D-Phila.) today said they will step up their fight to enact their anti-discrimination legislation this session.

The legislation (House Bill 1404 and Senate Bill 614) would ban employment and housing discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. The current human relations law only offers protections based on race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, education status, handicap, or disability. It does not protect people who are LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning).

“Few Pennsylvanians would even believe that our law still allows employers and landlords to discriminate against people based on their sexual preference,” Frankel said. “People from the LGBTQ community who face this kind of discrimination are just as worthy of our law’s protections as people from other vulnerable groups.”

 

Farnese noted that 70 percent of Pennsylvanians support adding LBGTQ people to the state’s anti-discrimination protections. All Senate Democrats have co-sponsored the Farnese bill. Pointing to how more and more companies and businesses have anti-discrimination policies and seek communities that have laws mirroring such protections, Farnese said a strong statewide anti-discrimination law would also help spur economic investment and activity.

“Pennsylvania should be a place that welcomes any individual who wants to work hard, succeed and contribute to our economy — without the fear of being fired or refused services simply because of who they are,” Farnese said.

In supporting the legislation, Matt Smith, president of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, stated, “Reform is necessary to improve the quality of life and place for our region and to ensure that our region can compete with peer regions to attract business investment as well as secure and retain top talent. On behalf of the business community, we applaud Representative Frankel for advancing this important piece of legislation that will have a direct positive impact on our ability to grow our region’s economy.”

Xavier Garcia-Molina an LGBTQ Advocate from Lancaster, said lawmakers and advocates for the legislation are on the “right side of history.”

“In 1964, I would’ve been up here before you fighting for my right to work equally beside you as a Latino, Garcia-Molina said. “In 1968, I would’ve been fighting along my brothers and sisters against age discrimination. As a 24-year-old running for city council, I know what it’s like not be considered at the prime age for a job. In 1986, the conversation we would’ve been having is ‘does someone who came to this country seeking the American Dream, just like the rest of us, have an equal right to that dream?’ We’ve decided that the answer is yes.

“So today in 2019, we might be talking about sexual minorities and those of different gender identities deserving equal rights. But the question today that is being asked is not ‘do we deserve equal rights?’ The question is, when are we going to recognize the inevitable and choose to be on the right side of history?”

The bills are currently under consideration in legislative committees.

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