HARRISBURG, May 7 – A record number of state legislators are sponsoring bills that would protect LGBT people from discrimination in Pennsylvania.

House Bill 300 and S.B. 300 have a combined 102 sponsors, 77 in the House and 25 in the Senate, including seven House Republicans and two Senate Republicans, legislators announced at a Capitol news conference. The bills would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression statewide in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations.

“More and more people inside the Capitol – from both parties — agree with the vast majority of people outside the building on this. Being gay or transgender has nothing to do with your ability to do a good job or to be a good neighbor or tenant. This is just commonsense legislation. Many people think it’s the law already, and it should be,” said Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, lead Democratic sponsor of H.B. 300 and co-chairman of the legislature’s LGBT Equality Caucus.

“I am pleased that this legislation is being introduced today in both the Senate and the House of Representatives in a bipartisan manner. It’s time the commonwealth joined at least 20 other states and many major employers and municipalities in Pennsylvania and make it illegal to discriminate solely based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression,” said Senate Majority Whip Pat Browne, the lead Republican sponsor of S.B. 300. “The Declaration of Independence declares that all men are created equal. We should not allow places of business or employers to say otherwise.”

Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery/Delaware, co-chairman of the LGBT Equality Caucus, said: “I am happy to stand with my colleagues today in support of this legislation. It is appalling that our LGBT friends and neighbors here in Pennsylvania can be discriminated against by landlords and employers under current law, and it is time we fixed that problem. These bills will offer protections to an entire group of people who need and deserve them, and I am eager to see this important legislation signed into law.”

Sen. Larry Farnese, D-Phila., lead Democratic sponsor of S.B. 300, said: “It’s sickening to think that in Pennsylvania someone can be denied a place to live and a career because of who they love. I’m proud to stand with this bipartisan coalition and work to pass Senate and House Bills 300, because they are not just long overdue for the good of the commonwealth and our citizens, but they are the right things to pass because they will end housing and employment discrimination in our great state.”

Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., the first member of the Pennsylvania legislature elected as an out gay candidate, said: “As a gay man, I know firsthand how important these protections are and how fundamental they are to the safety and security that so many Pennsylvanians take for granted. Moreover, as a legislator, I see every day how the commonwealth is failing in its promise to treat all people with dignity, respect and with equality under the law.

“This is more than just an exciting day for me personally, and as a legislator who represents the city in Pennsylvania that has its LGBT protections the longest, I can say comfortably that this is one of the most historic days for Pennsylvania LGBT civil rights. Today, we stand united with more legislators, and with more bipartisan support within the House and Senate, than at any time in Pennsylvania history.”

At the news conference, Ted Martin, executive director of Equality Pennsylvania, announced that a recent poll about the bills showed 72 percent support statewide, consistent with Pennsylvania polling results on the issue over the past decade. The poll was conducted by Susquehanna Polling and Research, a firm with many Republican and business clients. Regional results of the poll are available at http://is.gd/hb300poll.

Martin said: “Our laws today fall short of protecting all our citizens, and the stories I hear nearly every day from our members affirm the need for House Bill 300 and Senate Bill 300. These bills provide critical protections for gay and transgender Pennsylvanians. Currently, our state is the only one in the Northeast where gay and transgender citizens can be fired, denied a mortgage, or refused a hotel room simply because of who they are or who they love. Equality Pennsylvania believes that House Bill 300 and Senate Bill 300 are good for Pennsylvania. They have broad-based, widespread support. They facilitate the development of a strong economy. They affirm our core values of fairness, liberty and equality. And they’re long overdue.”

Legislators also welcomed backing for the bills from a new major private-sector supporter, the Pittsburgh-based UPMC health system, one of the largest employers in the region and statewide. Other major backers of the bills include SEIU and AARP of Pennsylvania.

Sponsors of the House bill are: Reps. Frankel, Ross, Bishop, Bizzarro, B. Boyle, K. Boyle, Bradford, Briggs, R. Brown, V. Brown, Brownlee, Caltagirone, Carroll, Clay, Cohen, D. Costa, P. Costa, Cruz, M. Daley, P. Daley, Davis, Dean, DeLissio, DeLuca, Dermody, Donatucci, D. Evans, Fabrizio, Farina, Fleck, Flynn, Freeman, Gainey, Galloway, Gergely, Harkins, J. Harris, Kavulich, W. Keller, Kim, Kinsey, Kirkland, Mahoney, Markosek, McCarter, McGeehan, McNeill, Miranda, Molchany, Mullery, Mundy, Murt, Neilson, Neuman, O’Brien, Painter, Parker, Pashinski, Peifer, Ravenstahl, Readshaw, Roebuck, Rozzi, Sabatina, Samuelson, Santarsiero, Scavello, Schlossberg, Sims, Snyder, Sturla, Taylor, Thomas, Vitali, Waters, Wheatley and Youngblood.

Sponsors of the Senate bill are: Sens. Farnese, Browne, Ferlo, Washington, Stack, Teplitz, Fontana, Costa, Smith, Blake, Schwank, Williams, Wozniak, Hughes, Leach, Tartaglione, Dinniman, Kitchen, Wiley, Boscola, Yudichak, McIlhinney, Brewster, Solobay and Kasunic.