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Time for Ending Discrimination in PA is Now, Sen. Farnese, Advocates Say Following Supreme Court Decision on Same-Sex Marriage
On June 26, 2015
HARRISBURG, June 26, 2015 – As he applauded the significance of today’s historic U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriage in the United States, state Sen. Larry Farnese said it’s time for Pennsylvania to outlaw discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Currently under Pennsylvania law, it is still permitted to deny someone a service or a job based on the way they live their private lives,” Sen. Farnese said. “As the highest court in the land finally opens the door to same-sex marriage, we must move decisively to ensure that no Pennsylvanian – and no one who visits the commonwealth – is ever subjected to bigotry or intolerance because of who they are as people.”
For the past three legislative sessions, the Philadelphia Democrat has introduced bills to make discrimination illegal in the commonwealth.
Farnese will soon introduce a new proposal to make discrimination illegal in Pennsylvania. He was the co-prime sponsor of Senate Bill 300, which was designed to amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act by adding the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” to the protected classes in PA’s law.
“Whether you are black or white, young or old, gay, straight or transgendered, you must have equal protection under the law,” Farnese said.
Nurit Shein, CEO of the Mazzoni Center, Philly’s LGBT health care and wellness center, said time is of the essence for Pennsylvania lawmakers to act.
“Today we witnessed the victory of our community as we gained equal dignity before the law. It is the culmination of decades of courage to be recognized and respected. But let us not forget that while we have gained marriage rights there are still laws that discriminate us,” Shein said. “Pennsylvania still must pass an anti-discrimination law that includes sexual behavior and gender identity language. We will keep advocating for inclusion on all fronts.”
One prominent LGBT rights advocate and successful business owner, Michael Weiss, echoed the need for action by the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
“Although today’s Supreme Court decision is a major accomplishment and milestone achievement, Pennsylvania still has holes in its anti-discrimination law that must be changed,” Weiss said.
“In his decision allowing same-sex marriage, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that gay and lesbian partners were asking ‘for equal dignity in the eyes of the law’ and that ‘the constitution grants them that right’,” Farnese said. “I strongly believe that same measured and human response must apply in Pennsylvania’s anti-discrimination law.”
Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations Executive Director Rue Landau agreed.
“In Philadelphia, we have had laws protecting people based on sexual orientation and gender identity for decades. This is the city where, 50 years ago, the first national protest for gay rights occurred,” Landau said. “The steps Philadelphia lawmakers have taken to protect all people have made us a safer, healthier and stronger community. In the wake of this momentous court decision, Pennsylvania and all other states need to finish the work. It’s time to enact a nondiscrimination law, once and for all.”
Another advocate for equal rights, the Philadelphia Gay News’ Mark Segal, is celebrating the court’s decision and is recognizing the work that still must be done.
“Today you can be married in any part of Pennsylvania, but refused a honeymoon suite simply because you are LGBT. LGBT people still suffer discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations. It is time for non-discrimination in Pennsylvania, and we need the legislature to act,” Segal said.
Philadelphia City Councilman Mark Squilla is adding his support to Farnese’s anti-discrimination push in light of today’s landmark Supreme Court ruling.
“Marriage is marriage. Love won!” Squilla said.