Legislators in Pennsylvania on Monday (6 May) introduced an LGBTI-inclusive amendment to the state’s human rights law. One of the legislators who joined this amendment is openly gay politician Brian Sims.
House Bill 1404 amends the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, originally adopted in 1955, adding sexual orientation and gender identity and express to the list of protected traits.
It protects people from discrimination in areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations.
The amendment also includes additional language on the importance of inclusive policies.
‘Public policies, reflecting an open and welcoming environment and ensuring equal opportunity, foster economic growth and prosperity which benefit the inhabitants of this Commonwealth,’ it reads.
‘Conversely, the absence of nondiscrimination protections hinder efforts to recruit and retain the diversity of talented individuals and successful enterprises required for a thriving economy and strong public sector on which the inhabitants of this Commonwealth depend.’
Most believe this discrimination is already prohibited
A recent survey revealed a majority (73%) of Pennsylvania residents believed that sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination was already illegal in the state.
The same survey found an even larger majority (78%) supporting this amendment.
‘It’s unacceptable that today, there are Pennsylvanians who must be afraid that they’ll lose their job or home simply because of who they are,’ Sims said. ‘As some of my colleagues have been advocating for this legislation for the past 20 years, it’s time we get serious about it. It’s literally lifesaving.’
He continued, detailing his support for the legislation: ‘It’s time the legislature caught up to the rest of the commonwealth and it’s time to move this legislation forward.
‘This type of discrimination does not represent Pennsylvania and most of my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, agree. It’s time to protect Pennsylvanians from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.’
Equality Act would solve all of this
The Equality Act, recently re-introduced to Congress for the third time by Democrats, would make this type of legislation unnecessary.
Under the Equality Act, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity would become illegal nationwide. It would also supersede state laws.
The House Judiciary Committee approved the Equality Act the start of the month, but many are still concerned about its ability to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.