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Gov. Wolf Orders LGBT Job Protections

Gov. Tom Wolf signs executive orders banning discrimination against LGBT people. (Equality Pennsylvania)
Gov. Tom Wolf signs executive orders banning discrimination against LGBT people. (Equality Pennsylvania)
April 8, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community gained some protection from job discrimination on Thursday, when Gov. Tom Wolf signed two executive orders providing people employed by the state or by state contractors with protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Ted Martin, executive director of Equality Pennsylvania, said the commonwealth is the only northeastern state that does not have this type of anti-discrimination law.

"So, while this doesn't cover every person in the state, it is a step in the right direction," he said. "So, we are very pleased and we're very grateful to Gov. Wolf for doing this."

A bill that would give all LGBT Pennsylvanians protection against discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation has been stalled in the state Legislature. Martin said the Pennsylvania Fairness Act has gained significant bipartisan support among lawmakers since it was first introduced, and the majority of state residents are in favor of the bill.

"Over 78 percent of Pennsylvanians - men, women, Republicans, Democrats - are in support of this legislation," he said. "The leadership just needs to schedule it for a vote, and move it."

The governor's action comes on the heels of laws passed in North Carolina and Mississippi that allow businesses to discriminate against their LGBT residents.

Recently, billboards have appeared around Harrisburg attacking the Fairness Act, claiming it would lead to sexual assaults in public restrooms. Martin called those "scare tactics," and said the best way to respond is with the truth.

"The truth is that this is simply about fairness, making sure that everyone has an opportunity, that people can move ahead," he said. "That's a good thing for a state, and that's a good thing for Pennsylvania to be known for."

Wolf has urged Republicans in the Legislature to allow the Fairness Act to come up for a vote.

The legislation, House Bill 1510, is online at legis.state.pa.us.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA