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Discrimination-Buster Bill Introduced in PA House

March 9, 2009

Harrisburg, PA - A bill now before the Pennsylvania legislature would outlaw discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity when it comes to housing, employment, or public accommodations.

The measure introduced in the state House would amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression" as protected classes. Jake Kaskey of Equality Advocates Pennsylvania says the public is behind this bill.

"The last time we polled on this measure, nearly 80 percent of respondents across Pennsylvania, in all corners of the state, were supportive of this type of legislation."

Kaskey says despite such solid support from a majority of Pennsylvanians, proponents await spirited opposition to the proposal.

"We're expecting a vocal minority of people to raise concerns about this legislation but, overwhelmingly, Pennsylvanians support it."

Kaskey says that widespread support crosses party lines.

"It has 79 co-sponsors, which is a record number, including five Republicans from different areas of the state."

Current Pennsylvania law provides basic legal protection against discrimination based on race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, handicap or disability, education and the use of a guide dog. Opponents of the new measure say setting up another protected class is unnecessary and will lead to a flood of other requests.

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - PA