Did you know that in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, there is a loophole in existing law that makes it legal for people to deny housing and employment to members of the LGBT community? Many people assume that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identification is already against the law but that is not the case in PA. Yesterday, SB/HB 300 was introduced in the Senate and House and already has substantial bi-partisan support. But considering legislation like this has been introduced in past legislative sessions and not voted on or was not passed, it is going to be an uphill battle getting this law onto the books.
Ted Martin, Executive Director of Equality PA, had this to say about SB/HB 300:
"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."
Currently there are 77 Co-Sponsors for the House Bill which include:
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.
The Senate version is co-sponsored by:
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.
If your legislator already supports SB/HB 300, please take the time to thank him/her for their support.
I would like to thank Senator Andy Dinniman for supporting SB 300 and fighting for equal rights for his 19th District LGBT constituents and members of the LGBT community statewide.
If you find that your Senator or Representative does not appear on the list above, I strongly encourage my fellow Pennsylvanians to contact your legislator and ask him/her to support this essential equal rights legislation. If you don't know who represents you in the General Assembly, check here
I emailed and faxed the following letter to Representative Tim Hennessey (R-26) today:
Dear Representative Hennessey,
I am writing to you today as a registered voter, tax-payer and constituent to request that you please support HB 300 and help to prevent discrimination against members of the LGBT community. As a straight, married mother, you may wonder why I feel so strongly about this bill. I feel strongly about this bill because, regardless of whether or not a person agrees with homosexuality, it still exists and is not a choice, just like it was not a choice for me to be Asian-American, that was just how I was born. This should be a cut and dry issue: this bill seeks to prevent discrimination against people because of sexual orientation and gender identification --- this bill is not about seeking approval of what some may consider an “alternate lifestyle” , it on the most basic level is seeking to prevent employment and housing discrimination for hardworking, voters and tax-payers who happen to be attracted to a member of the same sex or identifies with the gender identity of the opposite sex, instead of the one he/she was born into.
My son is almost 5 years old and I often wonder when he grows up, what if he is gay? Will the Commonwealth of PA protect my son’s right to equal housing and employment? If within the next few years the answer is no, my family and I will certainly leave Pennsylvania and move to a state that has more inclusive anti-discrimination laws.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Erica Redahan Weiherer
The bottom line is this - it shouldn't be legal to discriminate against people based on who they are or who they love. That to me, is the epitome of un-American. So please, contact your legislators and let them know that you want equal rights for ALL Pennsylvanians!