Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf today signed two executive orders that expand protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender expression or identity for state employees and, for the first time, employees of contractors doing business with the commonwealth. Governor Wolf’s executive orders come as the Pennsylvania Fairness Act, which would apply these protections to all Pennsylvania workers, remains stalled in the General Assembly.
“With no sign that Republican leaders plan to free this bill that has broad, bi-partisan support, I am taking action to protect those that I can and send a signal to the country that Pennsylvania is open for business no matter who you are or whom you love,” Governor Wolf said. “What happened in North Carolina, and what is going on in other states, should be a call to pass non-discrimination legislation in Pennsylvania now.
“We must show that Pennsylvania is the place that William Penn envisioned when he founded our commonwealth on the principle that it is open, diverse, and inclusive for all people. I call on the General Assembly to swiftly put legislation on my desk that ensures that people throughout the commonwealth – regardless of sexual orientation, gender expression or identity – are treated equally under Pennsylvania law.”
The purpose of these executive orders is to establish policy, procedures and responsibilities for the prohibition of discrimination and affirmation of equal employment opportunity in the commonwealth. Agencies under the Governor’s jurisdiction, employees and applicants for employment in those agencies, and vendors are affected by these Executive Orders.
Business owners and advocates joined Governor Wolf in calling for the legislature to finally pass the Pennsylvania Fairness Act.
“As a Philadelphia-based LGBT Business Enterprise with nearly $2 million in annual revenue and 20 employees, it is vital for us to be able to attract and retain talented and diverse team members,” said Marc Coleman, President of the Tactile Group in Philadelphia. “Today’s announcement is especially timely as legislators in both North Carolina and Mississippi attempt to roll back the equality clock with their latest batch of discriminatory laws. It’s encouraging to live in a state whose leadership is empathetic to the challenges of the LGBT business community, sees the value of diversity, and understands the need for inclusion.”
The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce applauded Gov. Wolf in signing these executive orders, “We applaud Gov. Wolf for these proactive orders that will have dramatic economic impact on his state. He clearly agrees with NGLCC that an economy only succeeds when its workforce and supply chains are fully inclusive, free from fear and discrimination,” said NGLCC President and Co-Founder Justin Nelson. “To prohibit discrimination against LGBT business owners in contracting is a bold step, and the next logical step is the intentional inclusion of certified LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTBEs) in all statewide contracting and procurement opportunities alongside women, minority, disability and veteran owned businesses. We stand ready to work in partnership with Gov. Wolf’s administration to implement such an initiative as we have with California, Massachusetts, corporations, and federal agencies.”
NGLCC Co-Founder and CEO Chance Mitchell added, “While other states are irreparably damaging their economic prospects and their public opinion through discriminatory ‘religious freedom’ laws, Pennsylvania is setting a precedent that the American Dream should be accessible to all Americans. As we have seen everywhere pro-LGBT inclusive policies are enacted, we can expect a major increase in job-creating, economy-innovating LGBT businesses to thrive throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
The first executive order the governor signed today says that no agency under the Governor’s jurisdiction shall discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment on the basis of race, color, religious creed, ancestry, union membership, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, national origin, AIDS or HIV status, or disability. Executive Order 2003-10 will be rescinded and replaced by this executive order.
Each agency under the Governor’s jurisdiction will ensure fair and equal employment opportunities exist at every level of government.
The second executive order will ensure that all contracting processes of commonwealth agencies will be nondiscriminatory and that all businesses contracting with the commonwealth as well as all grantees should use nondiscriminatory practices in subcontracting, hiring, promoting, and other labor matters. Executive Order 2006-02 will be rescinded and replaced by the executive order.