A Pennsylvania advocacy group is using the Democratic National Convention to highlight the lack of discrimination protections for the state’s LGBT residents.
“We have spent the past several years working on a campaign to pass nondiscrimination so that LGBT people in Pennsylvania cannot be fired or evicted or denied public accommodation,” said Equality Pennsylvania Executive Director Ted Martin on Tuesday during a fundraiser for his organization that took place in downtown Philadelphia. “We have worked so hard to build that, to educate the public.”
State Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Alleghany County) is among the four lawmakers who introduced the PA Fairness Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Act, last August.
Equality Pennsylvania notes on its website that the measure has 81 co-sponsors in the state House of Representatives and 26 co-sponsors in the state Senate.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf in April issued an executive order that bans discrimination against state employees based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and HIV status. He also signed a second mandate that prohibits state contractors from discriminating against their LGBT employees.
“It’s 2016 and nobody’s working harder than Equality Pennsylvania to make sure that LGBT people are included in this state’s nondiscrimination laws,” said gay state Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) during the Equality Pennsylvania fundraiser. “Yet we still don’t have it.”
Equality Pennsylvania on its website notes that 34 municipalities in the state have adopted anti-LGBT discrimination ordinances.
Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey are among the states with LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination laws. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January signed an executive order that effectively banned discrimination based on gender identity in his state.
Equality Ohio sought to use the Republican National Convention that took place in Cleveland last week to highlight the lack of an LGBT-inclusive statewide nondiscrimination law. Martin told the Washington Blade on Tuesday after he attended the Democratic National Committee LGBT Caucus’ meeting that his organization will continue to use the Democratic National Convention to shine a spotlight on the PA Fairness Act and other LGBT-specific issues.
“The convention has been a great thing,” he said.