More than 100 Pa. lawmakers sponsor sweeping LGBT protections bills



HARRISBURG, Pa. — A bipartisan group of more than 100 Pennsylvania lawmakers have reintroduced bills in both the state House and Senate that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“I’m pleased to announce that, for the first time, these bills will be introduced at the same time with prime sponsors from both parties,” said Rep. Dan Frankel, a Pittsburgh-area Democrat who is leading the bill in the House, said at a gathering of lawmakers and supporters in Harrisburg on Tuesday.

“We’re standing together today in support of basic fairness, to say that someone cannot be fired from a job or denied a rental property just because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity,” Frankel said.

“Today marks a significant step towards LGBT equality in Pennsylvania and it’s my hope that the coalition of support here today will build genuine momentum for a breakthrough in the state legislature,” he said.

The legislation (HB 300 and SB 300) would amend the Human Relations Ordinance to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the classes protected from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.

The House version was introduced with 77 co-sponsors, including seven Republicans. The Senate bill has 25 cosponsors, including two Republicans.

“With these bills, there is a chance to effect real change for LGBT people in Pennsylvania,” said Frankel.

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Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) the first openly gay politician elected to the Pennsylvania legislature, added, “On days like today — with the type of equality advocates, activists and warriors that I am joined by on stage — we show once again that the American spirit, the American dream and, most importantly, the American values demand that we as a commonwealth finally evolve.”

Currently, Pennsylvania offers no protections against discrimination for the LGBT community, including in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

Last month, the city of Philadelphia approved a landmark LGBT equality bill that provides tax incentives to private employers who extend insurance to the same-sex partners of their employees, and strengthens legal rights and protections for LGBT citizens.

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