As members of the Pennsylvania House LGBTQ Equality Caucus celebrated today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling, lawmakers also noted that while today marks a historic win for the LGBTQ community, work remains to extend civil rights protections to all Pennsylvanians beyond the workplace.
“This is an historic decision that finally allows the LGBTQ community to be protected from discrimination in the workplace regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, co-chair of the LGBTQ Equality Caucus. “We have pushed for these protections for years in Harrisburg, but unfortunately our bills have been consistently blocked by Republican leadership from getting even so much as a hearing, much less a vote.
“While this is certainly a win for liberty and justice for everyone, the fight for equality is not over. We need to expand these protections to include housing, education and public accommodations, as well as strengthen our hate crime law to cover LGBTQ individuals as a protected group.”
In a 6-3 vote the justices ruled that the nation’s landmark civil rights law protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination. House Democrats and members of the LGBTQ Equality Caucus have fought for similar protections for years, but House Republicans – who control what bills are brought forward for voting – have refused to advance civil rights legislation. That includes H.B. 1404, which would protect employees, customers, students, patients and residents from discrimination based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.
“We have finally taken the step forward that we so desperately needed with the Supreme Court’s ruling that federal anti-discrimination laws protect gay and transgender employees,” said state Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., and the first out LGBT member of the legislature. “No one should face discrimination at work, or elsewhere for that matter, however, LGBTQIA+ Pennsylvanians have been waiting for protections at work, in housing and public accommodation for years.
“While I am glad to see the Supreme Court making the right decision on workplace discrimination, we still have work to do to ensure equality for all. I call on Republican leadership to move vital legislation in the commonwealth to protect all Pennsylvanians.”
“Once again, the U.S. Supreme Court has stepped in where the Pennsylvania legislature has failed LGBTQ+ citizens,” said state Sen. Larry Farnese, D-Phila., and co-chair of the LGBTQ Equality Caucus. “It’s a landmark victory, but we should still send a message about what kind of state we want to be.”