Post corrected to reflect Rep. Norman Berson was from Philadelphia not Lehigh County.
Support for a bill that would bar discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation is nearing the 50 percent mark in the House.
The bill was re-introduced in the House yesterday by Reps. Dan Frankel (D., Allegheny) and Chris Ross (R., Chester) with a record 90 co-sponsors from both parties.
House Bill 300 would amend the state human relations act to give gay, lesbian, transgender the same protection against discrimination in the workplace and in housing that exists for minorities and other targeted groups.
Get this, the first time the bill was introduced the nation was celebrating its bicentennial. The Pennsylvania Student Equality Coalition dug it up and found the bill was introduced in1976 by Rep. Norman Berson from Philadelphia with two co-sponsors.
The group notes that Pennsylvania was once a leader in civil rights for gay people. Pennsylvania became the first state government in the nation to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation for its employees through an executive order by Gov. Milton Shapp. Every governor since has reissued the order – except Gov. Corbett.
Seventeen states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations.
“It is shameful that Pennsylvania is the last place in the northeast United States with essentially no protections for LGBT people." said Jason Landau Goodman, executive director of PSEC. "In 2013, Pennsylvanians should not accept how our state disregards people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The passage of HB 300 is critical to the prosperity of our businesses, communities, and families."
Want to know where your House Rep. stands on the latest version of the bill?
Pennsylvania Students equality Coalition posted an interactive map of co-sponsors online.
Despite the wide support the bill is likely to get buried in the House state government committee. Its chairman, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler), one of the most conservative members of the House, opposes the bill.
But the resistance in Harrisburg hasn't prevented 31 municipalities from enacting their own anti-discrimination ordinances among them Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.
Seventeen states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations. In addition, most Fortune 500 companies - including all located in Pennsylvania - have nondiscrimination policies in place.
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