Antidiscrimination bill's time is now, Daryl Metcalfe

Pennsylvania Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler).


Growing up in Brooklyn, watching Mets games, that's what I would hear opposing fans shout at star slugger Darryl Strawberry. Thirty thousand fans at once. To let him know they were there - to get in his head.

Daaaa-ryl. Daaaa-ryl.

That's what we all need to chant at State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, the state's most outspoken opponent of gay rights.

Daaaa-ryl. Daaaa-ryl.

Not that I'm comparing Strawberry to Metcalfe. I wouldn't do that to Strawberry. Though he had his flaws, Strawberry was for a time a giant among mortal baseball men.

On the other hand, Metcalfe, the Republican chairman of the State Government Committee, is a small-minded, bullying obstructionist who has done more than any other politician in the state in recent years to block a nondiscrimination law that would grant LGBT Pennsylvanians basic protections that the state has shamefully denied them.

Like protection from being fired from a job - or being denied housing, a hotel room, or a seat in a restaurant - because of sexual orientation or gender identity expression. Depending on where you live in Pennsylvania - and where you work - you can be married on a Friday, then go into work on a Monday and have to hide your ring.

Because in this state, in 2015, even after the highest court in the land has handed down a historic ruling on gay marriage, you could be fired for it.

Philadelphia has positioned itself as a progressive beacon on LGBT issues in recent years - thanks in part to a landmark equality bill Jim Kenney steered through Council two years ago.

Still, about 70 percent of Pennsylvania's LGBT citizens work in parts of the state without local nondiscrimination polices and can still be unfairly fired without recourse, according to a report by Equality Pennsylvania, the state's leading LGBT political advocacy organization.

The group says one-third of the country's LGBT workers say they have been harassed or faced discrimination.

It's disgraceful and embarrassing that we're still having this discussion in Pennsylvania. Not just because of last week's Supreme Court ruling, but because we're the only state in the Northeast that doesn't have legislation on the books offering LGBT people the same protections as minorities and other groups that face discrimination. Because as a state, we haven't let LGBT citizens know that we value their rights.

Metcalfe needs to hear our voice. Needs to know we're here and watching. Especially now. Because even though a nondiscrimination bill that would amend the state Human Relations Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity has tremendous support, Metcalfe has repeatedly shut it down by trapping it in his committee and refusing to release it for a vote that would likely carry it into law.

Daaaa-ryl. Daaaa-ryl.

And he might soon have a chance to do it again. As I write this, Democrats and Republicans alike are working hard behind the scenes in Harrisburg to get the bill reintroduced in upcoming days or weeks. Conversations are moving fast.

Advocates have even more support than they did when Metcalfe killed the measure last year, they say, including even more Republicans who rightly realize the sands have shifted.

Judging from his remarks on the Supreme Court ruling last week, Metcalfe is not among them.

"They think that they can place themselves above God's law, above natural law," Metcalfe, of Butler County (the same as - you guessed it - Rick Santorum), said to reporters about the court's decision.

Daaaa-ryl. Daaaa-ryl.

The bill's time is now.

For years, voters have overwhelmingly supported protections for LGBT citizens, as Ted Martin, the executive director of Equality Pennsylvania, pointed out for me Tuesday.

The most recent poll by Susquehanna Polling & Research of Pennsylvania voters had 74 percent in favor, he said.

His organization will be holding a 2 p.m. rally Wednesday in LOVE Park to celebrate the Supreme Court decision - and to talk about where the fight goes now.

It goes to the discrimination bill, Martin said.

"It's fundamental and it's where we're headed," he said.

So go to LOVE Park Wednesday - and when the bill comes up, you know what to do.

Daaaa-ryl. Daaa-ryl.

Chant it loudly. So he knows you're there. So he hears your voice.