Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf To Sign LGBT Non-Discrimination Executive Orders

by Stephen Peters

Legislative assaults on LGBT people in North Carolina and Mississippi prompt Pennsylvania’s governor to take action

WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, praised the announcement that Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf will sign executive orders stating “no agency under the governor’s jurisdiction shall discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender expression, and identity, among other areas.”  According to the governor’s office, one of the executive orders will pertain to commonwealth employees and the other to the commonwealth grants and procurement process. Pennsylvania already has an executive order protecting state employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“All Pennsylvanians deserve to be able to live, work, and thrive in their communities free from unfair and unjust discrimination,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “While the governors of North Carolina and Mississippi have signed into law deplorable legislation targeting LGBT people, Governor Wolf is standing up and sending a completely different message – one that tells the world Pennsylvania is a welcoming state that values diversity and human dignity. These executive actions are welcome news, but as Governor Wolf has said, there’s more work to be done. It’s far past time for the Pennsylvania General Assembly to pass the Pennsylvania Fairness Act so that all Pennsylvanians, no matter who they are or whom they love, can live their lives without fear of discrimination.”

In announcing the executive orders, the governor’s office said, “This is an important step in ensuring equality, but Pennsylvania must do more and the governor will also call on the legislature to finally pass non-discrimination legislation. What happened in North Carolina, and what is going on in other states, should be a call to pass non-discrimination legislation in Pennsylvania now. The governor wants to make clear that Pennsylvania is inclusive, welcoming, and open for business for everyone.”

The bipartisan Pennsylvania Fairness Act was introduced last August in the Pennsylvania General Assembly in order to update the state's non-discrimination law to explicitly include protections for LGBT people from discrimination at work, in housing, and in public places. Both chambers have so far failed to show the leadership needed to take action on the critically important legislation.

According to a recent survey, 95% of Pennsylvanians believe that everyone needs to be able to earn a living – including LGBT people – and that employees should be hired, fired or promoted based on their qualifications, experience and the jobs they do – nothing more, nothing less.  An incredible 78% of Pennsylvanians support updating the state’s non-discrimination law to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Pennsylvania’s economy is the sixth largest in the country with nearly 6 million Pennsylvanians going to work every day to support themselves and their families. A statewide, uniform non-discrimination law protecting people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity would provide certainty and clarity to Pennsylvania employers and employees.  34 Pennsylvania municipalities have passed separate ordinances to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, including Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Erie, Harrisburg, Scranton, and Philadelphia.

HRC is a proud coalition member of Pennsylvania Competes – the bipartisan campaign working to pass the Pennsylvania Fairness Act.  The coalition of large and small businesses, universities, and grassroots supporters is focused on making sure all Pennsylvanians are explicitly protected in state law from discrimination.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.


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