The Pennsylvania House passed a bill Tuesday that would ban discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression in employment and housing.
Known as the Fairness Act, House Bill 300 would amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, which currently bans employers and landlords from discriminating based on race, religion, ancestry, age, and national origin.
The bill’s co-sponsors wrote a memo detailing the importance of the legislation, saying:
In the landmark 2020 decision Bostock v. Clayton County, the United States Supreme Court ruled that an employer cannot discriminate against an individual because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. While this decision was an historic victory for civil rights, it does not prevent someone in our state who identifies as LGBTQ+ from being denied housing, education, or access to public accommodations simply because of who they are or who they love.
State Representative Dan Frankel (D-23rd District), who co-sponsored the bill, urged citizens to call their representatives in support of the bill before its passage. Frankel portrayed the upcoming vote as a way to correct historical wrongs, contrasting it with the passage of a bill that blocked universities from offering benefits to same-sex partners 24 years ago:
PA has missed opportunity after opportunity to do what’s right by LGBTQ+ people. We’ve had the chance to provide vital protections to our own citizens, but this body refused, instead accepting predictions of doom already disproven by history. We can’t do anything about that vote 24 yrs ago & several since, but we can do the right thing today. LGBTQ+ people are living with fear of discrimination every day, and that shouldn’t be ok with anyone.
The bill passed the House by a vote of 102 to 98. The Pennsylvania Senate will consider the bill next, with opposition expected.
LGBTQ rights worldwide have both been advanced and attacked. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of Nepal ordered its government to recognize same-sex marriage, while the Parliament of Uganda passed a strict anti-homosexuality law with punishments including death.