Frankel, Sims hail bipartisan Pa. Senate action on nondiscrimination bill

'Over 70% of Pennsylvanians support this – and they are watching Harrisburg'

HARRISBURG, June 22 – State Reps. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, and Brian Sims, D-Phila., praised today's bipartisan, historic state Senate committee vote that sent a nondiscrimination bill to the full Senate.

Frankel is lead House sponsor of the proposed Pennsylvania Fairness Act. The legislation would update Pennsylvania’s current nondiscrimination law – originally written in 1955 – to ensure that all residents regardless of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, sex, national origin, disability and now – sexual orientation, gender identity and expression – can participate in and contribute to the state’s economy.  

Today, the Senate Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, under the leadership of Chairman Scott Wagner, R-York, reported out a bill (S.B. 1307) that contains the housing and employment portions of the Pennsylvania Fairness Act. The bill's lead sponsor is a member of the Senate majority leadership, Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Browne, R-Lehigh. Today's vote marks the first time such legislation has advanced to the full Senate.

"As the longtime House sponsor of this commonsense, nondiscrimination legislation, I want to thank Chairman Wagner, Chairman Browne, all of the supportive senators from both parties and the many advocates who made today's historic vote possible," Frankel said.

"Poll after poll over the years has shown consistent support of 70 percent or more in Pennsylvania for this. Most Pennsylvanians don’t want their gay or transgender family members, friends, co-workers or neighbors to get fired or denied a home, a hotel room or a restaurant table just because of who they are. They know that's wrong. Many of them think it's already illegal, but sadly, it's not.”

Sims said: "Over 70 percent of Pennsylvanians support the Fairness Act – and they are watching Harrisburg, even more so after the Orlando mass murder that has reminded everyone of the second-class status LGBT people face on a daily basis in most of Pennsylvania and much of the nation.  

"There's majority support for equal marriage, and it's outrageous that people who finally have the right to marry can still lose their job or their apartment if they actually use that right," said Sims, the first out LGBT person elected to the state legislature.

In the House, Frankel and Sims have filed a discharge petition, which would allow a simple majority of the chamber to free the Fairness Act from the House State Government Committee. That committee's chairman, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, is a longtime opponent of LGBT civil rights and has refused even to hold a hearing on the bill.

Frankel and Sims said House Republican leaders still have the option of convincing Metcalfe to release the bill. If not, Frankel and Sims can call for the discharge vote at the time that suits them best.

Frankel said: "It shouldn't take an outrage like the Orlando massacre to move Pennsylvania forward. Let's make our state more fair, and more attractive and competitive for visitors, workers and businesses, by passing the bipartisan Pennsylvania Fairness Act. The time is now."

Earlier today, Frankel, Sims and Gov. Tom Wolf spoke in support of the Fairness Act at an Equality Pennsylvania rally of hundreds of people who came to Harrisburg to lobby for the legislation.