Frankel, Sims: Supreme Court ruling shows need for Pa. Fairness Act

HARRISBURG, June 4 – Leading pro-LGBT legislators in Harrisburg say today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a discrimination case shows the need to pass the Pennsylvania Fairness Act.

The bipartisan legislation (H.B. 1410/S.B. 613) would include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in the types of discrimination banned statewide in the workplace, housing and public accommodations.

"This is about much more than cake – this is about people being denied a job or a place to live just because of who they are. That's still legal in much of Pennsylvania, it's wrong and it's time to fix it," said state Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus in the legislature.

Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., the first out LGBT person elected to the legislature, said, "The U.S. Supreme Court decision appears to be narrow, based in large part on comments made by some Colorado officials. The door is still wide open for states to protect their LGBT residents and visitors, and Pennsylvania should act. The people are ahead of the legislature: Polls have shown consistent 70-percent support for this in Pennsylvania for eight years. The Fairness Act has bipartisan support in the legislature, and there should be hearings and votes on it."

Frankel, lead House sponsor of the bill, said, "Many Pennsylvanians are stunned when they learn state or federal law doesn't already protect LGBT people in the workplace, in housing and public accommodations such as being able to eat in a restaurant or to get a hotel room like everyone else. While several local governments such as Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and Philadelphia do protect their residents and visitors, the lack of statewide legal protection makes Pennsylvania less competitive for business, especially when all other northeastern states provide these protections already."