Could this be the year Pennsylvania lawmakers ban LGBTQ discrimination?

    Dan Frankel. (Facebook)

    As he has for the past two decades, Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, is again looking for lawmakers to support a bill that would ban LGBTQ discrimination statewide.

    The legislation, nicknamed the Fairness Act, has never been brought up for a vote. This year could be different.

    In order for Frankel’s bill to be considered by the full House it must pass through a committee. Last session, the Fairness Act was referred to the State Government Committee, chaired at the time by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, who has a history with homophobia. Unlike Metcalfe, the committee’s new chair, Rep. Garth Everett, R-Lycoming, is not opposed to considering the bill.

    “It’s not an issue that’s dead on arrival for me,” he recently told the Capital-Star.

    At this point, it’s not known which committee House leadership will refer Frankel’s bill to once it’s introduced, his Chief of Staff Daphne Retter said.

    “Rep. Frankel will start talking to colleagues and building support this week,” she wrote via email. “In the 20 years that he’s been introducing the bill, more and more legislators have realized that Pennsylvania needs this law. He’s keeping at it.”

    In his memo seeking co-sponsors released Monday, Frankel notes that Pennsylvanians “who are lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender can lose their homes, be denied jobs or be turned away from restaurants simply because of who they are and who they love.

    “The legislature’s first action in the new legislative session should be to right these wrongs and support this proposal to update our law and better protect the people of this state.”

    Associate Editor Sarah Anne Hughes covers the governor and Pennsylvania's agencies. Before joining the Capital-Star, she was the state capitol reporter for Billy Penn and The Incline, and a 2018 corps member for Report for America. She was previously managing editor of Washington City Paper, editor-in-chief of DCist, and a national blogger for The Washington Post.

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