LGBTQ Pennsylvanians and their allies will rally on the steps of the state Capitol on Oct. 22, as part of a lobbying day in support legislation banning housing, employment, and public accommodation discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The event is being organized by the Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs.
“As you may be aware, one of the major initiatives that the commission is tackling right now is non-discrimination within the Legislature,” Harrisburg City Council Vice President Ben Allatt, a member of the commission, told the Central Voice. “Can you help in the following ways: Do you want to meet with your state senator to tell him how important this is to you? If so, let me know. Can you spread the word and tell people about the rally? Can you come and bring friends?
“Lastly, do you know of anyone who is willing to share a personal story about how they have been affected by either discrimination based on employment or housing simply because of their sexuality and/or gender identity?” Allatt asked.
This week, as the U.S. Supreme Court considered whether LGBTQ workers are protected by federal law, Gov. Tom Wolf called on the Legislature to pass a state-level nondiscrimination ordinance.
“For too long to our collective detriment, we kept some of our best, most talented individuals out of the workforce because of nationality, religion, race or gender,” Wolf said in a statement released by his office. “When we began protecting the rights of these individuals to work, we all benefitted. Now it’s time to ensure our hardworking, talented LGBTQ colleagues have the same rights to be evaluated based on their abilities to perform their jobs.”
“Since taking office, I have fought for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians. I will continue this fight until every Pennsylvanian has the same basic civil rights to live and work,” Wolf continued.
Twenty-one states and Washington, D.C. prohibit employment and housing discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
A bill, backed by House Democrats, is now before the chamber’s State Government Committee. The panel’s new chairman, Rep. Garth Everett, R-Lycoming, has said he’s not opposed to considering the legislation.
Those interested in sharing their stories can email Allatt at [email protected]
This story first appeared in the Central Voice, the LGBTQ newspaper for central Pennsylvania, and a publishing partner with the Capital-Star. The Capital-Star’s Sarah Anne Hughes and John L. Micek contributed reporting.