The Lead

Wolf calls for non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians as U.S. Supreme Court considers the issue

By: - October 8, 2019 1:03 pm

As the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether LGBTQ workers are protected by federal law, Gov. Tom Wolf is again calling for 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 Tuesday. “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.

The U.S. Supreme Court cases center on two men who say they were fired for being gay, as well as a woman who says she was fired for being transgender, according to law news site SCOTUSblog.

Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia prohibit employment and housing discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Pennsylvania doesn’t, although Democratic lawmakers have for years introduced legislation that would add the state to that list.

In previous sessions, the House version of the legislation 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.

Workers who believe they have been discriminated against because they are LGBTQ can file a complaint with the Pa. Human Relations Commission under a change adopted last year.

The U.S. Supreme Court justices are likely to issue their decision in spring or summer 2020, SCOTUSblog reported.

Could this be the year Pennsylvania lawmakers ban LGBTQ discrimination?

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Sarah Anne Hughes
Sarah Anne Hughes

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.