Americans support LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws. What’s Pa.’s excuse? | Monday Morning Coffee

As pols from Pa. to South Dakota launch their attacks, public support for LGBTQ Americans continues to tick upward

March 21, 2022 7:13 am

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

It’s been obvious for a while now that those who attack the civil rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, and transgender Americans are on the wrong side of history.

But as a new poll makes clear, history’s done waiting to render its verdict that these attacks are counter to the fundamental American values of pluralism and inclusion.

The proof is in the data, courtesy of the American Values Atlas, a seven-year tracking survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, whose results were released last week.

  • Nearly eight in 10 Americans (79 percent) favor laws protecting LGBTQ people from employment, public accommodation and housing discrimination.
  • Two-thirds of respondents (66 percent) similarly opposed religious-based service refusals for LGBTQ Americans, with support strongest among self-identified Democrats and independents. A majority of Republican respondents (56 percent), however, supported such refusals, according to the poll.
  • And nearly seven in 10 Americans support same-sex marriage, with support ticking steadily upward since the U.S. Supreme Court made it the law of the land in 2015. Once again, support runs highest among self-identified Democrats and independents, with a narrow majority of Republicans (50-48 percent) opposing it.

Yet this steady rise in public support for LGBTQ rights has not stopped conservative lawmakers nationwide, who represent a minority of the country, but who control a majority of state legislatures because of nakedly partisan gerrymandering (including Pennsylvania), from launching ever-more toxic attacks on the civll rights of their fellow Americans.

They range from Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which has the advantage of being both hateful and moronic, to Texas’ decision to investigate parents who provide gender-affirming care to their transgender children for potential child abuse.

In the Keystone State, GOP legislators in the state House are pushing a bill, in defiance of both science and logic, seeking to ban transgender women from participating in women’s sports.

And in January, local officials in Chambersburg, Pa., in deep-red Franklin County, voted to repeal the community’s LGBTQ non-discrimination ordinance, the Capital-Star’s Cassie Miller reported.

In practical terms, the move means that LGBTQ patrons could be refused service at local restaurants, or a transgender person’s rental application could be turned down, a coalition of Democratic state lawmakers in the state House and Senate warned, as they again called for passage of long-stalled, statewide anti-discrimination protections for the commonwealth’s LGBTQ citizens.

And if there ever was a lay-up for lawmakers, the civil rights bill, nicknamed ‘The Fairness Act,’ is surely it. The public is already there.

The Pennsylvania House (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

So how, then, to account for these acts of political cowardice?

Is it because GOP lawmakers have to fear the electorate? The data suggest otherwise.

Support for these nondiscrimination protections cuts across party lines in the PRRI poll, with nearly 9 in 10 Democrats (89 precent); more in than eight in 10 independents (82 percent), and even two-thirds of Republicans (65 percent) supporting such protections.

Support among all three groups has increased since 2015, with the largest gains among Democrats and independents, while GOP support increased by only a few percentage points during the same time period, according to PRRI.

Is it faith-based? Once again, the data suggest that this is not the case.

  • “Vast majorities of most major religious groups support nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people and have increased their support since 2015, including nearly all Unitarian Universalists (97%) and about nine in ten other Catholics of color (87%), Buddhists (87%), and religiously unaffiliated Americans (87%),” PRRI’s pollsters found.
  • “In addition, eight in ten or more Jewish Americans (85%), Hindus (85%), Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (84%), Hispanic Catholics (83%), white mainline Protestants (82%), white Catholics (80%), and members of other religions (80%) support nondiscrimination laws to protect LGBTQ people,” pollsters concluded.
  • The poll digs even deeper, finding that “about three in four Black Protestants (78%), other Protestants of color (75%), and Muslims (75%), as well as seven in ten Hispanic Protestants (71%) and two-thirds of Orthodox Christians (67%), support such protections,” and that “about six in ten white evangelical Protestants (61%) and Jehovah’s Witnesses (59%) support nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people.”

In a column earlier this monthPennLive’s John Baer wrote eloquently and persuasively about what academics describe as a “democracy deficit,” which occurs when the priorities of policymakers don’t align with the majority of people they represent.

It’s a reality, Baer notes, driven home by this month’s Franklin & Marshall poll, where nearly three-quarters of Pennsylvanians said they wanted their lawmakers to “support policies that appeal to a broad segment of voters … even if it means compromising.”

So again, why this abject failure to pass these fundamental civil rights protections?

The only reasonable explanation is fear: Fear of the other; fear of eroded privilege, and, perhaps, most importantly, the fear of a primary by someone even more conservative than a member of a Republican minority that presumes to speak for a majority of all Pennsylvania voters.

That’s not how the process works. And it’s not what a majority of Pennsylvanians want from their elected officials.

It’s been long enough. Pass the bill.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.
With Women’s History Month headed into its final weeks for this year, Cassie Miller delves into the state of women’s healthcare in Pennsylvania. That’s this week’s edition of The Numbers Racket.

U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson get rolling in the U.S. Senate today. Capital-Star Washington Reporter Jacob Fischler previews the lay of the land and the key players in this historic nomination.

There’s a burnout epidemic among Pennsylvania’s public school teachers. Marley Parish explains what’s behind it, and what’s at stake if things don’t change.

Doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia are working to provide gender-affirming care for transgender children, our partners at the Philadelphia Gay News report.

The U.S. Interior Dept.’s research into the history of abusive Native American boarding schools, including one in Pennsylvania, should be released in the coming weeks, our sibling site, Source New Mexico, reports.

On our Commentary Page this morning: As usual, Republicans are wrong about gas prices, opinion regular Dick Polman writes. And Darrell Ehrlick, of our sibling site The Daily Montanan, didn’t see any concerned state lawmakers at a recent women’s sports event – even as they try to ban transgender athletes.

En Estrella-Capital: La falta de transparencia y supervisión hace que los funcionarios y las familias cuestionen las muertes en la cárcel del condado de Allegheny. Y en lo profundo del Condado de Bedford, Pensilvania protege su 19º bosque antiguo.

(Image via The Philadelphia Gay News)

Philadelphia City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson’s bribery trial starts today — it’s the second such trial in a year for a member of Council, the Inquirer reports.

The Democratic contenders for U.S. Senate faced off during a Sunday forum at Carnegie-Mellon UniversityThe Post-Gazette has the story.

Two Pennsylvania State Police troopers and a civilian were struck and killed during a traffic stop on Interstate 95 near Philadelphia early Monday morning, PennLive reports.

A grand jury report lays out how a top cop in Lancaster County allegedly stole funds intended to fight crimeLancasterOnline reports.

Two of the most popular attractions at the Gettysburg Battlefield will be closed this summer for rehabilitation work, the York Daily Record reports.

The Morning Call delves into some of the changes that COVID-19 brought to the Lehigh Valley — and whether some of them are here to stay.

The Citizens’ Voice updates on Luzerne County’s search for a new county manager.

In New Jersey, advocates are pushing for legislative authorization of same-day voter registration, WHYY-FM reports.

A Black attorney in Erie has sued two district magistrates, charging racial bias, GoErie reports.

PoliticsPA runs down last week’s winners and losers in state politics.

Raw Story takes a look at some of the internal divisions afflicting Republicans heading into the 2022 campaign cycle.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:

What Goes On
The Independent Regulatory Review Commission meets at 10 a.m. at 333 Market St. in Harrisburg.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition)
5 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Jim Rigby
5:30 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Ed Neilson
Hit both events and give at the max, and you’re out a mildly appalling $3,500 today.

Gov. Tom Wolf has no public schedule today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept
Belated best wishes go out to Kat Breitmayer, of House Democrats, who celebrated on Saturday. Congratulations. Hope your big day was a good one.

Heavy Rotation
Here’s one that crossed the desk over the weekend. From Xavier Rudd, here’s ‘Follow the Sun.’

Monday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link
The New York Rangers shut out the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 on Sunday, ending the ‘Canes’ 14-game home points streak. The Metro Division-leading ‘Canes are 4-4-2 in their last 10 games.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.