HARRISBURG, Pa. (WENY) — This week, Pennsylvania lawmakers passed historic legislation to protect members of the LGBTQ community. On Tuesday, the Democratic controlled House voted 102-98 to pass the Fairness Act.
“There are so many people across this Commonwealth who know exactly what it’s like to be treated unfairly simply because of who they are and how they identify,” said Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia), the prime sponsor of the legislation.
The Fairness Act, or House Bill 300, would amend the Human Relations Act to prohibit discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations because of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“That is what this has always been about. Making Pennsylvania fairer,” said Kenyatta.
For Kenyatta, and other LGBTQ lawmakers, the Fairness Act is long overdue.
“After 22 years since its first introduction, this bill has finally gotten a vote on the House floor and it has gotten 102 votes,” said Kenyatta.
One Democrat voted against the bill, but two Republicans voted for it. The majority of Republicans who oppose it, argue the bill only provides fairness for some and not for all.
“Everybody’s rights need to be protected. This bill will lead to discrimination against people of faith,” said House Republican Caucus spokesman Jason Gottesman.
Gottesman believes the bill has “far-reaching, unintended implications,” specifically with public accommodations.
“We believe, as Republicans, that nobody should be discriminated against in the employment and housing areas. That is something we don’t have a problem with,” said Gottesman. “Unfortunately, this bill goes far beyond that. It goes into allowing biological males to share locker rooms and bathrooms with girls. It would punish doctors for exercising their faith based medical, ethical or moral beliefs and providing gender affirming care to minors,” he added.
“We need to have some sort of a bill, some sort of a compromise- which Republicans want to try to put forward- that says everybody can have the same protections afforded to them. Everybody’s rights matter, but that’s not what Democrats are saying in this bill,” said Gottesman.
It’s up to the Republican controlled state Senate to determine whether the bill will be sent to Governor Josh Shapiro for his signature. 24 other states have passed similar legislation.