LGBTQ+ Community, Advocates Look to Pa Senate to Expand Protections

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HARRISBURG, Pa.  – Today, members of the LGBTQ+ community, advocates and Democratic lawmakers called on the Republican-controlled Senate to vote on the Fairness Act. The legislation would expand protections for LGBTQ+ Pennsylvanians. 

The Fairness Act, or House Bill 300, passed the Democratic-controlled House nearly two months ago and was sent to the Senate. Since May 3, it’s sat in the Senate State Government Committee awaiting a vote. Advocates say it’s time to act. 

“Because speaking out changes minds. Events like this have an impact. As minds change over time, laws change,” said Sen. Steve Santarsiero (D-Bucks). 

Today, advocates hoisted pride flags, signs and banners as they rallied for fairness. 

“But you know what’s more powerful than a symbol? More powerful than a flag or even a lapel pin? A law. A law that will stand the test of time, and enshrine in our statutes, equality for everyone,” said Santarsiero. 

In the landmark 2020 decision Bostock v. Clayton County, the United States Supreme Court ruled that an employer cannot discriminate against an individual because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  

However, advocates say the SCOTUS decision does not prevent LGBTQ+ Pennsylvanians from being denied housing, education, or access to public accommodations. 

“We’re experiencing so many inequities and we just want fairness through law,” said Naiymah Sanchez, Senior Organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Pennsylvania. “It’s well overdue. We’re 20-plus years into this fight for comprehensive, non-discriminative protections in Pennsylvania,” Sanchez added. 

It’s been over seven weeks since the Fairness Act passed the House. Democrats say it’s time for the Senate to run the bill. 

“We want a vote now. Because if we get a vote, we can get this thing passed,” said Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Montgomery/Philadelphia). 

“What they can no longer ignore, is that members of the LGBT community have an unalienable right to freedom, just like the rest of us,” said Santarsiero. “They should not have to worry about losing a job. They shouldn’t have to worry about losing a place to live. They shouldn’t have to worry about being denied some public accommodation because we do not have adequate protections in Pennsylvania law,” he added. 

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Senate Republican Caucus told WENY News: “Discrimination of any type is unacceptable and we currently have state and federal laws in place to make that clear.” 

When HB 300 passed in May, House Republicans raised concerns over the “public accommodations” language in the bill. They also said the legislation discriminates against people of faith. 


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