Governor Tom Wolf joined state lawmakers and members of the LGBTQIA+ community to reintroduce the Fairness Act. The Fairness Act is bipartisan legislation that extends non-discrimination provisions in state law to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender expression or identity.
“This legislation is long overdue in our commonwealth and will provide needed protections to members of our LGBTQIA+ community,” Gov. Wolf said. “As public servants, we have a duty to all of our constituents, to ensure that their rights are protected, and their interests are served. It is past time for our commonwealth to stop ignoring this infringement on the rights of LGBTQ Pennsylvanians and pass the Fairness Act.”
While some nondiscrimination protections exist at the municipal, state and federal levels to protect gender identity or expression and sexual orientation, there is no comprehensive nondiscrimination protection that covers employment, housing and public accommodations.
In April 2016, Governor Wolf signed two executive orders that expanded protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender expression or identity for state employees and, for the first time, employees of contractors doing business with the commonwealth.
Last year, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in Bostock v. Clayton County which found an employer cannot discriminate against an individual because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
This historic victory for civil rights provides some employment protections, but does not prevent a Pennsylvanian from being denied housing, education or access to public accommodations because of who they are or who they love.
The Fairness Act provides a comprehensive solution to the problem of uncertain and incomplete nondiscrimination protections by providing protection for employment, housing and public accommodations.
“The legal protections against harassment and discrimination based on gender identity or expression and sexual orientation are not comprehensive in Pennsylvania,” said Governor Wolf. “Instead, a patchwork system protects some peoples’ rights in some municipalities, while discrimination based on gender identity or expression and sexual orientation remains legal in far too many places across our commonwealth. This is unacceptable, and it must change.
“I call on the leadership in the General Assembly to send this bill to my desk without delay.”