Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania steps forward

 

The governor of Pennsylvania signed two executive orders yesterday to expand discrimination protections for LGBT people.

Executive Order 2016-04 bans discrimination "against any employee or applicant for employment on the basis of race, color, religious creed, ancestry, union membership, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, national origin, AIDS or HIV status, or disability."

Executive Order 2016-05 "will ensure that all contracting processes of commonwealth agencies will be nondiscriminatory and that all businesses contracting with the commonwealth as well as all grantees should use nondiscriminatory practices in subcontracting, hiring, promoting, and other labor matters."

We must show that Pennsylvania is the place that William Penn envisioned when he founded our commonwealth on the principle that it is open, diverse, and inclusive for all people. I call on the General Assembly to swiftly put legislation on my desk that ensures that people throughout the commonwealth – regardless of sexual orientation, gender expression or identity – are treated equally under Pennsylvania law.

--Gov. Wolf

Such legislation is stalled in the legislature.

Anti-sexual assault activists and the business community are lining up with gay rights activists against a social conservative organization over the legislation, which is bottled up in Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled Legislature.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has tried to raise the profile of the issue in Pennsylvania, in light of a backlash against North Carolina, and has urged Republicans to allow a vote on it. He suggested that giving protection against discrimination for the gay and transgender community is the evolution of a civil rights movement that banned discrimination because of race.

We shouldn’t be discriminating on this basis either. I think that’s an appropriate thing for a government to say: ‘We have ground rules here."

--Wolf

In recent days, an organization called Defend My Privacy, backed by the socially conservative Pennsylvania Family Institute, put up a website and Harrisburg-area highway billboards attacking the legislation, calling them “Bathroom Bills.” It also set up a booth at last weekend’s Pennsylvania Leadership Conference, a prominent gathering of conservatives that hosted GOP presidential candidates Ted Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, and John Kasich, Ohio’s governor.

This is really a red herring to scare people, and the organizations and advocates who know best don’t believe there’s a problem.

--Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheney)

Pennsylvania Competes, a business advocacy group backed by The Hershey Co., GlaxoSmithKline and others, called Defend My Privacy a “shadow group” and said it should take down the “inaccurate, fear-based misinformation."

The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape said “fear-mongering tactics about risk of sexual violence” is used to help raise support for discriminatory legislation like North Carolina’s. Rather, it said, research shows that states, cities and schools that have given transgender people the right to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify report no increase in assaults in bathrooms.

I just want to make sure that we’re not going to be violating anybody’s religious liberties or their freedom of conscience.

--Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), Senate State Government Committee chair

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