LGBT Pennsylvanians Not Protected from Indiana-Style Discrimination

No law allows discrimination — but no law prohibits it either.
Thousands of opponents of Indiana Senate Bill 101, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, gathered on the lawn of the Indiana State House to rally against that legislation Saturday, March 28, 2015.  Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill Thursday prohibiting state laws that "substantially burden" a person's ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

Thousands of opponents of Indiana Senate Bill 101, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, gathered on the lawn of the Indiana State House to rally against that legislation Saturday, March 28, 2015. Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill Thursday prohibiting state laws that “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

Here’s the good news for Pennsylvania’s LGBT citizens: Yes, the state has a “religious freedom” law somewhat similar to the one just passed in Indiana — but that law doesn’t apply to for-profit businesses.

The bad news? The state doesn’t have any laws protecting gay residents from discrimination. That means Indiana-style results are possible here without an Indiana-style law.

TribLive reports:

A baker or florist in most parts of Pennsylvania can refuse to make a cake or arrange flowers for a same-sex couple planning a wedding.

There’s no state law saying they can, legal experts said. But to the satisfaction of some religious groups and the dismay of gay rights activists, there’s no law saying they can’t.

Nondiscrimination ordinances have been adopted by Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Philadelphia and a few other cities to establish human relations commissions to hear complaints, but advocates say the gay and lesbian community is vulnerable elsewhere in Pennsylvania to the type of discrimination highlighted in objections to a new religious freedom law in Indiana.

TribLive quotes Gary Van Horn, president of the Delta Foundation: “We need statewide protections … to make sure (Pennsylvania) is open to everybody and respects everybody.”