Fired for Being Gay?

A new poll shows that PA residents support legislation that would protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in the workplace

Courtesy of the Office of Dan Frankel

A new poll released today shows that a majority of people in Pennsylvania favor legislation that protects gays and lesbians from discrimination at work.

“Support for this bill has remained constant over the past eight years, solid at roughly 70 percent,” says State Rep. Dan Frankel, a Democrat from Allegheny County who is pushing for new legislation that would make it illegal to discriminate against anyone based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“The overwhelming majority of Pennsylvanians – regardless of region or political party – support it,” says Frankel, who held a press conference today in Harrisburg to rally support. “They know being gay or transgendered has nothing to do with a person’s ability to fix a car or computer, or show up on time and to do a good day’s work.”

Frankel is the lead sponsor of the bill (H.B. 300) in the House that would end discrimination in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations based on sexual orientation. State Sen. Pat Browne, a Republican from Lehigh County, says he will also introduce the legislation into the Senate this year. Several lawmakers from Philadelphia also spoke in favor of the legislation, including Reps. Josh Shapiro (D-Montgomery), Steve Santarsiero (D-Bucks), and Cherelle Parker (D-Philadelphia), and State Sen. Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia).

“It is time for Pennsylvania to catch up to the 21 states and the District of Columbia that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation,” Frankel says. “Twelve of those and the District of Columbia also ban discrimination based on gender identity. We should be a leader, not a follower, on this issue.”

Frankel says not only would the new law be a step for LGBT citizens, but that it would also be a smart economic move for the Commonwealth. “This would make Pennsylvania more economically competitive,” he explains. “We are surrounded on three of four sides by states that ban anti-gay discrimination – Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware and New York. They have a competitive advantage over Pennsylvania when it comes to attracting and retaining businesses and residents.”

Currently, the state’s Human Relations Act bans discrimination based on race, color, religious creed, ancestry, age, sex, national origin, a non-job-related handicap or disability, or the use of a guide or support animal due to a person being blind, deaf or having a physical handicap – but not sexual orientation or gender identity. If Frankel has his way that may soon change for the better.