Rep. Mark Cohen to Daryl Metcalfe: Please Send LGBT Anti-Discrimination Bill to House Floor

House Bill 300 stands to pass if it makes it to the floor for a vote, but first anti-gay Rep. Daryl Metcalfe has to give it the go-ahead.

There’s been a whole lot of talk about marriage equality in Pennsylvania lately, but that’s only one of the battles we’re fighting to ensure rights for our state’s LGBT citizens. For instance, House and Senate bills 300, legislation that would ban LGBT discrimination at work and in public accommodations, is this close to becoming law, but like so many of our gay-rights bills, a certain bullheaded representative is standing in the way. You guessed it: Daryl Metcalfe (pictured, above right). 

As House Majority Leader, Metcalfe must give his wave of approval for the bill to move from committee to the House floor, where, with 90 co-sponsors from both parties, it stands great chance of passing. To persuade the staunch foe to send the bill to the next step, ally and State Rep. Mark Cohen (pictured, above left) penned the following plea which was delivered to Metcalfe’s office yesterday:

Dear Mr. Chairman:

Last week the Speaker referred House Bill 300, banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity to the State Government Committee. It has 90 co-sponsors including the overwhelming majority of the House Democratic Caucus and a substantial minority of the House Republican Caucus.

The conventional wisdom is that absolutely nothing will happen, and that the bill is dead for this legislative session. It is my hope that the conventional wisdom will be proven wrong. Already one half of the State Senate has signed on to co-sponsor the Senate version of this bill, Senate Bill 300.

Polls in Pennsylvania and around the nation show overwhelming support for banning discrimination against people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. That is because the overwhelming majority of the population has a friend, relative or coworker in that category. It is also true that many people are well aware that a major theme of American history has been the gradual inclusion of people who have previously been excluded from the full benefits of citizenship.

Because of this issue’s importance, public support and widespread House member and Senate member support, I hope it is possible to have an official dialogue on this issue, beginning with a public hearing in Harrisburg. It would be good to have public input from the Human Relations Commission, the Governor’s office and both proponents and opponents of this legislation.

I’ve put in calls to Metcalfe’s offices Cranberry Township and Harrisburg, but have yet to get a response. Stay tuned to G Philly for any updates.

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