Daryl Metcalfe and Other GOP Leaders On LGBT Anti-Discrimination Laws in PA

Republican Representative Daryl Metcalfe.

Republican Representative Daryl Metcalfe.

Now that we have marriage equality in Pennsylvania, we must set our sights on other issues affecting LGBT people in Pennsylvania–one of the most basic of which is anti-discrimination laws. I’ve said it before, but it never fails to shock, so here goes: 68 percent of Pennsylvanians can be fired from their jobs, kicked out of their apartments and refused service at a business simply because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. And that is perfectly legal.

It’s nonsense, and crazy, and one day our grandchildren are going to look back at this post with bug eyes: but it’s true, and, according to a new piece published by Penn Live, it looks like it may stay that way for a while.

The publication reached out to a handful high-level GOP leaders in Harrisburg to see where they’re leaning when it comes to passing anti-discrimination laws in Pennsylvania, and they got a lot of wishy-washy, Bible-thumping answers. The main reason, however, and it is a legitimate one, is no anti-discrimination bills have been formally introduced in the 2015-16 session.

Following a press conference yesterday, where Governor Tom Wolf threw his support behind such proposals, GOP leaders chimed in on their thoughts in the matter.

Daryl Metcalfe, perhaps one of the biggest LGBT opponents, played a rare safe card: “I’m in a new legislative session … As bills are reintroduced, I’d be happy to talk about them at that point in time. But right now, it’s not active legislation.”

Don’t forget, though, that the Butler County legislator, whose House State Government Committee had control of House Bill 300 last session, never even put the bill up for a vote—despite that fact that there were a large number of co-sponsors on both sides of the party line.

Perhaps one of the more infuriating answers came from new Chair of the Senate State Committee, Republican Mark Folmer, who wondered how you could pass such legislation when there are people in the state who believe being gay is a sin.

“I would want to ask how that affects the liberty of conscience of people who, in their own religious beliefs, feel that that is wrong; and will it affect it? … I think there’s a lot of questions to be answered. This is not a cut-and-dried thing.”

Meanwhile, on the right side of history: Representatives Dan Frankel and Chris Ross have issued a co-sponsorship memo that calls for an addendum to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to include LGBT people in its protections. That isn’t expected to be introduced in the House for several weeks.