State Representative John Galloway (D-Bucks) said concerns about accommodations for transgendered people are why he withdrew his name from HB 300, a measure to expand and protect LGBT rights.
The bill would amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to expand protections of the “right to freedom from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations”. Under HB 300, citizens would no longer be denied these rights because of “sexual orientation” or “gender identity or expression”.
The bill is a key legislative priority by gay rights advocates and enjoys support from most Democrats and several Republicans.
“Ninety percent of the bill I support,” Galloway told PoliticsPA. “There’s no reason to discriminate for any issue. I think preventing housing and employment discrimination is a no brainer.”
He said his objection to the bill were unresolved issues he had with the public accommodations protections for transgender people.
“I do have questions about the transgender issue where it concerns public facilities,” Galloway said. “I’m not sure how it would affect people who aren’t transgender. I would like to do more research into how this would concern for example public restrooms. I want to protect not only transgender people but people who are not transgender.”
The restroom issue was emphasized in the Faithful Citizenship blog, which encouraged readers to lobby Galloway and other representatives to drop their support of the bill. So far only Galloway has removed his name from the legislation.
Ted Martin is the Executive Director of Equality PA, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy organization. He declined to respond directly to Galloway’s withdrawal but reiterated the LGBT’s case for HB300.
“Pennsylvania is the only state in the Northeast where someone can be fired or denied public accommodations for being gay. In today’s world that’s unconscionable. Everyone should be on a fair playing field,” Martin said.
Rep. Galloway said he would continue to study the issue and meet with transgender groups in order to do his homework on the bill.
Concerning his reported interest in a run for Lieutenant Governor, Rep. Galloway seemed to lower expectations that he would jump in.
“I think it’s too early,” he said. “I think way too many people are running both in that race and for Governor and we have to wait and see how that plays out.”