On Thursday, Governor Tom Wolf signed into effect two executive orders broadening sexual orientation and gender identity protections for government employees and contractors.
The first executive order bans discrimination “against any employee or applicant for employment on the basis of race, color, religious creed, ancestry, union membership, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, national origin, AIDS or HIV status, or disability.”
The second “will ensure that all contracting processes of commonwealth agencies will be nondiscriminatory and that all businesses contracting with the commonwealth as well as all grantees should use nondiscriminatory practices in subcontracting, hiring, promoting, and other labor matters.”
These executive orders come in the wake of renewed stalling of the Pennsylvania Fairness Act by Republicans in the General Assembly. The act, which would broaden the protections to include all Pennsylvania workers, was referred to the State House in September.
“With no sign that Republican leaders plan to free this bill that has broad, bi-partisan support, I am taking action to protect those that I can and send a signal to the country that Pennsylvania is open for business no matter who you are or whom you love,” Governor Wolf said. “What happened in North Carolina, and what is going on in other states, should be a call to pass non-discrimination legislation in Pennsylvania now.”
“We must show that Pennsylvania is the place that William Penn envisioned when he founded our commonwealth on the principle that it is open, diverse, and inclusive for all people. I call on the General Assembly to swiftly put legislation on my desk that ensures that people throughout the commonwealth – regardless of sexual orientation, gender expression or identity – are treated equally under Pennsylvania law.”
The subject of LGBT rights garnered national attention recently.
Last month, a North Carolina bill was signed into effect requiring people to use the bathroom of their biological birth, while Tuesday in Mississippi a law was passed giving businesses the ability to deny service to LGBT customers on religious grounds.
While no federal law yet exists, 18 states and the District of Columbia have laws explicitly protecting workers from being fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.