Sims, Kenney Back Anti-Discrimination Bill

lgbt-pa-flagPhiladelphia may be the city of Brotherly Love, but does it live up to its name for its LGBTQ citizens?

Rep. Brian Sims (D-Phila.) says ‘no,’ which is why he welcomed the reintroduction of a bipartisan non-discrimination bill to protect LGBTQ people in Pennsylvania. The bill came before the legislature on Wednesday, and Sims’s office issued an approving statement the same day.

“While Pennsylvanians have enjoyed the right to marriage equality for over a year now, we are long past due for equality in our discrimination laws,” said Sims, who is the first openly gay official to be elected to the state legislature. “This is no longer a progressive issue, but an issue of basic fairness. As we see in the bipartisan support for this bill, this is not a matter of left and right, but a matter of right and wrong.”

The proposed Pennsylvania Fairness Act would modify the state’s current nondiscrimination law. First written in 1955, the current law ensures that all citizens – regardless of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, sex, national origin, disability – can participate in and contribute to the state’s economy. The new language would add protections for citizens of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions.

Many lawmakers feel that amending the law is necessary to protect LBGTQ citizens from discrimination. Under the state’s extant anti-discrimination law, it is currently legal in Pennsylvania to fire someone and deny them housing or business services on the basis that they are gay or transgender.

Also backing the bill is Philadelphia Democratic Mayoral nominee Jim Kenney, who has championed several civil rights bills to passage in the city before.

“Today, state legislators took an important step towards moving all Pennsylvanians forward,” Kenney said. “A statewide nondiscrimination bill will not only ensure equality for our LGBT brothers and sisters in the workplace, but it will also end Pennsylvania’s status as the only Northeastern state without such a law. This bill will make our state economy more inclusive and competitive than ever before.”

According to the statement from Kenney’s office, the bill will bring PA laws up to speed with public expectations for anti-discrimination regulations. A recent survey of Pennsylvania residents showed that 73% incorrectly believe discrimination against gay and transgender people in the workplace and in housing and business services is already illegal. The same study found 78% of Pennsylvanians are in support of updating the current Human Relations Act to include protections for gay and transgender people.

3 Responses

  1. This would be a useful tool to make sure that we can keep Chick-fil-A and its hate-filled chicken out of Pennsylvania. It would also help us make sure that all bakeries will make cakes celebrating Gay Marriage. Bravo, Mr. Sims.

  2. One Voice

    To whom it may concern:

    I’m writing this letter today in hopes that my voice can help save a life or help another individual

    in my position. I am writing as a person and will disclose my information at the end, but I want to

    be heard and not judged as a label society has put on me, yet an individual with a goal and a

    mission.

    Assault, Domestic Violence, Fatal attraction, and attempted homicide have no labels we as a
    society has just labeled it violent crimes and acts and that’s why I have gone this far to find out

    why I haven’t received help or assistance or why this city doesn’t have emergency assistance to

    victims of Domestic Violence. Some of us have been the victim and some the attacker, but

    today I stand and write for those who are afraid to stand up to their attackers and have

    something done.

    I was a victim of assault and attempted homicide in Wilkinsburg, PA June 13th, 2015. The

    officer who took the case was good but after going to question the attacker I received a call from

    the friends of him and was told they gave my name and they know where I live and will do

    something about it. I had went back down a week later after going to get xrays for another

    related issue to the incident and went back to check on the progress of the investigation, but

    one visit was made to the residence & he (the attacker) was already gone and I had then

    received another phone call of threats from the family in relation to him.I then talked to the

    receptionist there and she was rude and discriminatory towards me. On the phone she

    displayed the same discriminatory mood towards myself and a concerned friend who called for

    me. I am not safe having to watch my back and as an individual I thought more could and would

    be done and the city would have help like Allstate to move and move on with life. Shelters are

    ok, but you’re not able to carry on and pick up the pieces so fast. Assault is that and has no

    label but I keep getting threats and the attacker Mr. John Doe is still on the loose. There maybe

    a potential video in circulation as well. I would at least like help in finding safety And help in

    understanding why I can’t get help as an individual. This borough hasn’t done much and they

    should. Having issues in the borough may explain something’s but other issues need to be

    handled as well. I commend the officer who took the report, but a lot wasn’t done and I have to

    watch myself to stay from harm’s way. Fatal attraction is real and I don’t want to keep running so

    I’m asking our Senate to help me and others with something besides a paper that anyone can

    go against. I have attached a poem and after that please judge the person I am and my situation

    and hopefully you will help me and others in my situation in knowing it will and can get better.

    1000 voices unsung….

    A song cries out in Harlem today. Not reaching number one, but reaching our hearts.

    A song plays to the beat of a different drum pavement my new found runway; instead of my

    head piece.

    A song carries far into the alley only to reach it’s climax where it goes unfounded.

    A song is sung by the new walk I have only to be knocked a peg or two for what I do….

    A song is sung with faith that God above would show the girls I know favor.

    A song is sung by the mother who never said I love you; only being I love you came to late.

    A song is sung by a soul that went unspoken; only to be heard when my time wasn’t done.

    A song is sung by each petal of this rose which represents all of my sister’s who have gone

    unnoticed.

    A song is sung by a father who hated what became legendary.

    A song is sung through the halls of Sr. high where I may not be accepted, but I’m still alive.

    A song is sung by the one you sat next to yesterday, only to find closed in the chapters of the

    11o’clock news.

    A song is sung today by the heavy heart who walked in for a cough after a date and left with

    what was a former death sentence.

    A song is sung today by that young man/woman who takes the pill to be comfortable in their

    skin.

    A song is sung by the family who never heard me speak one word.

    A song is sung today and the melody carries on into the streets of Riyadh; that one day I too

    may have a voice that goes heard not another number that went to a voice that was unsung.

    A song of hope that I may sit next to you and you welcome me with open arms.

    A song that says I love you even though I don’t understand you,

    A song that binds the bond of unity between me and my sister/brother

    A song that never ends until the note is struck by the cords of our heart.

    A song is sung today and Moscow has risen.

    I am not defined by my hair, the money you paid me to feel pretty.

    I am not just another one of those I am someone you may not understand.

    I am a song that’s being sung by your mother, brother, father, or sister.

    I’m the song that carried on to be number 1.

    Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter and please help me help others know

    there is help and it does get better. I’m VERNON L. BROWN an aspiring artist who is an

    androgynous male striving to inspire others to fight for what they believe in and remember to

    NEVER GIVE UP. Thank you and please Great state of PENNSYLVANIA help others like

    myself, you and yours around you move on and hold their heads up in VICTORY.

    Being a victim of illegal eviction this year from a well operated management company that works with section 8, a magisterial judge denying to take my case because of the landlord friendship he has and me being gay; WHAT will it take to pass the PA FAIRNESS ACT??? Please help people like myself be able to feel I am somebody and standing up for more than one voice being those voices unsung. PASS THE PA FAIRNESS ACT PLEASE!!

  3. The Pittsburgh office of PA Human Relations Commission is already too chummy with defense lawyers and not interested in discrimination complaints by white or Hispanic victims where the perpetrator is black, so don’t expect much relief from them for discrimination against gays, unless maybe they are also black and the defendant is white. That meets their pre-conceived notion of who can discriminate or who can be victims.

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