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100 Pa. Lawmakers Introduce 2 Sweeping Nondiscrimination LGBT Bills

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Wednesday May 8, 2013
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A bipartisan group of 100 lawmakers from Pennsylvania introduced two bills on Tuesday that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity across the state, News Works reports.

The politicians, who are members of the General Assembly, got together in Harrisburg to announce the reintroduction of the measures (HB 300/SB300), which would prohibit discrimination against the LGBT community in housing and employment.

"I’m pleased to announce that, for the first time, these bills will be introduced at the same time with prime sponsors from both parties," Rep. Dan Frankel, a Pittsburgh-area Democrat, said. According to the Pittsburgh City Paper, Frankel said this is the first time the bills have a broad support, as 77 sponsors are members of the House and 25 are from the Senate.

"We believe today marks a significant step for LGBT equality in Pennsylvania," Frankel said. He later added, "We know the climate is still difficult. LGBT progress lags behind in Pennsylvania at an alarming rate, especially when compared to 21 states across the country that already provide for LGBT protections in employment and housing."

According to Rep. Chris Ross, a Republican, the overwhelming support for the measure comes from the lawmaker’s belief that ending anti-LGBT discrimination is not a partisan issue, News Works points out.

"All Pennsylvania citizens deserve to be treated with dignity, and no Pennsylvanian should be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation," Ross said. "It’s really that simple. I think the public at large gets that, increasingly so as time has gone on."

Rep. Brian Sims, a Democrat from Philadelphia who is the first out politician elected to the Pennsylvania Legislature, spoke during the event and said he was more emotional than he expected.

"On days like today - with the type of equality advocates, activists and warriors that I am joined by on stage - we show once again that the American spirit, the American dream and, most importantly, the American values demand that we as a commonwealth finally evolve," he said.

The Pittsburgh City Paper notes that Equality PA executive director, Ted Martin, said that statewide polling shows that about 72 percent of Pennsylvania citizens support anti-discrimination measures.

"The fact is the only reason to oppose this bill is you don’t support equality," Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery/Delaware, and co-chairman of the LGBT caucus, said. "I am tired and have no respect for the argument that this bill won’t change anything. If there is one case of discrimination in Pennsylvania, it’s one too many."

Watch a clip of Sims speaking about the importance of anti-discrimination measures below:

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