Society

Pennsylvania Governor Makes LGBT Discrimination Illegal

| by Robert Fowler

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania has signed two executive orders that will protect government employees and contractors from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Gov. Wolf had pressured the Republican-led Pennsylvania legislature to take action on LGBT protections for all state residents, but neither the House nor Senate have produced a viable bill offering protections, according to Penn Live.

On April 7, Wolf signed two orders that will provide protections for 79,000 state employees and impact thousands of state contracts as they come up for renewal.

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“This is the right thing for us to do,” Wolf said while signing the documents. “Just as it was the right thing for William Penn to do when he proclaimed that Pennsylvania was a place for everyone, regardless of their religion.”

The two orders were partially a reaction to laws recently passed in North Carolina and Mississippi that strips LGBT protections, including controversial transgender bathroom legislation, POLITICO reports.

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“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,” Wolf declared.

The first of Wolf’s executive orders will prohibit 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," according to the executive order via POLITICO.

The second order will require all businesses that contract with the commonwealth to "use nondiscriminatory practices in subcontracting, hiring, promoting and other labor matters.”

Wolf acknowledged the two orders would not cover the majority of Pennsylvania residents, and called upon the state Legislature to introduce legislation to address the whole populace.

“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,” Wolf said.

Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina has dismissed legislation that would require transgender people within her state to use public restrooms that correspond with the gender on their birth certificate, Talking Points Memo reports.

The governor said the bill was not necessary, adding, “Like it or not, South Carolina is doing really well when it comes to respect and when it comes to kindness and when it comes to acceptance.”

Sources: Penn Live, POLITICO, Talking Points Memo / Photo credit: Governor Tom Wolf/Flickr