HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Equal protection under the law is a basic tenant of American democracy. So, why is it still legal to discriminate in Pennsylvania against an entire class of people? That’s what ralliers were asking at the Capitol Tuesday, June 15.
“It remains an embarrassment for Pennsylvania that we stand out among our neighboring states for failing to provide basic civil rights protections for Pennsylvanians,” Governor Tom Wolf, said.
In PA, LGBTQ citizens can be fired from a job or booted from housing because of their sexual orientation. The Fairness Act would get them the same legal protections everybody else has.
“Passing this doesn’t do anything to hurt anybody, it just makes life better for folks who have been ignored and marginalized for far too long,” Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D – Philadelphia) said.
“If you can just repeat after me, Black Trans Lives matter here. Black Trans Lives matter here,” Ciora Thomas, Sisters PGH and activist, said.
Trans Pennsylvanians are especially vulnerable to violence and suicide.
“From being fired simply for living authentically to being denied restroom access in public spaces, our lives are policed and our dignity prodded every single day,” an activist said.
But no amount of prodding through multiple years has gotten republican leaders to move the bill. Democrats know the drill.
“A bill that my republican colleagues are likely to let languish and die in committee,” Rep. Jessica Benham (D – Allegheny) said.
Democrats insists the Fairness Act is basic equal protections under the law.
“A concept our founding fathers and mothers seemed to understand far better than the gerrymandered republican leaders in the building behind me,” Rep. Brian Sims (D – Philadelphia) said.
“Nobody’s never been successful in negotiating a bill through a press conference there’s a legislative process and we encourage people to engage in that on both sides of the aisle to address the issues they care about,” House Republican Spokesman Jason Gottesman said.
In other words, win enough elections and enough votes to rule the day. But, when basic legal protections are denied, does anybody win? Doesn’t everybody lost?
“I’ve always known that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Rep. Dan Frankel (D – Allegheny) said.
Some municipalities have passed their own ordinances protecting LGBTQ right but supports call that patchwork, and they want it statewide.