Bill Protecting LGBTQ Pennsylvanians From Discrimination Passes Pa. House in Historic Vote

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By Sean Kitchen

May 3, 2023

The Pennsylvania House made history Tuesday after passing the Fairness Act. The LGBTQ non-discrimination bill now advances to the Senate, and Gov. Shapiro wants it on his desk as soon as possible.

Legislators made history Tuesday in Harrisburg as the Pennsylvania House passed the Fairness Act, which offers non-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ community. It has taken 22 years for the legislation to clear the House and now needs to advance through the Republican-controlled state Senate before making it to Gov. Josh Shapiro, who has promised to sign it into law.   

House Bill 300 would amend Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Act to extend anti-discrimination protections to people based on sex, sexual orientation, or gender expression. There are 23 states that offer similar protections to the LGBTQ community, including every other state in the Northeast except Pennsylvania.

The bill spent 22 years languishing in the House. Republicans controlled the chamber for most of the time, and consistently referred the bill to committees run by members who routinely voted against the interests of the LGBTQ community.    

In a press conference following Tuesday’s vote, Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia), a prime sponsor of the legislation and member of the LGBTQ community, called the bill’s passage a “historic day,” and urged the Senate to pass the bill and get it to Gov. Shapiro’s desk as soon as possible.  

Kenyatta thanked Luzerne County Republicans Aaron Kaufer (Luzerne) and Alec Ryncavage (Luzerne) for being the only two GOP members  to vote for the bill. Kaufer defended the bill during debate stating that he’s been a co-sponsor throughout his time in office and acknowledged amendments protecting religious institutions that were added to the bill Monday.  

Democratic state Sen. Nikil Saval (Philadelphia), a prime co-sponsor of the Senate’s version of the bill, called the passage of the Fairness Act in the House a “hard-won victory by advocates, organizers and legislators dedicated to the work of building a Pennsylvania in which everyone can thrive,” pointing to the housing, employment, and public accommodations rights within the bill.

“It is a gaping wrong that members of our commonwealth’s LGBTQ community have been denied these rights,” Saval said. 

Gov. Shapiro has called on Pennsylvania lawmakers to get the Fairness Act to his desk quickly, calling the bill  “an important step towards building a better, stronger Commonwealth – one where all Pennsylvanians receive equal protection under the law, regardless of what you look like, where you come from, who you love, or who you pray to.” 

Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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