New Pennsylvania LGBTQ+ organization renews calls to pass the Fairness Act

Fairness Act

State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia) speaking at the launching of Fairness Pennsylvania at the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg on June 3, 2024. (Photo: Sean Kitchen)

By Sean Kitchen

June 3, 2024

Fairness Pennsylvania, a newly formed LBGTQ organization, renews calls for the Pennsylvania Senate to pass the Fairness Act. Republicans in the Senate have been sitting on the bill for 397 days.

LGBTQ+ advocates and Democratic lawmakers gathered in the Pennsylvania State Capitol rotunda on Monday to celebrate the launching of Fairness Pennsylvania, a newly formed LGBTQ+ advocacy organization.

“I just want to say that it’s a really, really an exceptional step forward that we’re able to take having a statewide organization,” Sarah Hammond, the Executive Director for Fairness Pennsylvania, said during a press conference on Monday.

“We feel really privileged for the opportunity to work with many groups across the state and so many legislators right here in the capitol to make sure that we’re getting work done in Harrisburg and across our communities all across Pennsylvania.”

Hammond told the onlookers that Fairness Pennsylvania is focused on getting the Fairness Act, an anti-discrimination bill that amends Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Act and grants protections to members of the LGBTQ community, across the finish line.

The organization also seeks to advocate and protect the rights of Pennsylvania’s LGBTQ community at the statewide and local levels.

“As a statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, Fairness PA leads policy and lobbying and advocacy efforts at the Pennsylvania State capitol during the legislative session and year round,” said Nathaniel Yap, a Pittsburgh area resident and chair of Fairness Pennsylvania.

“We continue to fight for the passage of legislation like the Fairness Act, which would ban discrimination and employment housing and public accommodation in Pennsylvania and to defeat legislative attacks on our rights.”

A Pittsburgh area resident and chair of Fairness Pennsylvania, Yap explained how he and his husband have experienced discrimination when taking their two children to the hospital. According to Yap, hospital staff demanded to see their children’s birth certificates to verify that they were the parents.

Monday marked 397 days since Pennsylvania House Democrats passed the Fairness Act with bipartisan support, but it has been sitting dormant in the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania Senate since. The bill has the support of Gov. Josh Shapiro and would become law if passed by the Senate.

Malcolm Kenyatta, co-chair of the Pennsylvania LGBTQ Equality Caucus and the prime sponsor of the Fairness Act, called on the Pennsylvania Senate to finish the job and pass the bill.

“It has been 397 days since we stood on these very steps to celebrate the passage of [the Fairness Act] out of the House,” Kenyatta said.

“397 days since the leadership in the Senate has sat on their hands. It’s wrong. They ought to act, they ought to do it before we finish the budget. They ought to done it 396 days ago.”

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.

CATEGORIES: LGBTQ
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