Pennsylvania Gov. To Sign Executive Order Protecting LGBT Employees, Condemns N.C. Anti-LGBT Law

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced plans Wednesday to sign an executive order to prohibit discrimination by state contractors against people who are lesbian, gay or transgender in response to North Carolina’s anti-gay bill.

Wolf told WESA on Wednesday that he had hoped the Legislature would pass legislation designed to outlaw discrimination based on someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity but said he has decided to sign the executive order since the bills have stalled.

“This is not something we want in [Pennsylvania]—we want to be known as a welcoming state,” Wolf told WESA. “We want to be known as a place that’s open for everybody.”

In announcing the executive orders, the governor’s office said, “This is an important step in ensuring equality, but Pennsylvania must do more and the governor will also call on the legislature to finally pass non-discrimination legislation. 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. The governor wants to make clear that Pennsylvania is inclusive, welcoming, and open for business for everyone.”

“All Pennsylvanians deserve to be able to live, work, and thrive in their communities free from unfair and unjust discrimination,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “While the governors of North Carolina and Mississippi have signed into law deplorable legislation targeting LGBT people, Governor Wolf is standing up and sending a completely different message – one that tells the world Pennsylvania is a welcoming state that values diversity and human dignity. These executive actions are welcome news, but as Governor Wolf has said, there’s more work to be done. It’s far past time for the Pennsylvania General Assembly to pass the Pennsylvania Fairness Act so that all Pennsylvanians, no matter who they are or whom they love, can live their lives without fear of discrimination.”

The Human Rights Campaign adds:

The bipartisan Pennsylvania Fairness Act was introduced last August in the Pennsylvania General Assembly in order to update the state’s non-discrimination law to explicitly include protections for LGBT people from discrimination at work, in housing, and in public places. Both chambers have so far failed to show the leadership needed to take action on the critically important legislation.

According to a recent survey, 95% of Pennsylvanians believe that everyone needs to be able to earn a living – including LGBT people – and that employees should be hired, fired or promoted based on their qualifications, experience and the jobs they do – nothing more, nothing less. An incredible 78% of Pennsylvanians support updating the state’s non-discrimination law to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Pennsylvania’s economy is the sixth largest in the country with nearly 6 million Pennsylvanians going to work every day to support themselves and their families. A statewide, uniform non-discrimination law protecting people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity would provide certainty and clarity to Pennsylvania employers and employees. 34 Pennsylvania municipalities have passed separate ordinances to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, including Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Erie, Harrisburg, Scranton, and Philadelphia.

HRC is a proud coalition member of Pennsylvania Competes – the bipartisan campaign working to pass the Pennsylvania Fairness Act. The coalition of large and small businesses, universities, and grassroots supporters is focused on making sure all Pennsylvanians are explicitly protected in state law from discrimination.