Over 100 pieces of legislation aimed to protect LGBTQ Pennsylvanians have been introduced in the General Assembly since 1976. We know that unless our laws specifically state “sexual orientation and gender identity” as protected classes from discrimination – the lives of LGBTQ Pennsylvanians will continue to reflect major challenges and concerns.
The first piece of LGBTQ civil rights legislation introduced in the Pennsylvania General Assembly was in 1976 by Rep. Norman Berson (D-187, Philadelphia) regarding non-discrimination – with only two co-sponsors. It would be over a decade before the next piece of legislation was introduced. Introductions and legislative reviews by House and Senate committees increased over the 1990s-2000s. In the past several sessions, LGBTQ civil rights legislation has been visible and at an all-time high number of bills.
The only piece of LGBT equality legislation to become law in Pennsylvania was the hate crimes law of 2002. It was ultimately struck down by the Commonwealth Court in 2008 due to a technicality.
In 1975, Pennsylvania Governor Milton Shapp signed Executive Order 1975-5 to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation under the state government’s jurisdiction. This includes all state employees and has been renewed by every Governor since [1975-5 (and revised in 1976, 1978), 1984-1, 1988-1, 1996-9, 2002-3, 2003-10]. Governor Edward Rendell extended the protections to include gender identity in 2003.
Approximately one-third of all LGBT equality legislation in the Pennsylvania General Assembly has been introduced by GOP legislators, and two-thirds by Democratic legislators.
The successful passage of the Pennsylvania hate crimes law of 2002 can owe a much of its success to committed Republican leadership. It is the only piece of LGBT equality legislation ever adopted by the General Assembly, and is noted as the first LGBTQ rights bill in the nation to be passed by a Republican House, Republican Senate, and signed into law by a Republican Governor.
A bill including protections on sexual orientation only (when gender identity could have been applicable to add to the legislation’s issue) was last introduced in the 2009-2010 session.Source: The Pennsylvania General Assembly Online Portal