It is always worth repeating this mantra – we can be fired based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. The Post-Gazette took some time to do this.
In nearly 70% of the state, there is no protection. Your boss can fire you for being gay. Your landlord can refuse to renew your lease. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Only 3 counties and 26 municipalities have local protections.
This is not only unjust and leaves us economically vulnerable, but its bad for business period.
Ted Martin, the executive director of Equality PA — an advocacy group for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community — said Pennsylvania stands out among states in the region for not having civil rights legislation to protect the community he represents. New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland have sexual orientation written into their civil rights laws. Pennsylvania has ordinances at the municipal level in places such as Harrisburg, which has had that protection since 1983, and Pittsburgh, which adopted the legislation in 1997.
“Pennsylvania is very far behind on this issue,” Mr. Martin said. “All of these states around us have these protections, and Pennsylvania stands out like a sore thumb.”
He said he has been called by executive recruiters who ask about legal protections for their gay clients in Pennsylvania and he has to be honest and say there are none. Some talent has not come to the state because of the lack of civil rights protections.
The lack of job protections is often misunderstood. It is important to bring this up with your friends – make sure they have good facts. Why? Because Rep Dan Frankel will introduce legislation to address this once again and they only way for it to gain traction is for people to call their State Reps. They need to make the economic argument – our ability to be contributing, tax paying citizens is threatened, to support our families, to be treated fairly in the workplace.
Also, let them know that there is NO national protection. The Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) has not passed and continues to face an uphill battle. The good news is that it was included in the Democrat agenda.
It is also important to remember that this impacts heterosexual people, particularly gender non-confirming women. It happens.