I was pleased to be part of these articles exploring the “what’s next?” angle of the marriage equality decision. As you probably realize, I’m a big picture ‘what’s next?’ kind of blogger. Some might say the glass is half empty; I say let’s fill the damn glass up and stop engaging in pointless philosophizing.
Michael Lavers with The Washington Blade called me to talk about non-discrimination and my observations on post-marriage equality PA. He wrote a solid piece focusing on the future of non-discrimination: Pa. anti-discrimination bills face uphill battle
Pennsylvania is the only state that has marriage equality, but no statewide non-discrimination protections. All of the other 19 states plus DC have protections at least for sexual orientation, most also for gender identity and expression. So we are in a very unique and perilous position. There is no benchmark for us to consider. And there is not foreseeable way out of this situation because HB 300 is firmly stuck in Daryl Metcalfe’s House Committee. And he won’t budge.
Over 72% of Pennsylvania’s support non-discrimination. Governor Corbett backs the bills. There are more than 100 cosponsors between the House and Senate across party lines. But … nothing will change. And with budget season falling upon Harrisburg, it is unlikely there will be any sort of successful maneuvering to build on the victory in federal court.
Where does this leave you?
The short answer is – see a lawyer before getting married if you have any reason to suspect recriminations or backlash from your employer, landlord or other parties who could hurt your family. I speak from experience – Pittsburgh has had non-discrimination protections since the early 1990’s and I still experienced workplace discrimination. I’ve never had a job where I wasn’t harassed or threatened or expected to “tone down the gay.” Ever. It happened at every job. And when I fought back, I faced repercussions. So anyone who tells you this isn’t a problem – even with local protections – is a liar. We need the strongest degree of protections possible from our state so we don’t have to fight back.
The City Paper’s Alex Zimmerman also examined this question in his piece “Short Honeymoon: With the ban on same-sex marriage removed, nondiscrimination is the next battle for “full equality” Zimmerman takes a more in depth look at how PA courts have responded to allegations of discrimination.
In both articles, you’ll notice that the Republican leadership of both chambers in the General Assembly refuse to comment on HB/SB 300. They refuse to address the fact that Daryl Metcalfe is defying the will of the people by holding the bill hostage in the House.
There are two simple things you can do to help change this situation.
First, contact your state elected officials (State Rep and State Senator) to demand that they take more assertive action on this matter. Call their offices or schedule an appointment and take your whole family to meet face to face. Take a day off from work or switch a shift with someone to make it happen. Increasing pressure on our electeds is the best way to increase pressure on the leadership. Just Google your zip code plus “PA General Assembly” to find them.
Second, register to vote and vote for Tom Wolf in November. To be fair, Corbett is on the record supporting the legislation, but he hasn’t done anything to bring Metcalfe under some sort of moderating influence. Defeating Corbett in large numbers with significant turnout from Western Pennsylvania will help change some of the dynamics. It won’t bring an immediate change – it could still take years. But it definitely won’t happen if you don’t vote in that election.
On a final note, it *is* possible to be very happy about marriage equality and in the next breath, say “what about …?” and still be a good person.