Doug Shields Introduces “Will of Council” in support of statewide LGBT discrimination protections

Just got word that City Council President Doug Shields will introduce a “Will of the Council” on Tuesday that will express the Council's support of HB 1400 which, along with SB 761, will amend the PA Human Relations Act to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” as protected classes.

From Council President Shields' statement:

The legislation will amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to include anti-discrimination language that reflects the same anti-discriminatory language the City of Pittsburgh passed into law (Applicable Code attached as amended by Ord. 20-1992, eff. 5-28-92; Am. Ord. 3-1997, eff. 2-7-97).  Our passage of this bill will support Pittsburgh's State delegation in their efforts guarantee the same equal protection o ur City residents have across Pennsylvania .

This is an important gesture and one that deserves a unanimous vote.  Please pick up your phone and ask your City Council Representative to support this Will of Council. 

I am very pleased that my State Rep (Chelsa Wagner) and State Senator (Wayne Fontana) are sponsoring the state legislation.  I hope my City Councilwoman, Tonya Payne, votes in support of this legislation.

People shouldn't be denied employment or housing because they are gay or they don't conform to gender normative behavior.  This is pretty basic stuff and Pittsburgh's been ahead of the curve for over a decade. 

Here's the resolution:

Will of Council in support of Pennsylvania State House bill 1400 and Senate Bill 761, The Statewide LGBT Non-Discrimination Bill

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WHEREAS, current Pennsylvania law provides basic legal protection against discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, handicap or disability, education and the use of a guide dog, but not sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression; and


WHEREAS, House Bill 1400 and Senate Bill 761 would amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, thereby providing basic protection to ensure fairness for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pennsylvanians; and


WHEREAS, the City of Pittsburgh already protects its residents against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression through local ordinance passed almost two decades ago; and


WHEREAS, twenty states, including the neighboring states of Maryland, New Jersey, and New York already have laws protecting gay, lesbian, and bisexual people from discrimination, and thirteen states also prohibit discrimination against transgender people through legislation or case law; and


WHEREAS, 462 Fortune 500 companies, including all 27 Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Pennsylvania, prohibit discrimination based upon sexual orientation, in recognition of the fact that attracting and retaining the best workers is critical, and that employers with a reputation for respecting diversity are at a competitive advantage with these protections; and


WHEREAS, HB 1400/SB 761 has the support of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Realtors Association, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), as well as 70% of Pennsylvania voters surveyed in a November 2007 poll of likely voters conducted by Susquehanna Polling and Research; and


WHEREAS, the prime sponsor of HB 1400 is Rep. Dan Frankel of Pittsburgh, who is joined in supporting the legislation by at least 70 cosponsors, including at least 14 other state representatives from southwestern Pennsylvania;


WHEREAS, the identical Senate bill, SB 761, has at least 22 cosponsors including six Senators representing Allegheny County;


THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that Pittsburgh City Council calls upon the Pittsburgh delegation to the Pennsylvania General Assembly to support the passage of HB 1400/SB 761 at the earliest opportunity; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution shall be transmitted to the Mayor of Pittsburgh, to all members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, and to the Governor of Pennsylvania.

A shout out to Shields' Chief of Staff, Selena Schmidt, for her wonkish skills in helping me find the “gender identity and gender expression” phrasing in the City Code. 


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