HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Pennsylvania House narrowly passed a bill that would prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.
The bill, dubbed The Fairness Act, passed the House on Tuesday by a 102-98 vote after previously passing the House Appropriations and Judiciary committees.
The bill amends the 1955 Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, which already prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religious creed, ancestry, age, disability, or national origin.
State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia) was the prime sponsor with co-sponsorship from Representatives Jessica Benham, Dan Frankel, and La’Tasha D. Mayes, all D-Allegheny; Ismail Smith-Wade-El, D-Lancaster; and Greg Scott, D-Montgomery.
“Today is a historic day, as we take a critical step to make Pennsylvania fairer,” said the lawmakers. “The Fairness Act is as simple as it is substantive. H.B. 300 would protect LGBTQ+ Pennsylvanians from facing discrimination and allow all individuals in the commonwealth to file complaints with the PA Human Relations Commission.”
At least 22 other states have enacted similar laws, and Pennsylvania is the only state in the northeast that has not codified these measures, according to data from the Human Rights Campaign.
Preston Heldibridle, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, said “Today a majority of the Pennsylvania House recognized the urgent need to enact LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections. Over half a million LGBTQ Pennsylvanians live without the most basic protections from discrimination explicitly under state law. We thank the legislators and community advocates who have fought hard to advance this bill for nearly 50 years. The time is now for the Senate to advance HB 300 to ensure vulnerable LGBTQ Pennsylvanians are safeguarded from the cruelty and harm of discrimination.”
The bill now heads to the Republican-controlled State Senate.
The Associated Press contributed to this report