The PA Fairness Act

Jocelyn Young

Social Justice Advocate, Educator and Writer

All human beings, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity are entitled to basic rights.  Those basic human rights are food, shelter, clothing, housing, employment, education, health care, respect, dignity and the right to define one’s own existence.  The majority of Pennsylvanians have legal protections from losing such things under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act of 1955.

The LGBT community in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is in constant danger of losing these basic human rights because the General Assembly refuses to pass legislation that would amend the Human Relations Act of 1955 to include sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.

For the state legislature to continue their discriminatory action towards the LGBT is not only unconscionable, it is unconstitutional.  Certain members of the General Assembly (2) continue to demonstrate a moral animus towards the LGBT community because of who they are. The Pennsylvania Constitution states “All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and indefeasible rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring, possessing and protecting property and reputation, and of pursuing their own happiness (3)." 

Consider what it might be like to be evicted from your home or fired from your job because of who you love or how you choose to present your gender.

 These are just two examples of the discrimination faced by the LGBT community. Regardless of who you love or how gender is presented; all persons have a personal goodness and a moral worth that must be recognized.

The LGBT community should be protected under the Equal Protection Clause and the Ninth Amendment of the United States Constitution (4,5).  Both the Pennsylvania Constitution and the United States Constitution demonstrates that all persons are entitled to be treated equally and have the same rights as other individuals.

This is why I strongly encourage the PA General Assembly to pass a law amending the Human Relations Act of 1955 to include discrimination protections for sexual identity and gender identity/expression during the 2019 session.

[2] This is a generalization of the General Assembly.  The GOP continues in the majority and blocks the legislative efforts of those legislators who support the LGBT community.

[3] PA Const Article I, §1, Adopted December 16, 1873, 1874 P.L. 3, effective January 1, 1874

[4] U.S.C.A. XIV Amendment

[5] U.S.C.A. IX Amendment, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

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