Gov. Tom Corbett is now supporting a measure to ban the discrimination of Pennsylvanians based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The measure would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Pennsylvanians from discrimination in areas such as housing and employment.
Corbett said his position hasn’t changed on the issue – he says he just didn’t have a position before now.
“I don’t think there should be discrimination,” Corbett told reporters after a ceremonial bill-signing Wednesday outside Harrisburg. “It doesn’t change my position on the issue of the definition of a marriage, or Pennsylvania’s law on that.”
He added that he’s alerted legislative leaders, but isn’t giving them a deadline for delivering the anti-discrimination bill to him.
“I’m telling them first off – that bill comes to my desk, it gets signed,” Corbett said.
The governor is getting plaudits from the measure’s sponsor, Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, and Rep. Brian Sims, a Philadelphia Democrat who became the first openly gay man elected to the House last year.
“To those conservative leaders in our government who have shied away from being vocal about non-discrimination legislation in Pennsylvania, I hope this is a green light to openly support non-discrimination legislation,” Sims said in a written statement.
The bill is now in the committee chaired by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, a staunch conservative who has never been shy about opposing the governor. He said in August he wouldn’t bring the measure up for a vote.
Sims called on Metcalfe to bring the bill to a vote in the House State Government Committee, “where the legislation has languished since its introduction. Millions of Pennsylvania LGBT citizens deserve as much when it comes to their right to freedom from fear of discrimination.”
Metcalfe did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
The measure itself is sponsored for the first time by Republicans and Democrats in the state House, as its sponsor, Frankel, noted in a memo earlier this year.
“Currently, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act prohibits discrimination in the areas of employment, housing and accommodations based on an individual’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, education status, handicap, or disability,” wrote Frankel. “We believe the time has come to update this list to include a basic level of protection for members of the LGBT community in Pennsylvania.”