Gov. Corbett Changes stand on LGBT anti-discrimination bill

Kenney (L) and Sims (R) talk about bill

Two Philadelphia politicians are pleased that Gov. Tom Corbett now says he can support a bill banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Corbett says he changed his mind because he believes without this legislation lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Pennsylvanians are not protected from housing and job discrimination. 

“In the last few months in discussions it was made clear to me that federal law did not cover what House Bill and Senate Bill 300 would cover,” Corbett said. “I had a presumption that it did. I think it should.”

State Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia), who is openly gay, says even with Corbett’s support, his proposed legislation is not a “slam dunk.”

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“There’s still a lot of opposition to this in the state house, even though we still have historic support for it,” Sims said. “Now the governor supports it. A majority of Pennsylvanians support it, certainly a majority of the Democrats in Pennsylvania support it and a handful of Republicans, and I hope that can grow now as we’re seeing from the top down in the Republican party in Pennsylvania you can be supportive of LGBT civil rights and still be a card carrying party Republican.” 

The chairman of the house’s state government committee, Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler County) opposes the bill and has vowed to block it.

Philadelphia City Councilman Jim Kenney says he’s encouraged that Corbett has come around on the issue.

“This time has well come and gone for us to be fair to all people regardless of who they are and how they live,” Kenney said. “I think it’s a wonderful step in the right direction for Pennsylvania. If you look at some of the surrounding states, New Jersey, New York Maryland Delaware, are all states people are going to live because they are same sex couples or LGBT people and they feel there’s a place they are welcome.”

Rep. Sims says this gives him hope that Pennsylvania also could legalize same-sex marriage. Governor Corbett says he still opposes that idea and his administration is defending in court the state’s gay marriage ban.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal