Legislation ensuring equal protections for gays moves throw PA House

    By: Scott Detrow

    A measure guaranteeing equal rights for gay men and women in Pennsylvania passes through a House committee, but some lawmakers say they have big concerns about the bill’s consequences.

    By: Scott Detrow

    A measure guaranteeing equal rights for gay men and women in Pennsylvania passes through a House committee, but some lawmakers say they have big concerns about the bill’s consequences. WHYY’s Scott Detrow reports.

    Transcript:
    The measure would ensure protections based on ethnicity, race and religion would also be extended to gay, lesbian, transgendered and bisexual Pennsylvania residents.  That means, among other things, employers couldn’t fire a person for being gay, and a same-sex couple couldn’t be denied housing for that reason alone.

    Sponsor Dan Frankel, an Allegheny County Democrat, points out 20 states and several commonwealth municipalities already have this type of law in place.

    Frankel: “The fact of the matter is, much of the rest of the world is moving in this direction. With respect to our employers, 85 percent of the Fortune 500, including all 27 Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Pennsylvania, have these protections in their bylaws for their employees.”

    Opponents say they’re concerned the bill infringes on religious rights, saying a Church that views homosexuality as a sin shouldn’t be forced to hire gay employees.  Frankel says the bill has a strongly worded religious exception, and says he’s open to reworking its language.

    Listen:
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    [audio: reports20090313gayrights.mp3]

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