Two executive orders signed by Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression among Pennsylvania agencies and all state contractors.
Wolf’s actions expand on prior executive orders going back to the 1970s pertaining to state employees and job applicants. Advocates say this latest move will affect more than 3,500 state contracts and about 9,000 grant recipients.
Wolf acknowledged his executive orders are a “small step” when there are no statewide protections for gay and transgender Pennsylvanians in housing and private industry. He said the impetus for signing the orders was the news that other states were rolling back such anti-discrimination measures.
“We need to make a statement that Pennsylvania that we’re welcoming. We’re open for business — for everybody,” said Wolf. “And this is the best I could do.”
Wolf is calling on state lawmakers to pass an anti-discrimination bill for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Pennsylvanians. The proposal has stalled for years.
“A society that is unfair to some is unfair to all,” said Wolf. “If we want a healthy economy, if we want a strong democracy, if we want a just society, we have to do this.”