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Passage Of The Federal Equality Act Would Expand Discrimination Protections For LGBTQ Pennsylvanians

A sign in support of Black trans lives during a demonstration on Sunday, May 2, 2021.
Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
A sign in support of Black trans lives during a demonstration on Sunday, May 2, 2021.

President Joe Biden called for passage of the Equality Act in his first joint address to Congress Wednesday.

“I also hope Congress can get to my desk the Equality Act to protect LGBTQ Americans. For all transgender Americans watching at home, especially young people who are so brave, I want you to know your President has your back," Biden said.

The U.S. House passed The Equality Act on Feb. 25 by a 224-206 vote, but it has since been held up in the Senate.

Pennsylvania does not have a statewide law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. More than 40 local governments in Pennsylvania, including Allegheny County and Pittsburgh, do have such protections.

According to Jenny Pizer, the law and policy director for Lambda Legal, an LGBT legal organization, many states do not have protections for LGBT individuals facing discrimination.

“As a practical matter, it's a problem. If we have protections in one state, we go across state lines in exactly the same context, we can be refused service or told to leave a retail store or, you know, denied service of some sort. It's really unacceptable in a country that is big and diverse where people travel and we need to all have equality protections in all parts of our lives.”

This bill would also prevent banks from denying housing loans to individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.