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LGBT Group Looks to 2015 for Ban on Discrimination

The General Assembly's fall session doesn't begin until Sept. 15, but the state's leading advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Pennsylvanians is already closing the book on an anti-discrimination measure that picked up unprecedented, bipartisan support.

"At the current moment, with nine days left in the session, I don't hold out a lot of hope that the bill will pass this year," said Ted Martin, head of Equality PA.

Supporters of legislation to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in housing, employment, and public spaces have worked assiduously to add to their list of co-sponsoring lawmakers.

Martin said the measure just picked up its 97th supporter in the 203-member House. As of June, it was backed by 25 of the 50 state senators. Gov. Tom Corbett voiced support for the measure last December.

But Senate momentum on the discrimination ban dwindled earlier this year. In the House, the bill's fate has been in the control of the House's State Government Committee, a panel stacked with staunch conservatives and chaired by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), who has been adamantly against bringing the bill up for a vote at all.

One House Democrat is readying a companion proposal to ban discrimination of LGBT Pennsylvanians among colleges, universities, and trade schools.

Martin said the proposal would be a moot point if the broader prohibition were passed.

"So obviously, what would be ideal for us would be to see that legislation enacted by the General Assembly," said Martin.

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