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Equality Pennsylvania Lauds Growth of LGBT Equality Caucus and Releases New Poll: Nearly 7 in 10 Back Equal Civil Rights; More Than 60% GOP Support on Two Key Bills

Harrisburg – Today, the Pennsylvania legislature’s LGBT Equality Caucus announced its membership for the new session. The Caucus stands at 58 members, a doubling in membership from last year. In 2011, Equality Pennsylvania was a driving force in founding and launching the LGBT Equality Caucus. To coincide with the first meeting of the Caucus, Equality Pennsylvania also released a new poll showing significant statewide support for LGBT civil rights.

Ted Martin, executive director of Equality Pennsylvania, pointed to the growth and the new poll numbers as a good sign. “Any member of the General Assembly who is reluctant to vote in support of LGBT civil rights should look at the more than doubling in size of the LGBT Equality Caucus from last session coupled with our overwhelmingly positive poll numbers for reassurance that their colleagues are there and the public is with them. Pennsylvania is the worst state in the northeast when it comes to how we treat our LGBT citizens, and now is clearly the time to trade in that sad title.”

The poll released today was conducted by the Pittsburgh firm CivicScience for Equality Pennsylvania. Survey questions were deployed across CivicScience’s network of online polling applications, targeting a minimum sample of 1,000 adult Pennsylvanians between Jan. 29 and 30. Final results were reweighted as necessary to represent the full Pennsylvania population based on the 2010 U.S. Census. (More on the CivicScience methodology can be found here).

The three poll questions and the responses are:
1. Do you agree or disagree that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender citizens should be entitled to the same civil rights and protections as other minority groups?
Response: 62 percent agreed; 29 percent disagreed.

2. Do you agree or disagree that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender citizens should be protected against being fired due to their sexual orientation or gender identity?
Response: 69 percent agreed; 24 percent disagreed. Among self-identified Republicans, 61 percent agreed; 28 percent disagreed.

3. Do you agree or disagree that hotels and other businesses should be allowed to refuse service to people based only on their sexual orientation or gender identity?
Response: 72 percent disagreed; 18 percent agreed. Among self-identified Republicans, 62 percent disagreed; 28 percent agreed.

The Caucus co-chairs and other legislators agreed that the new membership and the polling are significant. State Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery/Delaware, co-chair of the caucus, said, “The LGBT Equality Caucus now has 58 members, more than double the 26 from the last session, and it includes members from both parties and both the House and Senate. These voices for equal rights come from throughout Pennsylvania, from Erie and Allegheny counties in the west; Dauphin, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lancaster and Berks counties in central and northeastern Pennsylvania; to the Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia and its suburbs.”

State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, co-chair of the caucus, said, “Passing non-discrimination legislation for employment and housing is the right thing to do, and Pennsylvanians know it. That’s why it has enjoyed roughly 70 percent support in Pennsylvania for the last decade. The rapid growth of the LGBT Equality Caucus is an encouraging sign of growing support in the General Assembly for equal civil rights, and shows we have gotten a slow start, but we’re playing quick catch-up.”

Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., the first openly LGBT person elected to the Pennsylvania legislature, said, “It comes as no surprise to me to see these levels of support for LGBT equality in the Commonwealth. While many Pennsylvanians are still evolving on LGBT civil rights, a strong majority agree that LGBT people like me should not lose our jobs or be denied a table at a restaurant or a room in a hotel based simply on who we are. More importantly, I’m seeing signs every day that more of my colleagues in the state Capitol are finally beginning to hear this message from their constituents and are recognizing that commonsense protections against these forms of discrimination are long overdue.”

Frankel will reintroduce House Bill 300, which would ban anti-LGBT discrimination in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations. Similar legislation will also be reintroduced in the Senate.

Members of the LGBT Equality Caucus have signed on to this mission statement: “The mission of the Pennsylvania LGBT Equality Caucus is to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality. The bi-partisan LGBT Equality Caucus will be comprised of Members of the General Assembly who are strongly committed to achieving the full enjoyment of human rights for LGBT people in the Commonwealth and around the nation. By serving as a resource for Members of the General Assembly, their staff, and the public on LGBT issues, the Caucus will work toward the extension of equal rights, the repeal of discriminatory laws, the elimination of hate-motivated violence, and the improved health and well-being for all regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.”

The members of the caucus are:

  • House: Reps. Frankel (co-chair), B. Boyle, K. Boyle, Bradford, Briggs, V. Brown, Brownlee, Clay, Cohen, D. Costa, P. Costa, Cruz, M. Daley, Davis, Dean, DeLissio, Dermody, Evans, Fabrizio, Fleck, Gainey, Harkins, J. Harris, B. Keller, Kim, Kinsey, Kirkland, McCarter, McGeehan, McNeill, Molchany, Mundy, Murt, O’Brien, Painter, Parker, Roebuck, Ross, Rozzi, Santarsiero, Schlossberg, Sims, Sturla, Wheatley and Youngblood.
  • Senate: Sens. Leach (co-chair), Blake, Farnese, Ferlo, Hughes, Schwank, Smith, Stack, Tartaglione, Teplitz, Washington, Wiley and Williams.
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