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Equality PA Cautions Against Another Half-Baked Executive Order that Opens the Door to Discrimination

Harrisburg – Reacting to reports that the president plans to sign an Indiana-style religious exemption executive order on Thursday, May 4, Executive Director of Equality Pennsylvania Ted Martin released the following statement:

“We are highly concerned that this Executive Order, like previous failed Executive Orders from the Trump administration, will serve only to promote government-approved discrimination against women, LGBTQ people, and vulnerable populations. We simply can’t afford another half-baked, ill-conceived Executive Order that does real damage to Americans in every community across the country. In Pennsylvania, protecting people from discrimination is a popular idea—and this Executive Order would do the opposite. Under the guise of ‘religious freedom,’ this action would grant a license to discriminate that flies in the face of American values of equality and fairness.”

According to recent news reports, the Executive Order is expected on Thursday, and is modeled after the Indiana law signed by then Governor Mike Pence. The law caused controversy in the state and is widely known as the “license to discriminate” law. Tourism officials reported that Indiana lost as much as $60 million in revenue after the law was passed.

Currently in Pennsylvania, there are no explicit protections for LGBTQ people in employment, housing, or public accommodation as part of the Human Relations Act. But polls show there has been lasting and strong public support for updating legislation to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination. And in the past six months, six municipalities have passed ordinances to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination bringing the total number of municipalities with nondiscrimination ordinances to forty-three. The most recent six ordinances are as follows:

  • Wilkes-Barre (2016)
  • Carlisle (2016)
  • Kennett Square Borough (2017)
  • Phoenixville (2017)
  • Royersford (2017)
  • Stroudsburg (2017)


With 60,000 members across the commonwealth, Equality Pennsylvania is the leading organization advancing equality and opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Pennsylvanians.


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