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OPEN LETTER TO PA LEGISLATORS

From: Ted Martin, Executive Director, Equality PA

June 15, 2016

Dear Legislator,

Over the weekend, an LGBT nightclub in Orlando became the site of horrific violence and death.

We grieve with Orlando for the LGBT community that has—for too long—been the target of hate crimes and violence.

That’s why—in the midst of this earth shattering attack— I want to reach out to you personally and ask for your support on this critical issue. These protections are very meaningful and important to a community that is often under attack in spite of recent progress on LGBT equality.

I write to you today as nondiscrimination legislation moves forward to ask for your support to ensure this legislation passes and to share with you communications from LGBT Pennsylvanians and their families.

In the past two years there has been incredible support for comprehensive LGBT nondiscrimination protections from all across the Keystone state – from businesses big and small, to people of faith, to conservatives who understand the importance of ensuring everyone has the opportunity to work hard and earn a decent living.

Pennsylvania is home to well over a quarter-million LGBT people, many of whom are raising families. They deserve every opportunity to receive equal protections under the law – and a strong majority of Pennsylvanians agree.

That’s why we hope that you will support new legislation aimed at securing comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for every single LGBT family in Pennsylvania. These bills focus on important protections in employment, housing and public accommodations. Each bill represents an important step forward in our fight for equality.

Right now, there are no explicit nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people in our state and we hope that you will make sure that all people are able to provide for themselves and their families without discrimination.

We recently asked supporters to tell us why nondiscrimination protections are important to them, and here is a sampling of what they said:

Jeffrey from Pittsburgh, PA:

I know individuals in rural areas of our state who fear for their jobs and their personal security because it is still legal to discriminate in PA against LGBTQ persons.  This must stop and I thank you for doing what you can to enact anti-discrimination legislation our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.

Trebor from Pittsburgh, PA:

I want to be judged for the quality of my work, not how I was born.

Stacey from Carlton, PA:

I pay the same taxes, have all the same responsibilities of citizenship as I did before I transitioned. I deserve the same protections and opportunities that I had before I transitioned.

I’ve always been proud to be a Pennsylvanian. It is time to bring PA into the 21st century of equality for all.

Darcey from Athens, PA:

I serve a congregation in Athens, PA where many of my members identify as GLBT. This act is very important to us. Thank you for moving it forward.

Diane from Philadelphia, PA:

I have a gay son. I feel all should be treated with kindness and respect no matter race, religion or sexuality. We are all equal but different. The universe is based in diversity. No two people, planets, stars or galaxies are alike.

Celeste from Harrisburg, PA:

My child is a 14-year-old transgender boy.  He deserves legal protection if some one harasses him or hurts him because he is transgender. He deserves to not to be discriminated against when he applies for a job or an activity in a club or organization. When he wants an apartment by himself, he should have all the protections that every American expects.

Lucetta from Schwenksville, PA:

My granddaughter is Transgender and I fear for her life and her rights. We cannot go back in time! ALL humans should be treated equal, PERIOD!  We don’t have to like what our neighbors are doing or how they dress or what they eat, BUT we SHOULD LOVE our neighbors as ourselves.

Norman from East Stroudsburg, PA:

My work as a pastor involves lots of work with GLBTQ persons whose legal status within the Commonwealth has made them vulnerable.  I am very grateful for you commitment in securing equal rights for them.

Marlene from Hummelstown, PA:

No one should fear loosing their employment because they are LGBT or not be served in restaurant, hotel or other places of public accommodations.  When I came out in 1983, I was teaching in rural Western Pennsylvania.  I was a single mom with two children to support.  I feared loosing my position and most important custody of my children.  Some things have changed and my children are grown. But what is incomprehensible is that in 2016 this discrimination still exists. Thank you for your determination to change this policy in our state. It takes leaders such as yourselves to understand this must change – now not later- enough is enough!

Susan from Bradford, PA:

No one should have to face discrimination in the workplace, when looking for a home, or going about their daily lives simply because of who they are and/or who they love.  It’s past time for PA to make it a law to protect LGBT citizens from any form of discrimination.

Steve from Barto, PA:

One of my friends (a professional) is leaving Pennsylvania due to, in part, the legislature’s continued pandering to a hateful minority of people.  She is taking her expertise elsewhere.

David from Shiremanstown, PA:

Passage of the Fairness Act means my grandson will not grow up in a community where intolerance and discrimination has been normalized and legalized.

The PA Fairness Act directly affects my life, and the lives of many of my friends.

Thank you for your careful consideration of pending nondiscrimination legislation. I look forward to working with you to take these important steps toward equality.

Sincerely,
Ted Martin
Executive Director
Equality PA

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