Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Support for Gay Marriage Grows, Pa. Poll Shows Lawmaker Says Change in Views on Equality Spurred by More Exposure

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Support for Gay Marriage Grows, Pa. Poll Shows Lawmaker Says Change in Views on Equality Spurred by More Exposure

Article excerpt

A poll conducted earlier this year by Susquehanna Polling and Research shows that more than 70 percent of Pennsylvanians support banning discrimination against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation.

The most recent Franklin & Marshall College poll reinforces those results, showing support for gay marriage among Pennsylvanians to be growing with 54 percent in favor, up from 33 percent in 2006, and 41 percent opposed, down from 60 percent in 2006.

Rep. Brian Sims, D-Philadelphia, the first openly gay member voted into the Pennsylvania Legislature, said the biggest reason for the change in views on LGBT equality is the exposure people now have to those of a different sexual orientation.

"The amount of people coming out has skyrocketed, and the level of invisibility made it foreign to people. It used to be 'them' and 'they,' but now it is 'we' and 'us,' " he said. "I think LGBT rights in Pennsylvania are inevitable. The question is, when is it going to happen?"

Despite the growing number of Pennsylvanians who support the passage of legislation to provide LGBT people equal protection from discriminatory practices, action has been slow in the statehouse.

"It is very perplexing," said Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Squirrel Hill. "I think the Legislature is much more conservative than the rest of the state. You see it on guns, you see it on women's reproductive rights, and you see it on LGBT rights."

Mr. Frankel has sponsored bills in each of the last five legislative sessions that would make it unlawful to fire someone, refuse service in a business or deny housing based on sexual orientation.

While Mr. Frankel's bill has yet to make it to the floor for a vote, it has gained support in each session.

When the bill was first introduced in 2001 it had just 25 co- sponsors, but has steadily gained support in the House, with 77 co- sponsors in 2011, seven of which were Republicans. Mr. Frankel expects to have more than 80 co-sponsors when he introduces the bill again next week. …

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