Gays Still Lack Full Civil Rights Protection in Pa

By Lyons, Kim | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), June 27, 2015 | Go to article overview

Gays Still Lack Full Civil Rights Protection in Pa


Lyons, Kim, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


The Supreme Court's 5-4 decision requiring states to license same-sex marriages should lighten the paperwork for human resources managers at companies with employees spread out across several states. No longer will there be different benefits and forms needed for employees in Ohio versus Pennsylvania, and as long as a marriage license was issued, it won't matter which state: All married couples will be eligible for the same benefits.

However, even though same-sex marriage has been legal in Pennsylvania for more than a year, it remains the only northeastern state where it's still legal to discriminate based on gender identity or sexual orientation. A person who marries her same-sex partner on Sunday and puts a picture of her wedding on her desk at work Monday could legally be fired in most of Pennsylvania.

"The fact of the matter is there's a gaping hole in terms of the ability of full realization of civil rights for the LGBT community in Pennsylvania," said Rep. Dan Frankel D-Allegheny. "You can still fire someone or deny them housing or education in many circumstances. We still have work in front of us here in Pennsylvania."

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, which went into effect in 1955, prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, age, sex and several other categories. But LGBT individuals are not among the protected groups.

"We have 34 municipalities that do offer protection from discrimination" for LGBT people, said Mark Phillis, partner with Downtown-based law firm Littler Mendelson. That list includes Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. …

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