HARRISBURG, Pa. – Gov. Tom Wolf and Democratic state lawmakers joined members of the LGBTQ community to reintroduce the Fairness Act, which is meant to extend non-discrimination provisions in the commonwealth.
"It's going to be good for our economy," said Wolf. "It's going to be good for our citizens. It's going to be good for everybody."
Wolf said greater protections are needed for members of the LGBTQIA+ community across Pennsylvania.
"It remains an embarrassment for Pennsylvania that we stand out among our neighboring states for failing to provide basic civil rights protections for Pennsylvanians," he said.
Michelle Dech, executive director of The LGBT Center of Greater Reading, agrees that there is still work to be done in the state.
"It's incredibly important for our community as a whole, we continue to fight this battle," Dech said.
In Harrisburg on Tuesday, Wolf called on all members of the state legislature to help pass the Fairness Act. He said it would give comprehensive protection against discrimination when it comes to employment, housing, and public accommodations.
Dech joined state lawmakers in Harrisburg to show support for the act.
"Here in Berks County, we're fortunate because we have an ordinance within city limits that has anti-discrimination protections for us," she said.
Dech noted that protection, however, does not go beyond city lines.
"You know, if we have to, we will take it down to municipality and start with the ordinances," said Dech.
In 2016, Wolf signed two executive orders that expanded discrimination protections for all state employees, but he says more is needed.
"The legal protections against harassment and discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation are not comprehensive here in Pennsylvania," Wolf said.
In a statement to 69 News, House Republican Caucus Spokesperson Jason Gottesman spoke about the act and its process to becoming law.
"All bills, including the Fairness Act, must go through the normal legislative process, which starts in the beginning by getting support from the standing committee, prior to being ready for a larger member discussion prior to any floor vote," Gottesman stated.
"It seems inconsistent and intellectually dishonest that Democrats today, including the governor, advocated for rigorous legislative engagement on this issue when they have been missing in action in doing the same thing for legislation being advanced by the Republican majority," he added.
Wolf said the Fairness Act has bipartisan support but it failed to pass before.
As for Dech, she says she will keep fighting.
"There are so many people who can't live authentically and we're out here providing a voice for those who cannot do that yet," she said.