In the wake of North Carolina and Mississippi’s new and extremely homophobic and transphobic laws, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed two important executive orders on Thursday. These orders will protect more than 79,000 state employees from being discriminated against based on their sexual or gender orientation.
The official statement from the governor’s office describes Wolf’s plans as follows:
‘Governor Wolf tomorrow will sign two executive orders – one pertaining to commonwealth employees and the other to the commonwealth grants and procurement process – that each say no agency under the governor’s jurisdiction shall discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender expression, and identity, among other areas. This is an important step in ensuring equality, but Pennsylvania must do more and the governor will also call on the legislature to finally pass non-discrimination legislation. What happened in North Carolina, and what is going on in other states, should be a call to pass non-discrimination legislation in Pennsylvania now. The governor wants to make clear that Pennsylvania is inclusive, welcoming, and open for business for everyone.’
Governor Wolf said this when signing the orders:
‘This is the right thing for us to do. Just as it was the right thing for William Penn to do when he proclaimed that Pennsylvania was a place for everyone, regardless of their religion.’
He also made it clear that he intends to do more to protect all the people of Pennsylvania, not just those employed by the state.
‘I call on the General Assembly to swiftly put legislation on my desk that ensures that people throughout the commonwealth — regardless of sexual orientation, gender expression or identity — are treated equally under Pennsylvania law.’
Wolf also expressed the importance of making Pennsylvania a place for everyone to feel safe and welcome. “We want to be known as a place that is open for everybody who works hard, who wants to build a career and raise a family or build a business. These are things we want in Pennsylvania and you can’t have that if your a state is being seen as unfair, so that non-discrimination legislation is absolutely essential.”
Wolf’s decision to sign these orders has not been free from resistance, though. Senate State Government Committee Chairman Mike Folmer, in typical Republican fashion, said that he wanted to “vet the bill to make sure it doesn’t violate religious liberties or freedom of conscience.” Hopefully Pennsylvania can continue to move forward, despite this pushback, and make an important statement to those states that are currently legalizing discrimination with their backwards laws.
Watch Governor Wolf discuss the importance of signing these non-discrimination orders below, courtesy of Governor Tom Wolf via YouTube.