Freedom fighter: Metcalfe cannot be allowed to block a rights bill

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Although thousands of Pennsylvanians can now be legally wed, residents who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender can still be discriminated against in employment, housing and public accommodations — legally.

House Bill 300 and Senate Bill 300 would rectify this terrible lapse by amending the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to include prohibitions of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Gov. Tom Corbett has said he would sign the legislation — and the bills have 90 co-sponsors in the House and 25 co-sponsors in the Senate.

Yet the proposal has not been able to come up for a vote, mostly due to the obstruction of Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, who has stranded the bill in the State Government Committee by using his position as chairman.

Mr. Metcalfe believes the bill would discriminate against Christians, which is as ridiculous as calling civil rights legislation anti-white or women's suffrage anti-male. The bill should be allowed to come up for a vote and become law quickly.

No matter what stance lawmakers have on the marriage of same-sex couples, they should recognize that no citizen should be deprived of basic civil liberties and dignity in their homes and workplaces. Case in point: U.S. Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania are men of different political stripes who draw the same line on this issue — both support the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which House Speaker John Boehner has refused to take up.

When a federal judge struck down Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban last month, he wrote: “We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.”

But there remains at least one more legal deficiency that ought to be dropped in the dustbin.

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