I am writing to encourage the Pennsylvania Legislature to act on Senate and House Bill 300, which expands the 1955 Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to include sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. It is currently awaiting consideration in committees.
In the Aug. 24 article “Bill to Overturn Discrimination Against Gay Employees Stalled in Harrisburg,” Bishop David Zubik of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh expresses concern over proposed nondiscrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, claiming the legislation doesn’t do enough to exempt religious institutions from engaging in discriminatory behavior. He hopes the legislation can be rewritten to “design exemptions that wouldn’t infringe on religious liberty.” Then the church would further examine the bills.
I have been heartened by Pope Francis, who has been quoted as saying in regard to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, “Who am I to judge?”
As a Catholic, I would like to see the leadership in our church be a voice in support of the expansion of human rights in Pennsylvania and support Senate and House Bill 300. The protections offered in this bill are already law here in Allegheny County. Now many in the state Legislature from both sides of the aisle, Gov. Tom Corbett (who has said he will sign Bill 300 if it comes to his desk) and 300 religious leaders across the commonwealth endorse these same protections throughout all of Pennsylvania.
Rabbi Aaron Bisno put it well as quoted in the article: “The government cannot allow the exercise of religion to limit another’s full access to the rights of citizenship.”