Saturday, October 13, 2007

One Against, Eight For H.B. 1400

Diane Gramley, of the American Family Association’s Pennsylvania chapter, was the only speaker who opposed H.B. 1400, claiming that there had never been a study suggesting a genetic or biological determinant for sexual orientation. --

Well, that wasn't exactly what I said -- I said no gay gene study had been duplicated. To read my testimony and supporting documentation given to the four members of the House State Government Committee that participated in the hearing, click here  H.B. 1400 is currently in that committee; we do not know when it will come up for a vote, but feel free to express your concerns --especially if your State Representative is on that committee.

H.B. 1400 will force all PA businesses with four or more employees to hire homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenders i.e. men who think they are women and demand to use the women's restroom.  Upon closer examination you will see that there is no exemption for churches, Christian schools or daycares.



P.S.  This is another example of the AFA of PA taking the forefront in confronting those who wish to  redefine marriage, family and America as we know it.  If you feel the Lord leading, you can make a tax-deductible contribution to the AFA of PA with your credit card today by clicking here or by mailing a check to AFA of PA, P.O. Box 1048, Franklin, PA   16323.   Thanking you in advance.

Click here for photos of the hearing in Erie.

From Philadelphia Gay News -- 10.12.07


State Reps. hear civil-rights testimony

By Mike Mahler
© 2007 Mike Mahler

Special report by Mike Mahler, co-editor of Erie Gay News, who testified at the Erie hearing

In an historic event, two public hearings were held last week — one in Erie and one in Pittsburgh — concerning a statewide civil-rights bill proposed for the GLBT community.

The House State Government Committee, chaired by Rep. Babette Josephs (D-182nd Dist.), hosted the hearings in support of nondiscrimination legislation that would add sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

Proponents and opponents of the bill spoke at the Erie hearing Oct. 5 — mostly in favor — and several state representatives, including Flo Fabrizio (D-Second Dist.), Pat Harkins (D-First Dist.), Thomas Blackwell (D-190th Dist.) and Jaret Gibbons (D-10th Dist.), and Erie County Councilmember Joe Giles attended the hearing. About 40 people were present.

If passed, H.B. 1400 would prohibit GLBT discrimination in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations.

There are 14 municipalities in Pennsylvania (including Philadelphia and, since 2002, Erie County) that include these legal protections, but there is no state or federal law that offers similar protections. The companion bill to H.B. 1400 in the Senate is S.B. 761.

After introductions, the first speaker was the chair of Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, Stephen Glassman. Glassman, the highest-ranking openly gay official in the commonwealth, noted that the PHRC receives many calls about discrimination against GLBT people that they cannot investigate because they do not yet have the statutory authority to do so. He described the commission’s duties and responsibilities, its jurisdiction and history of support for various protected classes prior to federal legislation in employment, housing and public accommodations. He further discussed the compelling need to add protections on the basis of “sexual orientation and gender identity or expression” to make Pennsylvania competitive with 20 other states that already have nondiscrimination legislation in place. All 11 PHRC commissioners, six of whom are Republicans and five of whom are Democrats, have unanimously passed a resolution in support of H.B. 1400. Glassman also noted that Pennsylvania’s hate-crimes law was amended in 2002 to add both of these protected classes.

Speaking next was Kathy for her son C.J., who had faced harassment in a public school in Venango County, in a case currently in litigation. Kathy spoke passionately and the representatives were visibly moved by the testimony. C.J. was one of the students included in the recent documentary “We Belong,” a movie about anti-gay harassment by Joe Wilson.

The third testimony came from Reid McFarlane, who is on the advisory board for the Erie County Human Relations Commission and one of the key people who helped to pass the GLBT-inclusive ordinance in 2002. Reid addressed issues dealing with religion, since many of the objections to legislation to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression come from religious sources.

I spoke next. I pointed out that since the passage of the GLBT-inclusive ordinance in 2002, the staff of the Erie Gay News has had to check the geographic location of community members requesting help with issues of discrimination, since most areas outside of Erie County are not covered. I also testified about receiving a called from a friend who witnessed blatant harassment of a transsexual coworker. The friend spoke with someone from her human resources department after I told her that Erie County covered this type of discrimination and that a workplace that was hostile affected more than just the people being targeted.

Doris Cipolla, a public school teacher for her entire career, spoke very movingly about having to remain closeted for 35 years with her partner. Cipolla also reported harassment by her neighbors and having to install a security system at significant personal cost to her and her partner — another aspect of discrimination.

Diane Gramley, of the American Family Association’s Pennsylvania chapter, was the only speaker who opposed H.B. 1400, claiming that there had never been a study suggesting a genetic or biological determinant for sexual orientation.

Responding to this, Blackwell expressed doubts that all of her claims were factual and said he viewed the issue as being about defending human rights, not “promoting a lifestyle.”

Maureen Koseff, Northwest Pennsylvania representative for Parents, Friends and Families of Gays, talked about her experiences as the mother of a gay son and the discrimination her son had encountered in the workplace.

Dave Martin of Venango County spoke next about his family’s long history of fighting for civil rights, and about townspeople sending in letters and e-mails calling for his employer, a Boston publisher, to fire him as an openly gay man. Martin also shared that in living in a rural area, he frequently receives hostile calls and e-mails.

Susan Woodland, president of the Northwest Pennsylvania chapter of the National Organization for Women, concluded the hearing. Woodland pointed out that previous moves to include race and gender in civil-rights laws had been met with many of the same dire claims that the current proposed legislation has encountered based upon similar stereotypes and cultural biases.

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