Gov. Wolf, Administration Denounce Trump Administration Rollbacks of LGBTQ Protections, Calls for Long Overdue State Action

May 28, 2019

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and his administration today denounced the recent Trump Administration rollbacks of multiple protections for LGBTQ individuals, calling for long overdue state action to end this abhorrent discriminatory track record.

“As the federal government goes backwards, it is past time for Pennsylvania to protect our LGBTQ citizens,” Gov. Wolf said. “Increased protections for members of the LGBTQ community in Pennsylvania are long overdue and desperately needed to push back against the Trump Administration’s track record of increased discriminatory policies and protection rollbacks. I urge the General Assembly to advance protections for the LGBTQ community by passing comprehensive non-discrimination and expanding our hate crimes law to protect LGBTQ citizens.”

The Trump Administration’s most recent policy rollback includes no longer recognizing gender identity as a definition of sex in civil rights protections under the Affordable Care Act. The Obama-era protection allowed for gender identity to be included under “sex” as a means of non-discrimination. After multiple lawsuits challenging the definition, the Trump Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in its rationale for the proposed rollback determined that Congress does not understand “sex” to include gender identity.

Just days before the proposed health care rollback against transgender individuals was announced, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced a proposed policy that would allow homeless shelters and federally funded housing facilities to refuse service to transgender individuals.

“We must be vigilant in ensuring that LGBTQ Pennsylvanians, especially those most at-risk for health challenges, housing insecurity and homelessness, are protected from discrimination,” said Todd Snovel, Executive Director of the PA Commission on LGBTQ Affairs. “These roll-backs are disturbing as they threaten to abandon communities that already face significant barriers in affirming health care, housing, and access to public accommodations.”

“These actions by the federal government threaten the very health and well-being of some of our most vulnerable citizens,” Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said. “The continuous attacks on the rights of transgender Americans, from serving in the military to their very health care, must stop. Gov. Wolf has shown that protecting the rights of all Pennsylvanians is essential to our continued success and prosperity — the federal government should do the same.”

In light of these announcements, The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) reminds citizens that, under 2018 guidance, it will investigate sexual orientation and gender identity-related discrimination cases under the protected class of sex discrimination.

Chad Dion Lassiter, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, added, “We look forward to a day where discrimination is a distant memory, but for now PHRC will continue to investigate complaints related to LGBTQ discrimination under our 2018 guidance allowing us to do so.”

Across the country, there has been an alarming trend of violence against LGBTQ citizens, especially transgender women of color. Gov. Wolf and the Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs denounced these actions and called on the legislature earlier this month to protect LGBTQ Pennsylvanians from violence amid a sustained increase in these heinous crimes and to advance LGBTQ civil rights and hate crime protections.

“We have made progress to establish equality and non-discrimination in Pennsylvania,” Gov. Wolf said. “But it’s not enough and we remain behind our neighbor states. We must act now to end hate crimes, to protect all Pennsylvanians, including the LGBTQ community. Espousing hatred and discrimination are not who we are as a commonwealth, a community, or human beings.”

Learn more about the fight to end LGBTQ discrimination in Pennsylvania.

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