by Sue Ann Rybak

In June, the Supreme Court ruled that all Americans have the right to marry the person they love – regardless of their sexual-orientation. Unfortunately, many Pennsylvanians do not know that members of the LGBT community can still be legally fired, denied housing or refused service at a hotel, restaurant or even a hospital based on their sexual orientation.

Many conservatives claim that being forced to serve gays or transgender people violates their religious rights.

Currently, an updated version of the Pennsylvania Non-discrimination Act (HB300/SB300) has stalled in the state legislature. The bill would amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, which prohibits discrimination in the areas of employment, housing and accommodations based on an individual’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, education status, handicap, or disability, to include discrimination against someone based on their “sexual orientation” or “gender identity or expression.”

Several ultraconservative organizations and religious groups are urging members to oppose the act because they claim it infringes on their religious liberty.

A press release by the American Families Association, which urges members to oppose Pennsylvania Non-discrimination Act, states:

“The intention of HB and SB 300 is to force all Pennsylvanians, under force of law, to accept homosexuality as normal. Churches and private schools which receive any government money and employ more than four people will be forced to hire homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenders. As evidenced across the country, Christian business owners will be forced to participate in same-sex commitment ceremonies/weddings by being required to bake wedding cakes, provide wedding flowers, etc., or face fines.”

Fortunately, almost all lawsuits brought against businesses and employers for discrimination based on “sexual orientation” have succeeded.

For example, a Hawaii First Circuit Court judge ruled on April 11 that the owner of Aloha Bed & Breakfast violated the state law when she refused to rent a room to a same-sex couple because it violated her religious beliefs.

Instances of discrimination continue, however. In July, a teacher was fired by Waldron Mercy Academy in Merion because of her same-sex marriage. The school stated that her marriage was in conflict with the philosophy of the Catholic Church, even though she told the school about the relationship when she was hired eight years earlier.

Although Lower Merion Township has an anti-discrimination ordinance making it illegal to discriminate against someone based on his or her sexual orientation, religious institutions are exempt unless they receive government funds. The situation is still not resolved.

Unfortunately, several conservative politicians have drafted bills that would block local discrimination laws.

Congress needs to pass a law to protect gays and transgender people against gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination.

Last year, President Barak Obama signed Executive Order 11478 (Equal Employment Opportunity in the Federal Government) and Executive Order 11246 (Equal Employment Opportunity) to protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination.

Now, Americans need to demand that Congress pass federal legislation against discriminating against someone based on “sexual orientation” or “gender identity or expression.”

Maybe it’s time we remember the words of Abraham Lincoln: “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”

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  • Cara Lopez

    “Many conservatives claim that being forced to serve gays or transgender people violates their religious rights.”

    So, has the Left managed to thoroughly rid themselves of people with a religious conscience, or was this just sloppy writing?
    If there are any practicing Muslims or Catholics who happen to be Democrats, AND who actually try to maintain the strictures of their religions, serving gays or transgender people just might be an issue for them, too, Sue Ann.

    It would be easier if the Local’s editors would just go ahead and simply LIST which parts of the Bill Of Rights
    they’d like to have expunged; sort of a “Declaration Of Principles”.

  • WesternIowan

    “Religious rights?” Harming others is a religious right all of a sudden? Since when? Cloaking bigotry in religion doesn’t make it less bigotry. Where are all the people demanding not to serve divorced people? Divorce is forbidden, but Christians and Muslims get divorced all the time around the world – even in countries that murder gays. Remarriage is considered adultery and punishable by death under religion, but Christians and Muslims never bring that up – or apply it to each other. The hypocrisy is appalling and transparent, and shows the bigotry cloaked under religion.

    • Cara Lopez

      No way, you progressive fascist; incidence of inconsistancy or “hypocrisy” as a universal proof against religion is a child’s argument.

      I love that my nephew and his partner can marry, but I respect those whose devout beliefs would forbid them from recognizing such a marriage.

      Try to simultaneously hold those two concepts in your head; it’ll be a good exercise should you ever want to truly understand the freedoms that our Constitution provides.

      Freedoms and responsibility for ALL, that is; not just selectly enumerated groups.

      • WesternIowan

        So you admit you lost to a child’s argument because you are a hypocrite which under Christianity disqualifies you from being Christian – since Jesus specifically condemned hypocrites and pharisees as never getting to Heaven. It was Jesus’ “child’s argument” – as you put it. Don’t get mad at your failure to uphold your own religious mythology. Jesus encountered lots of self-righteous hypocrites. You aren’t doing anything novel or original. Worshiping the writings of dead civilizations always ends in indefensible hypocrisy – not least of which because the people who wrote those religions were A) polygamists, B) slaveowners, and C) declared the religions were created by incest when they wrote Lot had sex with his 2 daughters. Since polygamy, slavery, and incest are indefensible, holding up any resulting religion of said people as holy and godly is objectively disturbing. Freedom means not having to prop up discrimination in the name of religions created by polygamy, slavery, and incest. That is what freedom really means. Also, calling people fascists simply makes you a namecaller – it doesn’t win the argument but you already know that since you couldn’t win the argument namecalling was all that remained.

        • Cara Lopez

          Hey, you have a preference for adverbs, and I have a preference for nouns; I call them as I see them, and it’s not my fault that you’re an under-educated little secular-progressive twerp.

          Go back and read the previous comment more slowly (it’s OK if your lips move), or have someone with better comprehension explain it to you; also make some attempt to understand the concept of chronocentrism, as it figures heavily in what you’re all about.

          • WesternIowan

            See… more namecalling. Your inability to present a coherent argument is not surprising. You merely regurgitate the same arguments racists used to try to cloak bigotry decades ago. You would have realized that if you were rational.