In a vote mainly along party lines, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a bill adding homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism and any other newly developed sexual identity to the state’s anti-discrimination law. One Democrat, Rep. Frank Burns, of Cambria County, voted against the bill.
House Bill 300, labelled the “Fairness Act” by Democrats, adds “sexual orientation, gender identity or expression” to a list of categories in the state’s anti-discrimination legislation.
The bill defines “gender identity or expression” as an “individual’s gender-related identity, appearance, mannerisms, expression or other gender-related characteristics, regardless of the individual’s designated or perceived sex.”
The bill also adds language to clarify that reasonable dress or grooming standards can be required, “provided that the employer permits an employe to adhere to the dress or grooming standards that are consistent with the employe’s gender identity or expression.” If passed, the bill would therefore require employers to allow men to dress as women in the workplace.
Rep. Smith-Wade-El (D-Lancaster) praised the passage of the bill, saying that he looks forward to the “day when the Act is signed into law, and I can claim my inheritance as a Black Pennsylvanian, as a queer Pennsylvanian, and as a Pennsylvanian altogether.”
During debate on the House floor, Rep. Paul Schemel (R-Franklin) expressed concerns that the rights of physicians would be jeopardized if the bill is passed. He referred to a California case in which a person sued a medical center for refusing to provide “gender-affirming care.”
“Even though Mercy San Juan hospital did not do gender reassignment procedures, because it did perform hysterectomies on women with uterine cancer, the court asserted that it clearly fit within the public accommodation requirement of the state’s anti-discrimination law,” Schemel said.
“This legislation is not what it purports to be,” Rep. Stephenie Scialabba (R-Butler) said in a statement. “It introduces gender ideology to school children, requires shared locker rooms, erases women’s sports and hijacks the practice of medicine.”
The bill passed with a 102-98 vote. Two Republicans – Reps. Aaron Kaufer and Alec Ryncavage – voted in favor of the bill.
The bill now moves on to the Senate.