Democrats achieved a big win earlier this week when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled the state’s congressional map unconstitutional. In a 5-2 decision, the court found the map violated the state’s constitution by manipulating district boundaries in a process called “partisan gerrymandering.”
Despite its swing-state status, Democrats hold only five of the state’s 18 congressional districts. This could potentially change during the November mid-term elections, with the chance of Democrats taking over as many as half a dozen Republican seats.
Philadelphia is our home and that makes it easy for us to forget about the environment outside our bubble. Our city has been, for the most part, inclusive toward LGBT people — but this is a big state. It’s a big state with differing attitudes and ideologies — many of which are homophobic, transphobic and sexist.
Pennyslvania lacks statewide protections for the LGBT community. In Philadelphia, we do not have to worry about getting fired from our jobs for being LGBT but in other areas, we can still be terminated for our identity.
And there are concrete examples of anti-LGBT discrimination taking place not far from our backyards. This past July, the owners of W.W. Bridal Boutique in Bloomsburg turned away a lesbian couple from purchasing a wedding dress, citing their objections on religious backgrounds. That couple, unfortunately, could not push back against that bridal shop, as the town lacked a nondiscrimination ordinance.
Lawmakers have attempted to pass statewide LGBT-inclusive legislation but Republicans have repeatedly stalled these efforts. Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny County) reintroduced the Pennsylvania Fairness Act last year but it was referred to the consistently anti-LGBT Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), who also prevented the bill from moving forward in the past. The bill has yet to receive a full vote due to Metcalfe’s — likely false — belief that it would not receive support.
While a restructuring of the congressional map does not guarantee a more inclusive state, it is sure to put Pennsylvania into a more forward-thinking direction.
And that is how we will win.
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