This week, PGN covered the story of Gov. Tom Wolf and allies calling for the state legislature to vote on the Fairness Act, which would expand existing nondiscrimination provisions in employment, housing and other areas to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

While Pennsylvania lacks legislation to adequately protect LGBT rights, particularly in terms of equal access to healthcare, the good news is that hospitals and other healthcare facilities are making it a priority anyway. 

The Human Rights Campaign’s Health Equality Index issued its rankings for 2018. Pennsylvania ranks fifth nationwide in its number of LGBT Healthcare Equality Leaders. A total of 34 health facilities participated in the survey, with 19 earning the leader status.

“Many of these facilities are going well beyond the basics of nondiscrimination policies and are on the cutting edge of LGBT policies and practices,” the HRC said in its summary of Pennsylvania. Mazzoni Center, despite a year of turmoil and transition, earned a score of 100 out of 100, as did Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Hospital, Temple University Hospital and Einstein Medical Center.

Yet the hospital with the largest footprint in the Gayborhood, Jefferson University Hospital, only scored a 70, up from last year’s dismal 55 (it was a perfect score of 100 in 2016). What’s going on at Jefferson? We asked, but a spokesperson would only say, “Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals has set a goal to be an LGBT Healthcare Quality Leader on the HRC’s annual Healthcare Equality Index.” Jefferson “plans” to do more, said the spokesperson, but as of now… isn’t?

It’s not unreasonable for a hospital with such a dominant presence in this city to equip its staff to treat LGBT patients with as much expertise and knowledge as anyone else. Apart from being the right thing to do, it’s a sound business decision. Jefferson: do better. 

With the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of the redrawn congressional district map put out by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, we usher in the political primary season. Welcome to a new Pennsylvania, where Democratic candidates now have a chance to win.

But this is not the end of the story: It’s the beginning. The end comes in the November midterm general election, when you have a chance to vote for a Congress that would put a check on the Trump administration. To get there, we need to nominate Democrats who can win in November. Your choices in this May’s primary have consequences.

The issue that all Democrats are facing in the primary election is basic: Should you support the progressive candidate who stands for all the correct progressive ideas that you believe in, or do you vote for the candidate who might not be perfect but can draw a larger voter base and win in November? That’s the question that all progressives are asking themselves across the country.

Luckily for us in the five-county Philadelphia region, most of our Democratic candidates are progressive.

We in the LGBT community are in a good place this November. We are a major voting block. It will be easy to vote for almost any Democrat for Congress, since all of the Republican incumbent candidates for Congress in this area have all voted against LGBT rights, and all the Democrats have supported equality. But there are other issues to consider, including trans rights and the flood of anti-trans legislation in Congress, along with immigration, the trashing of environment regulations and school safety, to name just a few.

By denying the GOP attempt to kill the redrawn map, SCOTUS has given us a level playing field. It’s up to us to keep it that way. 

As PGN goes to press, millions of students across the nation are protesting the country’s lack of gun-control laws. The ENOUGH National School Walkout took place 10 a.m. Wednesday, exactly one month after 17 people were shot and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. The walkout lasted 17 minutes — one minute for each individual taken away from the world too soon.

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