HB 300, reintroduced earlier this month by state Rep. Dan Frankel (D-23rd Dist.), would amend the state Human Relations Act to protect the LGBT community from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.
The legislation, which has bipartisan support, was referred to the committee on Aug. 8.
But committee chair and House Majority Leader Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-12th Dist.) told news outlets last week he would block the legislation from a hearing because he did not think it would pass through committee, comprised of 15 Republicans and 10 Democrats.
Metcalfe did not respond to a request for comment from PGN.
He told witf.com that the bill is discriminatory towards Christians, whom he said may not agree with the LGBT “lifestyle.”
Metcalfe’s remarks fueled an outcry from supporters of the bill.
Rep. Mark Cohen (D-202nd Dist.) urged Metcalfe to bring the issue up for debate with a hearing.
“Because of this issue’s importance, public support and widespread House member and Senate member support, I hope it is possible to have an official dialogue on this issue, beginning with a public hearing in Harrisburg,” Cohen wrote. “It would be good to have public input from the Human Relations Commission, the governor’s office and both proponents and opponents of this legislation.”
Frankel also wrote to Metcalfe expressing his concern for the lack of attention the bill could get in committee.
“Too many Pennsylvanians have the misfortune of working for a boss with a discriminatory bias like Chairman Metcalfe — a boss who believes the person you go home to is more important than the quality of your work,” Frankel said in a statement.
A recent poll by Susquehanna Polling and Research found that a majority of Pennsylvania voters support HB 300.
Frankel said this research shows that Pennsylvania is ready to move forward with the legislation, and that lawmakers should follow suit.
“Pennsylvania’s citizens have spoken clearly — 72 percent of us agree that we need to protect our LGBT relatives, friends and neighbors from discrimination. In the 1960s, opponents of interracial marriage argued that it violated their religious beliefs. That argument didn’t hold water for couples from different backgrounds, and it doesn’t hold water for gay and lesbian employees and couples either,” he said. “The 72 percent of Pennsylvanians — more than nine million citizens, including 115 members of the General Assembly — who support this deserve a hearing and a vote.”