HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Democratic governor of Pennsylvania has signed two executive orders banning government workers from turning down homosexuals and transgenders for Commonwealth contracts and grants, and prohibiting those who contract with the Commonwealth from doing the same.
“These executive orders—one that applies to Commonwealth employees and the other that applies to grants and procurement, say that no agency under the governor’s jurisdiction shall discriminate against any employee or applicant on the basis of race, color, religious creed, ancestry, union membership, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, national origin, AIDS or HIV status, or disability,” Gov. Tom Wolf said before a gathering at the capitol in Harrisburg.
“The employment practices of the Commonwealth must be non-discriminatory,” he continued. “And all businesses contracting with the Commonwealth should use non-discriminatory practices in sub-contracting, hiring, promoting, and other labor matters.”
Wolf also called upon lawmakers to pass legislation that would expand existing non-discrimination laws throughout the Commonwealth as his executive orders only applied at the government level.
“I am urging the legislature to pass a non-discrimination bill that makes it clear to the world that Pennsylvania is a welcoming place for everyone,” he said. “This is the right thing for us to do, just as it was right for William Penn to proclaim that Pennsylvania was a place for everyone regardless of your religion.”
The 1682 “Great Law” of Pennsylvania, penned by its founder William Penn, required criminal penalties for those who engage in homosexual acts.
“And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid that if any person shall be legally convicted of the unnatural sin of sodomy or joining with beasts such persons shall be whipped and forfeit one third part of his or her estate and work six months in the house of corrections at hard labor, and for the second offence imprisonment as aforesaid during life,” it read.
Wolf said that he was unhappy that the legislature had not yet passed a law to provide protections for homosexual and transgender residents.
“I am troubled by the General Assembly’s inaction on passing non-discrimination legislation,” he said. “Pennsylvania needs to go on record to proclaim that all people—regardless of sexual orientation, gender expression or identity—are treated equally under Pennsylvania law.”
The Pennsylvania Family Council issued a statement following Wolf’s order, stating that it could cause problems for charities that receive contracts or grants from the Commonwealth.
“Under two executive orders signed today, PA is closed for business unless you agree with Gov. Wolf,” said President Michael Geer. “He’s ordering something that could very well exclude thousands of good people from doing business with their own state in their own state.”
“[T]hese executive orders will put the onus on many faith-inspired charities that serve needy Pennsylvanians to prove they are doing Gov. Wolf’s bidding or face complete cut-off of state funds,” the group stated. “Pennsylvania Family Council calls on Gov. Wolf to withdraw these unjust orders.”