Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Equal Rights Protection

I did not realize this, but Pennsylvania is one of the few states who do not have a non-discrimination clause in their constitution. In this state one can actually get fired for being gay. They can be denied service in a restaurant, refused housing, and turned away from getting a job simply because of who they love. It makes no sense to me.

Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution is entitled Inherent Rights of Mankind and it says:

All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and indefeasible rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring, possessing and protecting property and reputation, and of pursuing their own happiness.
I guess they are talking white men, landowners, and un-indentured servants here. Back in 1776 when the Pennsylvania Constitution was first adopted, that’s who was making the laws. However it has not been changed and the “all men” part is taken over time to mean "mankind". Mankind should mean humanity and humanity should be devoid of labels.

At any rate because Pennsylvania does not have language in its constitution, there are a few representatives sponsoring HB 300
An Act amending the act of October 27, 1955 (P.L.744, No.222), known as the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, further providing for the title, for findings and declaration of policy, for right to freedom from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation; defining "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression"…
This bill has languished in committee. It was brought to the floor once and didn’t pass. So because the state has not passed this legislation, various municipalities, and some counties, and decided to do their own thing. One of these municipalities is Abington, and they are having a tough time doing it. I don’t understand why as it seems like such a no brainer to me.

When I was a council person in Norristown back in 2003, I tried to pass Domestic Partner legislation in order to make our municipality a more welcoming place. Again, it seemed like a no brainer. I thought I had support from my colleagues, but after the meeting where we got 7-8 mini sermons basically telling us we were all going to Hell if we passed this, it died. Every time I hear of municipalities having problems with this, I shake my head in utter disbelief. We live in a world were pretty much anything goes, but I suppose that means if you are a white male under 50, married with children, own a home, and work in a corporate job. If you are in that class pretty much anything goes. If not, you’re screwed.

This country was born of freedom which means that you should be accepted no matter how God made you. We don’t live in a dictatorship, we don’t live with communism, and we don’t live in a monarchy. There should be no reason why everyone one should be treated the same regardless. Just regardless, because there should be no definitions or classifications needed.

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