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Elected Officials and Advocates Stand Together for Expanded Hate Crimes Legislation

Harrisburg, PA – October 24, 2017 – This morning, elected officials stood with advocates to push for an expansion of Pennsylvania’s hate crime definition. As state law currently stands race, color, religion or national origin are protected classes under the hate crimes statute. Pending legislation in the Senate (SB 96) and House (HB 505) would reenact Act 143 of 2002 and again extend these protections to include ancestry, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity.

Republicans, Democrats, Representatives, Senators, activists, and the Lieutenant Governor all expressed their disappointment that this bill is not yet law – and urged the General Assembly to move quickly to protect more Pennsylvania citizens from hate crimes.

“I think we’ve all watched the news lately and seen unspeakable acts of violence and discrimination being waged against targeted groups and individuals.  We’ve seen people in the disability community targeted, we’ve seen LGBT people targeted, we’ve seen black, Jewish, Muslim, and Latino people and communities targeted across the country and right here at home,” said Senator Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia), the prime sponsor of the Senate Bill, said. “We must not allow these discriminatory practices to continue, nor allow unprotected populations to remain unrepresented here in this building.”

I’ve come here today with a burning question in my mind; how much longer do Pennsylvania’s LGBTQ citizens have to wait before we are no longer treated as second class citizens? How much longer does this legislature intend to obstruct movement on LGBTQ issues? I’d really like it if someone could answer that for me so that when I go back to the communities that Equality Pennsylvania represents, I can give them a better answer than “I don’t know,” said Joe Dungee, Equality Pennsylvania Development and Deputy Advocacy Director. “Equality Pennsylvania calls everyone here to work as hard as you can for as long as it takes for fairness and equality. We MUST make it clear that Pennsylvania is NOT a place for discrimination or hate.”

Read Joe’s full remarks below.

 

 

Public Remarks: Joe Dungee – Equality Pennsylvania RE: SB96/HB505
Pennsylvania State Capitol Rotunda – Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017 @ 11 a.m.

Good Morning. I’ve come here today with a burning question in my mind; how much longer do Pennsylvania’s LGBTQ citizens have to wait before we are no longer treated as second class citizens? How much longer does this legislature intend to obstruct movement on LGBTQ issues? I’d really like it if someone could answer that for me so that when I go back to the communities that Equality Pennsylvania represents, I can give them a better answer than “I don’t know.”

Equality PA is here to mobilize support for SB 96 and HB 505 which would expand existing hate crimes protections to include actual or perceived ancestry, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, and gender or gender identity.

We live in a time where we’ve seen a rise in violence against communities of color, faith, people living with disabilities, women and the lgbtq community.  Just last week we heard Donald Trump make jokes about how Mike Pence would like to see queer people hanged. Get it? Because in their eyes, queer people are less than human, undeserving of the full rights and privileges guaranteed under the Constitution of the U.S. If anyone doubts the necessity for the Pennsylvania legislature to pass SB 96 and HB 505, then they need look no further than the folks currently occupying the White House.  

We are asking Pennsylvania to stand up against those who would commit acts of violence against us for qualities within ourselves which are innate.

I will never forget being a teenager living in Pittsburgh and hearing the news of Matthew Shepard’s beating and subsequent death because he was gay. And I will never forget how it shook me to the core of my being with the realization that I was not safe, that my friends were not safe – that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, gender nonconforming brothers and sisters were not safe – and here 20 years later and we feel even more threatened.

The chair of the House State Government committee continues to block advancement of the PA Fairness Act – which is something we’ve been working on for 15 years and has overwhelming public support.  When our elected leaders do those things, they are sowing the seeds of hatred and are complicit in the violence that is inflicted upon LGBTQ communities.

Too often, when we think of hate crimes, we think of examples like Matthew Shepard’s killers or the Pulse nightclub massacre.  But right here in this building, there are elected officials who today are pushing for laws that restrict access to care for transgender youth in the PA Children’s Health Insurance Program.  Those legislators are sowing seeds of hatred.  

But it is highly likely that I am preaching to the choir.  You’re all here today to support and champion LGBTQ issues, and for that I thank you.  I also want to thank Rep. Dan Frankel for his unwavering support of our community and our issues, the members of the LGBT Equality Caucus and of course, Rep. Brian Sims for his commitment to and representation of our issues. And of course I want to thank Rep. Boyle and Senator Farnese for their sponsorship of this legislation.  Senator Farnese – the only member of the Senate Banking and Insurance committee to vote NO on the CHIP bill once it was amended with the hurtful anti-trans amendment.

But even if I’m preaching to the choir, remember that Equality Pennsylvania calls everyone here to work as hard as you can for as long as it takes for fairness and equality.  We MUST make it clear that Pennsylvania is NOT a place for discrimination or hate.

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