Could bathroom battle be brewing in PA?

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HARRISBURG, PA — Two Pennsylvania House Democrats,  Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, and Brian Sims, D-Phila., today announced a plan to try and move their nondiscrimination bill out of the State Government Committee because the chairman, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, hasn’t held a hearing on it .

Frankel is lead House sponsor of the proposed Pennsylvania Fairness Act. The legislation would update Pennsylvania’s current nondiscrimination law.  Frankel says the aim of the bill is to ensure that all residents regardless of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, sex, national origin, disability or sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, can participate in and contribute to the state’s economy.

“Most Pennsylvanians know being gay or transgender has nothing to do with someone’s ability to fix a car or a computer, for example,” said Frankel. “And thanks to the coverage of anti-LGBT bills in Indiana and North Carolina, Pennsylvanians are learning that anti-LGBT laws cause backlash to a state’s economy and that the bathroom panic that opponents try to whip up is made-up nonsense.”

Frankel and Sims have filed a discharge petition, which allows a simple majority of the House to free a bill from a committee where it has been stalled. They say they can call for the vote as soon as Wednesday.

Metcalfe says there have been no requests to hold a hearing on the bill. Sparring about the bill has only occurred in the press to this point. Metcalfe also says the timing of this announcement is curious, pointing out that the bill did not make it out of committee during the four years state Democrats held the majority in the House.

On the bill itself, Metcalfe says the language of the bill would open public restrooms to whatever people claim as their gender identity. “I believe it is a dangerous policy that would put women and girls at risk by men who could exploit it for access. It violates a right to privacy every citizen should have. It goes against the moral fiber of most Americans.”

“This kind of willful resistance – refusing even to hold a hearing on a bill with wide, bipartisan support – is exactly what people don’t like about Harrisburg and Washington, D.C.,” said Sims, the state’s first openly LGBT person elected to the legislature. “People are tired of Harrisburg being a place where good ideas go to die.