“I’ve had people come and talk to me about how they were discriminated against,” the Republican told the Philadelphia Inquirer as he discussed House Bill 300. “The federal government has anti-discrimination laws. I believed they covered it.”
Gay state Rep. Mike Fleck (R-Huntingdon) is among the 118 state lawmakers who have co-sponsored HB 300 or an identical measure in the Pennsylvania Senate.
“I’m excited that Gov. Corbett is on board,” Fleck told the Washington Blade on Wednesday. “Whether people agree or disagree on sexual orientation, the vast majority feel it’s wrong to discriminate.”
Ted Martin, executive director of Equality Pennsylvania, added Corbett “showed leadership” with his announcement.
“His support for this bill underscores that people of Pennsylvania understand that while we may not all have the same views and beliefs, we all deserve to be able to earn a living to support ourselves, to support our families and to contribute to society,” said Martin in a statement.
Philadelphia and 32 other Pennsylvania municipalities have adopted anti-discrimination laws that include both sexual orientation and gender identity.
Neighboring Delaware and New Jersey are among the 17 states along with D.C. and Puerto Rico that have added LGBT-specific language to their statewide statutes. New York and Maryland’s anti-discrimination laws only include sexual orientation.
A Susquehanna Polling and Research survey in May found 72 percent of Pennsylvanians back the anti-LGBT discrimination bills.
State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) who chairs the House State Government Committee remains opposed to HB 300. Corbett told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he does not know how he would overcome the conservative Republican’s stance against the measure.
The governor also said during the interview that his position against marriage rights for same-sex couples “hasn’t changed.”
The American Civil Liberties Union in July filed a lawsuit against Pennsylvania’s statutory gay nuptials ban on behalf of 11 same-sex couples and a widow. Corbett subsequently announced his administration would defend the same-sex marriage ban in court.
The governor in October sparked outrage among LGBT rights advocates when he compared same-sex marriage to incest during an interview with a Harrisburg television station. Corbett subsequently apologized for his comments.