ACLU of Pennsylvania Endorses Improvements to State's Civil Rights Laws

April 29, 2003 12:00 am

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Statement of Larry Frankel, Legislative Director, ACLU of Pennsylvania


PHILADELPHIA–The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania strongly supports efforts to update Pennsylvania’s civil rights laws to make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. The time has come for Pennsylvania to join the 13 other states that provide equal rights and equal justice to their citizens and taxpayers.

The ACLU believes that all of the people of Pennsylvania have a stake in these proposed changes and deserve to live in a state where everyone is judged on his or her merits. We all benefit when prospective employers and employees choose to come to Pennsylvania because its communities are diverse and tolerant.

Recent controversial remarks made by Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum regarding a Texas Sodomy law now before the Supreme Court demonstrate why this legislation is so important. There is no doubt that we need tools to combat overt and lingering prejudice and Senator Santorum’s extreme disdain for the constitutional right to privacy shows why the struggle for equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people must remain connected to all of the other fights for equality and dignity in this country.

When Senator Santorum questions the right to privacy, he demonstrates his belief that it is okay for the government to intrude into the most personal of issues affecting all of us. Does our Senator think we should go back to making it a crime to sell contraceptives? Does he want to return us to the day when government interfered with a woman and her family’s decision of when and whether to have children? Does Senator Santorum really want to make it a crime for people to engage in “non-traditional” heterosexual activity? Can he imagine no limit on government’s ability to regulate our personal lives?

Most Pennsylvanians and most Americans believe that there should be limits on government’s ability to tell us how to lead our lives. Most Pennsylvanians and most Americans want everyone treated fairly and think that people should not lose their jobs because of prejudice or intolerance.

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