As Trump Rolls Back Protections, Governor Pushes PA To Broaden Fight Against LGBTQ Discrimination

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(Harrisburg) — The Trump administration has made several recent moves to roll back discrimination protections for transgender and gender non-conforming people in housing and healthcare programs.

That has prompted Democratic Governor Tom Wolf to renew his push for broader nondiscrimination laws on the state level.

TOM DOWNING / WITF, FILE PHOTO

The impending changes come after a long debate about whether gender identity is included under a federal ban on sex discrimination under the Affordable Care Act.

The Obama administration said it was, but a lot of litigation followed.

Along with narrowing ACA sex discrimination protections, the Trump administration’s Housing and Urban Development Department wants to allow federally-funded shelters to consider a person’s gender identity in potentially denying them housing.

Lots of states have LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws that would keep these changes from having much of an impact.

Todd Snovel, who heads the state Commission on LGBTQ Affairs, noted that Pennsylvania doesn’t.

“What you will see is the potential for trans and gender-non-conforming identified Pennsylvanians [to be] told that based on the perception of who they are, they will not get treated at certain facilities and they will not be covered by certain insurances,” he said, adding that the “easiest thing for us to do here in Pennsylvania is join every other neighboring state in the northeast and pass comprehensive nondiscrimination legislation.”

A bill to extend the commonwealth’s civil rights protections to LGBTQ people has repeatedly stalled in the legislature, and it’s unclear if the GOP-controlled General Assembly will take it up this session.

The Trump administration is also moving to stop protecting abortion under the banner of sex nondiscrimination.