Pennsylvania governor, Tom Wolf, recently signed an executive order regarding all future grants and contracts with third parties and government services and workers under his jurisdiction. The order simply says that Pennsylvania will view any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation by its business partners to be a problem and could bring such contracts under question or review.
The governor has been in office for well over a year and indicated his frustration with the state legislature’s lack of addressing discrimination issues. Currently, Pennsylvania is the only state where it is legal to fire a person for sexual orientation. Add that to those few Southern states recently passing or considering religious protection legislation and Wolf’s decision may be equal parts frustration and PR savvy.
Though many believe his executive order has no teeth, PR is a perception play. If the people believe he’s doing something they view as positive, then it’s a positive move, whether or not it could ever be enforced. Because here’s the rub, or at least one of them, how could that kind of discrimination be determined? No one includes a question on applications or insurance forms, etc. about sexual orientation, just as they don’t include several other questions that could be used for discrimination purposes.
And if somehow a system could be discovered, would that mean some kind of affirmative action for those in the LGBT community. Since most estimates are that community is roughly 2-3% of the population, would that lead to a shortage of such workers, ensuring them a better deal and thus creating a discrimination against those who are not LGBT?
For those who believe these issues are solved by legislation, look at history. Yes, it helps, but it is usually only a small step in a long process. Many have tried to legislate thoughts, beliefs, and opinions. It’s a slow process, taking decades to accomplish. You can, however, take the small steps forward, make changes in policies you have control over and move forward. For that Gov. Tom Wolf, should be commended. Whether you agree with his endgame or not, it is a brave thing to step outside the current practice and make a change.