By Anna Douglas
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is using his executive office powers and calling on the state's Republican-controlled House and Senate to take an exact opposite approach to nondiscrimination protections that lawmakers recently have passed in North Carolina and Mississippi.
In reaction to North Carolina's House Bill 2 and Mississippi's House Bill 1532 -- both laws that exclude gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from state anti-discrimination legal protections -- Wolf, a Democrat, signed two executive orders Thursday extending equal protection under Pennsylvania law to LGBT state employees.
"What happened in North Carolina, and what is going on in other states, should be a call to pass nondiscrimination legislation in Pennsylvania now," Wolf said in a statement.
"I call on the General Assembly to swiftly put legislation on my desk that ensures that people throughout the commonwealth -- regardless of sexual orientation, gender expression or identity -- are treated equally under Pennsylvania law," he said.
Beyond new legal protections for employees of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Wolf also signed an executive order related to nondiscrimination in the "grants and procurement process," according to his office.
Wolf's statement and action come as at least one political group in Pennsylvania this week started a campaign against legislation that's been pending for months in the state to include LGBT as a class protected against discrimination.
Pennsylvania's LGBT advocacy group Equality PA says the socially conservative group Pennsylvania Family Institute is spreading misinformation about the pending Pennsylvania Fairness Act, by "bringing discrimination from North Carolina to Pennsylvania."
The Pennsylvania Family Institute is calling on people to protest the Pennsylvania Fairness Act and claims the proposed legislation is a "bathroom bill" that would violate privacy in restrooms and locker rooms.
Wolf is one of several elected officials nationwide who are taking action or publicly opposing laws such as those in North Carolina and Mississippi. Major businesses and CEOs, including PayPal in Charlotte, also have publicly criticized the exclusion of LGBT people from discrimination protection.
A similar proposal was introduced this week by a state senator from South Carolina.
(c)2016 McClatchy Washington Bureau