This was probably not the headline any Pennsylvanian was expecting to read this morning: Republican Governor Tom Corbett “coming out in support” of a state bill banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, and public accommodations. His words, not mine. No pun intended?
Corbett told the Philadelphia Inquirer in an interview Tuesday the law was necessary in Pennsylvannia, because his constituents were not already protected. “The federal government has antidiscrimination laws. I believed they covered it.”
Of course, the federal government would cover “it,” if only the House would take up the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed by the Senate last month with the support of every Democratic Senator and 10 Republicans.
Considering Speaker Boehner is among those against the bill, don’t expect that to happen any time soon.
In the meantime, it’s up to the states to ban such discrimination on the local level. 23 states right now have some anti-discrimination law covering sexual orientation and gender identity. Pennsylvania’s law against such discrimination is currently held up in both the state House and Senate.
Corbett’s support could be the push the state legislators need to get the bill passed, especially considering the last headline involving Corbett and gay rights was: “GOP Governor, Compares Gay Marriage to Incest.”
That came just months after the Governor told a local CBS anchor that same-sex marriage was the equivalent of marriage between “brothers and sisters.” Corbett apparently thought that that was a “better analogy” than the one made by Pennsylvania state attorneys in a court filing comparing gays wanting to get married to 12-year-olds wanting to get married. Oh boy.
It didn’t take long though for Corbett to realize his analogy wasn’t any better than the previous one. He issued both a written and video statement insisting his “words were not intended to offend anyone.”
It’s safe to say, whenever you have to say you hope you didn’t offend anyone, you usually did. And in a state that supports same-sex marriage (by 54%), it’s safe to say that was the case in Pennsylvania.
On the issue of same-sex marriage, Corbett reiterated to the Inquirer this week that despite his latest position against discrimination in the workplace, his position against same-sex marriage “hasn’t changed.”
It should be noted that Corbett just happens to be up for reelection next year, much to the dismay of a majority of Pennsylvanians who don’t think he should run, according to a poll out today. So could this be just a move to the center to stop the bleeding in the polls? Maybe.
Though political cynicism aside, while Corbett won’t be joining the American delegation to Russia anytime soon, this is a step in the right direction for Corbett and Pennsylvania