Annual LGBT Rights Conference Opens in Philadelphia
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By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Equality Forum’s “Global LGBT Summit” begins today in Philadelphia.
Even though there have been huge steps forward in gay civil rights, there’s lots of work ahead, especially in Pennsylvania.
As of this month, nine states have legalized same-sex marriage, and six — including New Jersey and Delaware — have approved civil unions.
And this year the US Supreme Court could rule on whether there is a Constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry.
But even as the American public becomes more accepting of the LGBT community, Pennsylvania has been slow to make a move when it comes to same-sex marriage or to expand LGBT civil rights.
“Pennsylvania is in the league in terms of gay rights with Alabama and Mississippi,” says Malcolm Lazin, founder of Equality Forum. “We have no hate crime protection, we have no workplace protection, we have no civil unions, and of course we have no same-sex marriage.”
Lazin notes that Philadelphia has been supportive of the LGBT community. City Council recently passed a bill giving tax incentives to employers who expand health care coverage to include same-sex couples.
But, he adds, a lot more needs to be done to protect LGBTs, especially in the workplace.
“Right now in Pennsylvania you can be fired not for any conduct, but purely because you’re gay,” says Lazin. “And you have no rights — zero!”
Today through May 5th, the Equality Forum is hosting dozens of free panels and workshops on LGBT issues. There are several parties, including the International Equality Awards dinner, which will recognize retired Congressman Barney Frank and Cuban activist Mariela Castro.
For more information and a list of events go to equalityforum.com.