Odds are, the bill won't pass and that means Tom Terrific gets to have it both ways: appearing to publicly support LGBT rights, without actually seeing the thing pass and getting the base all riled up:
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) announced Tuesday that he was “coming out in support” of a bill that would create nondiscrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In his statement, Corbett claimed that he did not previously realize that the LGBT community was not protected by federal laws:
CORBETT: I’ve had people come and talk to me about how they were discriminated against. The federal government has antidiscrimination laws. I believed they covered it.
Philly.com notes that Corbett served for eight years as the state’s attorney general — the state’s chief law enforcement officer — and that the legislation “has languished in the General Assembly for a decade,” begging the question of just how unaware he was that no LGBT protections existed. During a 2010 gubernatorial debate, he claimed that “we already have the laws on the books” to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, even though his opponent had just explained why the laws were still needed.
Giving him the benefit of the doubt, this is a mistake many others have made. In fact, polls show that as many as 90 percent of the country mistakenly believe that federal law protects LGBT people from workplace discrimination, even though only 21 states protect sexual orientation and only 17 protect gender identity. Just this month, a Pennsylvania Catholic school fired a veteran teacher for marrying his same-sex partner in New Jersey, which state Sen. Daylin Leach (D) notes would have been illegal under the proposed legislation.
Unfortunately, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R), a fervent opponent of LGBT equality who believes that same-sex marriage is “open rebellion against God’s law,” chairs the committee that controls the fate of the bill in the House. Corbett said that he believes it would receive support from “both sides of the aisle” — in addition to a February poll showing 72 percent support for the measure statewide — but that optimism does not address Metcalfe’s obstruction.