The governor needs to lead his party
Gov. Tom Corbett took a major stride toward the political center last week when he endorsed state bills that would ban discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on sexual orientation or identity.
Now he needs to ensure that he doesn't make that journey alone by working diligently to bring along those legislators who want to maintain the status quo.
The issue is distinct from the federal lawsuit against the commonwealth for its outlawing gay marriage, in which Mr. Corbett is a defendant.
State and federal laws do not specifically ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. Mr. Corbett said last week that he had believed federal law proscribed such discrimination.
Pennsylvania is the only Northeastern state not to have such a law. All of the others are among 23 nationwide with specific statutes banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity. Statewide, 33 municipal governments have ordinances banning that discrimination, and 23 Fortune 500 companies based in Pennsylvania have policies against it.
Yet there remains significant opposition in the Legislature to barring the discrimination. Current bills to do so are just the latest; similar legislation has been introduced in every session for more than a decade. Pending bills in both chambers, introduced by Democratic Rep. Dan Frankel of Allegheny County and Republican Sen. Pat Browne of Lehigh County, have significant bipartisan support. Yet neither bill has moved from its committee.
Mr. Corbett said he did not know how the legislation could overcome opposition from his right flank in the House.
The governor correctly has read the will of the people in this case. He needs to do more than simply state his position, however. To actually bar discrimination he opposes, the governor must do all that he can to get the bills to his desk for his signature, which requires leading his party.