In the final stretch in the 2022 midterm election, Pennsylvania is one of the most hotly contested states, and the outcome will have significant effect on LGBTQ people there. Currently, Pennsylvania is the only state in the Northeast without comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for sexual orientation and/or gender identity. LGBTQ+ individuals can be discriminated against across Pennsylvania in employment, housing, credit issuance, education, and public accommodations.
Pennsylvania candidates for U.S. Senate are John Fetterman (D) and Mehmet Oz (R), and the candidates for governor are Doug Mastriano (R) and Josh Shapiro (D).
Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor, and Oz, former talk show host and surgeon in New York, are running to succeed incumbent Senator Pat Toomey (R) who is not seeking re-election. The only debate in this race is scheduled for October 25 at WHTM-TV in Harrisburg. Shapiro is Pennsylvania’s attorney general, and Mastriano is a state senator; incumbent Governor Tom Wolf (D) is term-limited.
GLAAD urges the media to include LGBTQ people and issues in their coverage of the general election campaign, and ask the candidates about their public statements, policies and proposals for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians, including in debates. Research on the candidates’ policies and statements about abortion access is also included. Abortion is an issue which impacts LGBTQ people disproportionately. Lesbians were more likely to have experienced an unwanted pregnancy (at 39%) than both their straight (27%) and bisexual (29%) peers.
GLAAD’s Guide to the Issues for the 2022 Election is here.
GLAAD has released videos in Pennsylvania to explain the stakes of this year’s election for marriage equality. LGBTQ families are urging voters to speak up with their votes for all families. VIEW/EMBED here.
Statement from Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD:
“LGBTQ voters and our allies in Pennsylvania have the power to determine whether basic human rights will be secured, including the right to private healthcare decisions, to marry who we love, and the right to have our votes counted. It’s critical that voters have the information they need to make decisions for themselves and their families. Media must ask Pennsylvania’s candidates about these records and hold them accountable to the truth and to the citizens they serve. This research will inform LGBTQ and ally voters who have so much at stake this election year.”
Media covering the campaign should note the candidates’ LGBTQ records and ask the candidates about them. The records include:
Mehmet Oz, Republican Candidate for U.S. Senate (above, left)
- Aired a debate on the dangerous and ineffective practice “reparative therapy” on his syndicated talk show The Dr. Oz Show, and positioned a representative of the discredited National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) as an “expert” on the subject. GLAAD, GLSEN, and PFLAG National all condemned the episode, and called on Oz to join the entire medical community against the practice, and to tell his viewers that he does not support the idea that their sexual orientation should be “repaired.” Oz wrote a blog post that he agreed with established medical consensus against the practice which is illegal in 22 states, but did not update talk show viewers.
- Falsely and without evidence claimed that “80 to 85% of kids who say they are transgender will naturally, if they’re not influenced, go back to their biological gender [sic].”
- Praised Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ extreme “don’t say gay or trans” law that censors classroom speech and ostracizes LGBTQ+ youth. Appearing on a recent podcast, Oz also falsely claimed that embracing transgender children for who they are has no impact on suicide rates. In fact, according to the Trevor Project, “Transgender and nonbinary youth who reported having pronouns respected by all or most people in their lives attempted suicide at half the rate of those who did not have their pronouns respected.”
- Believes transgender female athletes shouldn’t be able to compete on women’s sports teams, and falsely and baselessly claimed that trans athletes are taking away the advances in sports achieved by feminists.
- He praised and defended author J.K. Rowling as “brave” for her inaccurate and harmful transphobic comments about the trans community.
- Indicated in July that he supports marriage equality.
- Praised the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v Wade. Campaign website says he is 100% pro-life. At a May tele-town hall, said he believed “life starts at conception,” and that “why do you care what age the hearts starts beating at? It’s, you know, it’s still murder, if you were to terminate a child whether their heart’s beating or not.” (Oz’s medical training is as a cardiothoracic surgeon.) In September, Oz claimed to object to criminal prosecution of patients who have abortions and healthcare providers who provide them.
John Fetterman, Democratic Candidate for U.S. Senate (above, right)
- Tweeted support for Pennsylvania’s ban on the discredited and ineffective practice known as conversion therapy: “I’d proudly be the 51st vote in the Senate to ban it nationwide.”
- In 2013, as Mayor of Braddock, Fetterman officiated the first same-sex wedding in Allegheny County despite a state law that prohibited it, and was threatened with arrest by former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett.
- As Lieutenant Governor, he ordered the display of Pride flags from the balcony of his office at the State Capitol in Harrisburg, along with the Trans Pride Flag during Transgender Day of Remembrance. Republican lawmakers later passed legislation banning this practice and removed the flags.
- Fought for state and local laws to prohibit anti-LGBTQ discrimination; hosted a same-sex wedding when a wedding venue refused to do so. Officiated more than two dozen ceremonies before the ban on marriage equality was lifted.
- Urged legislators to pass protections for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians
- Joined with lieutenant governors across the country to urge the lifting of restrictions on LGBTQ+ men from giving blood.
- Fought for equality for LGBTQ+ couples in the provision of adoption services.
- Praised the nomination of Dr. Rachel Levine, as the Assistant U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate. Levine previously served as Pennsylvania’s Health Secretary.
- Pledged to vote in favor of The Equality Act if elected to the Senate.
- Supports abortion rights, saying whether to have an abortion is a decision “between a woman and a real doctor.” Said if elected to the Senate his first actions would be to eliminate the filibuster and codify the right to abortion in federal law.
Doug Mastriano, Republican Candidate for Governor (above, right)
Supported HB2813, a “Don’t Say Gay” bill that bans discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity, baselessly claiming: “Madness has set in our state here. We need to restore order and restore common sense.” Gov. Tom Wolf said he would veto the bill if the legislature passes it.
Criticized Gov. Wolf’s executive order banning so-called conversion therapy while baselessly claiming “they have graphic pornographic books laid out in elementary schools, teachers…or some who are out of control there and they’re using their platform to confuse kids on gender.”
Criticized Gov. Wolf’s executive order banning so-called conversion therapy while baselessly claiming “they have graphic pornographic books laid out in elementary schools, teachers…or some who are out of control there and they’re using their platform to confuse kids on gender.” Conversion therapy has been denounced by every major medical organization in the United States.
Wrote a master’s thesis that warned of a “left-wing ‘Hitlerian putsch’” that was caused by “the depredations of the country’s morally debauched civilian leaders.” According to The Washington Post his paper shows “disgust for anyone who doesn’t hold his view that homosexuality is a form of ‘aberrant sexual conduct.’”
- Said that same-sex couples should not be allowed to adopt children.
- Vowed that as governor, he will issue an executive order “on day one” in office to ban transgender kids from competing in school sports on the teams consistent with their gender identity, and suggested that he would impose a similar discriminatory restriction when it comes to bathroom access in schools.
- Sponsored legislation in 2019 banning abortions at six weeks into pregnancy, and said women who broke the law should be charged with murder.
- Voted for a bill to ban instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in elementary classroom, and tweeted that LGBTQ-inclusive education is “grooming,” repeating homophobic right-wing rhetoric.
Josh Shapiro, Democratic Candidate for Governor (above, left)
- As Attorney General, declared, “The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General’s Civil Rights Enforcement Section is committed to safeguarding the fundamental liberties of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning individuals (LGBTQ+), and safeguarding their right to equal protection under the law.”
- Co-led a coalition of Attorneys General to resist the Trump administration’s effort to eliminate the Department of Health and Human Services explicit protections for “age, disability, sex, race, color, national origin, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation.” The proposed change would allow federal grant recipients to discriminate against LGBTQ families in maternal and child health grants, federally-assisted health training programs, and Head Start programs, among others.
- Called for an expansion of the state’s hate crime laws to cover attacks on LGBTQ individuals, and he supports banning conversion therapy for minors.
- Offered marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2013 when he was chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, and said the county was ready to defend the stance in court.
- Tweeted support for transgender students playing school sports: “This bill is nothing more than cruel, designed to discriminate against transgender youth who just want to play sports like their peers. Our @GovernorTomWolf will veto this & defend our LGBTQ+ community—but *this* is the GOP’s vision for Pennsylvania.”
- Pennsylvania is the only state in the Northeast without comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for sexual orientation and/or gender identity. LGBTQ+ individuals can be discriminated against across Pennsylvania in employment, housing, credit issuance, education, and public accommodations.
- Pennsylvania has a LGBTQ population of 490,000 people age 13 and up according to Movement Advancement Project.
- 27% of LGBTQ adults in Pennsylvania are raising children, according to a Gallup/Williams Institute poll.
- Pennsylvania law includes state religious exemptions that permit people, churches, non-profit organizations, and sometimes corporations to seek exemptions from state laws based on religious beliefs, according to the Movement Advancement Project.
- Out Leadership ranked the state 23rd in its 4th annual LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index, a ranking from highest to lowest of all 50 states as it relates to legal, political, emotional support, health, business and other parameters for queer Americans.
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