As Pittsburgh Pride Week kicks off, equality is on the minds of many.
Nationwide, an individual can be fired for his or her sexual orientation or gender identification, and there is no federal protection. Pennsylvania is one of 28 states that does not have laws preventing discrimination against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Equality Act aims to change that. It was introduced to the U.S. House and Senate in July of 2015 -- after the Supreme Court decided in favor of marriage equality. The bill would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual orientation and gender identification as prohibited categories of discrimination. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) said it's an important addition to the act.
“Unfortunately without the Equality Act, folks can be fired and that’s the tragic reality of current law,” he said. “We need to pass the equality act for a number of reasons, and especially those that involve the workplace.”
Casey said his office has received letters supporting the Equality Act. One letter was sent by a 7th grader in southeast Pennsylvania, who described his two mothers.
"They are hard-working individuals who provide for my sister and me, and I do not think it’s fair to be fired for who you love," Casey said, paraphrasing the letter.
He said his office also received a letter from the parents of an LGBT child saying the lack of laws protecting their teen makes them nervous.
“So this is the real life of real families in Pennsylvania, and a lot of other states," Casey said. "And they are asking these questions and they are wondering and ... they’re worrying.”
The Equality Act has spent the better part of a year in the Senate and only has one republican supporter.