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Lacking Protections, Penn. Establishes Nation's First LGBTQ Commission

Gov. Tom Wolf signs the executive order establishing the LGBTQ Commission in Pennsylvania

Governor Tom Wolf makes a bold move to protect LGBTQ residents in a state with nearly zero formal protections.

Pennsylvania's Democratic governor Tom Wolf created the Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs through an executive order on Monday, making it the first LGBTQ commission in the country.

"The creation of the commission on LGBTQ Affairs is one step of many we have taken to ensure obstacles are removed for anyone who is facing an unfair disadvantage based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression," Wolf said in a press release. "It's a step we took together with our stakeholder and advocacy groups and one that those involved asked for -- a commission to help coordinate and drive statewide equality efforts."

The commission will be led by executive director Todd Snovel, whose resume includes serving as the assistant dean for engagement and inclusion at Lebanon Valley College, where he teaches courses on gender and sexuality.

The commission, comprised of 40 members serving two-year terms, will advise the governor on policy pertaining to the LGBTQ community in areas like housing, employment, health, and education, and will work with existing departments in those areas.

Pennsylvania lacks explicit protections against discrimination for LGBTQ adoptive parents, against discrimination in credit and lending, and against hate crimes, according to LGBT Map.

Due to such gaps in protections, Wolf called the announcement "timely" and said that the establishment of the LGBTQ commission was not "the end of their efforts."

"When I became governor, we saw that change was needed and we made it happen," Wolf said of his announcement. "Better yet, we are still making it happen and will do so until every Pennsylvanian can live, work, love, and thrive in our state with an assuredness of support and safety."

A full list of members can be found in the press release, and the terms of the commission are outlined in the executive order.

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