view the report

The Interbranch Commission implements recommendations from the Report of The Pennsylvania Supreme Court Committee on Racial, and Gender Bias in The Justice System. View the Report

Members

  • Lee Carpenter, Esquire
  • Judge Kathryn Mary Hens-Greco
  • Lisa M. Herbert, Esquire
  • Lucille Marsh, Esquire
  • Donald MacLeod, MSW
  • Gerri Sperling, Esquire
  • Nora Winkelman, Esquire
  • Judge Victor P. Stabile
  • Morgan Bonekovic, Esquire

 

Reports

LGBTQ Rights Committee

Chaired by Donald MacLeod, the LGBTQ Rights Committee works to end discrimination against LGBTQ Pennsylvanians in our courts and throughout the Commonwealth. The Committee’s current initiatives include:

  • extending state discrimination protections to LGBTQ Pennsylvanians;
  • conducting training sessions for judges and attorneys on LGBTQ legal issues; and
  • training judges and staff in the juvenile delinquency and dependency system regarding the treatment of LGBTQ youth.

Anti-Discrimination Legislation: LGBTQ Pennsylvanians have seen progress in expansion of their legal rights in recent years. In 2014, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Whitewood v. Wolf lifted Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage. The United States Supreme Court extended this right to all Americans in 2015 when it decided the landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodges. Subsequently, in June 2020, the Supreme Court ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, LGBTQ Pennsylvanians still lack legal protections against discrimination in many facets of their daily lives, including housing, education, and public accommodation contexts. The Committee is currently working to draft letters in support of legislation that would amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to extend protection in those areas to LGBTQ Pennsylvanians.

Education and Training: The Committee worked with Lambda Legal and several local bar associations to conduct training sessions on addressing anti-LGBTQ bias in jury selection.

LGBTQ Youth: The Committee has been working with Lambda Legal’s Youth in Out-of-Home-Care Project to address areas where LGBTQ youth face discrimination within the court system. As Pennsylvania’s statutory and regulatory definitions of gender do not currently include gender identity, the Committee is considering ways to collaborate with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Juvenile Justice Services to craft a policy specific to transgender youth and their care. The Committee, along with Lambda Legal and Equality PA, are also working to broaden Pennsylvania’s regulations defining gender to include gender identity. Additionally, due to reports of bias against LGBTQ foster parents, the Committee has been considering possible avenues for statewide reform to prohibit anti-LGBTQ discrimination by private organizations that enter into contractual relationships with state courts and other agencies.

Past initiatives of the Committee include:

  • proposing changes to Pennsylvania’s Adoption Act, establishing a second-parent adoption procedure;
  • advocating for legislation to allow for same-sex marriage; and
  • other initiatives.