Central PA's LGBT News Source
George Scott won the May 15 Primary election as a Democratic candidate for the 10th Congressional District. He will run against incumbent Congressman Scott Perry in the Nov. 6 election.
Pennsylvania's 10th Congressional District is newly located in the south-central region of the state. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania redrew the district in 2018 after ruling the previous map unconstitutional, adding State College while removing some Democratic-leaning areas and re-designating it the 12th district. The new tenth district boundaries encompass the cities of Harrisburg and York in the south-central part of the state.
While running, Scott completed a questionnaire by the Capital Region Stonewall Democrats. Below are the questions and Scott’s responses.
(1) Why are you seeking an endorsement from the Capital Region Stonewall Democrats?
I am seeking an endorsement from the Capital Region Stonewall Democrats in order to demonstrate to the voters of the 10th District that I am committed to protecting the rights of all people, including the LGBTQ community. During my 20 years of service as an active duty U.S. Army officer, I had the honor of serving alongside a diverse collection of individuals, to include LGBTQ servicemembers. I saw firsthand the strength that diversity brings, especially when all people are treated with dignity and respect. That outlook grew out of an experience I had in the late 1980s, when a fellow officer who I had served with in Korea shared with me that he was gay. He had served with distinction, but told me that many of those who had given him high marks would not have done so had they known his sexual orientation. That discussion opened my eyes to the fear and discrimination that he had experienced as a gay man. It also led me to examine my own attitudes and behaviors and look for opportunities to treat gay servicemembers with dignity and respect, even though the military’s policies called for expulsion of those personnel who revealed their sexual orientation.
(2) Pennsylvania notably does not provide non-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ community. Senate Bill 613 and House Bill 140 have been introduced in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. These bills amend the Human Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation based off of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. These bills prohibit discrimination in housing, employment and Last legislative session, the General Assembly attempted to move these previous versions of these bills by introducing separate bills amending the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
Would you sponsor or sign on as a cosponsor of a bill that would add sex, sexual orientation and gender identity or expression to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act?
Yes. While this question refers specifically to state-level legislation, I believe existing civil rights legislation at the federal level should be interpreted to protect members of the LGBTQ community. In the event that existing legislation needs to be amended at the federal level in order to achieve this effect, I would be proud to sponsor, co-sponsor, and vote in favor of such amendments as a member of Congress.
(3) What steps you would take as an elected official to help ensure passage of non-discrimination legislation?
In Congress, I would sponsor, co-sponsor, and vote in favor of non-discrimination legislation in order to ensure its passage. However, we cannot simply change laws: we must change hearts, and we must change minds. My faith teaches me that all people are created equal and are worthy of love and respect. Whether during a committee hearing or while attending a grassroots event, I will work to combat discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community by vigorously advocating on their behalf in both public and private.
(4) Would you support a move to separate the employment, housing and public accommodations protections into separate bills if you knew that one or more of those protections would not become law? For example, a bill to prohibit discrimination in employment would be signed into law while housing and public accommodation discrimination would not be prohibited.
I support non-discrimination protections in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations because I unequivocally support full legal and social equality for all members of the LGBTQ community. I would not want to see these protections separated into separate bills if a bill that contained all of them had enough support to become law.
(5) In light of recent court cases affecting the LGBTQ community, and in particular, the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which revolves around a bakery that refused to sell a custom wedding cake to a same-sex couple. The bakery’s owner, Jack Phillips, seeks an exemption from Colorado’s civil-rights law, which prohibits public businesses from discriminating based on sexual orientation. He argues that this is a narrow case about whether the government can “compel artists to create expression that violates their sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage.”
The court will rule on this case this spring. Why will the ruling be important to you and how will you advocate on behalf of the LGBTQ community in light of this case?
This ruling is important because of the precedent it will set, and the environment it will create in regards to discrimination. Simply put, a ruling that favors the cakeshop will justify discrimination wrapped in a religious cloak. As a pastor who supports the rights of all people, I recognize that such a ruling would not only harm the LGBTQ community, but it would also damage the movement of faith communities towards recognizing the intrinsic value of all human life, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.
I will lend my voice to the public debate, pointing out that discrimination of this type is simply a modern-day extension of the same prejudices that the civil rights movement overcame in the 1960s. Furthermore, in the event that the Supreme Court rules against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, I would support legislation to create the necessary civil rights protections at the federal level.
(6) The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) conducted a survey that found that 82% of LGBTQ students had a problem with bullying about sexual orientation and 64% felt unsafe at school due to bullying about their sexual orientation. As a result of bullying, LGBTQ youth miss more than five times as much school as other students. Nearly 30% of LGBTQ youth drop out of school as a result of bullying. LGBTQ youth are two to three times more likely to commit suicide than other youth. Given the significant presence of bullying within the LGBTQ community, what concrete steps would you suggest that could reduce the number of bullying incidents among the LGBTQ community?
In my view, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) should interpret Title IX in a manner that extends non-discrimination protections to members of the LGBTQ community in all educational institutions that receive federal funds. While the OCR issued guidelines to this effect during the Obama administration, the Trump administration rescinded those guidelines in 2017. Accordingly, I support passing legislation in order to add language to Title IX that explicitly extends non-discrimination protections to include discrimination that occurs on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. This would legally obligate educational institutions that receive federal funding to investigate and remedy instances of bullying and harassment against members of the LGBTQ community.
Editor's Note: This story is intended as information only and is not an endorsement. It is published as a service to readers who live within Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District. Central Voice’s coverage area is Dauphin, Cumberland, York, and Lancaster counties.