PITTSTON -- A group gathered to recognize International Transgender Day of Visibility and to push for new state legislation Thursday night.
"Right now, the state of Pennsylvania has a right to discriminate against people. Most people don't realize you can still lose your job for being gay, lesbian or transgender,” said Carl Halkyer of Northeast Pennsylvania Rainbow Alliance.
Halkyer and others want state lawmakers to pass a bill, currently in the House and Senate, that would protect gay and transgender Pennsylvanians from discrimination at work, in housing, and in businesses.
"Not really many people are accepting around here. It's kind of like people think one way and a lot of people aren't out, not that I know of. I'm not out at home, so I don't really tell people that I'm trans[gender]," said Evan Ryder of Scranton.
“We're definitely trying to make good things happen in Pennsylvania. I live here. I would like to see our area thrive, and in order to do that we have to get more inclusive,” said Dee Culp of Wilkes-Barre.
Pennsylvania has proposed legislation to protect the LGBT community at a time when other states are passing controversial legislation.
The Mississippi State Senate has approved a 'Religious Liberty' bill, which allows public employees, businesses, and social workers to deny things such as medical treatment, marriage licenses, and adoptions if they disagree with someone's lifestyle based on religious reasons. Proponents of the bill say they're not discriminating against anyone, but rather protecting everyone's religious rights.
Lawmakers in North Carolina passed a new law revoking and banning LGBT protections.
"I think the new legislation is really dangerous, I think that a lot of people's lives could be at stake and basic civil human rights are being violated and it's really unfair,” said Patricia Dickert-Nieves of Scranton.
"Those states are dropping the ball right now, and I think that there's a really great opportunity for Pennsylvania to pick the ball up and pass this, update our human rights act, and essentially put the welcome sign out on the door and start attracting businesses. There are a lot of people who are upset about these bills down south and they're losing money. They're hurting their economy. Let's be better than that,” said Allison VanKuiken of Pennsylvania Competes.