May. 05, 2023

Discrimination is wrong. It always has been and always will be. 

It is also wrong to try to redefine freedom under the umbrella of “discrimination.” 

Yet that would be the result in our Commonwealth if House Bill 300, the so-called “Fairness Act,” is enacted into law. 

This bill is not about fairness. It’s not even about protecting LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination – those protections are already well-established in both state and federal laws. 

This bill, as one Philadelphia state senator said, is about “redefining freedom.” At a rally in support of House Bill 300, Sen. Nikil Saval said, “I do feel that what we are doing here and what my colleagues are doing and all of us are doing together is redefining what freedom is. Freedom is about being able to work where you work, be called by the pronouns that are yours, by the names that are yours because of who you are. And we are reclaiming that definition of freedom.”

But once again, he and other supporters of House Bill 300 are not telling you the whole story. Let’s look at what it REALLY means to “redefine freedom.”

I recently talked with a woman who served for over a decade as a drug and alcohol counselor, most recently in the city of Philadelphia. She served everyone, but her employer fired her just this year, citing a Philadelphia ordinance on public accommodations, just like those outlined in House Bill 300. 

This woman counseled clients on drug and alcohol issues regardless of their gender identity. So, what was the firing offense?

After she began counseling a new client, a male who identified as a woman, she let her employer know that she simply avoids using sex-based pronouns because of her religious beliefs. After all, it’s easy to simply say “you” in one-on-one conversation. 

She wanted to let her employer know they could also accommodate her by assigning clients to a counselor who embraces using opposite sex pronouns if they thought that better than her approach of using neutral pronouns.  

Her employer, instead of thanking her and finding a reasonable approach that protected everyone, fired her a day or so later, saying the Philadelphia public accommodation ordinance “will prevail over a religious objection” and demanded she use opposite-sex pronouns. 

All she did was ask for reasonable accommodation, and she lost her job. 

This is what the redefined “freedom” looks like: Compelled speech.

What does redefined freedom look like in our schools? It’s biological males competing on our female teams. It opens up locker rooms and restrooms to anyone, whatever gender you want to be under the accommodation part of the Human Services Code. That includes our pools, shelters and even faith-based nonprofits. 

What does redefined freedom look like in our hospitals? It’s forcing doctors to perform sex change operations on minors whether the doctors want to or not. 

How about churches and houses of worship? Under this bill a church would be subject to litigation if someone did not get the job they wanted regardless of their religious convictions. 

Lawmakers are leaders and it is our job to work together for the betterment of the Commonwealth, to support our citizens regardless of age, race, gender, sexual identity, etc. Instead of working together to come up with a proposal that values everyone, House Democrats have pushed this unreasonable proposal that is bad for our Commonwealth, our communities and our citizens.

I, for one, would like to stick with the freedoms our founding fathers drafted in our Constitution, versus this extreme redefinition of “freedom.” Freedom, Liberty, Justice, Free Speech and Religious Freedom for all. 

Representative Clint Owlett
68th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Patricia Hippler
717.772.9846 /