Representative Dan Frankel introduced a gay protections bill in the Pennsylvania House yesterday, Frankel announced in a press release.

Frankel's bill would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in the areas of housing, employment, and public accommodations by amending the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

Frankel, a Democrat from Allegheny County, said he has already gathered 78 co-sponsors from both parties.

“This legislation is critical to thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pennsylvanians who are trying to work and have a roof over their heads, and it enjoys substantial support from Pennsylvanians from every corner of the Commonwealth,” Jake Kaskey, policy and outreach coordinator for Equality Advocates Pennsylvania, said in a statement.

Frankel's office said the bill has attracted 9 more co-sponsors than a 2007-08 attempt.

“The growing support for this commonsense bill reflects that most Pennsylvanians already know being gay or transgendered has nothing to do with a person's ability to fix a car or computer, or show up on time to do a good day's work,” Frankel said in his statement.

Thirteen Pennsylvania cities and counties currently include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression protections locally – including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the state's largest cities – but nearly 80% of the state's residents remain unprotected.

If passed, Pennsylvania would join the ranks of twenty other states that already offer such protections.

A rally has been scheduled for March 17 in Harrisburg to promote the legislation.