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It's No Longer Crime To Be Gay In Pennsylvania After Gov. Wolf Signs Legislation Decriminalizing Homosexuality

UPPER DARBY, Pa. (CBS) -- It is no longer a crime to be gay in Pennsylvania. Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation earlier this month that decriminalized homosexuality in the state. It was a law that some lawmakers didn't even know was on the books.

"Upper Darby found an Upper Darby way to handle an Upper Darby problem," LGBTQ activist Damien Warsavage said.

But that problem stretched much farther than Delco. Written into the state criminal code was a law that criminalized being gay, and then in the 1980s, Upper Darby included a statute of its own.

"There was an actual ordinance written into Upper Darby code that basically outlawed any kind of LGBTQ expression through commercialized means," Warsavage said.

Warsavage sits on the Upper Darby School Board and led the charge to remove homosexuality from the state's and Upper Darby's crime code.

After two years of work, the state legislature voted unanimously to remove the anti-gay statute from state law.

State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta is a sponsor of the bill to repeal the statute. The Democrat is the first openly gay, Black man to be elected to the statehouse.

"Being who you are, loving who you love is not a criminal offense and certainly should not be on our books," Kenyatta said.

Considering this law was repealed unanimously in a Republican-dominant legislature, some say there's momentum from this to apply to other areas of the law.

"I think it really provides an opportunity for us to take the next step for true equality here in Pennsylvania for our LGBTQ friends, family and neighbors," Republican Rep. Todd Stephens said.

Stephens was the prime sponsor to repeal the statute. Among the other laws he says need to be looked at, are fairness in housing, employment and public accommodations like hotels.

As for Warsavage, he says additional protections can't come soon enough.

"Our humanity as people of color or people in the LGBTQ community really isn't up for debate," Warsavage said. "It's just not."

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