Rachel Stevenson was let go two weeks after she was hired as an account executive at a hotel company on the Main Line.
Budget reasons, her boss told her. She declined to name the company, so her account could not be verified, but she said that the day before her firing, she had mentioned her girlfriend, who would later become her wife.
"You don't hire someone for a job and let them go two weeks later for budget reasons," Stevenson, president of LGBT Equality Alliance, based in Phoenixville, said Wednesday. "I can't think of any other reason other than I was being open about who I was at work."
No federal law bans discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Twenty-two states, including New Jersey, and the District of Columbia have laws that do. Pennsylvania is not one of them.
A nondiscrimination bill amending the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity was introduced in the state legislature more than a decade ago. In the meantime, Pennsylvania's towns, cities and boroughs have been passing their own laws to prohibit and give members of the LGBT community a mechanism to report discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.
Since the presidential election, more people have been calling Equality Pennsylvania for advice to bring such an ordinance to their community, said Ted Martin, the LGBT rights group's executive director.
"People are feeling very energized and wanting to do something in their community that shows ... that they're welcoming and can work together," Martin said.
At least 38 municipalities among the state's 2,561 have ordinances banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or both, mostly in places controlled by Democrats, according to Equality Pennsylvania.
Included on the list are large cities, such as Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Pittsburgh; more populous places, like Upper Merion Township, Montgomery County, and Haverford Township, Delaware County, and some smaller boroughs, such as Doylestown, Bucks County.
Martin said that when he talks to state senators and representatives about passing a statewide law, he points to the communities in and around their districts that have passed laws locally.
"It's a very slow, ridiculous way of doing things," he said. "But in many cases, it is the option we have."
He said he knows of at least five communities across the state that are considering enacting ordinances. Locally, officials in Phoenixville have been discussing an antidiscrimination ordinance since February, and Kennett Square since last month. Both of the Chester County towns plan to vote on them after hearings next month.
Municipal antidiscrimination laws create human relations commissions charged with educating the community and helping to mediate complaints. In talking to other municipal officials, Phoenixville leaders found mediation resolves most cases, they said.
The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission received more than 3,000 complaints of discrimination based on race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin and disability in fiscal year 2016.
Residents who have opposed municipal antidiscrimination ordinances have said at public meetings that current laws are adequate and that LGBT people are seeking special privileges.
They also have argued that such an ordinance would lead to a flurry of frivolous complaints and cost businesses legal fees and infringe on religious freedoms.
"That's not what it does," said Catherine Doherty, a council member in Phoenixville, which has a population of 16,500. "The people that spoke against it, some of them didn't actually understand it. It's a lot about educating people."
Officials in Kennett Square used the decade-old antidiscrimination ordinance in West Chester as a model, said Wayne Braffman, a Kennett Square council member who backs an ordinance for the borough of 6,100.
"The notion there is full coverage under existing law just is not true," he said.
Officials have received some support from residents, some of whom have planted the "Hate Has No Home Here" signs in their yards as others have done around the country, he said.
"That's not a statement of fact. That's an aspiration. That's a goal for our community," Braffman said. "Passage of this ordinance moves us one step closer in achieving that."