Could Lower Merion’s Decision on Anti-Discrimination Ordinance Occur in Tredyffrin?

Who said one person could not make a difference?

I have been following the  journey of University of Penn senior Jason Goodman.  Goodman, a resident of Lower Merion and founder of ‘Equality Lower Merion’ has spent the last year advocating for an anti-discrimination law in Lower Merion to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations.

 Last night, the Board of Commissioners of Lower Merion Township made history.  They voted unanimously to approve an ordinance to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals from discrimination.  Passing this ordinance, they became the 18th municipality in Pennsylvania to enact similar legislation.

Currently, the Pennsylvania state law bans discrimination for list of protected classes, including race, ethnicity, religion, age, class, gender and others, but does not include any protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.  Lower Merion will add members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LBGT) community to the protected class with this ordinance.

Prior to the passing of the anti-discrimination ordinance, members of the LBGT communities could be refused service at restaurants, fired from jobs or evicted from their homes, simply based on their sexual orientation and would have no legal recourse under state or federal law.  Thanks in no small part to Goodman’s efforts that will no longer be the case in Lower Merion Township with the passage of this ordinance. 

In addition to the ordinance, Lower Merion Commissioners created a 7-member Human Relations Commission that will receive and investigate complaints and has the authority to impose penalties on violators, including fines up to $10,000. 

I was curious which other Pennsylvania municipalities had passed a similar ordinance.  A friend of mine, Joanne Tosti-Vasey is president of PA NOW (National Organization for Women) was able to provide me with the following list of municipalities with similar anti-discrimination laws on the books. According to Joanne, Lancaster had a similar ordinance but apparently the law has been rescinded and the office will be completely shut down by the end of next week.  Interesting. I think that Philadelphia may have been the first municipality in the state to pass this type of legislation and that was in the 1980.

  1. Allentown
  2. Allegheny Co.
  3. Doylestown
  4. Easton
  5. Erie
  6. Harrisburg
  7. Hatboro
  8. Lansdowne
  9. New Hope
  10. Philadelphia
  11. Pittsburgh
  12. Reading
  13. Scranton
  14. State College
  15. Swarthmore
  16. West Chester
  17. York

So Community Matters readers, what do you think?  Do you think that we should follow our neighbor’s lead and enact a similar anti-discrimination ordinance?  Is this an idea that our Board of Supervisors should consider for 2011?

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  1. I’ve been following this as well. Absolutely, Tredyffrin should offer the same protection. I can’t imagine how it would feel to be denied housing, employment or public accommodation based on one’s sexual orientation. AND THEN HAVE NO WAY TO REMEDY IT.

    AND we certainly wouldn’t want to appear unfriendly towards anyone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. It would be awful to have a reputation as a community that excluded certain people from rights afforded to others. And, if we don’t have an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance like surrounding areas, isn’ t it just like saying we don’t want those folks living, working or spending money in our community?

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  2. Merry Christmas LBGT Community
    from Dozens of GOP Leaders!

    On December 15th, the Family Research Council circulated an “open letter” signed by over 150 people who believe that homosexuality should be criminalized. Here is the complete list of leaders who have publicly declared their solidarity with anti-gay hate groups who want to see gays barred from serving in public office and homosexuality made illegal.

    http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF10L12.pdf

    Among them are…
    Colin Hanna (Let Freedom Ring)
    Joe Pitts (House of Reps)
    Rick Santorum (Ethics & Public Policy Center)
    Diane Gramley (American Family Association) who commented on the Lower Merion ordinance ….

    “The Lower Merion Township commissioners need to take a hard look at the ramifications in passing such an ordinance. Not only is it fiscally irresponsible but it will place a stamp of approval upon a dangerous lifestyle and place the women and young girls in their township in danger because men who think they are women will demand to use women’s restrooms and the locker/shower facilities at the local pool or Y,” said Diane Gramley, president of the AFA of PA.

    [Reply]

  3. Regional effort you should know about.

    Philadelphia Metro Task Force
    END THE THREAT OF ANTI-FAMILY LEGISLATION
    Affiliate, the American Family Association of Pennsylvania
    http://www.afaofpa.org

    Dear Citizens :

    When there’s a blatant effort on to change America without America’s permission, Americans traditionally act ! Find out how we can stop these unwarranted attacks on the American way of life and the Christian way of life.
    The issue is pervasive. For instance, the any-sex lobby has been chasing school boards for decades, and success has resulted in that sector, as any parent with children in public school knows. There is an increasing barrage of the philosophy of perversion aimed at our youngsters, ranging from the “hip” circuit speakers giving talks on bullying, homophobia, and other clever categories; to the reckless any-sex “lessons” being taught as “sex-ed.” We believe that schools should, at the least, be balanced, and should shed light on television’s disastrous effects !

    – Discuss Why Haverford Township is an important turning point in this effort.

    Haverford Township’s Board’s next meeting is January 10th, 2010 and the agenda may include the proposed “anti-discrimination” bill. In case you didn’t read the articles on the prior meeting, the Board is divided on the issue, but the first vote was negative to passing the bill only by one vote. Certain councilmen are determined to pass the homosexual bill.

    – Discuss how we can permanently roadblock these efforts, and impress on young parents and school age citizens why this is so important.

    – Discuss the media’s and hierarchy’s distortion of words like “tolerance”, “gender”, “bullying”, and “hate”.

    Meeting Day/Time: Tuesday January 4, 2010 6:30 PM

    Where: Radnor Township Building 301 Iven Avenue, Radnor, PA — From Blue Route/I-476: Take the Villanova/Rte30 Exit for Route 30 West and take Route 30 towards Wayne. Go left at first light past the interchange (Radnor-Chester Rd.) and immediately right at first right onto Sinkler Dr. It’s a residential Street that elbows to the right. At the stop sign at the end of Sinkler Dr. go left onto Iven Avenue. The first left (about 1/4 mile) is the Township Building.

    Note: the meeting this month is on the lower level. There is no parking at that level – take the elevator down after parking in the main parking lot.

    To close, congratulations are due all around. As you are aware, the Hatboro Town Council vote on December 14th failed to override their Mayor’s veto of proposed homosexual-legislation. Citizen efforts regionwide created crucial momentum against that impending tragedy for the residents of Hatboro, and we will continue this effort in earnest.

    May God Bless You and Your Loved Ones and All Of Your Intentions This Christmas Season and Year Round.

    Philadelphia Metro Task Force
    mainmorality@aol.com

    [Reply]

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