“During an at times tense discussion on Tuesday night, the Phoenixville borough council agreed to schedule a public hearing to consider a proposed anti-discrimination ordinance that would provide additional protections to minority citizens,” reports Justin Heinze with the Phoenixville Patch.
The council voted to proceed to public hearing with a 6-2 vote. As stated in a previous OUTWORD.Today article, “Soto joined fellow council members and policy committee members, Jeremy Dalton and Catherine Doherty, in drafting the anti-discrimination ordinance.”
“By amending the Conduct Chapter to add a new part called ‘anti-discrimination’, the ordinance creates the human relations commission to protect minority communities, which will be comprised of ad-hoc volunteer community members,” explained Soto.
Councilman John Ichter, one of the two dissenting votes, voiced concerns over the title of the ordinance and enforcement procedures. Ichter claimed that the term “Anti-Discrimination Ordinance” negatively reflects on the town and proposed the use of “Equal Opportunity Ordinance,” or “the Human Relations Ordinance” instead.
It is important to note that there are 37 ordinances already in place in municipalities throughout PA and the majority of them use the term “Anti-Discrimination Ordinance.”
Over the past few weeks, several community members have reached out to OUTWORD.Today to better understand the necessity for the ordinance. The number one question has been, “LGBTQ community members are already protected under federal and state laws. Why create an ordinance that replicates what’s already in place?”
To clarify, there are no state or national protections for LGBTQ residents. “Gender identity and expression” and “sexual orientation” are not terms currently included in human rights protections. And although Phoenixville is a very inclusive and welcoming town, most LGBTQ community members do not report discrimination, because there are no legal protections available to them.
Without protections in place, LGBTQ residents are more likely to lose jobs, homes, and access to public accommodations because of who they are and how they identify.
Phoenixville will vote on the ordinance during March’s Borough Meeting. To view the Borough Council calendar, click here.
To read the PATCH article, click here.
To learn more about the importance of anti-discrimination ordinances and a list of those already in place in Pennsylvania, click here.