On Tuesday, February 14th, the Phoenixville Borough hopes to prove, once again, that “Love Wins” when they become the 38th municipality to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance in the state of Pennsylvania.
In 2016, Phoenixville Councilman Edwin Soto was tasked with leading ordinance efforts after conversations with local LGBT non-profit leaders.
Soto joined fellow council members and policy committee members, Jeremy Dalton and Catherine Doherty, in drafting the anti-discrimination ordinance. Citizen advocate and LGBT community member, Bill Davidson, also advised throughout the process.
The policy committee spent several months researching neighboring municipality ordinances, meeting with LGBT community leaders, and seeking advice from experts on anti-discrimination policy, like PA Youth Congress Executive Director, Jason Goodman.
Modeled after ordinances in West Chester and Downingtown, PA, the new ordinance will offer housing, employment, and public accommodations protections to minority community members, particularly those who identify as LGBTQ, a community not currently protected under federal and state law.
Although reluctant to wave rainbow flags in victory until the final vote is tallied, the committee is fairly certain that they have the support needed to pass the ordinance. “I feel very optimistic that Phoenixville will move this very important ordinance forward,” says Davidson.
“This a defining moment for Phoenixville. A moment that says, ‘This is what progress looks like. This is what change looks like’,” says Soto. “It helps us put other municipalities on the clock to start thinking about how a policy like this can work within their own municipality. Others have been the model for us and now we get to be a part of that concept.”
“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,” explains Soto.
Goodman is delighted with the news out of Phoenixville. “The local efforts in Phoenixville send up another beacon to our state government to take action on this critical issue. Until the state acts, Phoenixville is doing the right thing to ensure dignity and respect for all residents and visitors to the borough.”
Tanya Vogel, LGBT Equality Alliance Secretary, is expected to speak on behalf of the Chester County LGBT non-profit and Lily Groves, President of the Phoenixville High School Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA), will represent the youth voice.
Community members are invited to attend the council meeting, which will take place on February 14th at 7:00 PM. Davidson notes that the vote will likely happen at the end of the council meeting, but urges attendees to stay and join in anticipated celebration at The Bistro at its conclusion.