Abington Passes Anti-Discrimination Ordinance
After a long hearing, the board passed the ordinance 10-5
Late last night, the Abington Township Board of Commissioners passed an ordinance that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, sexual identity or sexual expression. It also establishes a human relations commission.
The ordinance passed 10-5.
Commissioners Richard Gaglianese, Dennis Zappone, John O'Connor, Carol Gillespie and Peggy Myers cast "no" votes. Many in the audience burst into applause following the vote.
See the video of the roll-call vote.
Dozens of residents spoke on the matter during the public hearing, which lasted about 2-and-a half hours.
Board President Carol DiJoseph had residents who supported the ordinance, and residents who did not support the ordinance, alternate their comments.
Prior to public comment, Commissioner Steven Kline summarized the ordinance in a PowerPoint presentation. Here are the highlights:
- The ordinance includes protected classes not included in the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
- The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act gives municipalities the authority to enact local ordinances that expand the list of protected classes and does not clash with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act as affirmed by Hartman v. Allentown.
- Religious corporations and organizations are afforded the same exemptions already enumerated in the state human relations act.
- Members of the Abington HRC are required to attend training provided by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission
- Abington and Abington HRC members are not involved in fact finding proceedings, investigations or prosecution of complaints.
- Nothing in this ordinance provides immunity to any person from any illegal criminal or civil act covered under other laws.
- Nothing in this ordinance requires an employer to hire a person just because he or she falls within one of the protected classes.
- Nothing in this ordinance requires a landlord to rent to a person just because he or she falls within one of the protected classes.
Check out the proposed ordinance in the PDF section.
There was no place to park, and no place to sit (or even stand) for some; Abington Fire Marshal Ken Clark metered the number of people coming in and out of the board room.
According to Abington Township Manager Michael LeFevre, the ordinance goes into effect immediately.
The township has been looking at the issue for about a year. The board voted down a proposal in January 2011, but passed a resolution in June supporting state legislation on the matter.
Jenkintown and Cheltenham have passed similar ordinances. See the Cheltenham ordinance here.
Check back soon for more photos and video of the hearing.