Just received a call to action from the Steel-City Stonewall Democrats. As you may recall, legislation has been introduced on the county level which would expand civil protections with regard to housing, employment and public accomodations to include the classes of sexual orientation and gender identity. This is an important step for our region toward achieving equality for all residents.
Without this legislation, it remains perfectly legal for a landlord in Monroeville to refuse to rent to a lesbian couple. It remains legal for a restaurant owner in Bethel Park to refuse service to gay men. It is legal for an employer in McCandless to fire someone just for being gay.
The chance to make an impact is nigh:
Allegheny County Council is considering an ordinance that would prohibit discrimination in Employment, Housing and Public Accommodations based on characteristics including sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.The Council has, so far, been very interested in moving this non-discrimination ordinance forward. Twelve (out of 15) Council members have signed on as co-sponsors! One of Council’s next steps is to approve funding for the ordinance. Specifically, the County will have to hire folks to educate the public, to investigate complaints, and to prosecute violations of the ordinance. The Council's Government Committee will be discussing the ordinance next Tuesday.
This isn't a feel good resolution expressing the will of the Council. It needs to have some funding to give it teeth. My partner Ledcat, as you may recall, is an investigator and can attest to the need to ensure that qualified people are hired — outside of the ken of politics — to protect the interest of the residents of the County. This is a critical step in the process.
The meeting is Tuesday at 5 PM. Can you attend? Perhaps not. It is a holiday week and you do have jobs. One thing you can do is make a telephone call or send an email to your County Council Rep (and the two at large reps). Those details are below:
Please contact your County Councilperson to thank him or her for supporting this ordinance. Encourage your Councilperson to continue moving the legislation forward.You can look up your County Council District by following this link:Sponsors:Matt Drozd, Dist. 1412.350.6525Jim Burn, Dist. 3412.350.6535Michael Finnerty, Dist. 4412.350.6540Joan Cleary, Dist. 6412.350.6550Nick Futules, Dist. 7412.350.6555Chuck Martoni, Dist. 8412.350.6560Bob Macey, Dist. 9412.350.6565William Russell Robinson, Dist. 10412.350.6570Rich Fitzgerald, Dist. 11412.350.6575Jim Ellenbogen, Dist. 12412.350.6580Amanda Green (lead sponsor), Dist. 13412.350.6585John DeFazio, Council At-Large412.350.6516In case you wish to encourage the non-sponsors to become co-sponsors, here is their contact information:Chuck McCollough, Council At-Large412.350.6520Jan Rea, District 2412.350.6530Vince Gastgeb, District 5412.350.6545(Councilmembers “at-large” are elected county-wide and represent all residents of Allegheny County.)In case you would like to attend: the Government Committee of the Allegheny County Council will be meeting this Tuesday, November 25, at 5:00pm to discuss this legislation. The location is436 Grant St., County Courthouse Rm. 119, Conference Rm. 1. At this type of Committee meeting there is not the opportunity for public comment, but the public is welcome to attend, and you would be supporting the legislation with your presence.
This is your opportunity. Don't squander it.