County Council and Anti-Discrimination Legislation

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:
Matt Drozd, Dist. 1
Jim Burn, Dist. 3
Michael Finnerty, Dist. 4
Joan Cleary, Dist. 6
Nick Futules, Dist. 7
Chuck Martoni, Dist. 8
Bob Macey, Dist. 9
William Russell Robinson, Dist. 10
Rich Fitzgerald, Dist. 11
Jim Ellenbogen, Dist. 12
Amanda Green (lead sponsor), Dist. 13
John DeFazio, Council At-Large
In case you wish to encourage the non-sponsors to become co-sponsors, here is their contact information:
Chuck McCollough, Council At-Large
Jan Rea, District 2
Vince Gastgeb, District 5
(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 is
436 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 the forward momentum you've been hoping would spring from the Obama election and the anti-Proposition 8 rallies. This is your chance to do something very concrete that will have an impact in your own backyard.  Our Councilwoman is the primary sponsor, but I am going to call Chuck McCullough as he represents me in his “at-large” capacity.  I'm going to call John DeFazio, too. 
Imagine the impact if each of the 400-500 people who turned out this past Saturday picked up the phone to do the same thing.  On a County issue, that's huge. 

This is your opportunity.  Don't squander it. 


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