Anti-Discrimination Protections in Whitemarsh Township

Congratulations to the residents, elected officials and advocates in Montgomery County’s Whitemarsh Township for establishing discrimination protections for their residents.  Springfield and Lower Merion also recently enacted such ordinances for the protections of their residents’ rights to housing, employment and public accomodation.

I believe that brings the statewide total up to 18 municipalities?  Here’s a list of the rest: Allegheny County, Allentown, Easton, Erie County, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lansdowne, New Hope, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Scranton, State College, Swarthmore, West Chester and York. (h/t Equality PA.)  Oops, I’m wrong. News reports that PA now has 24 such ordinances. I’ll track down the missing commnities.   I do see that Jenkintown has cleared the way for a vote in November.

A critical missing piece is funding. Establishing a volunteer Human Relations Commission is relatively inexpensive, but without investigators (paid positions) … how is it thoroughly investigated much less enforced?  The answer lies in a statewide bill to add sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to the existing Pennsylvania Human Relations law.

But this is still good news … it demonstrates that their is statewide support for these protections, for equality. It also provides time tested evidence that the communities have yet to go to hell in a handbasket.  Follow this link to a 2007 chart showing the numbers of PA residents who favor (or oppose) these protections.

Here’s a better list courtesy of the Pennsylvania Diversity Network. Amended is typically when gender identity and/or gender expression was added.

1. Philadelphia* – pop. 1,526,006 (passed this law in 1954, amended 2002)

2. Pittsburgh* – pop. 305,704 (passed this law in 1992, amended 2005)

3. Allentown* – pop. 118,032 (passed this law in 1964, amended 2002)
4. Erie  (as part of Erie County) – pop. 101,786 (passed this law in 2002)
5. Reading* – pop. 88,082 (passed this law in 1955, amended 2009)
6. Scranton – pop. 72,485 (passed this law in 2003)
7. Bethlehem* – pop. 71,329 no protections (passed this law on June 21st, 2011)
8. Lancaster* – pop. 55,381 (passed this law in 1991)
10. Harrisburg* – pop. 47,196 (passed this law in 1992)
12. York – pop. 40,862 (passed this law in 1998)
13. State College* – pop. 38,420 (passed this law in 2008)
15. Easton* – pop. 26,080 (passed this law in 2007)

And these 11 PA towns and 2 PA counties also have fully inclusive non-discrimination laws all these laws were passed since 2002 when New Hope was the 1st of the small town to do so: Swarthmore*, Lower Merion Township*, West Chester*, New Hope*, Landsdowne*, Doylestown*, all of Erie County*(2002), all of Allegheny County*(2009), Haverford*, Conshohocken*, Springfield Township* and Newtown Borough, Whitemarsh Township* (passed Nov. 17, 2011).

The groundswell of support is very important.  The numbers are growing so we do need a bit mechanism in the advocacy world to track this data. Such mechanisms may exist but not via google searches.



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