Butler Mayoral Election is Referendum Vote on Municipal NonDiscrimination Ordinance Says Local Trans Activist

it will be seen as a referendum vote.  So, if it fails, no elected official will bring this back up anytime soon, in Butler or the surrounding area. If we get this passed, then it will show the neighboring municipality that it is not political suicide to bring this up and vote on it.

Activists in the City of Butler have been working hard for the passage of a nondiscriminination ordinance. They’ve achieved more than I would have expected as members of the City Council have been willing to engage and learn. But as expected, the religious right has reared its head to fearmonger so the bill has been tabled.

This makes the upcoming General Election on Tuesday, November 7 critical. The Mayor’s race is a three-way battle and there are two seats on City Council up for grabs. The map shows that approval ratings for nondiscrimination legislation are lowest in Southwestern PA (outside of Allegheny County) – the familiar “Philly and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between” does not apply to this issue.

I interviewed activist Sabrina Schnur about the ordinance and the election. If you have ties to the City of Butler, please pay close attention to the last few questions – your voice is needed.


Your Name: Sabrina Schnur

Your Pronouns:  She/Her

Your Age: 52

How do you describe your identity? Trans woman

The City of Butler has been considering a non-discrimination ordinance that would offer protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. What is the current status of this ordinance?  It is tabled until the election is over.

How is the November election relevant to this ordinance? If Jamie Lee and Kathy Kline get elected, then there will be an information forum at the beginning of 2018 and a vote after the forum.  If the other candidates win, then there will be no political desire to move this forward.

What are the positions of the three candidates for Mayor on this ordinance?  Jamie Lee is 110% for equality and is on record in support of the ordinance. Ben Smith acknowledge that discrimination occurs and probability hurts people but will still vote NO.  Tom Donaldson says God laws overrule man’s law and is totally against it.   Just to add that 2 City Council position is up for election too. Kathy Kline is on record as a YES vote on the ordinance. Kenny Bonus and Jeff Smith are NO vote

Western Pennsylvania has three municipal ordinances of this type (City of Pittsburgh – 1997, County of Erie – 2002, County of Allegheny – 2009) while Central and Eastern PA have 40 ordinances. Why do you think there has been so little progress in our region? Western Pa is still very conservative and church going.   They listen to their pastors and the right wing talking point, than what the facts are.  I have produce the facts that the LGBT community is not covered in Federal or State laws, that over 40 municipality have this same ordinance and have had no issues (and gave them contact info for some of those elected official in those municipality), the head attorney of the Pennsylvania Human Relation Commission (PHRC) to talk too and the former chairman of the PHRC.  Still, they don’t want to hear it.  They just say that it will be bad.

How do we get out the vote in the City of Butler on November 7? Word of mouth.  More than that, personally ask or message them.  (Liking a post is not good enough) Call in any favors you have and follow up with them (esp. on election date, Nov 7th).  The anti-ordinance people use the fear tacit to get people out to vote.  That is a powerful motivator for them to go vote.  We need to realize that the only way for this to get passed is to realize that if we don’t get Jamie Lee and Kathy Kline elected, then at a minimum, it will be two years before we can bring this up. Most likely, it will be longer

Where can readers go to learn more about the ordinance?  You can go to:

Any final words?  Since this has been so publicize during this election, it will be seen as a referendum vote.  So, if it fails, no elected official will bring this back up anytime soon, in Butler or the surrounding area. If we get this passed, then it will show the neighboring municipality that it is not political suicide to bring this up and vote on it. Then maybe we can get more areas in Western Pa to do the right thing and grant equality to ALL of its citizens.


Thank you, Sabrina. You can preview the Butler ballots here (index in left hand column, scroll to the bottom for City of Butler)

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