Call To Action: Stop Chambersburg from Repealing Local Non-Discrimination Ordinance

The newly elected Borough Council in Chambersburg plans to vote on Monday, January 24 to repeal a local non-discrimination ordinance just four months after it was enacted. From PennLive

The ordinance, which extends protections against discrimination to gay, transgender or genderqueer people in employment, housing and public accommodations, was passed in October by the then-Democratic majority council.

The political makeup of the council, however, changed with the November municipal election, which ushered in a 7-3 Republican majority.

Allen Coffman, a Republican and newly installed borough council president, is clear on why he opposes the ordinance.

Like many local anti-LGBTQ politicians, Coffman is ignorant of how state law works.

Coffman, who was re-elected to the council as president, last year voted against the ordinance. He said he planned to vote to repeal it on Monday.

“My view of government is to simplify it and not make it more complicated,” he said. “If you have no guarantee that you can get a resolution at the local level, it’s obviously going to go to the state. To me we are stalling. If you have a good case, it’s good enough to go to the state and let them make the decision.”

He’s wrong. He’s ill-informed. Or he’s lying to his constituents. Pennsylvania law does not provide these protections which is the reason activists have been waging a municipality by municipality battle to address this incredible need. The state Human Relations Commission has some limited administrative powers, but there’s no state law. We have 70 municipal ordinances, most in Eastern and Central Pennsylvania. This resistance based on state law is oft-cited by anti-LGBTQ elected officials. Admitting there’s a problem that *could* be resolved by the state (nope) does open the door to say “why not handle local matters locally?”

Allen Coffman is not a fine example of a human being.

Coffman rebuked the idea that the borough needs the ordinance. He noted that council last year reprimanded him for what was considered a racially inappropriate email that he sent to a constituent.

“I don’t consider our community a racist or bigot community,” he said. “Do I have a personal interest in this? Absolutely.”

Here’s an interview Coffman gave in which his formal rebuke for racist content was twisted into – voila! – Critical Race Theory and the usual array of insults and ignorance. And that’s a really REALLY important bit to take note of here – this isn’t just about queer and trans folx, it is absolutely about racial justice.

Coffman made a splash last summer when he, as chairman of the Franklin County Republican Committee, announced the group voted to censure District Attorney Matt Fogal after he showed support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

He wrote that Black Lives Matter is “radical and violent” and a “self-admitted Marxist revolutionary group dedicated to the dissolution of America,”according to the censure letter.

Allen R. Coffman is a racist and an anti-LGBTQ bigot. And that got him elected to the Borough Council Presidency. That’s going to contribute far more to the dissolution of America than any actual Marxist group.

So we have less than a day to weigh in. I have no doubt that Coffman could care less what queer folks in Pittsburgh think, so the key is to find your friends, coworkers, family, employers in Chambersburg and get them to weigh in very quickly. But you can respond, too.

Here’s the reality – if one municipality does this, it makes it incredibly hard to extend these protections to others especially in rural Pennsylvania. It will be a smack in the face to LGBTQ folx in Chambersburg.

And it sets a dangerous precedent. Keep in mind – marriage equality is not the law of Pennsylvania. Second parent adoption is not the law of Pennsylvania. Both of those rights rest on federal court cases. We already have the anguish of a potential reversal of Roe eroding the right to privacy that underpins those cases. The last thing we need is to say nothing while local rights are repealed. There is zero chance of Pennsylvania’s General Assembly passing statewide legislation banning discrimination, legalizing marriage equality, or recognizing second parent adoptions.

We cannot afford to shrug this off.

Here are the meeting minutes from October when the ordinance was passed. Click on October 11, 2021.

Here is the language of the plan to repeal “7.02 Approval of an Ordinance to Amend the Code of the Borough of Chambersburg Repealing Chapter 55, Nondiscrimination and Human Relations Commission in its Entirety; And Further, the Permanent Tabling of Appointees to the Chambersburg Human Relations Commission”

Borough of Chambersburg
100 South Second Street
Chambersburg, PA 17201

p 717-264-5151

Mayor

Kenneth Hock
Phone: 717-251-2492

Town Council Directory

First Ward

Allen B. Coffman – President of Council/Personnel Liaison
acoffman@chambersburgpa.gov
Member of Council

Alice C. Elia
aelia@chambersburgpa.gov
Member of Council

Second Ward

John N. Huber – Finance Chair
jhuber@chambersburgpa.gov
Member of Council

Thomas Newcomer – Asst. Finance Chair
tnewcomer@chambersburgpa.gov
Member of Council

Third Ward

Kathy Leedy
kleedy@chambersburgpa.gov
Member of Council

Dominique Brown
djbrown@chambersburgpa.gov
Member of Council

Fourth Ward

Sharon A. Bigler
sbigler@chambersburgpa.gov
Member of Council

Larry Hensley
lhensley@chambersburgpa.gov
Member of Council

Fifth Ward

Bill Everly Jr. – Vice President of Council
beverly@chambersburgpa.gov
Member of Council

Weston Waytow
wwaytow@chambersburgpa.gov
Member of Council

Town Council Contact Information

Town Council is composed of citizen-officials and therefore they do not hold regular office hours. To reach them by telephone, please call the Borough Secretary at (717) 264-5151 and a message for callback may be left for your representative.


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  • I find it repulsive to discrimate against anyone based on race, sexual orientation or sexual preferences.
    Why are we rolling back our personal views…we should be going forward and welcoming All into our Communities!!!!!
    God’s law…Love thy neighbor!!!!!

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