The Shippensburg Borough Council is set to vote on a non-discrimination ordinance that identifies and prohibits discrimination against people based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.
The vote comes after months of advocacy by community members and Shippensburg University student Michael Bugbee. Bugbee first shared his experience of discrimination with The Slate in a Letter to the Editor in March.
Currently, Pennsylvania does not have housing laws that prevent discrimination based on sexual orienation, gender identity and expression. The decisions now fall to local government bodies. Some are developing non-discrimination ordinances that call out and outlaw discrimination in public accommodations and business matters.
In Shippensburg, there are no resolutions or ordinances that prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation. The ordinance, if approved, would declare support and protections for members of various groups including the LGBTQ+ community.
Carlisle approved a non-discrimination ordinance showing its support for those who are discriminated against. Its ordinance covers a wide-variety of groups including LGBTQ+.
While Shippensburg may not be as culturally and socially progressive, this ordinance is certainly a step in the right direction. Ordinances like this advocate for a better society with equal rights and protections. Everyone deserves an equal opportunity to succeed. We as a community are better when all members are represented and protected.
The U.S. Fair Housing Act lists the things that cannot impact a landlord’s decision to not rent to an individual — sexual orientation is not included. Until the borough, state or federal officials take action, this type of discrimination can and will continue.
The denial of public accommodations can place individuals in potentially unsafe and harmful conditions. It becomes dangerous when members of these communities are all grouped into one area; this sets the group up as a target.
The Supreme Court has made it clear — the LGBTQ+ community has a sufficient constitutional right to be free of discrimination. However, the Supreme Court has also ruled in favor of people of faith who resist actions that contradict their religion.
If the person who seeks to become a tenant is respectful, has the monetary means to pay rent and does not cause trouble, it should not matter who they go to bed with at night. Your sexual orientation has no impact on a credit score, which is a large consideration in housing approval.
Yes, the person can seek out other opportunities. The point is, they should not have to seek other opportunities. This falls in the same vein as a Black person having to use a separate, lesser-in-quality bathroom, or as a woman not being able to obtain a certain job simply because she is not a man.
We may not agree with all of the personal choices our community members make but a person’s race, gender, religion or sexual orientation should not dictate whether or not they can get a home, a loan or a job.
There have been a lot of societal changes since the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Being openly LGBTQ+ is more publicly accepted. There is still a lot of work to be done, but LGBTQ+ community members now have more of their rights that their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts have always had.
We as a community must voice our opinions in matters that impact us and those around us. Get involved with your local government by writing letters or attending the Shippensburg Borough Council Meeting on Zoom on Sept. 1.