The Shippensburg Borough Council voted to approve a non-discrimination ordinance during its Sept. 1 meeting. The ordinance will provide protections to various groups including members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Borough council members passed the ordinance in a 5-1 vote with council president Bruce Hockersmith, vice president Mitchell Burrows and council members Josefine Smith, John Alosi and Sandy Mailey voting to approve. Council member Keith Swartz was the sole opposing vote.
The “Shippensburg Borough Anti-Discrimination Ordinance,” Ordinance No. 20-947 will go into effect Jan. 1, 2021. It will prohibit discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations or educational institutional access, according to the ordinance.
The ordinance protects community members on the basis of race, color, familial status, religious creed, ancestry, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, handicap or disability, or the use of a guide animal. Discriminatory acts include any unlawful act noted in the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Pennsylvania, there are no federal or state statues that specifically prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. As a result, local municipalities are creating ordinances to provide protections for residents.
While there are no statewide laws against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission reviews discrimination complaints against LGBTQ+ community members. The commission released guidelines for handling these complaints in August 2018, its website said.
In an email to the campus community, SU Chief Diversity Officer Stephanie Jirard said community members should celebrate the victory for equality.
“We thank all of those who worked tirelessly to support the Shippensburg Borough Council in passing an anti-discrimination ordinance that protects people regardless of sexual orientation, who they love, or how they identify or express themselves with respect to employment, housing and public accommodations,” Jirard said. “Let’s face it, 2020 has been a very rough year. Let us take a moment and celebrate the victory for equality.”
In a press release, Jason Landau Goodman, executive director of the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, said the organization is proud of the borough’s action.
“We are extremely proud of Shippensburg Borough Council for taking clear action to protect LGBT individuals in their community from discrimination. We have appreciated the opportunity to support them from day one in the effort to adopt this vital ordinance. It is long overdue for the state to take action,” Goodman said. “In the meantime, Shippensburg joins other communities in sending a lightning rod to Harrisburg to pass comprehensive LGBT nondiscrimination protections and paves the way for additional ordinances in small town Pennsylvania to be adopted.”
According to Goodman, Shippensburg is the first in Franklin County, second small town community and 59th municipality overall in Pennsylvania to enact local protections for LGBTQ+ people in employment, housing and public accommodations.