On Monday evening, the Bloomsburg Town Council addressed the local movement urging them to adopt a non-discrimination ordinance to protect LGBT people from discrimination in public accommodations, housing, and employment. Last week, national outrage was sparked when WW Bridal denied service to an engaged lesbian couple in the town.
The Town Council chamber was packed to capacity this evening, with nearly 30 additional people forced to crowd in the doorways and into the hallways because of fire code regulations. We could not tell if the crowd was mostly against, for, or split on supporting non-discrimination. In total, over 70 residents were in attendance for the meeting, most of whom came specifically for the discussion on non-discrimination.
Dwayne Heisler, a resident of the town, was the only registered speaker during the citizen’s comment period to address this issue. Mayor Sandy Davis and Councilmembers Diane Levan and Eric Bower spoke strongly in support of such a local law. All three members of Town Council are Democrats won their elections running as both Republicans and Democrats.
Mayor Davis concluded her brief and prepared remarks by stating that,
“We live in a world, and in a country, where we try to treat everyone equally and fairly. This is a discussion we need to have. There is a process. We will pass this on to the Community and Economic Development Committee in order to explore our various options to make sure all sides of this issue are equally and fairly recognized.”
Councilmember Bower followed by sharing, “I think it’s important we band together against discrimination of any kind, whether it is based on sexual orientation, or race, or any other protected class.“
They did not provide a full timetable other than Councilmember Levan agreeing to place a draft ordinance on the agenda for the next meeting of the Community and Economic Development Committee. The ordinance could come before the Town Council for a first reading as soon as late September.
The GSA of Bloomsburg University’s PSEC Delegate, Kyle Boyes, was in attendance tonight with PSEC Executive Director Jason Landau Goodman. Kyle was unable to speak during the open comment period because of a stringent rule which requires citizens to register the week before the meeting – which was as the situation was unfolding. Kyle shared with the Keystone Student Voice that, “I have high hopes that the ordinance will be passed. We plan to work with the Town government on this issue and make sure that they see support on this from the student and youth communities in Bloomsburg.”
Earlier on Monday, the Bloomsburg University GSA and PSEC sent a joint letter to all the Town Council members to ask for their serious consideration of adopting an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance. The organizations offered any resources and support they may need through the process of banning anti-LGBT discrimination in Town policy. Several PSEC leaders have been helping lead local non-discrimination ordinance work in their home communities since 2009, before the coalition formed.
When Bloomsburg University resumes for the fall semester, it will be in time for the next meeting when the ordinance will be brought up. GSA leaders will certainly be in attendance to directly voice their support as young members of the Bloomsburg community.
Bloomsburg is the only Town in Pennsylvania, and operates similar to a borough government. In total, there are 2,562 municipalities in Pennsylvania which are either cities, boroughs, or townships, or a town. 33 municipalities in the state have adopted a local non-discrimination ordinance inclusive of gender identity and sexual orientation. The Keystone State has the most number of individually adopted LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances without a statewide law banning LGBT discrimination.