Last night, after three hours of comments from community members and debate among council members, the Allegheny County Council voted 8-6 to approve an ordinance banning discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. The ordinance also creates a county Human Relations Commission to investigate alleged instances of discrimination.
The ordinance was introduced by Councilwoman Amanda Green nearly a year ago, and since that time, supporters, allies and advocates for the LGBT community have worked to ensure that the legislation passed. The Women’s Law Project’s Senior Staff Attorney, Susan Frietsche, testified in front of the Committee on Government Reform in support of the ordinance several months ago, and former Staff Attorney Tatyana Margolin spoke at a public hearing on the ordinance in January.
Council members voting for the ordinance were Jim Burn, Joan Cleary, John DeFazio, Rich Fitzgerald, Amanda Green, Bob Macey, Chuck Martoni, and William Russell Robinson. Council members voting against the ordinance were Matt Drozd, James Ellenbogen, Michael Finnerty, Vincent Gastgeb, Chuck McCullough, and Jan Rea.
We are thrilled that Allegheny County has joined the 14 other jurisdictions in Pennsylvania that protect citizens from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. LGBT activists, allies and advocates should be incredibly proud of their work on the ordinance. Now we turn our full attention to House Bill 300, to ensure that these protections extend to every citizen of the Commonwealth.