In two Pa. towns, two very different results for LGBTQ equality

    In towns on opposite sides of the commonwealth, two municipal LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinances faced two very different fates this month.

    Last week, the Pittsburgh City Paper reported that Sharpsburg Borough City Council rejected a nondiscrimination ordinance that would have created civil rights protections for LGBTQ individuals, among other things.

    The measure was rejected in a 4-3 vote of the council, which consists entirely of Democrats.

    The four councilors who voted to reject the ordinance said it “lacked enforcement mechanisms,” City Paper reported.

    Allegheny County, where Sharpsburg is located, does have LGBTQ protections, but municipal ordinances allow residents to file reports and complaints directly with the town or borough in which they live.

    Councilmember Joe Simbari told City Paper that his vote against the ordinance was not an opposition to LGBTQ rights or protections.

    “The one thing I don’t like is the all or nothing attitude,” said Simbari. “When somebody says that by voting yes that means I’m living in a community of love and respect and by voting no I’m living in a community of hatred and bigotry.”

    Meanwhile, on Monday, Bloomsburg Town Council, Columbia County, voted unanimously to adopt an LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinance.

    Home to Bloomsburg University and 14,000 residents, Bloomsburg is the 60th municipality in Pennsylvania to enact housing, employment and public accommodation protections for LGBTQ people, according to the Philadelphia Gay News. 

    Bloomsburg made headlines this summer when a dunk tank at the Bloomsburg Fair sparked controversy for its transphobic portrayal of state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine.

    Town officials are hopeful that the ordinance will help Bloomsburg move past the incident, the Gay News reports.

    “This [ordinance] will let everyone in Bloomsburg and everyone who comes to Bloomsburg know they are welcome here,” Mayor Bill Kreisher said in a press release.

    Cassie Miller
    A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.