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Today is Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Small Pennsylvania Town Enacts GLBT Equality

In a town described as "Rockwellian," the New Hope Borough Council voted last night for passage of a measure that would protect its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens from discrimination in employment, housing and access to public accommodations. New Hope, a bedroom community of Philadelphia with approximately 1,400 residents, passed the new ordinance with a unanimous vote at the September 10 council meeting.

OutFront, a Philadelphia-based gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender advocacy group, and the Center for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights, an education, legal services and legislative police resource, were instrumental in developing the ordinance language. This came on the heels of Outfront-led coalition to have gender identity added to the nondiscrimination language of Philadelphia's Fair Practices code in early May.

Randy Flagler, an attorney for Flagler & Yockey, a member on the New Hope Borough Council, worked with OutFront and the Center for Lesbian & Gay Civil Rights, to craft the final version of the ordinance.

New Hope's vote reaffirms the community's "history of tolerance and acceptance for members of their LGBT community," commented Doug Shaps, executive director of OutFront.

"The New Hope Borough Council should be praised for taking proactive steps toward fairness and justice," said Stacey Sobel, executive director of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights.

Not content to sit on their victory, the New Hope borough council hopes to lead by example and encourage protection from discrimination in other communities and across Pennsylvania. "New Hope, the Little Town that Roared, sends a loud clear message through a resolution and an ordinance," said borough council member Geri Delevich, original sponsor of the resolution. "This ordinance is about dignity and respect."

New Hope council member Randi Flagler also proposed a companion bill according to Kathy Padilla, board member for both the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC) and Outfront - whose efforts produced the successful vote. Flagler's proposal "would require immediately updating the borough's employment guidelines to reflect the new law," reported Padilla, "and would send a copy of the ordinance to all other municipalities in the state, encouraging them to pass similar legislation."

The sentiment in the Bucks County borough with the 'Norman Rockwell' appearance was unquestioningly supportive. After the borough council meeting at the local High School, where according to Padilla of NTAC, even the Chief of Police testified in favor of the measure, the mood was celebratory.

As a pleased Kathy Padilla succinctly put it immediately following the council vote, "a damn good night!"

Founded in 1999, NTAC - the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition - is a 501(c)(4) civil rights organization working to establish and maintain the right of all transgendered, intersexed, and gender-variant people to live and work without fear of violence or discrimination.

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