Will the City of Bethlehem Resist the Push to Address a Non-Existent Problem?
(Philadelphia) – Tonight the City of Bethlehem will be voting on Article 145 to amend the city’s codified ordinances to include a Bethlehem Human Relations Commission. This ordinance includes “sexual orientation and gender identity or expression” and will affect employment, housing and public accommodations. The American Family Association of Pennsylvania (AFA of PA), a traditional values group, has contacted each member of the City Council informing them of the dangers of the proposed changes including examples of the adverse effects upon businesses where these ordinances have passed in other parts of the country.
“Our first question to the City Council Members was is there a problem in Bethlehem that homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenders are being fired or kicked out of their houses. The answer is always ‘no.’ The insane part about this proposal is that, in their own words, it is ‘so that all citizens can enjoy the full benefits of citizenship’. Homosexuals enjoy the full benefits of citizenship as any other American, yet they want to use the force of law to demand that their fellow citizens not just accept their lifestyle, but celebrate it,” commented Diane Gramley, President of the AFA of PA.
As the AFA of PA pointed out in our correspondence to the City Council, there will be a cost involved in the formation of such a local human relations commission. The 2010 budget for the City of York Human Relations Commission (HRC) was $258,000; the city HRC asked the mayor for a $315,000 appropriation in 2011, but in the end only received an additional $8,000. And in November the Lancaster County Commissioners disbanded their County Human Relations Commission to save them $470,000 a year.
Former Chairman of the PA Human Relations Commission Stephen Glassman said in a July 13, 2010 Doylestown Borough meeting that “Doylestown will not be overwhelmed with cases, but each case can take many, many hours to investigate,” Glassman said, suggesting the council might want to hire someone to help residents file complaints and investigate them. He said council could expect to pay $30,000 for a part-time employee and $60,000 for a full-time employee, plus benefits, mileage and office supplies.”
Additionally, the AFA of PA noted that one reason this commission is being ‘recommended’ is to make it easier to file a complaint, yet those forms can be downloaded from the PA Human Relations Commission website, filled out and mailed in. A regional phone number is also provided. How much easier can it be than that?
“The real reason for the push to get these ordinances passed is to go above and beyond what the state Human Relation Commission covers and add ‘sexual orientation and gender identity’ to the local ordinances and have the local commissions cover those complaints and refer the others to the state commission. That strategy was confirmed numerous times in various municipalities by former PA Human Relations Commission Chairman Stephen Glassman. Tonight is now the City Council of Bethlehem’s time to do the right thing and not extend special protections to a small group of people simply because of who they think they are,” Gramley concluded.
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