May 26 – With an exploratory committee set up in Chambersburg Borough Council to look into a possible non-discrimination ordinance for the LGBTQ+ community and the creation of a Human Relations Commission, hearing experts on both sides is critical.
Especially with the possible creation of a Human Relations Commission to investigate, adjudicate and enforce any ordinances that could be formed – that’s going to be a lot of time and money that the borough may not really have.
Attorney Clint Barkdoll, Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen discussed the need for balance on the exploratory committee this morning on First News.
Jansen pointed out, “From their own admission in the first meeting they held they are not very well versed in this. They say they don’t have any special qualifications.”
Barkdoll said, “At the state and federal level they have teams of experts that do nothing but this. These are lawyers. These are people well-trained in reviewing these kind of cases. And that’s why they are the ones that should be hearing this and making the decisions. Not untrained people at the local level.”
The exploratory committee will meet tonight via Zoom at 6:30 p.m. and if it goes like it did the last time, spectators can use the chat feature to talk with the members and emails to the group should also be discussed.
Barkdoll noted, “Much like what happened with Transource, these boards should be open to hearing from some outside experts, whether these experts are pro or con.”
Jansen said, “I’m already saying I want to bring in an expert, maybe Jeremey (Samek, senior counsel with the Pennsylvania Family Institute) himself. I did ask…there was a memo from Salzmann Hughes they got. There was a memo from the president of council that they got. I would like to see those. There’s also information from two very pro LGBTQ+ these ordinances groups. And they’re going to have an expert in from the Human Relations Commission on June 9. That group already from what I know about them, they’re going to be in support of this. That group is kind of left leaning, to say the least, established by Governor Wolf. We need to get some balance in the materials and the experts that they’ll be talking to.”
Ryan said, “Balance is all we’re asking for. You can’t have balance with the present situation that’s been set at our feet here. You can already hear ‘that radio station, they don’t want fair and equity, they don’t want to recognize LGBTQ.’ All we’re looking for is to have an honest dialogue. You have to understand there’s got to be a reasonable conversation.”
Barkdoll agreed, “There does need to be balance. I hope that the people that are advocating this, they need to realize that just because someone is against the formation of this commission does not mean they are anti-LGBTQ. Quite the opposite, frankly. I think this is more of a philosophical issue for a lot of people that we just don’t want more layers of local government, non-experts involved in hearing these kind of things, making the investigations and adjudications. I actually think there’s an interesting counter-argument that the advocates for this commission may be hurting their own cause because if I’m someone in the LGBTQ community, I would much prefer to have my complaint, my case, handled by a true expert at the state or the federal level, not someone locally. Not a layperson that’s just coming off the street with no expertise or no training in this at all. I actually think it could be undermining their own cause. This is the sort of balance in the conversation that this board needs to hear and I think they need to hear from some outside experts about this as well.”