Pa Family Institute seminar may have opened some eyes

June 16 – With more than 100 community members in attendance last night, the Pennsylvania Family Institute’s seminar provided some great information on the downsides of a non-discrimination ordinance for LGBTQ+ community members and the possible creation of a local Human Relations Commission.

One member of Chambersburg Borough Council was in attendance.

Many of the people were hearing this information for the first time and there were a lot of questions afterwards.

With Chambersburg Borough Council creating an exploratory committee to look into the creation of a new ordinance and Human Relations Commission, it’s important to remember other local townships outside of Chambersburg and municipalities are also feeling the pressure.

When asked what they could do, community members were advised to write letters, make phone calls and get to the council meetings.

Attorney Clint Barkdoll, Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen talked about the seminar this morning on First News.

Ryan said, “You’ve got to know who your borough council person is, whatever ward you are in. These decisions that they’re making are going to affect small businesses and churches within their ward and if they’re not savvy enough or they’re not engaging enough, that should speak volumes to you. Your council person works for you.”

Barkdoll added, “I think these public forums like the one last night are really important. It’s important to get these other pieces of information out there to people that are not hearing both sides of this story. But the key is they’ve got to somehow translate this into action with these council people. Ultimately this is a decision by a very small group of people on borough council. They are representing their constituents. They need to hear from people. Letters, emails, people showing up at the meeting to make their opinions heard. I think last night was very important that the public hear that there’s another side to this story. I think part two of this is you somehow need to get the people from last night into one of these future committee meetings because thus far the committee has only heard the very pro ordinance, the pro local commission argument, but it’s important that they hear from some people on the other side that are saying why this should not happen.”

Jansen said, “There was a woman there from Ward Five, but she didn’t know who her council person was. If she happens to be listening, it’s Bill Everly and Heath Talhelm.”

Ryan said, “Remember you pay cash money. It’s not a lot of money. They’re a part time borough council, but they work for you. They represent all of the people in the borough. Business owners and residents and churches.”

Jansen reminded listeners, “The reason they’re considering this and the reason they may very well pass it is because they’re hearing from their constituents who are pro this ordinance. We had 70 people show up at the one meeting and people who think there’s problems with this, if you don’t show up, if you don’t call, if you don’t send emails, if you don’t attend these exploratory meetings and then send your emails to them afterwards, all they’re going to hear is the people who say yeah we want this, which I think is a very small fraction of our actual community.”

Ryan said, “And council, take emotion out of this, take feelings out of this. Because what you’re doing is you’re going to want to put feelings into this and you’re going to open up a can of worms and you’re going to open up a lot of litigation up here and what’s it matter? It’s just the borough has to strike a check for more law firms and more lawyers. I’ll tell you what it matters. Every single, penny matters right now. Remember COVID?”

One of the points made at the seminar was the unbelievable cost of the Masterpiece Cakeshop case where a baker refused to make a cake for a homosexual couple.

Jansen pointed out, “It was a municipal ordinance that he was fighting. He’s gone to court three times now. And that cost a lot of money to that municipality, but they didn’t care. They plowed forward. The money issue is huge.”

Barkdoll added, “That case still has not conclude. The Masterpiece Cakeshop case that went the whole way to the US Supreme Court, that’s the case where the Supreme Court essentially punted their decision. They said the Human Relations Commission did not do enough due diligence in making their decision on whether that cake shop owner should have been required to provide the cake or did his religious freedoms supersede the need to bake that cake. That case is still kicking around and it’s gone back and forth through the court system out there three times. Imagine the money that the local municipality and the state are spending defending this case and it’s still not concluded. I think that is a very good cautionary tale. If you are small borough or a township looking at one of these things, look no further than the Masterpiece Cakeshop case to see how these things can just take on a life if their own. They could go on for years with no conclusion and in the meantime it’s all on your dime. And there are groups out there they are waiting for one of these cases to come along to go after it and I think that is a very key point that this committee needs to consider.”