The fifth meeting for the Chambersburg Exploratory Committee happens tomorrow

July 20 – The Chambersburg Borough Council formed an exploratory committee to look into the possible need for a nondiscrimination ordinance for the LGBTQ+ community in Chambersburg as well as the possible formation of a Human Relations Commission a few months ago.

The committee will hold its fifth meeting tonight on the Zoom platform. The public can watch, but not comment.

Here’s the link:

Meeting ID: 947 8341 8902

Passcode: 958550

Attorney Clint Barkdoll, Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen discussed the exploratory committee this morning during the Big Talk on First News.

Ryan pointed out that only one of the previous exploratory meetings included business people from the community.

Tomorrow’s meeting includes Megan Shreve and Dr. Nicole Hewitt from South Central Community Action Programs, Inc.; Wesley R. Fugate, Ph.D. from Wilson College; and Pastor Scott Bowerman Central Presbyterian Church in Chambersburg.

Jansen pointed out they are “all cheerleaders” for the ordinance.

Ryan asked, “How much more does this thing not look like we’re having a free and open discussion about both sides of the coin on leaving it up to a commission in Chambersburg to educate, adjudicate and all the rest of the things that go along with this when you’ve only got one meeting with business people in it?”

Barkdoll said, “This panel certainly would have the discretion to call more meetings to bring more business people in, more counterpoints, but they clearly don’t seem like they’re going in that direction. After tomorrow’s meeting I guess we’re getting close to the point where they would make their ultimate vote and recommendation and as we’ve said from the beginning it appears very clearly that they’re going in a direction that yes, they’re going to recommend the formation of this local commission. How long it takes to get it set up remains to be seen, but when you look at the agenda, the people that are addressing this board over these last few weeks and months I think it’s pretty clear where they’re going with this.”

Jansen added, “And there was the shocking revelation, at least it was to me, that the borough’s already changed its own internal nondiscrimination policies to be a fairly extreme version especially when it comes to LGBTQ and they not only put that on all their employees I think that was done in 2018, but in March they expanded it to include everyone who sits on a board, who does business with the borough. They have to sign on to these nondiscrimination policies that are rather more to the extreme. And they decided to highlight that at the last exploratory meeting which makes me think how can we trust that you’re being open minded in looking at concerns that the town might have when you’ve already decided as a governmental organization you’re going to apply this to anyone that works with the borough? I found that an odd thing for them to do if they’re trying to convince us that they’re actually exploring this and trying to be open minded about it.”

Barkdoll said, “You mentioned some of the people scheduled to speak I think what you’ll hear them say is and this is what this committee wants to hear so they can make their recommendation, these people are going to say we want the formation of this commission because we think it helps our school or our business culture, but as you’re pointing out they’re not really hearing then from the other people in the business or education community that maybe have the opposite view. I think they’re essentially building a record that is slanted to justify what their recommendation is going to be when they say yes we want to form this commission.”

Ryan said, “It’s up to the people in Chambersburg to make sure …do you know who is leading your ward? Majority left-leaning borough council here in Chambersburg. Remember the borough manager works at the discretion of the borough council. We want to make sure we keep our jobs. Don’t think for a hot second that there’s some sort of independent thought going on there.”

Jansen added, “They already have it in their own policies. For instance, they were putting some new board members on last night and one community member did ask do they have to sign your nondiscrimination policy? And they said yes. So let’s say I was a Christian pastor that wanted to sit on (a board) I have to actually look at their definition of gender that says gender is your deeply held belief of what you are. Well maybe that totally goes against science for a lot of people, that goes against their sensibilities but I have to sign something that says I will agree with nondiscrimination based on that definition of gender. So you either have to put your principles aside and go ahead and sign it if you want to sit on a board. I think there’s a real issue there when people have gone that far in their ideology extreme for how they want to define nondiscrimination.”

Barkdoll pointed out, “It’s also the classic ingredients for lawsuits. We know from our Saturday show and just follow the news from week to week, this is often the genesis of lawsuits where someone says they have a deep-seated religious belief that they cannot subscribe to policy X, Y and Z and there’s where these things get into court and start costing a lot of money to a local municipality.”

Jansen said, “And our society’s being taught to see hate or to see offense everywhere right now. You can apply to that law and say I was offended somebody stared at me the wrong way and that’s not so much of an exaggeration. They even have in their borough policy, that can be a glare or a look. It actually says that in their policy. I’m very worried where this can go in terms of us always seeing problems with each other.”

Ryan said, “This is why you desperately need to be in contact with (your elected officials) it doesn’t matter what borough you’re in, doesn’t matter what city you’re in, you’ve got to engage with these school boards and these folks that you have left up to what’s between their ears on making decisions like this.”

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