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Susquehanna Township passes ordinance for LGBT rights - abc27 WHTM

Susquehanna Township passes ordinance for LGBT rights

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It's a major milestone for gay and transgendered rights in Dauphin County -- Susquehanna Township passed an ordinance to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation.

According to Ted Martin, the head of PA Equality, which is the largest LGBT advocacy group in the state, in about 70% of Pennsylvania municipalities, it's still legal to be fired or denied housing based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

He says that without state or federal laws preventing this kind of discrimination, it's up to local governments to provide those equal rights.

"What we have started to do is what they told us to do which is pass things on a grass roots basis," said Martin.

Commissioners in Susquehanna Township took the leap Thursday.

They voted 7-1 to approve such an ordinance, becoming the 26th municipality in Pennsylvania to advance gay rights. The ordinance protects residents from being denied housing or employment based on sexual orientation.

"In the event that we have a person who is being discriminated against now we have mechanism in place to deal with it," said Susquehanna Township commissioner Fred Engle.  

But the decision wasn't without some public concern, specifically with transgendered residents who will now have the legal right to use either the men's or women's restroom.

Supporters assure that bathroom use boils down to a common sense issue -- one that comes second to protecting basic human rights.

"If folks are going to take it to that extreme, and I sincerely think that will not be the case, then there are laws in place to deal with that," said Engle.

Harrisburg was actually the second city in the United States to implement a similar ordnance back in the mid-1980's.

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