Chambersburg leaders advocate for non-discrimination ordinance

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CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Chambersburg leaders are thinking about putting a non-discrimination ordinance into place.

The Borough has assigned a committee to discuss a potential ordinance. On Wednesday night they had their fifth discussion about it.

One of the community leaders who spoke at the meeting was Wilson College President Wesley Fugate. He says the community could benefit from a non-discrimination ordinance.

“Our community can be a welcoming place, but we need to do more to ensure that businesses like my own can recruit outstanding faculty staff and students,” Fugate said.

The committee also heard results from a focus group held with 27 people who live in Chambersburg. The facilitators of the focus group, Drs. Robert and Nicole Hewitt say those people shared stories of discrimination they’d experienced through work, housing, and business.

“White people, brown people, black people, all of us. Straight people, gay people, all of us. There are some hard truths that we have to look at if we really want to make it,” Robert Hewitt said.

Committee members said they’d heard concerns from businesses that the ordinance would be over-regulation.

But advocates pushed back against that argument.

“Non-discrimination isn’t about regulation, it’s about a human thing. This isn’t about republican or democrat, conservative or liberal. This is about humans and taking care of the people we care about in our community and making sure all are treated fairly,” Fugate said.

The committee says some have told them the community just doesn’t need a non-discrimination ordinance.

Those in favor of it point out just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean the discrimination isn’t happening.

“When it’s hidden or it’s done in a way that’s maybe a little bit subversive, it can be very frustrating for someone who is experiencing it, because you don’t have a way to get it addressed,” Nicole Hewitt said.

Those speakers believe the non-discrimination ordinance would be a step forward for the community.

“We want to feel as though we are a part of this home, that we have a voice, that we have respect, that we are valued here in our home. And we want it to be the best it can be,” Robert Hewitt said.

The committee has one more meeting planned. Then they plan to make a recommendation to the entire Chambersburg Borough Council.

It will be up to the full council to decide if they do want to pass any sort of non-discrimination ordinance.

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