“Other ways of getting those things accomplished”: Why a Chambersburg council member is anti an anti-discrimination ordinance

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CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Discrimination? Allen Coffman, First Ward councilperson, says he’s as opposed to it as anyone else.

But he’s also opposed to an ordinance that would ban it in Chambersburg, where he’s the longest-serving borough council member.

“I’m not against the ordinance because of what it does,” Coffman said Thursday, the day after a committee consisting of three other councils met to discuss the proposed ordinance. “I just think there’s other ways of getting those things accomplished.”

The committee heard from leaders of Carlisle and Gettysburg, which have already passed similar ordinances, as well as from Carl Sommerson of Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Commission. All expressed support for a local ordinance as a way of addressing gaps in federal and state law.

“We have a court system, and I think that belongs in the court system,” said Coffman, who is also Chairman of the Franklin County Republican Committee. “And we also have the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, which does hear these sorts of things.”

Coffman said the ordinance is a solution looking for a problem.

“People have asked us, ‘Well when was the last case we had?'” he said. “Well people have gone back 10 years and found nothing within the borough of Chambersburg.”

Brice Williams, a board member of the Franklin County Coalition for Progress, disputed that in advance of Wednesday’s meeting. “We are still seeing a great deal of discrimination here in Chambersburg,” said Williams, who identifies as queer. Williams said the discrimination is often in the form of “micro-aggressions” rather than overt discrimination.

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