LETTER: LGBT protection well intended, but …


Some Pennsylvania municipalities are considering ordinances and human relations commissions to provide legal protection for members of the LGBT community. These are well-intended measures to protect some pretty vulnerable folks; folks who have limited legal recourse and serious stress. They are taken in the absence of a state statute which would make more sense.

Jeffrey Erikson and Jamie Fernandez hold each other during a moment of silence at a vigil in Cal Anderson Park in Seattle for the victims of a mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, June 12, 2016. (Genna Martin/seattlepi.com via AP)

A state law would be uniform and more in keeping with other states. We would move away from being “Pennsyltucky.” A modification of the PA Human Relations Act to include LGBT protection would be a good thing. As citizens we should advocate for this change.

Municipal human relations commissions must be carefully crafted. While most of their work is educating the public and mediating disputes; their enforcement actions can have serious consequences. These are not to be taken lightly. The composition, authority and jurisdiction of commissions must be closely scrutinized. Operational details must be seen in advance before problems arise.

Using existing models and heeding the advice of solicitors is a necessity. So too is the professional development of commission members, staff and investigators.

Investigative skills are sometimes lacking. The title “investigator” does not ensure proficiency. All too often investigators are just “going through the motions.” There’s a world of difference between an amateurish interview and one that is conducted professionally.

The LGBT community needs legal protection. Federal and state governments are not providing it so municipalities have to do the right thing. Let’s do this thoughtfully.

As my grandfather used to say, “The world wasn’t built on good intentions.”


Spring Garden Township