A Montgomery County borough introduced an ordinance this week that would establish a human relations commission that recognizes 13 protected classes, including sexual orientation and gender identity.
Ambler Borough Council will vote on the ordinance at its May 17 meeting.
A council member and a few residents brought up the desire to create a local human relations commission to protect people from discrimination in employment, housing, commercial property and public accommodation, said Borough Manager Mary Aversa.
“It was not brought up because of a problem,” she said. “We just wanted to be proactive.”
Aversa said Ambler is looking for five people to form part of the oversight committee that would handle discrimination claims brought to the human relations commission. Each appointee, either a resident or business owner in the borough, would serve a three-year term on a volunteer basis, according to the ordinance draft.
The proposed ordinance says one committee person will receive the complaint and conduct an intake meeting. That person will not participate in further mediation. Instead, the remaining four members will vote on complaints brought to the commission.
Aversa said once borough council votes on the human relations commission ordinance, the next step would be to pass a resolution calling on the state to enact the Pennsylvania Fairness Act, which would extend state-level protections against discrimination to LGBT people.
“An ordinance doesn’t have a ton of teeth when the state doesn’t have language to back it up,” Aversa said.
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