Thursday, May 26, 2011

Easton Joins PA Cities Leading the Fight for Equality for All

Mayor Panto announced last night that there will be a public signing of this legislation at Centre Square on June 6th at 12:30pm!

Posted by: Noël Jones

I'm really proud that Easton is rapidly becoming a city that takes progressive action where it counts! Earlier this year Easton City Council passed a resolution in support of Pittsburgh's ban on hydrofracking for natural gas, joining a small but growing number of bold PA communities to assert their right to, and support of, self-governance. Last night, our city council unanimously passed a law extending spousal benefits to same-sex partners of our city's employees. The law will expire if and when the State of Pennsylvania ever passes a law allowing gay couples to legally marry, so this action on the part of our city, is a municipal endorsement of gay marriage, and distinguishes Easton as a community that welcomes all Americans as equals.

Below is a statement from the Pennsylvania Diversity Network, recapping the historic legislation passed at Easton's City Council meeting last night in the West Ward:

'A standing ovation concluded the vote of Easton City Council tonight as they unanimously endorsed legislation providing equal benefits to same sex partners of City staff. The ordinance, only the 5th in Pennsylvania, was sponsored by Councilperson Mike Fleck. Not one member of the public spoke against the ordinance. The ordinance will take effect on January 1st, and will join Allentown, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia in providing same-sex benefits.

Pennsylvania Diversity Network's Adrian Shanker and Liz Bradbury worked with Fleck for a year and half to prepare the legislation and garner support. Shanker stated, "I am so pleased by the unanimous and bipartisan support for relationship recognition for same sex couples in Easton. Easton now joins the vast majority of Fortune 500 companies in providing the best HR policies for their employees."

Bradbury, who also worked in 2002 to pass Easton's non-discrimination law, commented, "Easton has come a long way, and I am thrilled that I can recommend it as a progressive place to live or work for the LGBT community."

Fleck introduced this ordinance because "[he] was elected to represent all the citizens of the West Ward, many of whom are LGBT and want to know that their City treats their community as equals." The City of Easton is one of the few in the Commonwealth of PA that has an openly gay elected official, City Councilmember El Warner. Warner commented, "I am very proud of my colleagues on Council for coming together to pass this important Civil Rights bill. The time for it is now." The legislation was strongly supported by Mayor Sal Panto.

Mayor Panto has scheduled a public ceremony to sign the legislation on June 6th at 12:30pm in Centre Square, Easton. Rain location is City Hall. Meanwhile, the neighboring City of Bethlehem, has scheduled a final vote on the proposed non-discrimination law on June 7th.'

Pennsylvania Diversity Network is the Lehigh Valley-based LGBT advocacy organization serving Northeast Pennsylvania. For more information,


noel jones said...

this is the only time i have ever seen the Easton city council get a standing ovation!

Kevin D. said...

It was certainly a well-deserved ovation. I'm happy to have been present for the historic moment, too. Now, hopefully more communities will join in to fight for equality for their citizens.

Adrian Shanker said...

Noel, thank you for being there and for covering it on your blog. It is truly historic for Easton to be on the forefront of a current civil rights struggle!

Julie Zando-Dennis said...

This legislation will have a significant, positive impact on the workplace. To date, gay city employees have had to work alongside their colleagues, without the right to enjoy the same benefits. Now, all employees are equal and have the right to the same vital benefits. We applaud the City Council for recognizing that it is an issue of fundamental fairness and equality.

David Caines said...

Probably the last "Odd man out" Where equality under law is concerned, it is nice to see the GLBT crowd being openly accepted by our city.
Truly sorry to have missed this one , but it sounds as though it worked out in the end.
Anyhow, happy to see this pass.

dbw said...

hats off to the council on this one...

interesting image i found:

Julie said...

Great image David!