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County Council in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania May Okay Racial Discrimination. Huh?

This is is a complicated situation to explain, but I'll do my best.

Allegheny County in Southwestern Pennsylvania (home of Pittsburgh) has been considering a non-discrimination ordinance for the past six months or so.  The ordinance would establish a County Human Relations Commission and include sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression among the protected classes.  The City of Pittsburgh has had similar protections on the books for over a decade and a statewide expansion of protected classes is moving through the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

The ordinance has been under the expected assault of rightwing hatemongerers in the guise of religious freedom.  Several co-sponsors (Dems!) have withdrawn their support, but are willing to vote for the ordinance with some f***ed up amending lingo.

I have the ACLU analysis posted at for a clear explanation that is beyond my ability to provide.  The ACLU of PA is not supporting the ordinance unless the offending sections which they deem unconstitutional are removed.

Still, I can say that once again religious organizations will get a pass on discriminating by basically enrolling in on a Big Hate Registry, even if they receive County funding.  This will allow them to discriminate not only against LGBTQ persons, but any other protected class as well.  While state and federal protections will obviously deter this, our County — the second largest in the State — is saying that is permissible for a church to discriminate on the basis of race, gender, age, ethnicity, etc if they can demonstrate that they are anti-gay on religious principles.

Yep, that's my hometown!  So proud am I to actually be moving backwards into the 1950s.  I mean that's quite a feat for a County led by a man who aspires to be our next Democratic Governor. 

There's more at stake than our little backwater host of the upcoming G20 Summit.  This could set a very dangerous precedent for the statewide legislation as well as ordinances being considered in other municipalities.  Advocacy leaders are at loggerheads over supporting this ordinance, but apparently it has the votes and it will pass in one form or another.  That will put us into litigation mode and further delay the very real protections our residents need.  It will also further siphon resources much needed for the statewide legislation. 

We have enough on our plates (marriage amendment, marriage equality legislation, exist-gate, etc) without adding a Hate Registry and the dispensation to bring racism back to our County.

If you have any friends, family or acquaintances residing in Allegheny County please give them a nudge to call our would be Governor and let him know that it is not okay to give public dollars to organizations that have permission to discriminate.  We want the original language of the ordinance restored and we need his leadership to make that happen. 

Onorato's phone number is 412-350-6500.  Email:

Calls and email to the County Council are also a good idea.

Let's prove we do more than *exist* and put the pressure on Onorato.

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