Updated: Dec 16, 2020
By Chadwick Dolgos
Crafton Borough is the 62nd of Pennsylvania’s 2,560 municipalities to adopt a non-discrimination policy.
A unanimous vote on Nov. 23 created the new ordinance prohibiting discrimination within the borough of Crafton. The move also establishes an Equal Opportunity Board consisting of five members from the community who will hear complaints regarding discrimination within the municipality.
Crafton’s non-discrimination ordinance extends protections to members of the LGBTQ community. These safeguards are not provided by federal or state law. The ordinance explicitly protects residents of Crafton from being discriminated against based on their gender identity or expression and their sexual orientation.
Initiated by Councilwoman Colleta Perry in late 2019, the ordinance first resurfaced at the council’s Sept. 14 meeting after losing momentum when the council was forced to focus on COVID-19 related issues.
“First, I just want to say thank you to everybody that helped and was involved in getting this on the table tonight to vote on,” said Councilman Anthony Saba, who spearheaded the effort.
The council did not reference any specific instances of discrimination during their discussions of the new ordinance. When asked if the ordinance was in response to any specific incidents involving discrimination, Perry said, “No, as far as I’m aware, there were not problems.”
Instead, the ordinance was more so adopted to promote community and welcome everyone from all walks of life to Crafton. “Crafton is a community where all are welcome, regardless of your background,” said Saba.
As to the equal opportunity board, when and how members will be added to the newly created board remains to be decided. “We just passed the ordinance, so we’re going to have to figure that all out,” said Perry.
Traditionally, Perry explained, members of newly created boards are appointed by the council and not elected through a democratic process.
She also expects that no members of the current council will serve simultaneously on the equal opportunity board.
“This is essentially the same ordinance that we’ve been reviewing now for many months,” said Solicitor Steve Korbel at the council’s Oct. 26 regular meeting prior to the council approval to advertise. “The only change was around the penalty provision that we discussed a couple meetings ago, that’s the only change that’s been made.”
Originally, the council proposed the ordinance to include a provision that would allow the newly created equal opportunity board to levy fines if they found someone to be in violation of the borough’s nondiscrimination policy.
While municipalities that have adopted similar ordinances in the past allow for their boards to issue fines, Korbel informed the board that the fine aspect of the ordinance isn’t mandatory and could be written out.
“This is a good piece of work,” said President Phillip Levasseur, congratulating the council for its efforts.