Dormont council member Joanna Bouldin told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the new ordinance expands protections for Dormont residents, particularly LGBTQ residents. Bouldin added that the ordinance also makes it illegal to discriminate against anyone on the basis of identity in housing, employment, and public accommodations such as restaurants, theaters, and shops within the borough.
“I’m just so happy about this," said Jessica McGinnis, a trans woman and Dormont resident, to the Post-Gazette. "This is something I’ve been wanting to see and it just makes me feel like this is my home.”
The ordinance also creates a local human relations commission, which Dormont residents will lead. The committee will receive and investigate complaints and educate residents, landlords, and business owners about their rights and how to prevent discrimination.
According to the Dormont ordinance, it would prohibit discrimination in housing, commercial property, employment, and public accommodations based upon actual or perceived race, color, national origin, immigration status, ancestry, religious creed, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, veteran’s status, marital status, familiar status, genetic information, handicap or disability, or use of an assistance animal.
Last year, Sharpsburg and Crafton passed similar ordinances. Monessen, in Westmoreland County, also passed a nondiscrimination ordinance early in 2021.
While Dormont marks the seventh municipality in Allegheny County, which also has countywide nondiscrimination protections, most Pennsylvania municipalities are without local protections. Pennsylvania lacks statewide LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections, meaning it is still legal to evict or deny public accommodation to people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity in municipalities that lack protections. The U.S. Supreme Court granted LGBTQ Americans workplace protections last year, but not housing or public accommodation. Republicans in Harrisburg have been blocking efforts to provide statewide LGBTQ protections for years.
Dormont approving the anti-discrimination ordinance makes 70 of Pennsylvania’s 2,562 municipalities have passed LGBTQ-inclusive local nondiscrimination ordinances. The residents of these municipalities amount to over 35% of Pennsylvania’s overall population, according to 2018 census figures.
“Passing a nondiscrimination ordinance should not be a difficult task, but it’s necessary until the state and/or federal government extends more protections,” Crafton Councilor Anthony Saba told Pittsburgh City Paper last year. “I would also encourage my fellow elected officials to advocate for every citizen within their communities to have the protections and that we must continue to push for progress towards true equality.”