The city of Bethlehem, Pa., was host to a four-hour meeting at the City Council Chambers on Wednesday, where more than 70 community members discussed their support for or opposition to a proposed Human Relations Ordinance that seeks to provide protection from housing and employment discrimination as well as create a Human Relations Commission, where residents could complaints about any form of discrimination.
The ordinance, which was introduced by Mayor John Callahan in September and then passed unanimously through the Human Resources and Environment Committee in April, is supported by members of Bethlehem's LGBT community as well as a broad coalition of more than 100 labor, faith, business, arts, and civil rights organizations.
"I think it sends a very clear message to people about Bethlehem that we're inclusive and we put a high value on human rights," said Mayor Callahan.
Also on hand were members of the American Family Association, who voiced their opposition to the bill. "This is a foot in the door for homosexual activists to demand that everyone celebrate their lifestyle," said Diane Gramley.
Stephen Glassman, chairperson of the Human Relations Committee, doesn't think the bill's passing will have a negative effect. "There are 20 jurisdictions in the state which have already passed these laws, inclusive of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, and the sky hasn't fallen in any of those jurisdictions," he said.
Another reading on the bill is expected to take place in June.