Monessen passes LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinance, turns into first city in Westmoreland County to supply such civil rights protections | Information | Pittsburgh

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In many parts of Pennsylvania, it is still legal to evict or deny LGBTQ people to public housing. Only in jurisdictions with Human Relations Commissions do LGBTQ individuals and other classes not mentioned in state and federal civil rights laws have such non-discrimination protection.

In the Pittsburgh area, for years only parishes in Allegheny County and the county itself offered non-discrimination to LGBTQ people.

That changed on January 12, when Monessen became the first Westmoreland County ward and the first non-Allegheny County ward in the Pittsburgh area to pass a law to establish a Human Relations Commission protecting LGBTQ people offers against non-discrimination.

Tonight I am signing # Monessen’s most comprehensive anti-discrimination ordinance since 1968 with a unanimous decision by the City Council! We are joining over 60 other communities in the Commonwealth to adopt this new human relations ordinance!

– Matt Shorraw (@MattShorraw) Jan 13, 2021 According to Monessen Mayor Matt Shorraw, the ordinance was passed unanimously and he is proud that the small town on the Monongahela River is a pioneer for rural southwest Pennsylvania and the Mon. Valley is.

“I am incredibly pleased that this landmark law is being passed unanimously in Monessen,” Shorraw said in a statement. “We are the first community in Mon Valley and the first in Westmoreland County. Monessen is a diverse city and we need to make sure we update our laws to protect everyone. ”

Protecting against non-discrimination in rural southwest Pennsylvania has not been easy. The issue became part of the Mayor’s race in the town of Butler in 2017, only to let the Republican win the race, and efforts to add non-discrimination protection there ended. Washington, Pennsylvania has also pushed for a Human Relations Commission, but has not yet done so.

Shorraw encouraged the state assembly to take nationwide protective measures. These efforts have been blocked by Republicans who control both the State House and the State Senate. A majority of Pennsylvanians support the provision of non-discrimination protection to LGBTQ people.

Still, Shorraw hopes rural communities that have shied away from the issue of non-discrimination protection for LGBTQ people will follow Monessen’s lead. He says it wasn’t long ago that Monessen was afraid to create protection.

“In the past, Monessen has shied away from talking about racial problems, disability problems, LGBTQ problems and other discriminatory practices,” Shorraw said. “But that has changed over the past year thanks to local activists and open dialogue between residents.” . ”

Momentum has been built across Pennsylvania for communities to adopt LGBTQ non-discrimination protection policies, even if this is not the case in rural southwest Pennsylvania. Sharpsburg and Crafton counties have passed safeguards since fall 2020, as well as several others across the Commonwealth. At least 66 different communities now offer protection, including Monessen’s inclusion.

Monessen, home to around 7,200 residents, is currently looking for applicants for its new Human Relations Commission. According to Shorraw, there are five vacancies and at least two members do not need to be based in Monessen.

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