Haverford Passes Controversial Non-Discrimination Law

The Main Line town now bans the discrimination of gays and lesbians

In a controversial vote last week, the township of Haverford on Philadelphia’s Main Line officially banned the discrimination of gays and lesbians. After listening to leaders debate both sides of the issue, including pleas from local high school students and a resident who says he was the victim of anti-gay discrimination, the commissioners passed the ordinance with a 5-3 ruling and one abstention.

Those who voted in favor of the ordinance included Republicans Bill Wechsler and Mario Olivia, along with Democrats Rob Trumbull, Dan Siegel and the sponsoring Commissioner Larry Holmes, according to the Main Line Times. Republicans who voted against the measure were Jim McGarrity, Chris Connell and Jeff Heilman (Stephen D’Emilio abstained).

It was in October, reports the Main Line Times, that a gay resident – Lou Devecchis – first brought the issue to the commissioners, asking Haverford to adopt civil rights protection for LGBT people. The request followed an incident of harassment Devecchis says he experienced in the town of almost 50,000.

In addition to banning discrimination of LGBT people in Haverford, the ordinance also creates a human relations commission made up of seven volunteers that police complaints in reference to housing and employment based on color, race, religion, age, gender, nationality, disabilities and now sexual orientation, which was not covered under the state’s own Human Relations Act.

LGBT people who feel as though they have been discriminated against may access a form for filing claims on the township website. The commission may also now impose fines up to $10,000 for wrongful discrimination of gay people in the township.