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Newtown Becomes the FIRST Township in Bucks County to Pass an Anti-Discrimination Ordinance That Protects the Rights of the LGBTQ Community

Newtown Becomes the FIRST Township in Bucks County to Pass an Anti-Discrimination Ordinance That Protects the Rights of the LGBTQ Community | Newtown News of Interest |

Supervisors approved an ordinance Wednesday evening establishing a new Human Relations commission, which can review and answer complaints from residents alleging discrimination based on “actual or perceived” qualities not covered under federal or state law.


Newtown Township has joined Yardley and Hatboro in establishing anti-discrimination protections for its residents this year.


The board voted 4-0, with Supervisor Kyle Davis absent, to approve an ordinance forming a three- to five-member Human Relations commission, tasked with reviewing complaints from residents alleging discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations or access to educational institutions.


The measure is intended to safeguard against unequal treatment based on an individual’s “actual or perceived” race, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or disability.


After receiving a complaint, the commission can facilitate fact-finding conferences with parties in a dispute, conduct investigations and potentially hold public hearings where the parties can provide testimony. Members could then decide whether to issue a cease-and-desist order or take “additional action” as deemed appropriate.


Supervisor John Mack first floated the idea for the ordinance in July, and in September, the board heard a presentation from Yardley Councilman David Bria, who led the charge on Yardley’s anti-discrimination ordinance earlier this year.


Sexual orientation and gender identity are not spelled out as protected under federal or state law, leaving appellate courts in various districts to decide differently as to whether any protections exist at all, Bria said.


With supervisors’ approval Wednesday evening, Newtown Township has become Bucks County’s first township to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance. Between 2002 and 2013, officials approved similar ordinances in New Hope, Doylestown Borough, Newtown Borough and Bristol Borough, with Yardley and Hatboro joining in in March and May, respectively. All are boroughs compared to a township.


Newtown Township’s vote also expands the number of county residents living in municipalities with anti-discrimination protections in place, on account of its size compared to the six boroughs.


Before Wednesday evening, 32,676 residents of those boroughs, or 5.2 percent of Bucks County’s 625,249 residents, lived in protected municipalities. Now, factoring in Newtown Township’s 19,299 residents, 51,975 residents, or 8.3 percent, are covered, according to census data.



johnmacknewtown's insight:

Ever since I first interviewed David Bria in December, 2017 (, it was my goal and my promise to Dave to bring this before the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors. I thank my fellow Supervisors for diligently doing their research on this issue and crafting this ordinance. The next step is to get volunteers to serve on the Human Relations Commission established by the ordinance. Only when this commission is formed will this ordinance come into effect. Stay tuned.

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