Bias ruling may test other city laws
Allentown's gay rights defeat threatens many rules, lawyers say.
By Scott Kraus
Of The Morning Call
City attorneys fear Allentown could lose its ability to license landlords and regulate other businesses under Monday's court ruling that threw out a 2002 ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Philadelphia attorney Daniel Anders, who represented the city in the case, said the ruling goes against the thrust of the state's Home Rule Charter Act, which is designed to give cities more lawmaking leeway.
''I think the breadth of the court's decision puts at risk not only anti-discrimination ordinances across the state that go beyond the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act but many more perfunctory ordinances such as the landlord license ordinance in Allentown,'' Anders said.
Lehigh County Judge Alan M. Black ruled Monday that the state's Home Rule Act forbids Allentown to require businesses not to discriminate based on gender identity or sexual orientation, because such protections are not enumerated in the Human Relations Act.
Vote on Gay Marriage Is Guaranteed to Hurt Some Feelings
By CARL HULSE
ith Senate Republican leaders considering a vote later this summer on the Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, the political implications loom large for senators of both parties, especially those running for re-election in November. Lawmakers, forced to take a stand on the issue, are bound to alienate someone.
So perhaps it was no coincidence that the Senate on Tuesday found itself facing a vote to expand the definition of hate crimes to include those committed against people due to their sexual orientation. Some lawmakers and other aides said the hate crimes provision could allow those who intend to support the amendment to show that they are still sympathetic to gay rights. And it drew broad support, with 47 Democrats and 18 Republicans voting for it.
Senator Gordon Smith, Republican of Oregon, said that was not his intention when he joined with Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, to push the change in the hate crimes definition. The hate-crimes issue and gay marriage "are two separate issues," Mr. Smith said.