WILKES-BARRE -- Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people living and working in Wilkes-Barre may no longer have to fear discrimination. City council is expected to vote Thursday night on an ordinance that would protect their civil rights.
There is no state ordinance protecting the gay community from workplace or housing discrimination. Just earlier this week, Luzerne County Council shot down a proposal that would have extended those protections.
Wilkes-Barre City Councilwoman Beth Gilbert believes now is the time the Diamond City should step up to the plate to be welcoming for everyone.
Gilbert plans to introduce an ordinance that would better protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. If they were discriminated against in the workplace or in housing, for instance, the ordinance would give them a leg to stand on in a civil case.
"A lot of my close friends belong to the LGBT community, and it's something that's really close to my heart and I believe everyone in Wilkes-Barre deserves equal protection under the law," Gilbert said.
Kim Borland was the first lawyer to represent a workplace discrimination suit in Scranton after the city passed a similar measure, several years ago. Borland believes passing an ordinance in Wilkes-Barre would allow LGBT people to live without fear of being fired or not getting an apartment for simply being who they are.
"This will make a very big difference in Wilkes-Barre," Borland said. "It's a very significant impact because there isn't any statewide or federal protection."
Many people who live and work in Wilkes-Barre believe an ordinance protecting LGBT people is long overdue.
"I think the ordinance should be passed," said Debora Bradley. "I think everybody should have a job, but I disagree with their way of life."
"I don't believe that anybody should be discriminated," said Patricia Boyke. "No matter what gender, no matter what type, they have every right to be who they are."
The ordinance needs three votes, and right now, Gilbert believes she has at least two. If it passes Thursday night, there would be one more vote on it next month before it could go into effect.