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Haverford anti-discrimination ordinance: Court battle continues

Haverford Township has until Oct. 18 to file an answer to resident Fred Teal's complaint over changes to the anti-discrimination ordinance, which bars discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

UPDATED: 8:00 p.m.

 The Delaware County Court of Common Pleas overruled Haverford Township's attempt to throw out a case that challenged its new anti-discrimination policy, the Delaware County Daily Times reported.

The newspaper reported that the township has until Tuesday, Oct. 18 to file an answer to the complaint. Resident Fred Teal filed the complaint over additional provisions in the anti-discrimination ordinance, which was approved by the board of commissioners in February.

In dispute are provisions that prohibit discrimination in commericial property, employment, housing and public accomodations based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. The ordinance also prohibits discriminations on the basis of age, ancestry, national origin, race, color, religious creed, handicap or disability and the use of guide or support by animal, in addition to creating a human relations commission for the township.

Commissioner Larry Holmes, who introduced the ordinance last November, said he was proud of the outcome, especially after the February workshop prior to the ordinance's approval, where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents and those who opposed the additional provisions gave testimonies.

"The problems we talked about were problems that were much bigger than a township," Holmes told Neighbors Main Line. "Employers could round up and fire [LGBT employees] and there isn't anything the state or federal laws could do about it."

"That's all you need to know to understand how unfair the situation is [for LGBT residents]," he added.

The adoption of the ordinance put Haverford Township among the 22 municipalities that include sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in non-discrimination laws. A copy of the ordinance can be found here.

James Byrne, the township's solicitor, told Neighbors Main Line that the township will file an answer to Teal's complaint. Byrne added that he will offer additional comments tomorrow.

We'd like to take a deeper look at the impact of the ordinance and the contoversy surrounding it. Leave your thoughts in the comments section, or get in touch with us by email if you'd be willing to speak to me for a follow-up story. Please share any thoughts or insight, but we're especially interested in talking to anyone who has been the victim of discimination in Haverford Township.