Easton City Council Unanimously Passes Same Sex Partner Benefits; Had Bipartisan Support

May 25th, 2011, Easton, PA -- A standing ovation concluded the vote of Easton City Council tonight as they unanimously endorsed legislation providing equal benefits to same sex partners of City staff. The ordinance, only the 5th in Pennsylvania, was sponsored by Councilperson Mike Fleck. Not one member of the public spoke against the ordinance. The ordinance will take effect on January 1st, and will join Allentown, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia in providing same-sex benefits.

Pennsylvania Diversity Network's Adrian Shanker and Liz Bradbury worked with Fleck for a year and half to prepare the legislation and garner support. Shanker stated, "I am so pleased by the unanimous and bipartisan support for relationship recognition for same sex couples in Easton. Easton now joins the vast majority of Fortune 500 companies in providing the best HR policies for their employees."

Bradbury, who also worked in 2002 to pass Easton's non-discrimination law, commented, "Easton has come a long way, and I am thrilled that I can recommend it as a progressive place to live or work for the LGBT community."

Fleck introduced this ordinance because "[he] was elected to represent all the citizens of the West Ward, many of whom are LGBT and want to know that their City treats their community as equals." The City of Easton is one of the few in the Commonwealth of PA that has an openly gay elected official, City Councilmember El Warner. Warner commented, "I am very proud of my colleagues on Council for coming together to pass this important Civil Rights bill. The time for it is now." The legislation was strongly supported by Mayor Sal Panto.

Mayor Panto has scheduled a public ceremony to sign the legislation on June 6th at 12:30pm in Centre Square, Easton. Rain location is City Hall. Meanwhile, the neighboring City of Bethlehem, has scheduled a final vote on the proposed non-discrimination law on June 7th.

Pennsylvania Diversity Network is the Lehigh Valley-based LGBT advocacy organization serving Northeast Pennsylvania. For more information, www.PADiversity.org

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