Share This Page

Westmoreland commissioners nix LGBT resolution

| Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Westmoreland County's Republican commissioners said on Tuesday they will not approve a resolution proclaiming June as a month for awareness of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.

Commissioners Charles Anderson and Tyler Courtney said a generic proclamation touting diversity in the county will be presented instead on Thursday.

“It's not going to be specific. Instead of focusing on an individual group, it will focus on all groups,” Anderson said.

Commissioners earlier this week received an emailed request from a Greensburg man asking that they approve a proclamation that mirrors one issued last month by President Obama.

Jason Gearhart said he wanted commissioners to show support for his community.

“I don't feel insulted,” Gearhart said about commissioners rejecting his proposed proclamation. “My friends and family support me. My federal government supports me, and the state supports me. Why doesn't Westmoreland County give me the same support?”

The presidential proclamation specifically recognized the LGBT community as well as general diversity.

“I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people,” Obama said in the proclamation.

Courtney called the proclamation proposed for Westmoreland County “political.”

“I'm not going to separate one group from another. We're supposed to be neutral, and this one is very politically charged,” Courtney said.

Rachel Butler-Pardi, a member of WestCo Pride, an advocacy group for the county's LGBT community, said on Tuesday she was disappointed that commissioners appear to have turned their backs on supporting gay rights.

“We're really at a crossroads in getting full rights. They are sweeping the LGBT community under the rug and minimizing the lack of protections they have,” Butler-Pardi said.

Democrat Ted Kopas said he will support the generic diversity proclamation but favors one specific to the LGBT community.

“We should be celebrating diversity. However, the request was much more than that,” Kopas said. “I don't think we should be afraid to support the request from our gay and lesbian constituents. We should not be ashamed to give them the proper recognition they are asking for.”

The proclamation issue was discussed on Tuesday during the commissioners agenda meeting, which Controller Jeff Balzer attended.

Balzer lashed out at the proposal.

“We're going to have gay months? Come on. They are not a challenged people,” he said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.