I share with you for publication this letter sent to all of Lewisburg’s elected officials.
Dear Mayor Manchester, City Recorder and City Council members,
I extend my appreciation for your service and vision, benefiting both residents and visitors our city.
For decades, while I lived in Summers County, my family and I came to Lewisburg 1-4 times each week to take classes, shop, eat, attend performances, and visit. Through our family foundation, donations are made annually to most of the nonprofit organizations here. I have worked and continue to volunteer in Lewisburg. Since 2007, I have co-owned commercial property and a business here, one of the cultural anchors of downtown. It is already operated with no discrimination in the employment or public accommodation. In 2009, we even demolished the balcony wall at the Historic Lewis Theatre, which had segregated people of different “races” for more than 30 years. In 2012, my family relocated here full-time.
Specifically, I write in support of Ordinance 254, which I have read. I also want Lewisburg to be a place where “people can live and work without fear of discrimination” and “to maintain a competitive business environment.” I know that there has been effort to distort the honorable and just intentions of this anti-discrimination, human rights amendment to the city code, and as a person of faith, I ask that each of you stay the course of justice.
There is again vocal resistance to expansion of human rights to minority and other marginalized people. Now a senior citizen, I have personally experienced religious discrimination in public accommodation. I was involved in struggles by African-Americans, women, and LGBTQ people for equal protection under the law. It is a long journey, and we must keep moving forward. As I stood on the sidewalk for two hours before the December city council meeting where the first reading occurred (I was two away from getting in the door), and as I read postings on the web, I have learned that the single objection voiced (fear of predatory men invading restrooms) has not occurred in any of the states or localities that have such legislation. Anyway, predatory behavior is illegal anywhere, with or without such civil rights ordinances.
Believe me, with 6 daughters and 4 grandchildren already in our family, I am concerned about the safety of women and children. As a previous board chairperson of The Family Resource Center, I learned that most such violations are done by family members and other known and trusted people, not by strangers. In my meetings and conversations, it appears that few opponents have even read the document or know that it also names religion as a protected identity factor, as well as gender identity, sexual orientation and eight other named factors of identity.
Thank you each for acknowledging the validity of “the principles of freedom and equality of opportunity.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”