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Newtown Township supports Love is Love Day

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It took a second ballot but Newtown Township has officially come out in support of Love is Love Day. The board of supervisors, on March 11, voted unanimously in favor of the resolution introduced by Secretary-Treasurer John Mack before Valentine’s Day.

The bill was originally introduced by Mack Feb. 12 but was tabled. When a motion to approve the bill was put forward two weeks later, the resolution was defeated, 3-2. Chairman Phil Calabro and Members Kyle Davis and David Oxley voted against adapting the resolution.

This time, all five members voted in favor of the bill.

In 2018, the board ratified an anti-discrimination ordinance` protecting those in the LGBTQ community from discrimination in both the workplace and the housing market. That bill formed a Human Relations Commission in the township to help oversee any complaints that arise in those arenas.

“I am perplexed by this board’s unwillingness to pass the Love is Love Resolution introduced a few weeks ago,” said former Board Member Linda Bobrin. “It embodies the same principles supporting those who are marginalized in our community, standing up for those who have been treated as less than.”

“If you don’t make Newtown a Love is Love community, shame on all of you,” added Greg Zarnota, of Newtown Grant. “People are what they are and who they are and who they love is none of anybody else’s business.”

The timing of the introduction of the resolution was deliberate. Mack was trying to get the bill passed in time for “Love is Love – A Queer Prom For All,” an event for LGBTQ youth hosted by the Rainbow Room Feb. 15 at the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown.

The son of Tracey Sabara of Warminster Township attended the prom.

“My son is 13 years old and is trans-gender,” said Sabara. “We are amazed by his courage and his strength to live his truth at such a young age.”

“I had a lot of fears and concerns about how people would accept him, respect him and not just tolerate him.”

Those fears were gradually dissipated, Sabara says, by reassurance she received from family, friends, teachers and administrators in the Centennial School District.

According to Sabara, Centennial School Superintendent David Baugh met with her to make sure those in the district were doing enough for LGBTQ students and their families.

“I’m asking you to consider something that is so simple yet means so much to LGBTQ-plus youth,” she said. “It confuses me why there is so much pushback.

State Sen. Steve Santarsiero (D-10) recently introduced the Love is Love Day resolution (SR 307) before the Pennsylvania Assembly but could not garner unanimous support to bring the measure to the Senate Floor.

If a resolution in the Senate has unanimous support, leaders fast track it to the floor for a vote. Resolutions that draw opposition first have to pass a committee vote before they can be brought before the full Senate.

When Mack’s resolution was initially introduced before the Supervisors, some of those who voted against it thought the bill was exclusionary.

“The flaw in that argument is this notion that by singling out one specific group – in this case LGBTQ-plus youth – that we are somehow denigrating other groups,” said Santarsiero. “And nothing could be further from the truth.”

Santarsiero reminded the members that it is perfectly legal to discriminate against LGBTQ members of society in Pennsylvania. He asked the Board to reconsider their Feb. 26 ballot.

“It’s a statement that you stand with these courageous young people, courageous not just because they’re here to talk to you tonight but courageous in a society that is not always so accepting, that they have found it within themselves that they not only can say who they are but are proud of who they are and can take their place in society with the rights and privileges that we all enjoy under the United States Constitution,” Santarsiero said.

Newtown resident Bob Swajkos, an openly gay attorney who serves as legal counsel to the LGBTQ community in the region, says the board failed gay youth in Bucks County by turning down the resolution.

There were others who spoke in support of LGBTQ youth.

“I love living in Newtown but a lot of my friends cannot love living in Newtown because Newtown doesn’t love them back,” said Marguerite Speaker, a board member of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance at Council Rock High School North. “The Newtown Township supervisors and the Newtown Township community have refused to take steps to support them.”

Unlike the previous resolution, the approved bill does not set a specific Love is Love Day, but recognizes the Rainbow Room and its prom, which the LGBTQ group plans on making an annual event.

stevesherman222@gmail.com


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