By Craig Wandalowski, Organizer, Americans for Workplace Opportunity
Today, our campaign delivered a letter to Senator Patrick Toomey signed by over 300 small businesses in Pennsylvania who strongly support passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. From Senator Toomey’s own backyard in the Lehigh Valley up to Scranton and Northeastern PA, I’ve seen small businesses line up to support this bill.
All throughout the Lehigh Valley’s vibrant small business community, owners and managers have lined up to sign on in support of ENDA. From chic downtown Easton galleries to popular Allentown restaurants, hip Emmaus boutiques to respected Bethlehem consulting firms, a broad range of businesses have made it clear that they want Senator Toomey to vote in favor of ENDA. Even the farm owners who flock to Valley farmer’s markets on the weekend have overwhelmingly showed their support, with many sign ons coming from far-flung rural communities surrounding the region. With such a diverse array of industries and entrepreneurs backing the law in his own back yard, it’s likely that the Junior Senator from Pennsylvania will sit up and take note.
In Scranton the story has been much the same. Downtown has experienced something of a small business revival in recent years, filling the area with innovative stores catering to a young urban crowd. Like their customer base, many of these business owners have been quick to show support for ENDA. The recently arrived cafes, bars, and shops aren’t the only ones, however. Longtime boutique owner Maureen Duffy says “I'm a proud resident and small business owner for 25 years in Scranton, PA. I support ENDA because discrimination due to sexual orientation is wrong, unjust, and simply ridiculous. Equality in the work place should be the norm, and it should have nothing to do with one's sexual preference. It's 2013, get with it!”
Small business support has been so great, that our volunteers have said this is one of the easiest things they’ve ever volunteered to do. As one of my volunteers in Bethlehem noted “Most business owners were surprised to realize that the LGBT communities did NOT have workplace protections, and were happy to show their support. Clearly, both the business community and the average American want equality in the workplace and I am sure our legislators will do right by their wishes and pass ENDA.”