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Valley Chamber of Commerce Starting Gay Council

Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce will kick off its Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender Business Initiative.

Those in the Lehigh Valley who would like to turn back the clock on gay rights can pack it in right now. Game over. The fat lady has sung. 

I say that because the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce – not exactly a charter member of Queer Nation -- is holding a kick-off event Friday morning for its new Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) Business Initiative. Doors open at 7:30 a.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn Allentown Bethlehem Airport at 1787-B Airport Road in Allentown. 

It’s the first step toward starting an LGBT council within the Chamber that would provide networking and other opportunities and resources for LGBT business owners and employees.  

I can think of few more solid indicators that the gay rights movement has arrived than to have such a bastion of the establishment embrace it. The LGBT council will join other groups within the Chamber, such as the Women’s Business Council and the Young Professionals Council, as a sort of chamber within a Chamber. 

Tony Iannelli, president of the Lehigh Valley Chamber, which he says is the ninth largest in the nation, acknowledged that establishing an LGBT council has “raised a few eyebrows.” But he said it is both good for business and the right thing to do. 

“What has made us successful is when we feel there’s a demand…we try to recognize that market and build a partnership with it,” he said. 

Some of the larger companies in the Valley, such as PPL and Air Products, already have gay and lesbian resource groups that meet in the workplace. 

“When PPL created domestic partnership benefits for their employees it really came out of requests from this group,” according to Adrian Shanker, president of Equality Pennsylvania, a nonprofit advocacy group for the LGBT community. “It’s not controversial anymore to say that the business community supports the idea that people should be employed based on their talent, not their sexual orientation. It’s in their best interest to have a top, talented workforce.” 

If only Harrisburg would catch up. “Just about everyone else is leaps and bounds ahead of our state Legislature who has yet to vote on a non-discrimination law,” said Shanker, who worked with the Valley Chamber on Friday’s LGBT council kick-off. 

A poll last year showed 69 percent of Pennsylvanians support prohibiting discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation, yet the Legislature drags its feet.

Iannelli told me that many Chambers around the country don’t join forces with groups representing a certain demographic, as his organization does with the Lehigh Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “You have got to be open and flexible to building partnerships to these varying communities,” he said. 

Maybe that’s how the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber got to be among the largest in the country – by avoiding backward thinking. 

Mary Anne Looby January 17, 2012 at 01:43 PM
@Lee Snover, Finally in your response to Geri, you come back to original topic, which shows how skewed your thinking is. You are comparing apples to oranges. Christianity and Sexual preference have absolutely nothing to do with each other.
Lee Snover January 17, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Mary Anne, I have plenty of respect for Clergy who have respect for God's word. I respect the Rabbi's opinion and his right to speak and share it, but I disagree with it both intellectually and spiritually. The Rabbi is ultimately a humanist, who believes that God's word is merely an expression of humans, and as such is subject to his own interpretation and dilution as he rationalizes away what he simply does not want to acknowledge. I do agree, I've beaten a dead horse. It is impossible to have a logical discussion with folks who believe everything is relative and ultimately "unknowable" and or subject to change if enough people can be convinced to agree. I pray the truth and wisdom of God's word, which the Rabbi has attended to with so much time and effort, will ultimately penetrate his heart and mind, and that he will understand a God who loves him so much, actually came to earth in human form, lived and died for him, so that he could know and understand HIM personally. I do not believe a God who loves us that much would give us a revelation to confuse and befuddle us and make us second guess everything He has revealed. I pray that you will also come to an understanding of the Bible that is the basis for the faith you profess. May the Lord bless you both.
Lee Snover January 17, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Mary Ann, I am not Catholic either because I don't believe in such a "pecking" order. It is not Biblical. Martin Luther had the same issues with the Catholic Church as I do. None the less, if you don't believe that your sexual behavior is of no concern to God, you need to pay more attention to your Priest or ask him why he is preaching against the tenants of the Church he represents.
Lee Snover January 17, 2012 at 02:42 PM
I beg to differ Mary Anne. Again, your statement is completely at odds with the Church and belief system you profess. It is your right, but I find it astonishing the number of people here who profess to be Jewish or Catholic and disavow the tenants of their faith. At least be honest with yourself and the organization to which you belong.
Mary Anne Looby January 17, 2012 at 07:02 PM
@Lee Snover, I too believe in a God who sent His only Son to live and die so that we could know and understand Him. I also know that which you refer to as a revelation to confuse and befudle us has been put before us before us that we may use THE FREE WILL that God also bestowed on us. It is up to us to decide. God expects us to us our free will to make the choices that we, as his children, see fit. Not all of us will choose the same, that does not mean that some of us are sinners, it simply means that we are following the Lord's directive to choose that which we belive is right. Martin Luther made his choice to break away from the Catholic Church. In the modern church no one condems him for his choices. We should all be working and praying for a time when all the people of the world can come together ecumenically. Christianity and Judeism are not that different. Protestent sects are not that different. If you would observe other religions you would discover that we are all more similar than different.
Lee Snover January 17, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Mary Anne, you just got done telling me there was a "pecking order", that I should acknowledge and get in line with. I'm glad that you profess Christ, and if you truly understand that, the rest is moot, as He will sort us out when we see Him. But your position in this matter is almost laughable. Your telling me to respect the Clergy, (someone in this case who is not even Christian), while you are disrespecting the beliefs of your very own Church. God did not give us FREE WILL to disavow what He calls sin, and to do as we "see fit". He gave us FREE WILL, and a BRAIN so we could discern His truth, and FREELY choose His truth over Satan's lies. I will never pray for the "ecumenical" movement, between believers and those who do not believe. Christ told us not to be unequally yoked. His word teaches us clearly to condemn false teachers who twist and ignore God's word. We do have much in common with the Jews, it is the root of Christianity. But all faith is not equal. if you believe the Bible, there is no other logical conclusion. God bless!
Mary Anne Looby January 17, 2012 at 07:41 PM
@Lee Snover - God condems those who condems others.
Lee Snover January 17, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Mary, does He now? What is your Bible reference for that? I am no condemning anyone, it is God's right alone to ultimately "Judge" and "Condemn". God does not want to condemn anyone and neither do I. He CLEARLY condemns sin, and tells us as Christians to hold one another accountable and to flee and resist sin. Not to tear one another down, but to lift one another up and to protect each other from our own sinful natures, and from Satan who waits like a lion ready to devour.
Mary Anne Looby January 17, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Seriously Lee, reread some of your posts. Just because you wrap your comments in biblical references does not hide the fact that you condem and tear down others for not getting on your holier than thow train. I am finished speaking with you. You are a religious fanatic.
WILFREDO G. SALCEDO, Sr. January 18, 2012 at 12:03 PM
Racism, bigotry is here to stay...Sad.
Rachel January 21, 2012 at 04:57 AM
I am amazed at the comments given since this article was published. I read it immediately but took time to think about my views on this council. Some say 'why should 'they' get special treatment. The Bible has been brought into the argument, people seem to be bashing each other and yet not willing to accept that we all have differing opinions. Why is it OK for one person to voice their opinion and not OK for another to voice their opinion when it opposes the first? At first my thoughts on the original matter, were those of, "why should the GLBT group get special treatment? Who cares what ones sexual orientation is?" But then I started thinking, if there was a Christian business council or a Single Moms council or Dads with home business council, would I have the same opinion? Discrimination or not, being able to let the community know where your business stands works. If there was a listing of businesses that held the same view as mine, say religion, I'd make sure I patronized those businesses far more often then those that I know oppose my views. If a business supports a group I do not, say Planned Parenthood vs a crisis pregnancy center where adoption or keeping the baby is encouraged (or vice versa) I'd go out of my way not to patronize them. I may or may not agree with the lifestyles of others and that's OK... I'm almost jealous that there isn't a council for aspects of life that I view as important. Let the council stand as is. If you agree, patronize. If not, don't.
Rosemary B January 21, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Mary Anne, Lee feels that homosexual activity and sex outside of marriage is a sin. That is his opinion and I think it is as valid as yours. As long as he does not discriminate against people for it I think we all should live and let live and pray that God give each of us the wisdom to discern right from wrong. After all, God will be the ultimate judge .
Rosemary B January 21, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Just gonna play devil's advocate here. I happen to agree with you, Rachel. We also try to spend our money at businesses whose owners believe the way we do. Their is a used car dealership whose owner my husband knows has very liberal POLITICAL views and my husband told me not to even look there because he won't spend his money at that dealership since we are very conservative. Now, if we said we won't even look there because they are black or Indian or Muslim we would be accused of discrimination! My point is, we all discriminate for our own personal reasons. Gays choosing to patronize businesses owned by other gays are discriminating against straight owned businesses. It happens. It is human nature to see people we agree with and like prosper over those we do not agree with and do not like.
Mary Anne Looby January 21, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Wow Rosemary! I do business with people who deliver the best product, at the best price, showing me the same respect that I show them. It would never in a bizillion years occur to me, my husband or any of my adult children (thank God), or anyone of our many friends to choose a business based on the creed, color, sexual preference or pollitics. I am so blessed to have been give an open mind by my Creator. I do not believe it is human nature to wish to see someone prosper or not, because they agree or disagree with my thinking.
Rosemary B January 21, 2012 at 02:47 PM
We all make choices every day and vote with our dollars for various reasons. Even when you choose to go to a locally owned diner or a farmers market instead of MacDonald's or a supermarket you are discriminating against big corporation and supporting a local business and family. When I choose to use a Dance Studio owned by my friend instead of the dance company closer to my house, I am discriminating in who will benefit from my money.I also started with our eye glass provider because I know he belongs to the same church as me, but also because he gives me and my family fabulous service. Now, if I don't get good value for my money or proper respect i go elsewhere. I think we all do this to some extent and we are being dishonest with ourselves if we claim that we do not.
Lee Snover January 21, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Rosemary, just leave Mary Anne be. She doesn't even believe the tenants of her own faith, and she doesn't realize the dichotomy in her own statements. I.e. She is all for this special GLBT group and said she thinks it's great. Then she just tells you that she would NEVER think of "discriminating" based on any of various criteria. If you don't want to discriminate, then WHY would you have a group who's obvious purpose is to promote one specific group? It's insane. From a business standpoint, I don't really want to KNOW your sexual preferences. Keep them to yourself. If you share them with me and tell me your a believer, I'm going to share with you what I believe God's word says about that behavior. The same as I would share with a Christian friend who I know is having premarital sex or cheating on their spouse. If the person is not a Christian, then I do not expect them to live to God's standards, so it's a moot point. We all discriminate. We naturally gravitate towards people who are most like ourselves and hold common views on things. Discrimination is just another word for "prefer" and we all have preferences. There is nothing wrong with the GLBT having their OWN group outside of the regular Chamber of Commerce, my issue is that we should not be promoting special groups in a general business group like this where there are people with legitimate apposing views. Anyone can be part of the regular Chamber, and that's OK. But they should promote common goals.
Rosemary B January 21, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Another observation. I was saying where I will not spend my money. If I said I specifically seek out minorities and LGBT buisinesses to spend my money in, would I then have been considered a hero by some on this board?
Rosemary B January 21, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Oh, Salisbury, I so agree with you!
Mary Anne Looby January 21, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Sorry Rosemary, you are really reaching to push your point. To say I am discriminating against McDonalds by going to another eatery is idiotic. You and and Lee belong together.
Rosemary B January 21, 2012 at 03:02 PM
But what if psychologists say that people are born with pedophilia as a natural sexual want? They are, in essence, "born that way". Will they then be demanding equal rights as well? Just playing devil's advocate. I just wonder sometimes how far our society will go with what is considered "acceptable" and "normal" behavior that was not acceptable or normal in years past.
Lee Snover January 21, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Mary Anne, let me share a little more about myself. I have family and friends that have chosen the GLBT lifestyle. I love them dearly, but I am also honest with them about my beliefs. They certainly don't like that I hold that view, but they respect my faith and beliefs. I respect their right to believe otherwise. Some of these friends are business people who I do business with knowing full well who they are and their own beliefs. I treat my gay family members with the same love and respect as my straight family members. But, I will not condone their behavior. I will not attend a Gay "wedding". I will not attend events or belong to organizations that promote this lifestyle, because it is antithetical to what I believe the Bible teaches. It is a very difficult line to walk and sometimes puts me at odds with people I love, but I believe God will hold ME accountable if I disavow His word. When you believe men more then you believe God, I believe you are headed for trouble.
Mary Anne Looby January 21, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Mr. Snover, I believe some time back I told you I had no desire to continue speaking with you, plesae respect that. If i were to respond to your latest coments it would be with one word.......BULL....! Cease and dissist!
Lee Snover January 21, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Mary Anne, then please do not mention my name. There is some BULL around here, but it's not coming from me.
Rosemary B January 21, 2012 at 03:50 PM
It sounds to me that Mr. Snover is very sincere in his beliefs and lives by them and is not hurting anyone who does not believe as he does. I find that to be admirable. As far as Mc Donalds goes, My husband and I go out to breakfast weekly and could do it cheaper at McDonald's,but we choose to spend a few more bucks and support locally owned eatery's. I also go out of my way to shop at farmer's markets to support local farms. Anytime we do this we are discriminating. And I think we all do it to some extent.
Jonathan Gerard January 21, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Lee: The holy rabbi of Amshinov was once traveling on a train to visit a distant village for the Sabbath. En route, he thought he saw a person engage in a behavior that he believed violated one of the laws of the Torah. He thought to himself, "The book of Leviticus (19) requires me to reproach a person committing a sin for if I don't, then I'll also incur guilt for (ignoring) his behavior. On the other hand, what if I am wrong? What if I misunderstood the behavior, or the law, and reproached the fellow erroneously? That would surely be a sin." He thought about it for a while and then concluded this: If I sin against the person in front of me on the train he will soon be off to his destination and I will likely never see him again. I will never be able to seek his forgiveness. But if it turns out that my sin is against God (for having neglected to observe God's word in Leviticus) then, knowing that God is always available to me, I can seek God's forgiveness at any time. The rabbi chose not to judge the behavior.
Jonathan Gerard January 21, 2012 at 04:48 PM
This is not the whole story. It is not even a biblical story. But it is part of a moral legacy that includes another command from Leviticus, "Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor." If we see someone sinning in a way that is hurting another human being then, unlike in American law, the Torah ("God's word") requires us to intervene and stop the assault on the victim. God wants God's creatures to worry about people first and God later because the first automatically fulfills the second while the reverse is not guaranteed.
Lee Snover January 21, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Rabbi, In this case, we do not have to "guess" as to whether the person is sinning in God's eyes, they are proudly declaring it. You presume that this behavior has no effect on other people and does not hurt the person engaging in the behavior, I beg to differ and so does the Bible. God understood that the family, consisting of a husband and a wife living in commune with the Lord was best for man. It is essential to the propagation of man kind, and I believe it is essential for the well being of children as well. Man (and Woman), chose to disobey God and blatantly ignored His one command (don't eat from THAT tree). As a result, we all now are born with a sin nature, separated from God, and inclined to Sin. This broke God's heart, and even though this situation is entirely OUR fault, He provided a way back into communion with Himself, through Jesus Christ, who is our propitiation for sin. He paid for our sin with His own life and blood, willingly, while we still were His enemy. So, there's a good chance that this is just a fairy tale to you, but I believe it. Did eating from the tree "hurt" anyone else? Physically, no. The sin was PRIDE and lack of faith. Adam and Eve thought they knew better then God. The did the crime and we are all doing the time. The CONSEQUENCES continue to this day. You say you can not know God and His will, yet you pretend to "know" there are not ramifications to this behavior that the Lord clearly condemns. Et tu Adam?
Emmaus Resident January 25, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Mary Anne, You are funny-- like Austin Powers... "There are two types of people that I can't stand in this world. People who are insensitive of other people's culture, and the Dutch." You could have said that, but Austin Powers said it first. Have a great day, but PLEASE don't become an attorney or a philosopher. You wouldn't last a day.
Emmaus Resident January 25, 2012 at 01:09 AM
Sorry-- the quote is from Nigel Powers...Austin's dad.
Frank August 10, 2012 at 12:37 AM
"Diviant life style"? Besides ignorance, do you have any proof?

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