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Resolution Pushed by Tylec to Force Senator Ortt to Clarify Position on LGBTQ+ Community Flops as Ortt’s Office Makes Statement; Resolution Supporting LGBTQ+ Community Pushed by Common Council Majority Passes Unanimously
By: Staff Reporter
Weeks after passing a Resolution condemning hate in North Tonawanda as it pertains to racism, another issue of national importance took center stage on Tuesday night; LGBTQ+ rights.
Although not a local issue in terms of legislation or policy, LGBTQ+ rights was thrust into the spotlight by Alderman-at-Large Austin Tylec and North Tonawanda School Board Member Zachary Niemiec after demanding a statement from State Senator Rob Ortt clarifying his position on the issue.
“If Senator Robert Ortt doesn’t like Gay People, oh well,” said Tylec, “but respond to your constituency please.
Tylec took to social media and expressed his frustration over not receiving a statement from Senator Ortt after publicly demanding one.
“During the last few weeks I discussed with the NT Common Council a pro LGBTQ resolution that calls for Senator Ortt to explain his support of an Anti-LGBTQ organization that believes in items like CONVERSION THERAPY,” stated Tylec. “Community Members & other local officials have reached out to Ortt, but received no response.”
Niemiec published his letter to Senator Ortt on Facebook so the public could read it and encouraged them to do the same.
“It has been 40 days since I sent this letter to Senator Ortt,” said Niemiec. “I have heard nothing.”
The full letter can be read below.
This led to Tylec proposing a Resolution at the Common Council meeting on Tuesday, August 4th. The Resolution called on Senator Ortt to provide clarification for where he stands on LGBTQ+ issues.
The original Resolution proposed by Tylec, which was released on social media, can be read below.
Tylec’s proposal was faced with stark opposition from the other four members of the Common Council who had proposed their own Resolution supporting the LGBTQ+ community. Specifically, the Council believed that Tylec was using a Resolution for personal political purposes.
“We had decided as a four person majority to take the politics out of the resolution and clearly state that we support these men and women,” said Common Council President Eric Zadzilka. “Unfortunately, it is not enough for Mr. Tylec and a few others, but we are taking politics out of the Resolution. I have never seen a Resolution brought forward with a democratic party – stand with the Stonewall Democrats – with a Resolution. Politics have no place in a Resolution and just because you removed it doesn’t mean your motivation wasn’t driven by political aspirations.”
Alderman-at-Large Bob Pecoraro questioned whether Tylec, or anyone else, had gone to Senator Ortt’s office to talk to him.
Tylec responded, “no.”
“I am a messenger in this scenario here,” said Tylec, “and I don’t understand why [Senator Ortt has] let it get so far out of control.”
Tylec’s Resolution received no support and was not presented for a vote.
Alderman Robert Schmigel then proposed a Resolution titled, ‘Resolution Against Hatred Against LGBTQ Community of North Tonawanda.’
The full Resolution proposed by the four-person Common Council Majority can be read below.
Tylec took issue with the Resolution being brought forward without discussion with the “only openly gay public official” on the Common Council.
“I find it offensive and kind of immature, President Zadzilka, to say that my Resolution was politically motivated,” said Tylec. “I think this Resolution is a distraction and kind of redundant. Most importantly, it does not take the kind of action that the residents are calling upon. It is somewhat a mockery and segregates the LGBTQ community in a way that does not pull them together with equality for all.”
Tylec voted for the Resolution despite his comments and it passed unanimously 5-0.
However, before both votes were taken correspondence from Senator Ortt’s office was read into the record. The statement said, “Senator Ortt supports the rights of all New Yorker’s to live their lives free of discrimination, including individuals in the LGBT community. Using his support of pro-life values to insinuate otherwise is plainly wrong. Senator Ortt respects people of different values and beliefs.”
For the record, this statement was made on Senator Ortt’s behalf from his spokesman, Andrew Dugan.