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Philadelphia Mayor Signs Broad LGBT Rights Legislation

Friday May 10, 2013

Mayor Michael Nutter signed legislation Thursday to afford equal rights to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, saying he hoped Philadelphia would become "the most LGBT-friendly" city in the world.

Nutter, city and state lawmakers and gay rights advocates said the legislation makes Philadelphia the first city in the U.S. to offer tax credits to companies that extend the same health care coverage to LGBT employees' domestic partners and their children as they provide to heterosexual spouses and their children.

They said the legislation also makes Philadelphia the first city to offer businesses tax credits as a way to encourage providing transgender-specific health benefits.

"My goal is for Philadelphia to be one of, if not the most, LGBT-friendly cities in the world and a leader on equality issues," said Nutter, adding that the signing struck a personal note because his friend, the late City Councilman John Anderson, was a gay man and a mentor who inspired him 30 years ago to pursue a life of public service.

In addition to the business tax incentives, which were backed by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce as well as LGBT advocacy groups, the legislation requires gender-neutral bathrooms in newly constructed city-owned buildings, revises Philadelphia's anti-discrimination law to include transgender people, extends decision-making rights to life partners on medical and other issues, and changes city forms and websites to offer options for same-sex couples and transgender people.

"Equal protection under the law means equal protection under the law," said Councilman James Kenney, sponsor of the legislation. "It doesn't mean sanctioned by religion or custom or anything else."

Kenney called the bill, which the City Council passed easily last month, "the next iteration of civil rights and freedom in the United States."

"This is a city that is truly respecting all its citizens," said state Rep. Brian Sims, a Philadelphia Democrat and the first openly gay candidate to be elected to the Legislature. "It is because of that respect that we are indeed a first-class city and we will continue to shine."

Neither gay marriage nor civil unions are legal in Pennsylvania, and the state has a law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

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  • gdhamf, 2013-05-10 19:25:01

    The city can not dictate to the state, this is truly the best that the city can do. GOOD FOR PHILLY!

  • , 2013-05-17 08:14:30

    @DerekJA - It is NOT the city that defines Marriage between a Man and a Woman only, it is the state that does that. Do you realize that that unlike Philadelphia, your could look you in your face and say "I am firing you because you are gay"? I am sure you don’t. Philadelphia is a major proponent of gay rights and offers us many more rights and protections than any-other city in this state. So if you have an issue with how marriage is defined then go talk to the people of Harrisburg. I will say I am frustrated that at the present time I would have to go to Delaware, NY or DC to be married; but to say that Philadelphia isn’t doing everything it can for Gay Marriage, you are VERY much out of touch with this city!

  • BlondieSL, 2013-05-17 10:05:22

    A couple of things here, Patrick. I know that a state defines, but I’m sure I’ve heard of cities that have their own definitions. Perhaps I did not understand that part or misunderstood. And I agree, the state... wait... ALL STATES, really need to catch up to the times and stop the discrimination and allow same-sex marriage. Secondly, I do not know Philadelphia. In fact, I can’t even think of a reason WHY I have never traveled there. BUCKET LIST UPDATE! As for "I am firing you because you are Gay", I’m not sure if you meant that you think that happens where we currently live. It does not. We live in Canada right now and here, very serious Gay rights legislation that prevents that. In fact, if an employer fires someone here and the person fired even remotely believes it’s due to his/her sexuality, they have a court case "wrongful dismissal". And the courts here do not take that lightly. Also, in this country, the entire country has had legal same sex marriage now for over 10 years. The entire country approved in one shot at Fed level. They didn’t allow any of the provinces to discriminate any longer (and some wanted to). So, you are right. I am VERY much out of touch with your city. So perhaps my legal husband and I should visit your city and you could show us around so we really learn. :) So if I offended you, I truly apologize as it was not my intention at all. I’m just VERY passionate about Same-Sex rights and marriage because I see and hear of so many of our brothers and sisters suffering such horrid discrimination. COCKTAILS AT 7? :)

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