Philadelphia LGBT history was made yesterday afternoon, when Mayor Nutter signed Bill #130224, otherwise known as the LGBT Equality Bill, into law. The brief ceremony was packed with excited spectators, tons of reporters and orated by a team of local lawmakers who helped pave the way for the bill. The sentiment that was on all of their lips was the bill’s trailblazing efforts to make Philadelphia, as Nutter put it, the “most LGBT-friendly city in the world.” The mayor said he is “proud to be working in this area again,” and vowed to continue using his platform to promote LGBT equality.
A rosy-faced Councilman Jim Kenney, the lead sponsor of the bill, drew applause from the crowd when he said “equal protection under the law means equal protection under the law.” One of my favorite moments from his short speech, though, was when he talked about a value he learned in Jesuit school that inspired him to create this bill: “Unless you use the opportunity to change people’s lives for the good, you’re not really doing anything.”
Brian Sims was taken aback when the mayor announced that he’d be speaking, but, in his usual charming way, he delivered an eloquent off-the-cuffer, saying, “This is a city that is truly respecting all its citizens. It is because of that respect that we are indeed a first-class city and we will continue to shine.”
Rue Landau, executive director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, and Gloria Casarez, the mayor’s director of LGBT Affairs, each spoke about the bill’s most groundbreaking components, including making Philadelphia the first city in the nation to extend tax credits to companies that offer health benefits to the partners and children of its LGBT workers and the myriad protections it offers to Philly’s trans community. There was a lot of passion in that room yesterday, but nothing could have overshadowed the pride that radiated from these women, who the mayor referred to as the “dynamic duo” who made the whole bill happen. It was an inspiring day.
Below, I’ve attached photos of some of the attendees. Check G Philly’s Facebook page later in the day for more firstname.lastname@example.org.