The Brief: The Gay Vote in the Mayor’s Race

Plus: A lawsuit over the bug in former Mayor John Street's office.

Photo courtesy of Philly Bricks.

Photo courtesy of Philly Bricks.

The LGBT vote proved to be decisive in the 2012 presidential election. Could it be a force in the 2015 Philadelphia mayor’s race?

Four mayoral wannabes — Lynne Abraham, Nelson DiazJim Kenney and Anthony Williams — tried to win over the LGBT community and its allies at a forum Wednesday hosted by the Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club.

The Inquirer‘s Claudia Vargas has this wrap-up of the candidates’ speeches at the event. Kenney, who sponsored LGBT-friendly legislation during his time on City Council, has already won the endorsement of several gay leaders. Williams, too, has the backing of some LGBT activists.

How big is the city’s LGBT community? According to an analysis of census data by the the Williams Institute at UCLA’s School of Law, there were 4,800 same-sex couples in Philadelphia as of 2010. But that figure has been disputed by some in the gay community. Mark Segal, publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News, believes there are closer to 25,000 LGBT voters in the city.

If a mayoral candidate was able to turn out half of an estimated 25,000 voters, that would be a huge boon for them — 12,500 votes. If there are more like 9,600 LGBT members in the city, and half of them came out to vote, that would add up to 4,800 votes, which is helpful but not extraordinary. Still, it’s more than, say, the teachers’ union has to offer in likely votes.

Another factor to consider: Two gay candidates are running for City Council At-Large in the May 19th primary. No out candidate has been elected to Council before, and leaders in the gay community are pushing hard to change that this year. That could possibly boost turnout among LGBT voters in the election, giving the community a greater say in the mayor’s race.

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