Philadelphia City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown proposed a bill Thursday morning that would make permanent the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs.
The measure would essentially make the office immune to closure by any future mayoral administrations that are less LGBT-friendly than Mayor Michael Nutter, who established the office in 2008.
“Philadelphia has an international reputation as a city that both celebrates diversity and has no tolerance for intolerance,” Reynolds Brown said. “This bill offers the LGBT community a permanent seat and voice at the table.”
To permanently incorporate the office into city administration, Reynolds Brown’s legislation calls for the Home Rule Charter to be amended, which requires a public vote. If Council passes the bill, and Nutter signs it, voters in the November general election would be asked the following ballot question: “Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to establish and define the functions of the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Affairs, headed by a Director of LGBT Affairs?”
Gloria Casarez served as the first director of the office until her passing this past fall; Nutter appointed Nellie Fitzpatrick her successor earlier this year.
Nutter signaled his support for the measure Thursday.
“When I became mayor, I was proud to establish the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs and appoint the late Gloria Casarez as its first director,” Nutter said. “Making this office permanent under the City of Philadelphia charter ensures that the LGBT community will continue to be represented in city government, and that the good work done to advance LGBT issues over the last seven years will carry on well into the future.”
Fitzpatrick also applauded the effort.
“I am extremely proud of the bill introduced today by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, and grateful for her continued dedication to making Philadelphia a city that values and protects all of its citizens,” Fitzpatrick said. “Today’s bill is an opportunity for Philadelphia to continue to lead the nation toward equality for all. The bill represents far more than a change to the charter. It symbolizes our ongoing commitment as a city, and as a society, to the equal and fair treatment of our LGBT citizens.”
Reynolds Brown added that her bill seeks to ensure the work of the office continues without any risk of interruption.
“To a community who too-often faces discrimination, it is imperative for them to have a direct line to the mayor and City Council,” she said. “Making this office permanent sends a continued message that, while we have more work to do, we are absolutely up to the challenge.”
From our media partner PGN