Monday, October 28, 2013

Around The Nation

Sweeping LGBT-Inclusive Reform signed into law in Philadelphia
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter
PHILADELPHIA -- A new measure signed into law last Thursday by Philadelphia's Democratic Mayor Michael Nutter offers tax credits to businesses that offer LGBT-inclusive benefits as well as specifying that new or renovated city-owned buildings include gender-neutral bathrooms in addition to traditional men's and women's restrooms.
The law also amends Philadelphia's amends the city's nondiscrimination ordinance to be inclusive of gender identity, and offers limited relationship recognition rights for same-sex couples.
Pennsylvania law currently bans same-sex marriage, however the measure changes city forms and websites to offer input options for LGBT persons and their partners. The new law also extends medical and end-of-life decision-making rights for same-sex partners.
"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," Nutter told Philadelphia television station WCAU. The mayor added that the signing the measure was personally important as the late City Councilman John Anderson, was his friend, a gay man, and a mentor who inspired him 30 years ago to pursue a life in public service.
The tax incentive program part of the legislation was supported by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce as well as LGBT advocacy groups.
Introduced by City Council member Jim Kenney, the bill easily passed the council last month which Kenney labeled “the next iteration of civil rights and freedom in the United States.”
"This is a city that is truly respecting all its citizens," said openly gay state House member Brian Sims, a Democrat representing Philadelphia, who helped draft the measure's language. "It is because of that respect that we are indeed a first-class city and we will continue to shine."
Sims also introduced a marriage equality bill last month. Pennsylvania is the only state in the northeastern U.S. that does not currently embrace marriage equality, nor does it provide civil unions, domestic partnerships, or any other form of relationship recognition to same-sex couples.
A federal lawsuit is currently pending that challenges Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage, and Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Kathleen- who supports same-sex marriage- said she believed it to be unconstitutional and added that she "couldn't ethically defend it."
The state's Republican Governor, Tom Corbett, has filed legal briefs in defense of the anti-gay law.