Philadelphia Passes Sweeping LGBT Legislation

Here is some good news to start the day!
When Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed legislation Thursday to afford equal rights to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, he said 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.

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

image of Mayor Michael Nutter, a middle-aged black man, signing the bill while flanked by a woman and three men, all of whom appear to be white
Mayor Nutter signs the legislation into law.

"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, and the gender-neutral restrooms, the legislation 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.

..."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."
It would be helpful to many residents of Philadelphia if the state legislature of Pennsylvania legalized same-sex marriage, too. At the moment, Pennsylvania is the only remaining northeast state to have failed to legalize same-sex marriage.

But back to the good news: In addition to the protections mentioned above, the legislation "requires that new or renovated city-owned buildings include gender-neutral bathrooms in addition to traditional men's and women's restrooms." Further: "For trans employees, the new legislation now means they have access to health benefits which include psychotherapy, hormone treatment, hair removal, and gender reassignment surgery." Which should be a basic benefit of any healthcare plan, but isn't.

Good for Philly for taking these important steps. Congratulations to all the trans, lesbian, gay, bi, and allied activists who worked so hard to make this legislation happen.

[Photo via.]

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