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November 03, 2015

'This beats San Francisco' – Philly makes LGBT Office permanent

City votes to establish office for good

Philadelphia voters made the city's Office of LGBT Affairs permanent on Tuesday, reported.

Unofficial tallies from 6ABC show the measure passing with 58 percent voting yes, with 98 percent of the vote counted.

The vote adds the LGBT office to the administrative branch of city government to be headed by a Director of LGBT Affairs, appointed by the Mayor.

In May, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced the bill setting up the ballot question to make the office permanent through an amendment to the city's Home Rule Charter.

The office is responsible for working on policies that aid the LGBT community and promote equality and diversity.

Mark Segal, publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News, told PhillyVoice that the impact of the move is great, considering no city or state in the United States has made such an office a permanent government entity.

"You gotta realize it's the first one of it's type in the nation. It's never been done before," he said. "It's not only revolutionary, it's pioneering."

Segal, who recently published a memoir about his career fighting for LGBT rights, noted that the move cemented Philadelphia's status as the "most friendly LGBT city in the country."

"This beats San Francisco."

With the new permanent status, Segal said he hoped new Mayor Jim Kenney's first initiative with the office would be pushing a statewide nondiscrimination law to state representatives.

In Pennsylvania, you can still be fired for being gay.

Established in 2008, the Philadelphia office was originally headed by Gloria Casarez until her passing in 2014 when Helen "Nellie" Fitzpatrick, a former employee of the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, took the helm.

In a Facebook post Tuesday before the charter was approved, Fitzpatrick thanked all those who had promoted the move, unsurprisingly affirming that she would be voting yes on the measure.

She told NewsWorks that the measure ensures the office cannot be eliminated by a new mayor through executive order, the route in which Mayor Nutter originally allowed the temporary creation of the office in the first place.

That outcome would have been unlikely anyway with Democratic nominee Kenney winning the mayor's office.

He has been vocal in his support for LGBT rights and mentioned them frequently on the campaign trail.


Voters approved an amendment to the Home Rule Charter to create a new Department of Planning and Development. The department would be headed by the Director of Planning and Development, who would be a member of the Mayor’s cabinet.

The amendment passed with 68 percent of the vote, according to unofficial tallies.

Voters authorized a city to borrow $155,965,000 for capital purposes, including real estate purchase, construction of or improvements to buildings, property or streets.

Seventy percent of voters supported the capital borrowing.