40 years of activism, political progress

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So what have I learned in the last 40 years? Politics never ends, and if you’re a community that is struggling for equal rights, dealing with the political system is key to accomplishing your goals. Why mention this now, after a tiresome two years of the presidential race?

We’re now in the local political season, which ends with the Pennsylvania primary on May 17. This election is all about the race for Philadelphia District Attorney and judicial retention.

The DA’s office sets the tone for law enforcement in the city, prosecutes hate crimes, investigates unsolved cases — such as the homicide of Nizah Morris — and, most importantly, can testify in support of or opposition to pending legislation in City Council and the state Legislature.

We also will be voting for judges. One of the most notable is the retention of Dan Anders. As many of you know, Anders was the first LGBT person to be appointed to the bench by a governor of Pennsylvania, in this case, Gov. Rendell. Anders joined Anne Butchart as the only openly gay members of the Court of Common Pleas.

Anders’ time on the bench has spotlighted the professionalism, fairness and abilities of this community. He has reached out to every constituency in the city as an openly gay judge. His judicial temperament has won him praise and again proven to the career politicians that having an openly gay judge on the bench can create diversity but also be an asset. Anders has made us all proud.

Others from our community will also be running for judge. Leon King 2nd, the city’s first openly gay prison commissioner, is a candidate. And, believe it or not, there’s an openly gay Republican candidate in Montgomery County.

This is just the prelude to the upcoming election for City Council, for which several in our community are eyeing a run.

As I mark my 40th anniversary as a gay activist — May 10, to be exact — I’ve seen our community grow from one under siege by law enforcement and the legal, political, religious and medical communities to one that is embraced by most. And with education and outreach, we will reach that summit. What an incredible 40 years. And, noting these candidates, a great way to celebrate.

Mark Segal is PGN publisher. He can be reached at [email protected].