For the LGBT community, the next few weeks should see, for any of us involved with the political structure of either the city of Philadelphia or the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, historic moves.
In Pennsylvania, Governor Elect Josh Shapiro will begin to roll out his administration, and that means a new vision for the state and new people being appointed in each of all the Departments. Shapiro already made progress in campaigning on LGBT issues and appointing a record number of LGBT people to his transition team. He also has nominated an openly gay man, Neil Weaver, to be Secretary of Administration, which is a great start to making his administration LGBT inclusive.
We expect the Shapiro administration to be among the most LGBT friendly there has ever been. He made three promises to our community, Inclusion in his administration, helping LGBT businesses get State contracts, and passage of the State’s non-discrimination legislation. We hope to have a seat at the table in the governor’s Legislation office, which should have a priority on passing our long overdue Fairness Act, which would outlaw LGBT discrimination statewide? And how will the new administration deal with LGBT businesses looking to do business with the commonwealth? These are important issues that deserve attention.
In our great city of Philadelphia, we’re now in full primary election mode, with May 16th set as the primary date. Note that Philadelphia has one of the largest percentages of registered Democrats, so usually that means that winning the Democratic nomination in the primary means victory in the general election in November.
While we’ll be voting on Mayor, City Council, City Controller and Sheriff for the November election, the race for City Council is the race that will be of utmost interest to our community. The Democratic City Committee is on the verge of endorsing an openly LGBT candidate for Council at Large. Will other political organizations like Reclaim Philadelphia and the Working Families Party endorse a serious LGBT candidate for council?
Philadelphia is the only major American city with not one LGBT person on its City Council. We need a seat at the table. We’ve never had one before. It’s time.
When we discuss a serious out LGBT candidate, there are essentials that hit that mark. Fundraising ability, a proven paid campaign staff, an understanding and a background in local politics, a coalition of support, but most importantly for us, a proven record of working for the advancement and equality of the LGBT community. By this time, with only three months before the primary, if you do not have the funds or paid staff, you’re not a serious candidate. If you want LGBT support, working in and for the advancement of the community is a must. Simply stating that you’re a member of the LGBT community is not good enough.
Finally, you should ask how our small community can impact this election. We as a community have a higher percentage of registered Democratic voters than other demographics, and we also turn out to vote in higher numbers. With a mayor’s race that can have a victor winning only 40,000 to 60,000 votes, our 3 to 5 percent will make the difference. We at PGN and Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club know this. While we both have our different paths, we both have the same priority, a seat at the City Council table.