We at PGN endorse Cherelle Parker for mayor. Throughout her lengthy career as a public servant, including being elected to the Pa. House of Representatives in 2005 and then to City Council in 2015, Parker has been a consistent voice in support of LGBTQ rights. Her support goes back to her days as a committee person in the 50th ward and working for Councilwoman Marian Tasco in various capacities. She proved herself as a strong ally when she was a state representative, supporting nondiscrimination legislation and opposing legislation that would have outlawed marriage equality. While in Harrisburg, she also co-sponsored bills to protect the LGBTQ community against hate crimes as well as to create civil unions long before marriage equality became law. Now she has committed herself to being fully inclusive of the LGBTQ Community in her mayoral administration, both in her cabinet and on boards and commissions.
Her other major opponents for the Democratic nomination for mayor — Jeff Brown, Allan Domb, Helen Gym and Rebecca Rynhart — all have spoken up for LGBT rights, but do not have the longterm commitment that Parker has pledged or the same historic level of support to our community. We also took note that Liberty City LGBTQ Democratic Club did not endorse in this race since their membership was split among the various candidates.
We in the LGBTQ community are beginning to appreciate our own history. That history includes what we’ve contributed to society and who in society joined with us to fight for the limited rights we have today. Cherelle Parker comes from what is known as the Northwest Democratic Coalition. That group of Democratic wards and organizations are the backbone of Black support for LGBTQ rights in Philadelphia. From Congressman Bill Gray in 1979 to its current leaders, Congressman Dwight Evans and Cherelle Parker, the Northwest Democratic Coalition has been fighting for the LGBTQ community for decades, from city hall to Harrisburg to the halls of Congress.
At the mayoral candidate meet and greet that PGN co-hosted in January, all the candidates announced their support of the LGBTQ community. We’re lucky to be in a city with such strong political support across the board. Among those candidates, Parker stood out among the crowd. She didn’t stumble over her words as she recounted her longtime support for the LGBTQ community dating back to her time as a state representative. She spoke earnestly and passionately, and it was clear she wasn’t merely paying lip service to our community.
“I didn’t do it with a bullhorn,” Parker said of her time fighting for marriage equality in Harrisburg. “I did it in a place and space where there were real Republicans who we had to try to convince to understand all of our humanity, and I shared my testimony about people who think and thought that my life and my voice didn’t matter.”
She concluded her remarks that evening saying “Don’t listen to what people say. Check out what they do.”
This city is diverse with numerous problems to solve. It requires a Mayor who will listen, parse out the various debates, calmly foster discussion, and then bring the various communities together. The word for that person is: unifier. Looking at all the campaigns for mayor, Parker has truly created a coalition from all segments of the city, and that includes the LGBTQ community. PGN proudly endorses Cherelle Parker for mayor.
The primary election in Philadelphia is May 16th.