Rue Landau makes history in City Council election

Rue Landau

For the first time in the history of Philadelphia, an openly LGBTQ person will serve on City Council. Rue Landau will finish in the top five of Democratic primary candidates for City Council At Large, all but assuring her a victory in November’s general election. Her election to one of the highest offices in the city comes almost fifty years after LGBTQ people first began running for smaller offices such as committeeperson. 

After her top five position became certain late Tuesday night, Landau posted on Twitter: “To my wife, my son, my team, my city: Thank you. WE DID IT.”

Landau, who announced her candidacy in December at the John C. Anderson LGBT-Friendly Apartments, built a citywide coalition and garnered votes in every ward, especially in Center City, South Philadelphia, Northwest Philadelphia, Northern Liberties, and University City wards. With 99% of the vote reported, she finished in third place among Democratic candidates for Council At Large with 74,685 votes.

Landau received endorsements from the Philadelphia Democratic City Committee, Working Families Party, and numerous unions and local elected officials, including Councilmembers Kendra Brooks, Jamie Gauthier, Kenyatta Johnson, Curtis Jones Jr., and Mark Squilla.

Landau is the former executive director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR) and Fair Housing Commission, and she has worked as the director of law and policy for the Philadelphia Bar Association as well as on the faculty at Temple University School of Law, her alma mater.

In her role at PCHR, Landau was instrumental in executing a comprehensive ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Philadelphia, and she has overseen many bills that affected LGBTQ people, such as the Wage Equity Ordinance, which bars employers from asking an applicant about their salary in the hiring process; the Emergency Housing Protection Act; and Good Cause eviction protections, which helped protect some of the most marginalized Philadelphians.

In 2014, Landau her wife Kerry were the first same-sex couple to get a marriage license in Pennsylvania.

“Rue’s work is motivational. She bridged gaps and proved once again that ‘LGBTQ’ issues are everyday issues that affect all of us, including housing, job security, public safety, and equitable access to education,” said Kevin Levy and Andrew Slom, Chair and Vice Chair of the Philadelphia LGBTQ Bar Association. “Rue’s steadfastness and passion stirs optimism for so many of us. Her success is a monumental triumph for LGBTQ+ people, and Philadelphia is long overdue for LGBTQ+ representation on City Council. Rue’s dedicated her entire career advocating for Philadelphia’s most vulnerable communities, and we know she will continue that work in City Hall.”

Chris Bartlett, a longtime friend of Landau’s who attended the same high school, said “I’m so thrilled that her decades of hard work in the communities of Philadelphia have led to the historic outcome of her emerging as the first openly LGBT victor from the 2023 Council At-Large primary. I know that she’ll be a transformative figure on City Council who will always have an ear for those who are most in need.”

This article is a part of Every Voice, Every Vote, a collaborative project managed by The Lenfest Institute for Journalism. Lead support is provided by the William Penn Foundation with additional funding from The Lenfest Institute, Peter and Judy Leone, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Harriet and Larry Weiss, and the Wyncote Foundation, among others. To learn more about the project and view a full list of supporters, visit Editorial content is created independently of the project’s donors.
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