Senators push forward funds for William Way

The front of William Way LGBT Community Center
William Way LGBT Community Center

As part of the U.S. Senate’s first bipartisan FY24 appropriations bill, Sen. Bob Casey and Sen. John Fetterman pushed forward $1 million in funding for William Way LGBT Community Center, a counterpart to House Republicans’ July vote to revoke federal funding from three LGBTQ+ community projects, including William Way. The bill proposes millions in funding other Pennsylvania projects, including assistance for people experiencing homelessness, veterans’ health care and agriculture research. 

“I’m particularly proud we were able to get the William Way LGBT Community Center funded after House Republicans stripped it out,” Fetterman said in a press release. “They must stop playing partisan games and get to work so we can deliver these investments where they are needed.”

For more than 40 years, William Way has provided vital resources for Philadelphia’s LGBTQ+ communities. It currently offers a wealth of mental health resources, including peer counseling and wellness programs; a host of services for trans individuals; and programs for older LGBTQ+ adults. The center houses an art gallery, holds community events on a regular basis and is home to the John. J. Wilcox Jr. Archives, Philly’s largest collection of personal papers, organizational records, periodicals, audio and visual material and old objects pertaining to the LGBTQ+ community.

William Way is also embarking on the Build the Way development project, which will expand the organization’s headquarters, including enhanced accessibility, increased rental and event space, a new cafe and catering kitchen, and more. 

Although the Senate passed the FY24 appropriations bill, it still awaits a committee process, and if passed, will head to President Biden’s desk for signature. As such, the funding for William Way has not been finalized. Several politicians in Pennsylvania have also voiced their support for additional funding, including Congressman Brendan Boyle and Sen. Bob Casey. At the time, Chris Bartlett, William Way’s executive director, told PGN that they would be working with Boyle, Fetterman and Sen. Bob Casey to try to counteract the removal of funds.

“We still have hurdles to overcome before the budget bill is signed by President Biden, but we are optimistic,” Bartlett said in an email. “We greatly appreciate Senators Fetterman and Casey, and Congressman Boyle, for supporting the mission of the Center in our region by going to bat for this crucial support.” 

In July 2023, Fetterman called out House Republicans when they voted to strip funds from LGBTQ+ projects in the July appropriations bill. At the time, House Rep. Tom Cole, a Republican from Oklahoma, filed an en bloc amendment to remove the three LGBTQ+ Community Project Funding submissions from the bill. Ultimately, the Republican vote to remove funding from those projects passed 32-26. 

In response, Fetterman tweeted, “They *literally* struck all programs with the letters ‘L G B T and Q’ This is just flat out, mask-off bigotry.”

Sen. Casey was not immediately available for comment.

*This story has been updated to reflect Sen. Bob Casey’s involvement.