States like Delaware and Minnesota are getting coverage recently for officially recognizing same-sex marriage and rightly so. Lost in that has been the developments in my current residence of Philadelphia, where mayor Michael Nutter signed into law what most consider "the most extensive civil rights protections and benefits for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the nation."
Councilman James Kenney sponsored the bill. He says it also makes Philadelphia the first city to give businesses tax credits for offering transgender-specific health benefits.Philadelphia has long had a thriving LGBT community, and at least based on personal observation, the city is generally supportive of this community (check out Philly's official tourist website). So the fact that Philadelphia would pass this legislation is probably not a surprise to most locals. Still, anyway you cut it, the city is probably not the first one that comes to the average person's mind when they think of gay-friendly cities.
Among other things, the measure also requires gender-neutral bathrooms in city-owned buildings and revises Philadelphia’s anti-discrimination law to include transgender people.
Now, I don't agree with everything Mayor Nutter says and does, but I think he tries his best as a local but influential Democrat. While Occupy movements in other cities have faced violent showdowns, the city here has largely avoided the same problems with Occupy Philly, which has been allowed to operate with reasonable limitations. Well, until they evicted them, so this is probably debatable depending on who you ask. But this definitely puts me back in his corner. Even considering how gay-friendly Philadelphia is, most would probably consider this move politically risky, and only time will tell how this measure truly impacts the city.
Hopefully as more states take the initiative to legalize marriage equality, the onus will then shift toward protecting the other rights that the LGBT have largely been denied. And when that starts to happen, hopefully Philadelphia will be there to set the standard, and find other ways to lead the nation in civil rights as well.