When Mayor Michael Nutter signed legislation Thursday to afford equal rights to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, he said he hoped Philadelphia would become “the most LGBT-friendly” city in the world.
One piece of that comprehnsive legislation will forever alter the restroom options in city-owned buildings.
The legislation requires that new or renovated city-owned buildings include gender-neutral bathrooms in addition to traditional men’s and women’s restrooms.
There is more to the bill than just a neutral place to relieve oneself. Nutter, city and state lawmakers and gay rights advocates said the legislation makes Philadelphia the first city in the U.S. to offer tax credits to companies that extend the same health care coverage to LGBT employees’ domestic partners and their children as they provide to heterosexual spouses and their children.“It can be an awkward and embarrassing situation” for anyone who may “feel more like a woman, but can’t use the women’s room,” said Councilman Jim Kenney, the bill’s sponsor.
Officials said the legislation also makes Philadelphia the first city to offer businesses tax credits as a way to encourage providing transgender-specific health benefits.
“My goal is for Philadelphia to be one of, if not the most, LGBT-friendly cities in the world and a leader on equality issues,” said Nutter, adding that the signing struck a personal note because his friend, the late City Councilman John Anderson, was a gay man and a mentor who inspired him 30 years ago to pursue a life of public service.
In addition to the business tax incentives, which were backed by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce as well as LGBT advocacy groups, and the gender-neutral restrooms, the legislation revises Philadelphia’s anti-discrimination law to include transgender people, extends decision-making rights to life partners on medical and other issues, and changes city forms and websites to offer options for same-sex couples and transgender people.
“Equal protection under the law means equal protection under the law,” said. “It doesn’t mean sanctioned by religion or custom or anything else.”
Kenney called the bill, which the City Council passed easily last month, “the next iteration of civil rights and freedom in the United States.”
“This is a city that is truly respecting all its citizens,” said state Rep. Brian Sims, a Philadelphia Democrat and the first openly gay candidate to be elected to the Legislature. “It is because of that respect that we are indeed a first-class city and we will continue to shine.”
Neither gay marriage nor civil unions are legal in Pennsylvania, and the state has a law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
AFP: A top judicial panel cleared the way for same-sex marriage in Brazil Tuesday, ruling that gay couples could not be denied marriage licenses.
The National Council of Justice, which oversees the Brazilian judicial system and is headed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court, said government offices that issue marriage licenses had no standing to reject gay couples.
“This is the equivalent of authorizing homosexual marriage in Brazil,” said Raquel Pereira de Castro Araujo, head of the human rights committee of the Brazilian bar association.
More from the AFP here.
You betcha!!! The Minnesota state Senate passed the marriage equality bill. The governor has pledged to sign it into law!
Argentina PASSED groundbreaking gender identity bill
From now on, people will be able to change the name and gender on their ID without needing psychiatric permission or any body modifications. Furthermore, anyone who does want hormones or surgery will be able to access them for free through the public and private health system.
It was passed unanimously today by the Senate
An LGBT rights group in China called Queer Comrades is launching a campaign to raise awareness of transgender people and trans issues.
As part of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia next week, the group will hold a special event that will educate the public about transgender communities. The event will include a showing of Brothers, the first documentary about trans men in China, and organizers are already reaching out to media for coverage.
‘Chinese society is currently still largely unaware of the plight of transgender people in China, who face stigma and discrimination on a daily basis,’ said a statement from event organizers Queer Comrades.
‘With the event, we focus on bringing attention to transgender communities in China and increasing public understanding of transgender issues.’
Delaware just became the 11th state to pass marriage equality!
Same-sex marriage licenses will be available starting on June 1st, the result of a 12-9 state senate vote to codify marriage equality in the state of Delaware. Democratic Governor Jack Markell signed the bill just minutes after its legislative passage, bringing to a conclusion the tireless work of activists within the state.
Married same-sex couples have the same rights as married heterosexuals to have both parents listed on the birth certificates of their newborn children, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled this morning.
Justices ruled 6-0 to require that the Iowa Department of Public Health begin listing both married parents on a newborn child’s birth certificate, despite state concerns that biological-based parenting rights would be cast aside if a Des Moines lesbian was allowed to establish paternity of her child.
The opinion, authored by Justice David Wiggins, brushes aside state government arguments that Iowa’s interest in “the accuracy of birth certificates, the efficiency and effectiveness of government administration, and the determination of paternity” require that the state hue to biological definitions in recording a child’s parentage.
Iowa currently keeps no records of biological parentage in cases where heterosexual couples use anonymous sperm donors, the court reasons. And state records would not be more accurate by requiring, as Iowa health officials until now have insisted, that nonbirthing mothers go through an adoption process.
“It is important for our laws to recognize that married lesbian couples who have children enjoy the same benefits and burdens as married opposite-sex couples who have children,” the opinion says. “By naming the nonbirthing spouse on the birth certificate of a married lesbian couple’s child, the child is ensured support from that parent and the parent establishes fundamental legal rights at the moment of birth. Therefore, the only explanation for not listing the nonbirthing lesbian spouse on the birth certificate is stereotype or prejudice.
“The exclusion of the nonbirthing spouse on the birth certificate of a child born to a married lesbian couple is not substantially related to the objective of establishing parentage.”
Today’s ruling stems from a lawsuit brought by Melissa and Heather Gartner after the state refused in 2009 to list both of their names on the birth certificate of their daughter, Mackenzie. The baby had been carried by Heather and conceived via an anonymous sperm donor.
Polk County District Judge Eliza Ovrom ruled in the couple’s favor in January 2012, finding that the state had failed to properly follow the 2009 court case that legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa.
Iowa law long has held that if a woman is married, the husband must be legally deemed the father unless there’s a court order that says otherwise.
Jason Collins, 34-year-old center in the National Basketball Association, is the first openly gay athlete in major American sports.
He wrote this piece for Sports Illustrated detailing his decision:
I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.
I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, “I’m different.” If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.
This is huge. This is so huge. Follow-up to come; we’ll be talking about this one for a while.
(Photo: AFP - Getty Images)
France became the 14th country in the world to allow same-sex couples to wed Tuesday, when its parliament approved a law that has sparked often violent street protests and a rise in homophobic attacks.
New Zealand leads way in Pacific with gay marriage law
ABC News: New Zealand has become the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to legalize same-sex marriage.
The bill was passed by parliament 77 votes to 44, making New Zealand the 13th nation worldwide to take the measure. The law redefines marriage as a union between two people, rather than a man and woman.
Photo: New Zealand Prime Minister John Key. (Phil Walter / Getty Images, file)
Comic Book News of the Day: DC Comics Introduces First Transgender Character
DC Comics broke new grounds today by introducing its first transgender character Alysia Yeoh in issue #19 of Batgirl. Although Yeoh is technically not the first trans* character in comics, she is the first to appear in a mainstream comic and author Gail Simone says Yeoh won’t be the last one:“It’s time for a trans hero in a mainstream comic. … I’m sure it’s controversial on some level to some people, but honest to God, I just could not care less about that. If someone gets upset, so be it; there are a thousand other comics out there for those people.”
Bloomberg: The National Hockey League has announced a partnership with a gay rights advocacy group as part of an effort to become “the most inclusive professional sports league” in the world.
The NHL and its players union reached an agreement with the You Can Play Project, a Denver-based advocacy group that opposes homophobia in sports and promotes LGBT equality.
“We are delighted to reaffirm through this joint venture with the NHL Players’ Association that the official policy of the NHL is one of inclusion on the ice, in our locker rooms and in the stands,” says NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in a statement.
(Photo: Matilde Campodonico / AP)
MONTEVIDEO — Uruguay’s Congress passed a bill on Wednesday to allow same-sex marriages, making it the second country in predominantly Roman Catholic Latin America to do so.
Civil unions legalized in Colorado
AP: Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill legalizing civil unions for gay couples today. The law takes effect May 1.
“There is no excuse that people shouldn’t have all the same rights,” Hickenlooper told the crowd during a ceremony at the History Colorado Center near the state Capitol. …
Colorado will join eight states that have civil unions or similar laws. Nine states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage.
Photo: Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper gives a thumbs up as he celebrates with members of the legislature after he signs the Civil Unions Act into law at the Colorado History Museum in Denver, Colo., on March 21, 2013. (Brennan Linsley / AP)