Listen up, LGBT America.

Tuesday’s election showed a sharp contrast in LGBT rights across the country — but also illustrated how we can win that battle.

While many are focusing on Houston voters’ overturning the city’s LGBT equal-protections ordinance, few noted that the nation’s fifth-largest city has written its Office of LGBT Affairs into its City Charter — by a 2-1 public vote.mark-segal

This is the first LGBT-affairs office to be officially incorporated into a city government in the nation. And what makes this even more dramatic is the fact that there was no debate and no religious right fighting against it. In fact, unlike almost any other city in America, this was like business as usual.

So, how is that possible?

Two key factors make Philadelphia stand out: our community’s continual work within the city’s political system since 1971, and the right wing knowing very clearly that, if they attack the LGBT community or its interests, it will cost them.

With more than 40 years of working with local elected officials, the LGBT community is in a place to express its needs to elected officials, and expects support back when it comes to behind-the-scenes politics.

That played out very clearly with the city fighting to remove the Boy Scouts from a city-owned building because of their anti-LGBT policies. The city never buckled in that 10-year fight, even with mounting legal bills that neared a million dollars. The city won.

The same holds true for religious organizations. If they go up against equality, they had better make sure their house is in order, since our community will be happy to expose their financial and moral weaknesses.

One of the problems in our national battle for equality is that some believe all we need to do is present our case and the public will simply fall in line. Sorry, but equality is not just a fight for the intelligence of humankind; it’s also a battle against those willing to cast us off as a group from which they can profit.

Let’s put it simply.

In Philly, we’re fighters. We know what the struggle for true equality is like, and we know what kind of fight it takes to win.


 Mark Segal, Philadelphia Gay News publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. You can follow him on Facebook at MarkSegalPGN or Twitter at PhilaGayNews. His memoir AND THEN I DANCED is available online and at your favorite bookstore.



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