A Place At City Council’s Table

Where in the hell is our LGBTQ political leadership in this city? Where are our political allies? This has been my question since the announcement that Councilperson Bill Green was resigning his seat on Philadelphia City Council.

Why has there not been a groundswell of support in making that open Philadelphia City Council seat an LGBT seat?

We have paid our dues, illness provided our dollars, time and votes as one of the most loyal groups in the Democratic Party. No one can fault the efforts put forth by Philadelphia’s LGBTQ democrats when it comes to being a workhorse for the Democratic Committee.

Now I’m not advocating one candidate over another because there are a number of qualified out candidates who would make excellent Council members. What I am advocating is the principle that as the fourth largest city in the country we not only deserve an out elected city official we need one.

Philadelphia is an embarrassment when it comes to it not having an out elected city official and the time has come to bring that sad fact to an end.

Congressman Brady holds the keys to who will be the next democrat to be on City Council and the ward leaders have the vote. These are the people who need to hear from us.

To begin with, I received a letter this week addressed to Congressmen Brady, signed by 14 of the city’s LGBT & HIV Executive Directors Group, calling on him to “select a member of the LGBT community as its nominee in the special election.”

The letter in full reads:

Honorable Robert Brady
Democratic City Committee
219 Spring Garden Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123

February 9, 2014

Dear Chairman Brady:

We, the undersigned members of the Philadelphia LGBT and HIV Executive Directors Group in our individual and not organizational capacities, request that the Philadelphia Democratic City Committee call a special election to fill the vacancy created by the departure of At Large City Councilman Bill Green and select a member of the LGBT community as its nominee in the special election.

The LGBT community has been a loyal constituency of the Democratic Party providing votes, talent, volunteers, and financial support. Philadelphia with San Jose, California, are the only two of the ten largest U.S. cities that does not have an openly gay LGBT elected member on its legislative body.

Houston and Seattle have out gay mayors. Dallas, Texas has an out elected sheriff. There are currently out local legislators in Doylestown, Easton, Harrisburg, Meadville, Millersburg, New Hope, Norristown, Pittsburgh, and Roslyn, Pennsylvania.

We believe that this vacancy presents the Philadelphia City Committee with a unique opportunity to correct this inequality.

It is our request that you use your prestige to encourage the Democratic City Committee to honor our request and to call for a special election in 2014.

This letter was signed by Chris Bartlett of William Way Community Center; Elicia Gonzales, GALAEI; Malcolm Lazin, Equality Forum; Jose Benitez, Prevention Point; Brian M. Green, SafeGuards; Ted Martin, Equality PA; Kevin Burns, ActionAIDS; Samantha Giusti, Delaware Valley Legacy Fund; Franny Price, Philly Pride Presents; Casey Cook, Bread & Roses; Carrie Jacobs, Attic Youth Center; Robb Reichard, AIDS Fund; Alison Gerig; Nurit Shein, Mazzoni Center.

This is a start. I understand that a petition will be started shortly to make the same request.

But where is the Liberty City Democrats on this matter? If they say nothing on this matter then we should consider them irrelevant to LGBTQ politics in this city. That’s how important the issue is.

As for Mark Segal who claims a personal relationship with Bob Brady we can forget about his help on the matter. He will simply kowtow to the will of the party and any insiders deal then make waves and take a stand for an LGBTQ candidate. This man, who has Brady’s ear, simply does not think it is going to happen is doing nothing to help it. That makes him also irrelevant to the future of LGBTQ politics in this city.

Action is needed. Contact your councilperson and explain to them how this position should and must be LGBTQ for the good of Philadelphia and let’s see where they stand. Many claim to be our allies now let’s see if they will stand with us on this issue too. The more emails they receive on this matter to more attention they will give to it.

We need to be loud and in your face on this issue and unless you can give me a sound argument why the open City Council seat should not have an LGBTQ candidate running in the election then you need to get off your butts and take action today. Take to Facebook and Twitter . . . Make some noise people.


  1. Hi James,

    Have you submitted your petition to the Board of LCDC? As I understand, it would have to be voted on by the Board and maybe the membership. The Co-Chairs can’t simply make the decision instantly. The Board meetings are monthly so there may be a lag time for response.

    Best wishes,
    Cei Bell

    • Cei, I am not a member of Liberty City so I’m not sure it is my place to petition the Board for action in this matter. However, what I am looking for is bold political leadership in Philadelphia’s Democrat Party. We have known for several months of the pending resignation of Bill Green from City Council, and Liberty City has had plenty of time to access the situation, formulate a response and to take action. It has not to date. I am beginning to feel that Liberty City has become complacent by simply having politicians come to them and seek their endorsement. Liberty City should be at the forefront of advancing LGBTQ politicians in this city and their bold leadership is not simply wanted, it is demanded and expected.



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