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Philadelphia city council approves landmark LGBT equality bill

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia city council on Thursday approved a landmark LGBT equality bill that provides tax incentives to private employers who extend insurance to the same-sex partners of their employees, and strengthens legal rights and protections for LGBT citizens.

The bill, introduced by councilman Jim Kenney and approved by a vote of 14-3, creates a tax credit incentive for businesses that allow the families of LGBT employees – same-sex partners and their children – to enroll for family health benefits.

The measure would also require that non-union city government health plans provide transgender health services, including surgery. A separate tax credit would be extended to private businesses that do the same.

“The spirit of the bill acknowledges people’s humanity, acknowledges their citizenship and their full rights to participate in everything the law has to offer everyone else,” said Kenney.

Other legal rights for LGBT citizens included in the bill:

  • Revising city forms to be gender neutral;
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  • Making it easier for transgender residents to request name changes and gender markers on some records;
  • Require gender-neutral restrooms in city-controlled buildings, and provide access to restrooms to be based on gender identity;
  • Prohibits healthcare discrimination against non-union transgender city employees

State Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia), the first openly gay person elected to the Pennsylvania General Assembly, was on hand for the vote, and told council members, “Today you are agents of equality. You are more than just council members, you are champions of a first class city, proudly filled with a diverse and powerful citizenry.”

Mayor Michael Nutter says he’ll sign the bill.

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