Thursday, April 9, 2015

Dear America: Give Us Your...

Three years ago, Councilman-now-Mayoral-candidate Jim Kenney told Chick-fil-A to take a hike after the fast food chain's CEO, Dan Cathy, made explosive remarks against marriage equality. That same year Mayor Michael Nutter signed legislation that he said he hoped would make Philadelphia "the most LGBT friendly" city in the world.

Both are bold moves, politically speaking. And Nutter's statement is just bold. I mean what about San Francisco? New York? Amsterdam? But all you need to do is take a look around, pick up a newspaper, or listen to our elected officials. We've taken our turn to bask in the rainbow of equality for everyone. This is Philadelphia's time to shine.

Plenty of states and cities have tried the "open for business" tactic as a last resort, but Philadelphia's council members, judges, and mayors - past and future - seem to be using it in earnest. Just this week, every single member of City Council including Mayor Nutter signed an open letter drafted by Councilman Mark Squilla blasting recent "Religious Freedom" legislation that is currently sweeping through the Hate States, asking those afflicted to not just visit Philadelphia, but to move here.

With words echoing The New Colossus, Councilman Squilla appointed Philadelphia the Ellis Island for persecuted Americans. United, each elected Council Member posed with a rainbow flag in hand to welcome internal immigration and offer refuge from politicians who hide their hate behind religion, and legislation that does nothing to protect religious freedom - or freedom from religion - but solely to legalize discrimination.

This summer Philly Pride Presents will be painting the crosswalks in the Gayborhood with the colors of the Pride Flag, reminding visitors and locals that Philadelphia aims to be a safe place, and solidifying the Gayborhood's cultural relevance despite being haphazardly rebranded "Midtown Village."

As tragic as the events of last September were, it's fitting that these crosswalks are being installed a few short blocks from the scene of the brutal beatings of two gay men by a hoard of drunken, suburban brats. Hate happens, but our community came together to put three monsters behind bars, the police responded, and the courts have yet to muster an ounce of sympathy for the accused.

Philadelphia has its problems. All cities do. But recent years have proven that City Hall is dedicated to addressing the matters of the heart first - fighting Harrisburg for education, addressing poverty and crime, and embracing equality for all Philadelphians and our visitors - truly being the City of Love for Brothers, Sisters, and Everyone in Between.

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