By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney is giving up the courtroom to work for the Nutter Administration — where she will serve as the mayor’s liaison to the city’s LGBT community.
For the past six years Nellie Fitzpatrick has worn two hats at the District Attorney’s office: she has prosecuted cases involving family violence, sexual assault and weapons offenses. And she’s been the DA’s liaison to the LGBT community.
Starting next month Fitzpatrick will take on a similar role for the Nutter Administration, as director of Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs.
“Our community is very far-reaching and diverse in the city of Philadelphia. And there’s a lot of work to do to ensure that every member of this community is treated equally, with respect and dignity, both as a citizen of Philadelphia and as a human being,” says Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick succeeds the city’s first LGBT Affairs Director, Gloria Casarez, who succumbed to cancer two months ago at age 42.
“Her shoes are shoes that can never be filled, will never be filled,” Fitzpatrick says. “But I will work tirelessly to make sure that everything that she’s done truly remains as part of our city forever, so that her legacy will live on.”
Fitzpatrick praises the city’s new hate crime laws, passed by Council earlier year in the wake of the beating of a gay couple in Center City.
“It’s a very, very clear and strong message that’s being sent from City Hall and our lawmakers that it’s not tolerated, that you cannot brutally attack somebody based on how you’re perceiving them, based on your biases, that that just won’t stand in our streets,” she says.
And she hopes the Philadelphia law will spur state lawmakers to revise the Pennsylvania hate crimes law with more specific, inclusive language.
Fitzpatrick moves to City Hall in late January, when Mayor Nutter will only about 11 months left in his term…. and Fitzpatrick hopes that whoever is elected the next mayor will see fit to keep the LGBT Affairs office.
“I hope that no matter what, the office continues,” she says. “And I would be honored to stay on and help usher in a new administration.”