By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Leaders in Philadelphia’s LGBT community say it is essential that the mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs be made permanent.  And they’re banking on a ballot question being put to voters this fall.

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The Office of LGBT Affairs was created by Mayor Nutter early in his first term, but LGBT leaders fear that a future mayor might decide not to let it continue.  So, they’re backing a plan to change the city charter and make the office permanent.

At a City Council committee hearing this past week, Rue Landau, executive director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, was among those testifying in support of the charter change.

“Making the Office of LGBT Affairs permanent in the Home Rule Charter is essential, as there is no guarantee that future leaders will be as protective of the rights of the LGBT community as City Council and this administration has been,” she said.

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At the hearing, Chris Bartlett, executive director of the William Way LGBT Community Center, in center city, said the office has helped grow the LGBT sector of the city’s economy.

“Making permanent the Office of LGBT Affairs in the City of Philadelphia is such an investment, and will lead to Philadelphia’s continued leadership as a city of inclusion, equality, and growth,” Bartlett (top photo) said.

The plan was approved in committee and now goes to the full Council, where approval is also expected.  Once the mayor signs it, the question would then be put to city voters on the general election ballot in November.


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