Good morning. My name is Sara Jacobson. I am a member of the Board of The Liberty City Democratic Club and the Chair of its Endorsement Committee. I thank the Committee on Law and Government for accepting our testimony on the Equal Benefits Bill. Many of you came before our membership less than a year ago asking for our support in the elections. When we opened our City Council candidate night in the Spring, we asked you to remember our members,notonly on Election Day when you had our votes, but after Election Day as well, when you made decisions that affect us in these halls.
Liberty City was founded in 1994 to build lesbian and gay involvement in the Democratic Party. Our goals include mobilizing LGBT voters; electing LGBT and LGBT-friendly candidates; working to oust anti-gay office holders; and promoting legislative issues of importance to our community. We have approximately 4000 members throughout Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. Our membership cares deeply about LGBT equality. They turn to Liberty City for guidance about important legislation like the Equal Benefits Bill, and they vote.
Liberty City supports the Equal Benefits Bill, and thanks Councilwoman Reynolds Brown for introducing it, as well as Councilman Kenney, Councilman Greenlee, and Councilman DiCicco for co-sponsoring the Bill.
Philadelphia needs the Equal Benefits Bill because this bill ensures that our city doesn’t endorse discrimination in its private contracts. This bill says that if you want to do business with our city, you must do right by all its citizens, by providing the same employment benefits to life partners who share the same gender identity as those given to opposite sex couples. Permitting tax dollars to give the benefit of city contracts to businesses that don’t do so, would be a use of tax dollars to endorse discrimination. The Equal Benefits Bill is inclusive, because using the term “gender identity” in its definition of who is covered, contemplates transgender people. The bill shows leadership, placing Philadelphia among a growing list of States and Cities who have passed similar legislation[i]. This bill is smart, because it combats discrimination without costing the city a dime.
A mere eight days ago the members of Liberty City stood in line to vote, and when they voted, they stood up for many of you. They did so because you came to Liberty City and pledged your support for the issues that matter to us. Issues like the Equal Benefits Bill. I ask you to stand up for us now, as we did for you then. Stand up for us by passing this bill.
[i] The State of California and 13 other municipalities (Berkley, CA; King County, WA; Long Beach, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Miami Beach, FL; Minneapolis, MN; Oakland, CA; Olympia, WA; Sacramento, CA; San Mateo County, CA; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; Tumwater, WA) have legislation similar to Bill #110057. Five other municipalities (Salt Lake City, UT; Portland, ME; Broward County, FL; Sacramento, CA; and Atlanta, GA), have related ordinances, like ordinances that give contract preferences to companies that either have non-discrimination policies or provide equal employment benefits to domestic partners. http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/equal-benefits-ordinances. Councilman Green, in his recent Liberty City candidate questionnaire, noted that the city should consider whether companies provide domestic partner benefits when awarding city contracts. Other members of City Council (Councilman Goode, Councilwoman Quinones Sanchez, and Councilwoman Reed Miller) have indicated they would co-sponsor or support such a Bill in past candidate questionnaires. We thank all of you for such support. See: http://www.libertycity.org/committees/endorsements/questionnaire-archive.html.