Above: Top row, L-R: Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, Councilman Ed Neilson, Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez, Councilman W. Wilson Goode, Jr., Councilman Mark Squilla, Councilman Dennis O’Brien, Councilman Bobby Henon. Bottom row, L-R: Councilwoman Cindy Bass, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, Councilman David Oh, Council President Darrell L. Clarke, Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr., Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, Councilman Bill Greenlee.
Philadelphia, April 9, 2015 – Councilman Mark Squilla (1st District) on Thursday released an open letter signed by all members of City Council and Mayor Michael A. Nutter inviting persons affected by anti-LGBTQ “religious freedom” laws to visit or relocate to the City of Philadelphia.
A number of anti-discriminatory and inclusive laws and regulations passed by Philadelphia City Council have earned the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection a No. 1 ranking on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index.
“The principles of life, liberty and equality are deeply rooted in Philadelphia, which has long been a welcoming destination for LGBTQ people despite a less progressive environment elsewhere in the Commonwealth,” said Councilman Squilla, referring to a version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that is law in Pennsylvania. “The national outcry over RFRA in Indiana and Arizona make it clearer than ever that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identification is 100 percent un-American.”
Councilman Squilla’s letter encourages all persons, businesses and industry conventions affected by RFRA laws to visit and even permanently relocate to Philadelphia. Councilman Squilla, whose district includes the Gayborhood, further encourages elected officials supportive of RFRA to visit historically significant landmarks such as Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell for “a refresher course” on the principles in which American democracy is rooted.
“We are Americans — we vote with our ballots, our feet and our dollars. Polls show a majority of Americans support equality for all. No LGBTQ person should have to endure discrimination because a few misguided elected officials decided it was OK,” added Councilman Squilla, a board member of the Pennsylvania Convention Center and the Reading Terminal Market. “Pope Francis is coming to Philadelphia in September, and the Democratic National Convention will be held here in 2016. Philadelphia is the place to be – for all people, no matter what their color, where they come from, or who they love.”
To Whom It May Concern:
On behalf of the City of Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, we wish to extend a warm welcome to Americans who have been made to feel unwelcome in the 20 states, most notably Indiana and Arkansas, where controversial “Religious Freedom and Restoration Act” laws have been enacted. Despite the existence of a RFRA law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia continues to lead the nation by providing necessary civil rights protections for all of its citizens.
There has never been a more exciting time to visit Philadelphia! Our city, ranked No. 1 in municipal LGBTQ equality by the Human Rights Campaign, is experiencing an urban renaissance that celebrates its diversity, history, and economic growth in equal parts. If you are looking to relocate yourself, your family, your business or your industry convention to a vibrant, affordable and inclusive city, Philadelphia belongs at the top of your list.
Philadelphians believe diverse immigrant, religious and LGBTQ communities strengthen our city. We are just as proud of our world-class museums, universities, architecture and — of course — our pivotal role in American history.
We also encourage elected officials behind these “religious freedom” laws to visit Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell or the National Constitution Center for a refresher course on the religious persecution this country was founded to escape. Bonus: Our nationally ranked restaurants and retail shopping won’t deny them service simply because of a difference of opinion.
Councilman Mark Squilla
Mayor Michael A. Nutter
Council President Darrell L. Clarke
Councilwoman Cindy Bass
Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell
Councilman William K. Greenlee
Councilman W. Wilson Goode, Jr.
Councilman Bobby Henon
Councilman Kenyatta Johnson
Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr.
Councilman Ed Neilson
Councilman Dennis O’Brien
Councilman David Oh
Councilman Brian O’Neill
Councilwoman Maria D. Quiñones-Sánchez
Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown
Councilwoman Marian Tasco