by Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Mayor Michael Nutter signed a groundbreaking bill on Thursday, making Philadelphia one of the friendliest cities when it comes to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered rights. More from Community Affairs reporter, Cherri Gregg.
It was standing room only on the 14th Floor of the Municipal Thursday afternoon as Mayor Nutter signed the groundbreaking bill.
"My goal is for Philadelphia to be one of the most LGBT friendly cities in the world," said Mayor Michael Nutter.
Mayor Nutter says the new bill strengthens the City's laws to provide equal treatment of all persons in Philadelphia regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. It also makes Philadelphia the first in the country to offer tax incentives for businesses that offer LGBT-inclusive healthcare options.
Gloria Casarez, Director of LGBT Affairs, says the bill leads the country on transgender rights, requiring new City construction to create gender neutral bathrooms and trans-inclusive healthcare.
"Particularly in the area of workplace equality, the ability to dress in the gender appropriate for you and the ability to use the bathroom without causing a company-wide scandal," said Casarez.
Philadelphia City Councilman James Kenney sponsored the bill, thanking dozens of LGBT supporters who came to witness the bill become law.
"To be now fully recognized - if not by your state, if not by country, at least by your city. You are now fully recognized citizens and partners in the city," said Kenney.
State Representative Bryan Sims, the first openly gay man to serve in the Pennsylvania general assembly, attended historic signing, saying he is proud to be a Philadelphian.
"I get to go to Harrisburg each week from a city like Philadelphia and say this is what happens when all of us get the rights that this country was founded upon," said Sims.
Highlights of the new bill includes equal rights for same sex couples at hospitals, requires gender neutral designations on city forms and that all new construction include gender neutral bathrooms.
Some provisions of the bill go into effect immediately, others like the inclusive health benefits do not go into effect until next year.
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