Op-Ed

The crimes committed against Zachary Hesse and Andrew Haught on Sept. 11, 2014, were heinous. As a community, we have the right to be outraged. Kathryn Knott, Kevin Harrigan and Philip Williams, all young suburbanites, came into our city and, on the outskirts of our neighborhood, these outsiders viciously assaulted two of our own while calling them faggots. This outrages me.

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The budget isn’t the only thing the legislature didn’t get done in 2015. Because of the never-ending budget impasse, almost every other issue that Pennsylvanians care about was not addressed. One of those key issues is discrimination. Most Pennsylvanians are shocked to learn that it is still legal in the commonwealth to be fired from your job, turned away from a business or denied an apartment just for being gay or transgender.

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The Supreme Court’s decision this past summer to extend marriage rights to LGBT Americans was another step in a long and broad civil-rights struggle demonstrating that our nation can be made more perfect — that every citizen deserves dignity, respect and equality under the law.

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The loss of Kiesha Jenkins came as a shock to Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community. Twenty-one trans women have been murdered in 2015, two in Philadelphia. Each time, we are hit with the same jarring impact and inconsolable grief.

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Sometimes I am reminded that I'm not a spring chicken. Indeed, I've been public as a trans woman for 22 years now, and that is still less than half my life.

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A large national Catholic coalition will not be allowed to congregate in the parish they had long been promised during the World Meeting of Families happening in Philadelphia next week. It was not a logistical screw-up. The group of LGBT families was forced from that and all other Catholic parishes in the area because of whom they love.

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I remember it like it was yesterday: the night in May 1998, when Dana International, an Israeli transgender singer, went on stage in Europe waving my country’s flag and winning the Eurovision Song Contest representing Israel. She brought Pride to Israel (in both meanings of the term) as well as the Eurovision contest to our capital, Jerusalem, the following year. At that time, I was a closeted gay teen who already knew he wanted to serve his country as a diplomat but I was afraid that, because of my sexual orientation, I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my dreams. There have been so many teens like me throughout history: fearful, silent, in search of role models.

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