In Philadelphia, there are a number of initiatives that could see fruition this year. The John C. Anderson Apartments are on track to open their doors by the end of the year, bringing a new era to the issue of LGBT elder care and a new element to the Gayborhood. At the government level, Councilman Jim Kenney will spearhead a sweeping LGBT-reform bill that could introduce a never-before-seen tax credit for companies that offer domestic-partner benefits and clarify the scope of the city’s domestic-partner registry. While that measure is in the works, the community also has the opportunity to push for the city to make its health-care coverage fully transgender-inclusive, an element that prevented Philadelphia from achieving the very top mark on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index. We were also docked bonus points for failing to “gross up” domestic-partner benefits for city employees, a trend that has garnered support from a number of area companies recently. City officials have expressed interest in looking at these two issues in 2013, so advocates should take advantage of that willingness.
While realistically the issue of state-level relationship recognition is likely a ways off for Pennsylvania, there’s no reason the state can’t see some LGBT progress in 2013. Pennsylvania still lacks an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination law and, with two out lawmakers now in office — Rep.-elect Brian Sims and Rep. Mike Fleck — this year could be the one where the long-stalled bill sees some success. Sims and Fleck come from different sides of the aisle, an element that could be significantly helpful in bringing together lawmakers from seemingly opposite points of view on an issue that should be a common-sense one.
Nationally, this could be one of the biggest years ever for marriage equality. With the success of marriage equality at the ballot this November, momentum is growing in a number of states. And the U.S. Supreme Court will finally weigh in on the issue by the summer — whichever way the court goes, the decision is bound to reverberate. While the polarity between the two parties in Congress may not yield any sure results on LGBT measures like the Employment Nondiscrimination Act or the Uniting American Families Act, this could be the year for supporters to continue to collect more cosponsors — including Republicans — to make the case for LGBT equality in the near future.
Here’s to hoping that 2013 is a good one.