A bill expanding Philadelphia’s hate crime laws to cover sexual orientation and disabilities will get its first hearing Tuesday. The bill’s prospects are good, but its City Council sponsor is sorry that one of its top supporters won’t be on hand to help it pass.
Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown’s bill would increase prison time and financial penalties for violent criminals who target gay, transgendered, or disabled people.
While she expects the Council to pass the measure, Reynolds Brown said she’s sorry that Mayor Michael Nutter’s top aide for LGBT affairs won’t be there to help make it happen.
Gloria Casarez, 42, died of cancer Sunday. She would have been pleased to see the hate crime bill moving, said fellow advocate Jane Shull of Philadelphia Fight. But Shull, who suggests that the bill be named “Gloria’s Law,” added that plenty remains on the LGBT agenda.
“In the state of Pennsylvania right now, you can get married but you can still get fired from your job,” Shull said Monday. “There are always school-based issues for young LGBT, that’s another thing that’s going to be important. This is not a battle that’s over yet.”
The September attack on two gay men in Northern Liberties serves as a reminder of the danger gay people still encounter, even in communities where tolerance is the rule, Shull said.