State Rep. Dwight Evans yesterday endorsed an openly gay judicial candidate and became the first Democratic mayoral candidate to pledge support for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
"I wanted to send a message so people would be very clear about inclusion," Evans said.
Evans said that as mayor he would:
* Support openly gay political candidates.
* Create a special police unit to address LGBT issues.
* Push for legislation that would prohibit the city from doing business with companies that don't provide workplace protection against sexual discrimination .
* Support legislation to make provisions of the city's real-estate transfer tax apply equally to gay and married couples.
Dan Anders, a gay man running for Common Pleas judge who was endorsed by Evans, was not present at the news conference, but several other members of the LGBT community joined Evans.
"I am convinced all of the candidates will be gay-friendly," said Richard Keaveney, the president of Toppers Spa, who described himself as openly gay. "But Dwight will not only be open; he will stand up when we enter the room."
Malcom Lazin, the executive director of Equality Forum, who offered his support as an individual, agreed.
"What Dwight is doing is really going to help to change the political landscape," he said.
Lazin estimated that at least 5 percent of Philadelphians are gay and the majority of them Democrats.
Evans has a record of supporting gay rights while serving in the state House of Representatives. In 1996, he voted against the Pennsylvania Defense of Marriage Act, which bans legal recognition of same-sex unions.