City Councilman James Kenney is to introduce legislation Thursday that would give a tax credit to employers who provide health-care benefits to same-sex partners, saying his bill would make Philadelphia, already a popular city for gays and lesbians to live, even more so.
"A lot of changes we are making will make Philadelphia more attractive to LGBT people and make them want to settle here," Kenney said. "They are good job creators, good taxpayers, and good employees."
His legislation also would guarantee partners of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people the right to visit their loved ones in hospitals and make medical decisions for them. Kenney said he simply wanted to give the group the same rights that heterosexuals have.
"Civil rights should be for everyone, and if the government wants to be in the marriage business, which they do, they ought to provide equal protection for everyone," Kenney said.
His bill would exempt same-sex partners from the real estate transfer tax because married people do not have to pay it and change city forms to add a "self-identify" gender option instead of just "male" or "female."
Kenney said the program would not burden employers because the tax credit was an incentive, not a requirement.
Cathryn Oakley, legislative counsel for state and municipal advocacy for the Human Rights Campaign, which works for civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, said such credits make sense.
"It's relatively rare, but it's wonderful," she said.