PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter on Saturday reaffirmed his support of marriage rights for same-sex couples.
“Love who you love, be with who you be with and generally it’s no one else’s business,” he said during the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association and Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr., Foundation’s annual gathering of LGBT journalists and bloggers at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel. “People should be able to do whatever it is they want to do, be together.”
Nutter, who succeeded Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors last year, is among the more than 300 city executives who have joined Freedom to Marry’s Mayors for the Freedom to Marry initiative. He joined Villaraigosa, Houston Mayor Annise Parker and others at a D.C. reception last month that commemorated the campaign’s first anniversary.
Nutter described President Obama’s comments in support of same-sex marriage during his re-election campaign and in his second inaugural address as “very helpful.”
“You hear more and more electeds and others coming out for marriage equality or knocking down the discriminatory effects,” he said in response to gay New York journalist Andy Humm’s question about Pennsylvania state lawmakers’ reluctance to expand LGBT-specific protections in the commonwealth. “I don’t know what’s in the hearts and minds of all the legislators across Pennsylvania, but I’d like to think there’s a certain inevitability to all of this.”
Nutter again highlighted his support of nuptials for gays and lesbians as he continued to answer Humm’s question.
“It’s not like the heterosexual community has demonstrated that we’ve got it all together ourselves,” he said. “If folks want to be married, let people marry. What difference does it make?”
Nutter, who served on the Philadelphia City Council for more than a decade until his 2007 election, further stressed his administration recognizes the “economic vitality that the LGBT community brings” to the city.
Transgender blogger Becky Juro asked the mayor about Nizah Morris, a trans woman who died in Dec. 2002.
A Philadelphia police officer offered Morris a ride to her apartment after she collapsed outside a Center City bar because she had become intoxicated. The officer said Morris left her cruiser a few blocks away – a passing motorist later found her unconscious in the street
The city medical examiner determined Morris’ death was a homicide, but the Philadelphia Police Department rejected its finding.
“We haven’t maybe had the greatest level of cooperation from a bunch of folks, but it is a case that we are certainly paying attention to,” Nutter said. “We want to bring whoever needs to be brought to justice to justice.”
Nutter also described former Philadelphia City Councilman John C. Anderson, after whom a new Center City complex that will contain apartments for LGBT seniors is named, as a mentor. The mayor also responded to a question about the Boy Scouts of America’s Cradle of Liberty Council’s lawsuit against the city over its efforts to evict it from its city-owned building after it refused to change its policy to allow gay scouts and troop leaders.
A federal court jury in 2010 ruled against the city, but the case remains before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
“I want to get a resolution that ultimately entails us not supporting any discrimination in a city-owned building or a building on land we own,” he said. “I’m hopeful that there will be a resolution that gets to that stage where we’re not subsidizing that kind of activity in the relatively near future.”
Nutter also said he has no intentions of running for governor or Congress once his term expires in 2016.
“I have approximately three years on my term here as mayor of my hometown,” he said. “I’m going to serve out my term. I have no idea what I’m going to do next. And I’m not thinking about it right now.”