Census numbers = voting power
Posted: 07/21/2011 - 14:41
by Mark Segal
The recently released census figures for same-sex couples in Philadelphia, published in last week’s PGN, make a major statement — and prove why Sherrie Cohen almost won a seat on City Council. It also makes the point crystal clear that Cohen, with our united community behind her, will be elected in four years. Simply put, we have the numbers and we vote. Here’s a look at the numbers.
When asked by politicians what is the number of LGBT voters in Philadelphia, I’ve always answered about 20,000. That was always a guess on my part from my 40-some years of working in the political landscape of our community. Now the census has given credence to that figure.
According to The Williams Institute analysis, there were 6,371 same-sex couples in Philadelphia. Now if you remember the soap opera that was the 2010 census, you might recall that in order to be counted as a same-sex couple, you had to practically speak Shakespearian English, the form was so convoluted. That was because President George W. Bush’s administration had attempted not to count LGBT people in any manner, but when President Obama took office, he changed that order — but the process had already begun not to count us and the change was cumbersome. It was almost impossible to find a way to do it. So most same-sex couples did not do so. But let’s use that 6,371 figure alone anyway. It still proves our point and may give us more than those 20,000 votes. A lot more.
As we know, an overwhelming number of LGBTs are registered Democrat, and we do make it a point to vote, and in overwhelming numbers. So that number of couples is approximately 12,700. Add to that single LGBT people who were not counted, closeted couples who would not fill out a government form as a couple and those who did not get counted and the figure at least doubles. A fair guess would be 25,400 votes. That is half the number needed to elect a member of our community to Council. The Democratic Party has been our ally in our struggle and Philadelphia is far ahead of most cities in the nation when it comes to LGBT rights and inclusion. So we need to work with them in the coming three years.
Our community in Philadelphia has had out representation on almost every level of government except elected City Council and mayor. We are or have been judges, ward leaders, committeemen and members of the mayor’s cabinet. If we include those in the closet, there have even been state representatives and senators.
There hasn’t been a strong push in Philadelphia for Council members because the LGBT community is so involved in city government and the political process that our community is well taken care of.
But that number sends a message. And, politely, we say our community deserves representation on Council by a proud open member who has fought the good fight and will work in harmony with other Council members to create a better Philadelphia for all its citizens.
Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org
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