A group of prominent gay activists are backing Philadelphia mayor John F. Street for reelection, calling him inclusive and sensitive to their concerns. Meanwhile, Republican mayoral candidate Sam Katz received his own endorsement from a newly formed gay organization, Pride for Katz, during an event at a Philadelphia bookstore Wednesday.
Among the dozen or so people endorsing Street are Philadelphia Gay News publisher Mark Segal and lawyer and activist Mike Williams, both of whom backed Katz during the 1999 mayoral election. The two men had been upset that Street, as a member of the city council, had opposed providing benefits to the same-sex partners of city employees. They have since shifted their support to the Democratic mayor, praising his appointment of an openly gay council member as well as a city program that recruits gays and lesbians to serve as foster parents. "This mayor has unabashedly and unashamedly kept all of his promises," Williams said.
On Wednesday Katz again accused Street of helping Constitution Party candidate John McDermott earn a spot on the November ballot. The Street campaign has denied the accusation but has acknowledged that a Street volunteer circulated a McDermott nominating petition. McDermott, a conservative candidate, has criticized Katz as being too liberal and supporting homosexuality.
"I think voters should be concerned that John Street is backing a person who calls me a 'lobbyist for cross-dressers' and uses words of hate," Katz said. "This fellow didn't just materialize out of nowhere.... He is a product of the campaign strategy of John Street."