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Philadelphia Mayor Steps Up for LGBT Rights During Papal Visit

Philadelphia Mayor Steps Up for LGBT Rights During Papal Visit

Mayor Michael Nutter

Michael Nutter declared the visit by Pope Francis was 'completely successful' even though he was not able to deliver on a promise to personally press the pope on LGBT rights.

Philadelphia's Mayor Michael Nutter said he didn't get the chance to make good on his promise to personally ask Pope Francis to "end judgment" of LGBT people iduring the pope's visit to his city.

But according to the website for the Philadelphia Inquirer, he told reporters he was sure the pope heard his speech Saturday at Independence Hall, where the mayor raised the issue shortly before the pontiff spoke.

"In America, everyone has rights," Nutter said Saturday.

In that speech, Nutter cited the mentorship of a one-term Philadelphia city councilman who was gay, and helped launch Nutter's political career. John Anderson contracted AIDS and died in 1983. And then he addressed those in the crowd who are lesbian, gay and bisexual, who he said "continue to fight for equality."

"Keep fighting for your rights. It's a collective fight. And there are many others fighting with you."

Nutter made no mention of transgender citizens, who Pope Francis has likened to nuclear weapons and the Vatican has announced cannot serve as godparents to Roman Catholic children being baptized.

Nutter, a practicing Catholic who is openly pro-choice and advocates for LGBT rights, was named by Archbishop Charles Caput of Philadelphia honorary co-chairman of the World Meeting of Families, which was the primary reason for the pope's visit.

A statement from the mayor on Friday included a letter Nutter said he sent Pope Francis, in which he pressed the pope to reconsider the Church's treatment of LGBT Catholics.

"We encourage ending the systematic and institutionalized discrimination against LGBT people through the message of love, hope, and acceptance. For the many LGBT individuals who seek the Lord and have good will, we ask that you end judgment of these individuals by those within the Church through teaching and pastoral practice currently in place."

That statement earned Nutter, and Chaput, criticism from conservative Catholic websites which accused the mayor of pushing the "gay agenda." One website went so far as to demand the archbishop remove Nutter and other "pro gay-marriage members from the leadership team," but those cries fell on deaf ears.

Despite not getting to personally speak to Pope Francis about LGBT rights, Nutter told the Inquirerthe visit was "wildly successful, completely successful."

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