Unified strategy dooms prohomosexual law.

In April, Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell sent a communique to city council members urging swift passage of “Domestic Partners” (DP) legislation. In essence, the bill called for legal recognition of domestic partners—that is, homosexual couples, living under the same roof.

Marriage between homosexuals is not recognized as legal in Pennsylvania. But the legislation called for same-sex partners of city employees and residents to have access to pension, health benefits, and death benefits traditionally reserved for married couples.

Though similar legislation has passed in other cities, Philadelphia’s version was unique in that it was limited to homosexual couples, as opposed to unmarried heterosexual partners.

Uphill battle

Early on, 13 of the city’s 17 council members favored the bill. With the mayor’s unequivocal support, the legislation seemed unassailable. Nevertheless, proponents of traditional family values felt it was a battle worth fighting.

Shortly after Rendell had the legislation introduced, the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia contacted Bill Devlin, director of the Philadelphia Christian Action Council (PCAC), to discuss a strategy. “At that time,” says Devlin, “the odds were a hundred to one against us.”

Soon, however, a three-pronged plan was in place. It called for a multicultural, multiethnic, religious coalition to rally opposition to DP. Representatives of the city’s African-American churches and even a Muslim cleric soon signed on with Catholics and the mostly white evangelical church represented by the PCAC.

The strategy’s second prong addressed attitude and style. “We looked at how this issue was handled in other places, such as Oregon and Colorado,” says Devlin, “and ...

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