PHILADELPHIA, October 20, 2014 – The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations joins countless individuals and organizations across the city and nation mourning the passing of Gloria Casarez, director of LGBT affairs for the Nutter Administration after her long bout with cancer. She was 42 and survived by her wife, Tricia Dressel.
PCHR Executive Director Rue Landau, a Casarez colleague and friend of 20 years, offered these thoughts:
“Gloria focused her work on all people facing oppression, particularly people of color – or, as she would say, ‘black and brown people.’ She knew that many laws and policies currently in place do not benefit communities of color and the less connected, and she spent her entire professional career fighting to change that.
“As for the LGBT community, Gloria made sure to give a special voice to the trangender community, because so often they were shut not only out of the broader lesbian and gay community, but were so completely marginalized by all of society – especially trans men and women of color.
“During the mayor’s announcement of her appointment, she made it a point to fill the Mayor’s Reception Room with every segment of the LGBT community. That’s because she wanted to send a message that City Hall was open for everybody.
“She was such a wonderful mentor to many, many young people. She made colleagues friends and her friends became family. She was a fierce warrior and a friend beloved by many, of all colors, gay, straight and anywhere between. Her humor and her passion will sorely be missed, but we will continue her fight to ensure inclusive, nondiscriminatory policies that affirm and advance everyone. Gloria wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Mayor Michael A. Nutter ordered that the rainbow flag that had been hoisted for LGBT history month be lowered to half-staff at 1 p.m. today.
PCHR is the agency charged with diffusing inter-group conflict within the city and ensure fair dealings in employment, housing, public accommodations and real estate, as outlined in the city’s Fair Practices Ordinance, Philadelphia’s guiding civil rights legislation.