The state of Pennsylvania is set to elect its first openly LGBT state representative this fall. According to a report at the blog Gay Politics.com, Brian Sims has won the Democratic primary for Philadelphia’s heavily Democratic District 182, and is not expected to face a Republican opponent in the fall.
Sims, a policy attorney, civil rights advocate, and former college football star is a Victory Fund candidate, a group dedicated to “increasing the number of openly LGBT officials at all levels of government.”
Raw Story spoke to Victory Fund’s Vice President Denis Dison, who said that the election of Sims is of critical importance to LGBT people in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania, like most states that have not had openly LGBT representatives, has no statewide non-discrimination rights for LBGTs. Individual municipalities have passed ordinances prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people, but the state itself has taken no such action.
Dison said that Pennsylvania is one of the largest states to not have protections in place for LGBT citizens. “Brian’s voice will be important in the legislature because, not only will he be able to champion individual bills, but he’ll be able to talk face-to-face with his colleagues about why these measures are necessary.”
The Victory Fund has established that states with openly LGBT legislators all eventually pass measures to include LGBTs in their non-discrimination laws. Dison said that face-to-face interaction between LGBT lawmakers and their colleagues is invariably what triumphs over discrimination.
Pointing to recent gay rights victories in Maryland and Washington state, he said, “Pennsylvania is at the beginning of that journey. Brian is a part of that.”
Watch a video by Brian Sims from National Coming Out Day, 2011, embedded via YouTube, below:
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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