GPHILLY: Sims Heading to Africa to Climb Mount Kilimanjaro

By Josh Middleton

On December 26th, State Representative Brian Sims will hop a plane to Africa, where he’ll climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for the Military Assistance Project (MAP), an initiative that provides legal and housing services to Philadelphia veterans.

During a phone chat last week, Sims told me he signed up for the adventure because it hit close to home. “My parents are both retired army lieutenant colonels. For years, during my time with the Bar Association, and even with Equality Pennsylvania, if there was a veterans component, or an opportunity to work with veterans I tended to take it,” he says. So when MAP approached him about this project last spring, it was a no-brainer.

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Happy holidays!

Christmas and the New Year is finally upon us and I’m enjoying my final hours of 2014 in my favorite city. This is one of my favorite times of the year to reflect on the months and seasons that lead us all here and I hope you find a few moments to do the same.

It goes without saying that this year has seen some really incredibly gains and some very notable losses for far too many people. I’m hoping to use both to inspire and challenge me in the year ahead.


I also remember that the holidays can be tough for some friends and neighbors so please make sure to keep them in your thoughts, prayers, and your actions.

I’m so grateful for the communities I come from, the messages we carry, and the job I get to do! I want to say thank you, Merry Christmas, and have a wonderful holiday season.


NEWSWORKS: Bucks Co. trio held for trial in Center City attack on gay couple

By Brian Hickey

Editor’s note: Testimony in this case includes offensive and profane language. NewsWorks is including it in the story as context necessary to understand the alleged crimes.

Zachary Hesse and Andrew Haught walked along Chancellor Street en route to grab a slice of pizza one Thursday night in September when somebody in a group of passersby allegedly asked a question that sparked a life-altering confrontation.

“Is that your fucking boyfriend?” was the question, Hesse told a court hearing on Tuesday. He testified that he answered the question in the affirmative and got this response: “Oh, so you’re a dirty fucking faggot?”

With that, tempers rose.

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Thank you

I wanted to take a moment to thank you for all of the support we received this election. It is an honor to have been reelected to a second term serving the 182nd district. Thank you to all of my family, friends, and supporters – without you all, I would not have gotten to where I am today.

Though Republicans had a better week than we did, I am more motivated than ever to get to work to advance LGBT civil rights, to ensure that hardworking middle-class Americans earn fair, family-sustaining wages, and to defend a woman’s right to reproductive freedom.

I look forward to working with Governor Wolf and getting back to building a more Progressive Pennsylvania.


Today is finally the day!

It’s Election Day.

After all the phone calls, the door-knocks, the townhall meetings, the debates, the discussions, and the time spent, it finally comes down to this day and your vote!

Click here to find your polling location!

I am honored to serve as the Representative from Center City Philadelphia’s 182nd District and today I once again ask for your vote to send me back to Harrisburg so I can continue working for you. Whether it’s for civil rights, education funding, protecting the environment, or protecting my neighbor, I promise to fight as smart and as hard as I know how for what is right for Philadelphia and Pennsylvania.

We cannot suffer through four more years of Governor Corbett, and Pennsylvania needs strong Progressive leaders, and those leaders are Tom Wolf and Mike Stack as our next Governor and Lieutenant Governor.

But that’s not all. I also need the best colleagues in Harrisburg working with me. If you have the ability and the opportunity, will you send me back to Harrisburg with Leanne Krueger-Braneky (161st), Vince Rongione (163rd), Marian Moskowitz (157th), Lisa Zucco (12th), and Hope Smith (176th) in the State House and Ruth Damsker (12th) and John Kane (26th) in the State Senate?

With the help of these candidates I believe that Harrisburg can become a place where our elected officials go to support the Commonwealth and its citizens once again.

Thank you for you support!


ADVOCATE.COM: Op-Ed – Yes, the Philly Attack Was a Hate Crime

By Rep. Brian Sims

On the evening of September 11, 2014, on a street corner about six or seven blocks from my apartment in the Center City section of Philadelphia, a group of about a dozen individuals — composed of men and women — either took part or watched as a young gay couple was viciously beaten. The victims, two young gay males in their 20s, were left in a pool of blood. One was knocked unconscious and suffered a broken jaw that had to be wired shut.

Within hours of the Philadelphia Police Department releasing surveillance footage depicting the suspects, the nation watched as concerned citizens turned Internet sleuths tracked down the suspects and identified them. Several days later, Philadelphia district attorney Seth Williams indicted three individuals on various charges, including aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment of another, and conspiracy.

For me, for the victims, for countless LGBT people across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and perhaps most importantly for District Attorney Williams, this attack was absolutely a hate crime. Unfortunately, in Pennsylvania, it cannot be charged as such. Sexual orientation and gender identity or expression are not included in Pennsylvania’s hate-crimes statute.

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WASHINGTON POST: Brian Sims Helps a Gay Republican

By Steven Petrow

Dear Civilities: I’m a gay Republican, and am often confronted by my gay friends during election season. They wonder how I could be part of a political party that, in their eyes, condemns homosexuality. I’ve alienated myself from a lot of friends over this topic and it’s hurt a lot of my relationships. What’s the best way for me to explain that my conservative views on small government, low taxation and a strong national defense outweigh anything else? Also, how do I explain that gay marriage should be supported by true conservatives, and that religious fanatics don’t represent true conservatism? — Joe R. City and state withheld

A: Your friends are not the only ones who consider the phrase “gay Republican” to be a mystery, if not an oxymoron. I can certainly understand why they’d challenge your membership in a political party that as late as 2012 resoundingly approved a party platform banning same-sex marriage. But politics often makes strange bedfellows. If you and your friends are willing to engage in civil debate about this, I think you can find common ground.

For starters, remind them of Ted Olson, the attorney who successfully represented George W. Bush in Bush v. Gore before the Supreme Court, and then went on to become Bush’s solicitor general. Today Olson is widely heralded as the Republican architect of the successful fight to overturn California’s Prop. 8, which banned same-sex marriage.

Olson, who is straight, has no problem reconciling his conservative politics with his pro-marriage stance. As he told NPR in 2010: “If you are a conservative, how could you be against a relationship in which people who love one another want to publicly state their vows . . . and engage in a household in which they are committed to one another and become part of the community and accepted like other people?”

Of course, there’s more to this issue than support for marriage equality, and nearly all of the hundreds of gay men and women who posted on my Facebook page in response to your question acknowledged feelings similar to those of your alienated friends. Wrote one, summing up the antipathy directed at the GOP: “I could never reconcile the [Republican] party’s basic disregard for human rights, and especially towards me as a gay man. That, my friend, is the common decency that ‘outweighed all others’ for me. I can’t be part of a group who cannot understand freedom for all.”

For some perspective I called Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Brian Sims, the first out LGBT state legislator in Pennsylvania, who acknowledged that it’s really easy for that vitriolic point of view to be among the first responses. But he also cited several Republicans who support LGBT issues, notably Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) Last year at Sims’s urging Toomey voted in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a cornerstone of LGBT civil rights legislation. Sims praised the senator in a statement: “Senator Toomey’s vote in support of ENDA shows that a conservative ideology and support for LGBT equality are not mutually exclusive.”

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NEWSWORKS: Hundreds Gather in LOVE Park to Call For Better Law Against Hate

By Elizabeth Fiedler

Carrying signs and wielding umbrellas in the rain, hundreds of Philadelphia residents and officials gathered in Love Park Thursday calling for state lawmakers to extend hate crime protections to the LGBT communities.

State Rep. Brian Sims organized the gathering in response to a recent attack on two gay men in his district.

“Our state has a moral responsibility to address hate crimes, and we remain complicit if we fail to pass hate crimes legislation that protects those of us that are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender — or even perceived to be,” Sims said.

Sims applauded the work of Philly law enforcement in handling the case.

Caryn Kunkle, a friend of the victims, also spoke at Love Park.

“On Sept. 11 of this year, a group of young people came to my city to have a good time,” Kunkle said. “At 10:30 at night in Rittenhouse, they opened a conversation with my friends by asking the question, ‘Is that your f—ing boyfriend?’ And that conversation quickly devolved into a nationally broadcast incident.”

Philip Williams, 24, Katherine Knott, 24, and Kevin Harrigan, 26, all of Bucks County, have been charged in the attack.

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PHILLY.COM: Sims honors team with ‘Taney Dragons Week’

By Amy Worden

The state House on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution designating Sept. 14-20 as Taney Dragons Week in Pennsylvania.

The resolution honors the Philadelphia Little League team that took U.S. runner up honors during the Little League World Series in Williamsport last month.

“I’m proud that this team is based in my district, that the entire city adopted them as its own, and that as the Little League Pennsylvania champions, the Taney Dragons have made all of Pennsylvania proud,” said resolution sponsor Rep. Brian Sims (D., Phila.).

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