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.
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!
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!
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.
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.”
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.
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.).
By Morgan Zalot
For Mark Barbee, a freshman borough councilman in Bridgeport, Montgomery County, seeing gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf and state Rep. Brian Sims at yesterday’s Philadelphia Pride Day meant more than just meeting two fellow politicians.
“To be an openly gay official and see them [attend the event] means a lot,” Barbee, 24, said after taking photos with fellow Democrats Wolf and Sims.
Sims, the first openly gay elected state representative, who represents parts of Center City and South Philly, had invited Wolf to yesterday’s event. Sims said on his website that he wanted Wolf, whose campaign promises have been based on “fairness and equality,” to meet LGBT voters.
By James H. English
If you aren’t familiar with Brian Sims, a Democratic member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, he’s a history maker. The first and so far only NCAA football captain to come out of the closet while active, he’s also the first openly gay representative ever elected to the Pennsylvania State Legislature. Don’t be fooled; he may have a career in politics, but by no means is he a typical politician in it for the power. Sims (who’d prefer you call him Brian) is in the game because he wants to make the world a better place to live for everyone, a desire that has guided his professional development from its inception.
In office less than a year, Sims’ reputation as a human rights champion caught the eye of the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, and earned him a coveted invite not only to attend her first official trip in December 2013, but also to be a headlined speaker. Discussing racial justice, the rights of the disabled, equality for women, and LGBT issues, Sims spent four days touring Japan, empowering activists, politicians, and students with the same intensity that garnered him board positions with groups as diverse as Ben Cohen’s Stand-Up Foundation and The Center for Progressive Leadership. Yet speaking to him about his experience in Japan, Sims sounds mystified that Ambassador Kennedy even knew who he was.
“I’m not sure how I got on the radar,” he says with a laugh, “but they wanted to bring advocates from Japan and the United States together at all levels. They wanted someone visible… apparently I was on the short-list for a couple of months before they asked.”