Here in Pennsylvania, we don’t yet know, but the possibilities look promising.

Sims, a former member of the Victory Campaign Board, is a distinguished policy attorney and civil rights advocate from Center City Philadelphia. The former Staff Counsel for Policy and Planning at the Philadelphia Bar Association, he recently stepped down as the President of the Board of Directors of Equality Pennsylvania.

Sims could have company in the Pennsylvania House.  Another Victory-endorsed candidate, Chris Dietz, was unopposed in his Democratic primary tonight to represent District 104.

I wrote negatively about Brian’s candidacy months ago, but now that the election is over, it is time to look at everything differently. At that time, I questioned anyone taking out one of the most vocal and aggressive legislators we have working for LGBT issues, and it remains to be seen if any of that concern is warranted or not. But there are a few things I know. If there is anyone who could walk in as a freshman legislator and begin to get things done, it will most likely be Brian.

Two other things are really important to view too. First, this single election wasn’t in a vacuum and Brian’s win combined with all of the other wins and losses across the state demonstrate in a big way that people want to see change in the way Harrisburg operates. Second, there is no way of telling yet how hugely important it will be to have an out gay legislator there. We already know that there are many gay politicians in Harrisburg, although they are all in the closet. It can not be an easy place to be (the closet) now that an out gay man has been easily elected. Everyone has a right to decide if and when they choose to disclose their orientation, and I’m making no value judgement of closeted legislators. But we want to see LGBTQ Rights moving forward in this state, and that isn’t happening quickly enough with the status quo. An out legislator changes the status quo in ways that may be tremendously valuable.

One of the things Brian will have to content with, is that he will always be the “gay legislator,” even where other issues are important to him. I think I know Brian well enough to assume that will not be a problem for him. This translates into much greater visibility for LGBTQ issues as the mainstream media refers to Brian whenever he is active in Harrisburg. In the biggest picture image: how many little girls and little boys growing up across Pennsylvania, will now have one more positive reference for being publicly gay?

What will an openly gay legislator accomplish? It is too soon to tell, but the possibilities are endless. I am as guilty as many at looking at the power structure of Harrisburg and believing that it holds the key to change, but I may be so totally wrong. Shaking up the status quo can have many values and builds upon steps that have already happened like the formation of an LGBTQ caucus.

via Gay Politics — Pennsylvania to get first openly gay state legislator.

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