Brian Sims Is Now Pennsylvania’s First Lawmaker Sworn In While Out

Sims"The tide has changed," said Brian Sims, a civil rights activist and former Bloomsburg University football player who became the first openly gay lawmaker elected to Pennsylvanis's General Assemly.

"2012 will go down in history as when being anti-gay puts you in the minority."

While Sims is the first person elected while out of the closet, Republican State Rep. Mike Fleck came out of the closet last month, a move Sims says will only accelerate the push for LGBT equality there.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Sims said that with two gay members, the legislature would have a more difficult time ignoring gay civil rights issues such as discrimination in the workplace and in housing – the focus of legislation he has already introduced – as well as hate crimes and bullying.

Sims also plans on using his new position to fight gun violence that plagues Philadelphia and the nation. "We had more murders last year in Philadelphia than in all of Germany," Sims said. "Some people may have a deer problem. We have a murder problem."

[Image via Current]


  1. badlydrawnbear says

    “Defensive tackle Brian Sims was the captain of the Bloomsburg University football team. He had grown up an Army brat with two Army colonels for parents. The family settled in Pennsylvania for Brian’s high school career, and he ultimately suited up for the nearby Bloomsburg. Playing in Division II, the team’s record midway through the 2000 season was 4-2, and they were setting their sights on a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championship. What he and his teammates didn’t know was that they were in the middle of what would become the longest season in Division II history; And Sims was about to tell them he was gay.

    Actually, Sims said he didn’t come out to his team: “My team came out to me.””

  2. Howard says

    Wow, he is young enough and good looking enough that so long as he makes the right moves and stays out of trouble we could be looking at the the first openly gay POTUS!

  3. EchtKultig says

    Andrew, she was 72 and had honorably served 30 years. I think if Sims had done something callus in challenging her, the primary electorate would have rebuked him.

  4. andrew says

    @Echtkultig: She was a leading advocate for LGBT people for nearly 30 years. Sims was her campaign treasurer in her previous election. He wanted to be a state representative, so he moved into her district which includes the Phila Gayborhood. Why didn’t he move into one of the other Pa State House Districts and challenge a less progressive Representative? Because as an opportunists he knew that his best chance for victory was in the gay friendly district. In the end he beat Rep Joseph’s by fewer than 300 votes out of about 7000 cast. I live in the District, he had a lot of money to spend on Ads. I got 2 mailings from Joseph during the campaign and over a dozen from Sims. He won, but there will forever be a stain on how he went about it. Many have said that Josephs, a lovely older Jewish grandmother intended to retire after one or two more terms. But the opportunist couldn’t wait. He will never get my gay vote and I have gay friends who feel the same way.

  5. andrew says

    One more point: What kind of a message does it send to heterosexual legislators, whose support we are seeking, when they see that a heterosexual woman who fought the good fight for LGBT people was dropped like a hot potato by SOME gays when one of their own came along to challenge her? If I was a straight legislator it would tell me not to spend too much political capital on gays because a significant number of them don’t know the meaning of the word loyalty.

  6. EchtKultig says

    Andrew you raise some excellent points. I didn’t know he had been her former campaign treasurer. The does throw up a yellow flag that hadn’t been on my mind before…but perhaps not a red flag. Politics is a strange and dirty game, and anyone who’s been a politician for 30 years knows it. I can only hope that, with a relationship that close, there’s more to this story that isn’t immediately apparent. I don’t know what her campaign said about him, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility that she welcomed the challenge in some way. As naive as I am about personal relationships in politics, I was surprised Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton mended the fence so quickly after their primary. I knew someone who was very high up in her campaign and he was mad as hell about Hill’s defeat.

  7. Armando says

    I would hope that someone who has lived a life like mine can advocate for me better than someone who might be sympathetic. If the only reason a straight person supports gay rights is because of our potential votes, then they are not a good ally. A true ally would understand that at some point we want our own seat at the table. They would also understand that for another office, they would probably get our vote.

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