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Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee Holds Hearing on LGBT Hate Crimes Laws


The Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee held a public hearing on LGBT hate crimes Thursday - with lawmakers, advocates, and concerned citizens weighing in on the ongoing efforts to amend the state's hate crimes statues to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.

CBS Philly reports:

Sims“We have an uphill battle in this legislative climate to pass LGBT hate crimes laws,” said State representative Brian Sims [pictured right].

Sims called the hearing, which was held at the Kimmel Center. He told dozens who sat in the audience the goal is to build a record to support an amendment that would add sexual orientation, gender identity and disability to the state’s hate crime statute.

Victims, experts, and LGBT leaders testified. Alicia Gonzolez of GALEAI says LGBT people are disproportionately targeted:

“Many gay bashing crimes are unsolved and many more are unnoticed.”

Earlier this week, we reported that a December court date was set for the three suspects charged in the September 11 attack on a gay couple in Center City, Philly that catalyzed these efforts to amend the state's hate crimes laws.  

[photo via Twitter]

PA Rep. Brian Sims Joins Hundreds Rallying in Philly Urging Lawmakers to Pass LGBT Hate Crimes Bill: VIDEO


At a rally in LOVE Park, Philadelphia today, over 300 people showed up to voice their support for a legislation working its way through the Pennsylvania Legislature that would add LGBT protections to the state's hate crimes laws. 

Joined by openly gay Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Sims, supporters carried various signs, including those reading "Bash One of Us, Bash All of Us" and "Dear Hate, This Is #Knottyourcity" (in reference to Katheryn Knott - one of the alleged perpetrators in the September 11 attack on a gay couple in Philly)

Said Sims:

"There are some in Harrisburg who object to restoring sexual orientation and gender identity protections to the hate-crime law. But they haven't been calling for repeal of the law's remaining protections, for victims targeted because of their race, color, religion or national origin -- they know they would take a political hit for that. Unfortunately, they think there's no political penalty or constituent outrage to face for leaving out women, LGBT people, or people targeted because of their ancestry or mental or physical disability. Pennsylvanians who don't like this injustice need to let their state representative and senator know now."

Check out video from today's rally, AFTER THE JUMP...

The Intelligencer adds:

KunkleAttendees also gained a few insights about the gay men who were allegedly assaulted, after a friend spoke to the crowd on their behalf. Caryn Kunkle, a volunteer for the Roslyn Fire Co. who wore her uniform at the rally, referred to the victims as “Friend A” and “Friend B” and said the two are a couple.

“They are adorable together, and I love them for who they are,” Kunkle said.

Kunkle added that the first victim was an IT professional who was also once a volunteer firefighter in Abington, and that the second was a culinary artist. She told the crowd that the Sept. 11 incident occurred when “a group of young people came to my city,” and “initiated a conversation with my friends by asking 'Is that your f-ing boyfriend?'

“That conversation quickly devolved into a nationally broadcast incident,” Kunkle said.

In a statement read by Kunkle, the alleged victims said they had been called homophobic slurs by their assailants and were still recovering from the attack, but that they had appreciated the outpouring of support from the Philadelphia community.

Rep. Sims is also organizing a public hearing of the state House Democratic Policy Committee next Thursday on the issue of LGBT hate crimes.

And as expected, Philadelphia City Council members Blondell Reynolds Brown and Jim Kenney introduced a city-wide hate crimes bill protecting LGBT citizens earlier today, with Brown saying the bill had "unanimous" support from council. 

(Photo via Twitter)

Continue reading "PA Rep. Brian Sims Joins Hundreds Rallying in Philly Urging Lawmakers to Pass LGBT Hate Crimes Bill: VIDEO" »

Brian Sims Blasts PA Lawmakers for Not Protecting LGBT Citizens: 'That's B.S.!' — VIDEO


Here is additional footage of Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Sims at today's press conference and rally for hate crimes legislation at the state capitol in response to a mob attack on a gay couple last week.

Our earlier clip offered a bit of Sims' fiery speech (as well as the coming out of fellow lawmaker Jim Ferlo) but here's more.


Said Sims, slamming his fist on the podium:

"This state doesn't offer a single statewide LGBT civil right to people like me other than marriage and that's ridiculous. And what happens is attacks like this on people like me in my neighborhood. Don't let people tell you that we only have six or seven days left in session. That's B.S.!

Continue reading "Brian Sims Blasts PA Lawmakers for Not Protecting LGBT Citizens: 'That's B.S.!' — VIDEO" »

PA State Senator Jim Ferlo Comes Out: 'I'm Gay, Get Over It' - VIDEO


Pennsylvania State Senator Jim Ferlo came out as gay today at a press conference in Harrisburg in which lawmakers called for hate crimes legislation that would protect LGBT citizens in the Quaker State. From ABC 6:

"Hundreds of people know I'm gay. I just never made an official declaration. I never felt I had to wear a billboard on my forehead. But I'm gay. Get over it. I love it. It's a great life," Ferlo said.

The proposed hate crimes legislation was drafted by Ferlo and was created in response to a recent attack on a gay couple in Philadelphia's city center. Out state representative Brian Sims was also present for the press conference to lend his support to Ferlo and the legislation. 

Watch a video of Ferlo's announcement, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "PA State Senator Jim Ferlo Comes Out: 'I'm Gay, Get Over It' - VIDEO" »

PA Rep. Brian Sims Says He'll Bring Philly Gay Bash Victims to Capitol to Pass Hate Crime Law


As we reported earlier, the group charged with assaulting a gay couple in Center City, Philadelphia last Thursday won't be charged with a hate crime because sexual orientation is not included in the state's hate crime statutes.

SimsBut Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Sims tellsVictor Fiorillo at Philly Mag that he'll bring the victims to the state legislature to try and get a hate crime bill passed that was introduced during the 2013 session.

Sims says that he hasn't yet spoken with the victims of last week's Center City attack of two gay men, simply because he's been told that they need time to heal. "I want them speaking with victims' advocates right now, not with me over policy," he explains. "But we'll find the time. I have to make sure that something comes of this, not just that I'm pissed off."

The bill would add gender identity, sexual orientation, and physical and mental disability to the state's hate crime law.

Hopefully this incident has awakened the public and lawmakers of the need for such additions.

Out PA Lawmaker Brian Sims Rappels Down Building In Philadelphia: VIDEO


Brian Sims, the out Pennsylvania lawmaker who has been an outspoken advocate for the LGBT community, looked more like an adrenaline junkie than a state representative today as he was seen rappelling down the side of Philadelphia's Commerce Center Building in City Center. As Philly Magazine reports, Sims was practicing for an upcoming charity event on October 24 where he will rappel down Brandywine Realty Trust’s One Logan Square: "He, along with a team of local LGBTers lead by Angela Giampolo, are taking on the task to raise money for The Philadelphia Outward Bound School."

Watch a video of Sims' adventure, AFTER THE JUMP...

And ICYMI, be sure to peep Sims striking a pose (in a Towleroad tee no less!) in Emil Cohen's Provincetown portraits


Continue reading "Out PA Lawmaker Brian Sims Rappels Down Building In Philadelphia: VIDEO" »


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