PA State Representative to U.S. Senator: Endorse Marriage Equality

By Central Voice
Central to your life.

U.S Senator Robert Casey is feeling the heat to come out on lgbt marriage equality. He is one of only 10 Democrats in the U.S. Senate still opposed to same-sex marriage.

Within hours yesterday, Casey’s office received 10,000 calls and emails urging him to support same-sex marriage, according to a press release by Keystone Progress and MoveOn.org. Equality Pennsylvania also joined the effort to move the senator’s position with emails to its membership urging calls to Casey.

Joining the effort is openly-gay PA State Representative Brian Sims. The full text of his letter to Casey is below.

Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila.

Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila.

In 2012, Sims was elected as the Democratic nominee for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in the 182nd (Phila.) legislative district. Facing no challenger in the general election, he became the state’s first openly LGBT state legislator.

Pressure mounts on Casey due to these developments:

– This week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments for and against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage.

– Pennsylvania has a version of DOMA passed in 1996 when Tom Ridge was governor. Ridge has since reversed his position as announced Feb. 28 by GOP operative Ken Mehlman and then reported out March 1 by digitaljournal.com’s Greta McClain, according to Michele Nix of Ridge’s office.

– A move by business to embrace equality as good for business. The new Business Coalition for DOMA Repeal, a Fortune 500 effort, supports marriage equality through members like Marriott Corporation, A|X Armani Exchange, Aetna Inc., Biogen Idec, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Diageo North America, eBay Inc., Electronic Arts, Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group LLC, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, Replacements, Ltd., Sun Life Financial U.S., and Thomson Reuters.

– Pennsylvania’s attitudes are changing, according to a February Franklin & Marshall College poll which found that on gay marriage, 52 percent of registered voters approve of same-sex marriage, while 41 percent oppose it.

– Although not statements of support for marriage equality, in related developments 30 municipalities across the state have anti-discrimination laws, many adopted in the last year.

The full text of Sims’ letter:
Good morning Senator Casey,
As you know, this week saw the two most important cases in LGBT civil rights history argued before the Supreme Court. These cases, even if not decided fully in favor of LGBT civil rights are still going to be the foundation for all equality legislation and litigation to follow, which will ultimately lead to full LGBT equality in the next decade. Today is the morning after.

I am writing to you this morning not as a friend, not as a constituent, nor as a former volunteer. While I am all of these things, I am also a State Representative in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and one whose rights as an openly gay man are being directly impacted by your silence, especially in the face of so much support from your colleagues.

Like countless Americans and millions of Pennsylvanians, I watched these last two days as my fundamental rights as an LGBT American have been at the front and center of the national debate. In fact, that’s exactly where we want them to be; in the public eye, at kitchen tables, at coffee counters, and in conference rooms from Scranton to Santa Fe.

The next few months before the decisions are announced mark the most critical time in LGBT civil rights history. These cases are our Dred Scott, our Loving v. Virginia, perhaps even our Brown v. Board of Education. To the delight of so many, the people of this great nation are standing up with voices stentorian to proclaim their support for equality in record numbers.

Senator Casey, seven years ago I joined hundreds of thousands of LGBT Pennsylvanians in support of your candidacy in an effort to remove Senator Rick Santorum, one of the most anti-LGBT legislators in modern history, from public office. We worked tirelessly and we celebrated your victory, even as many of us struggled to reconcile our support for you with our fundamental beliefs in women’s reproductive rights, beliefs which you do not share. We have believed since you were sworn in that when the time was right, when it really mattered, you would be there for equality. The time is right and we need you to be here.

But your voice is silent. And I am angry.

Senator, I know you. I know how we have interacted and I know that you have respect for me as a gay man. More importantly, I know that LGBT people surround you in virtually every area of your life, personal and professional. You have never had a shortage of interaction with the LGBT community and that is what makes it so confusing that you have not made up your mind on equality. Or have you?

Several weeks ago your colleague, Senator Portman, very eloquently announced his support for marriage equality after coming to terms with his gay son. The Senator actually said that he’d never given the issue much thought before being confronted with it at his kitchen table. Once confronted, he came to the conclusion that LGBT people like his son deserve to have their rights recognized. To be clear, Senator Portman is a national figure in a political party that has never supported LGBT civil rights; nor had he ever done so personally. Yet with those political obstacles, and that personal history, he was still able to come to the conclusion that equality was morally and politically necessary.

Even some of the most conservative members of the Republican Party are now more supportive of equality than you, based solely on their personal experiences with just a single LGBT family member. For lesser men than you Senator, with far less experience with LGBT Americans, it took only one gay person to make them speak out against the conventions of their parties and their faiths.

I know that you are a man of deep faith and that your faith guides many of your life’s decisions. I also know that faith itself evolves. Faith has been used by the opponents of virtually every civil rights battle in our history to impede progress and evade equality. Yet as each battle ended, we did not look back and say that the faith was wrong, just perhaps the faithful. Today, Catholic Americans support LGBT equality at greater levels than even the U.S. population as a whole.

Senator, the same people who voted for me, voted for you, and I am so excited to report that a vast majority of them now support LGBT equality. So too do a majority of your Democratic colleagues. In fact, as of this morning you are one of only nine Democrats in the Senate who does not support marriage equality!

You have had more opportunities, and come from more supportive communities than so many others who have voiced their support in these critical weeks. History, as well as your constituents, is demanding that you speak now on this issue and I hope that your conscience compels you to rise to the occasion.

Please, Senator, don’t wait any longer to take a stand. Show and voice your support for full equality for LGBT Americans today.

Sincerely,
Rep. Brian Sims
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
182nd Legislative District

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One Response to “PA State Representative to U.S. Senator: Endorse Marriage Equality”

  1. spiritualwalks Says:

    This was excellent! I was having my doubts about PA but see it’s coming much further along than I ever expected towards equality. My partner was disappointed at my decision to stay in my hometown in PA instead of moving where other family was in Buffalo, NY so we could marry legally. I hope it won’t be too long before I can fulfill that wish by staying here for her.

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