Equality PA Beefs Up for Battle: 6 Staff Added, Phone Bank Volunteers Needed

By Central Voice

Equality PA has added six staff as they focus for 2014 on House Bill 300 and Senate Bill 300. The twin measures call for including LBGT protections in all matters that involve public accommodations – employment, housing, credit, and public all accommodations.

The organization’s web site says they are “ready to kick off our campaign to make 2014 the year we end LGBT discrimination in PA.”

A bipartisan slate of more than 100 Pennsylvania legislators has introduced the “300” legislation. Although 33 cities and towns have municipal ordinances already in place protecting LGBT individuals from discrimination, statewide legislation is critical to ensuring that all Pennsylvanians are protected.

Of the State Senators and State Representative who represent the Dauphin, Cumberland, Lancaster and York county region, a few have signed on as co-sponsors to the bill. Many more have not.

Co-sponsors are State Sen. Rob Teplitz, State Rep. Patty Kim, State Rep. Mike Sturla, and State Rep. Ron Miller.

Not co-sponsoring are area State Reps. Aument, Bear, Boyd, Creighten, Cutler, Denlinger, Hickernell, and area State Senators Alloway, Brubaker, Gillespie, Grove, Fulmer, Regan, Saylor, Smucker, Schreiber, Vance, Waugh, and Tallman.

“New staff will mount a statewide effort,” says Jane Slusser, who manages the newly-placed organizing team.

Organizers will focus on Harrisburg, Scranton, south East Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. One of the organizers will work with faith-based groups across the state.

In Idaho, about 40 gay rights protesters were arrested Feb. 3 in Idaho’s state Capitol after they blocked every entrance to the Senate chamber, standing silently with their hands over their mouths and wearing T-shirts asking lawmakers to enact anti-discrimination protections for gays in the state. The protesters want the Idaho Human Rights Act amended to add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”; the act now bans discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations on the basis of race, religion, disability and other factors, but not on those two.

Jane Slusser

Jane Slusser

Jane Slusser


Jane is the Organizing Director and a long-time progressive advocate. Most recently, she led the statewide efforts of the Americans for Workplace Opportunity campaign, securing Senator Toomey’s support for ENDA. Jane first came to Pennsylvania to work on the Obama campaign in South Philadelphia in 2008. She returned to Pennsylvania for the 2012 campaign, serving as a Regional Field Director for Northeast PA. She continued working for President Obama through the inauguration, serving as the Associate Director of the National Day of Service. Prior to her life as an organizer, Jane worked at Oxford University Press and also helped start up Catchafire, a social enterprise focused on transforming the nature of community service.

Maureen Gray

Maureen Gray

Maureen Gray


Maureen is the Regional Organizer for Northeastern Pennsylvania. Maureen has been an active organizer for most of her adult life. She became involved with President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012, and was eventually brought on board as a Field Organizer for the Scranton area. In 2013, Maureen organized for a Lackawanna County judicial candidate, and served as a Fellow with Organizing for Action. She has lived in Pennsylvania for four years.

Andrew Deiner

Andrew Deiner

Andrew Deiner


Andrew Deiner is the Regional Organizer for Central Pennsylvania. Originally from Bucks County, PA, Andrew started working on campaigns as a volunteer with Equality Maryland during college. Since graduating from the University of Maryland in 2012, he has had the opportunity to work on marriage campaigns across the country and is excited to come to Pennsylvania to help fight to LGBTQ rights in his home state.

Shanea Leonard

Shanea Leonard

Shanea Leonard


Rev. Shanea D. Leonard is the Regional Organizer for Western Pennsylvania. Shanea has lived in PA all her life and pursued education here as well with a B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and M.Div from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. She is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries. A native of Philadelphia, Shanea resides in Pittsburgh where she pastors JUDAH Fellowship Christian Church, a multi-cultural, affirming family ministry. Rev. Leonard is also the board of several non-profit organizations and she is the organizer/founder of the Pittsburgh Clergy Consortium, an inter-faith network of affirming spiritual leaders in the greater Pittsburgh area. She is a sought after speaker, preacher, and workshop leader.

Andrew Todd F. Kunka, J.D.

Andrew Todd Kunka

Andrew Todd Kunka


Andrew is the Regional Organizer for Southeastern Pennsylvania and resides in Philadelphia. Andrew has served as civil rights organizer and advocate for over ten years. Prior to joining EQPA, he organized with the Americans for Workplace Opportunity to pass ENDA in the U.S. Senate. Andrew has also served as Civil Rights Attorney in NJ focusing on fair housing and was a member of former Mayor Cory Booker’s LGBTQ Advisory Concerns Commission, where he coordinated various grassroots initiatives and developed policy proposals to advance progressive policy reform for LGBTQ youth and communities of color throughout the city. Andrew’s passion for social justice lead him to complete his Juris Doctorate and Masters in Public Affairs & Politics at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. As an undergraduate at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Andrew was hired as the first in the Catholic Universities’ history to develop resources for the LGBTQ community. Andrew is originally for Phoenix, AZ.

Ammon Ripple

Ammon Ripple

Ammon Ripple


Ammon is our statewide Faith Organizer. After eleven years as a librarian and LGBTQ activist in Pittsburgh, he received a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He has worked with diverse faith communities in local, regional, and national settings, including four years with the National Council of Churches. In addition to doing faith organizing and community relations work for non-profits, he has served a small church as a pastor. Ammon serves on the boards of the United Church of Christ Coalition for LGBT Concerns and the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh. He and his partner, Sean, are in the ordination process in the United Church of Christ.

Besides the non-discrimination activity in the form of hoping to pass a statewide bill, Equality PA will also involve itself in issues that have crossover and/or overlap with
the LGBT community. for example, in a recent email to supporters the organization noted that a new bill championed by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, “claims that it will help state employees by protecting them from paying union dues. However, under current law no one is forced to pay union dues, and the bill actually has far reaching consequences that will seriously undermine the union protections that state employees currently have on the job.” The legislative measures are known as House Bill 1507 and Senate Bill 1034.

The email also notes that “Unions were the first major employee run organization to add protections for LGBT people in their jobs and have fought hard to keep those protections in their contracts. Without those protections, thousands of LGBT workers in PA could lose their non-discrimination protections at work.” Equality PA held a public rally in Harrisburg’s Capitol Rotunda to oppose the bills.

Andrew Deiner Needs Your Help!
Phone Bank Volunteers Sought

Andrew Deiner

Andrew Deiner

Andrew Deiner

Andrew Deiner, Equality PA community organizer for the south central region of the Pennsylvania, needs your help. “We’ll be calling registered voters during March and April. We’ll ask them to contact their state representative and their state senator and ask them to support House Bill 300 and/or Senate Bill 300,” Deiner tells Central Voice. The twin bills call for including LBGT protections in all matters that involve public accommodations – employment, housing, credit, and public all accommodations. Deiner is one six staff the organization has brought on as they focus for 2014 on passing the measures.

“We’re calling everyone – Democrats, Republicans, and Independent voters,” Deiner says enthusiastically. Volunteers will make calls from phone banks set up in churches, allied organizations, community centers. In turn, it is anticipated that those elected officials called will have a deeper understanding of the importance of the bills. “Calls from constituents may be the deciding factor in an representative or senator votring in favor of the measure,” Deiner explains.

Individuals interested in volunteering are asked to contact Deiner at – adeiner@equalitypa.org.

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