July 3, 2015 |
THERE ARE days in our lives that stand out as historic, defined by a seminal event that upended the world as we knew it. We can remember exactly where we were when we got the news on those days. When John F. Kennedy, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or John Lennon were shot. When the Challenger blew up or when the Twin Towers came down. Friday, June 26, was such a day. For all of America's deep political, economic and other divides, we knew that one gulf had been irreversibly bridged.
June 15, 2015 |
Before the Affordable Care Act, it wasn't unusual for people in the LGBT community to be locked out of health insurance. Insurers could legally deny coverage based on a person's sexual orientation, gender identity, or pre-existing health condition. "It was everything from trans men and women being denied health coverage because their health history was confusing to a hospital or an insurance company, to young LGBT people not being able to afford coverage," said Brian Sims, a Pennsylvania state representative, lawyer, and LGBT civil rights activist.
April 3, 2015 |
When Gov. Mike Pence refused seven times to say whether a new Indiana law allows discrimination against gay people, the logical assumption was that he didn't want to admit that it does. Since that Sunday interview on ABC's This Week, however, it has become clear that the law was not written to allow discrimination, which means Pence's dance around the truth was likely calculated to score political points with opponents of gay marriage. Pence changed his tune after the public reaction to the new law threatened events such as the coming NCAA Final Four basketball tournament in Indianapolis.
November 1, 2014 |
City Council unanimously approved a measure on Thursday that would make it a crime to harm someone because of sexual orientation, gender identity, or disabilities. The proposal was triggered by the Sept. 11 assault on a gay couple in Center City. In that case, police arrested three people but could not charge them with a hate crime because neither state law nor the city code makes it a crime to harm someone because of sexual orientation. The measure approved Thursday, expected to be signed into law by Mayor Nutter, calls for up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000 for crimes committed against a person because of sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
October 8, 2014 |
HARRISBURG - Spurred by the attack on a gay couple last month in Philadelphia, legislation to broaden Pennsylvania's hate crimes law to include sexual orientation took a first step toward becoming law. The House Judiciary Committee, acting with unusual speed, approved the bill Monday by a vote of 19-4, sending it to the House floor with just five days left in the legislative session. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Brendan F. Boyle (D., Phila.), urged GOP leaders to bring up the bill for a vote before the session ends next week.
October 3, 2014 |
THE ATTACK on a gay couple in Center City last month spurred the House Democratic Policy Committee to change topics before a hearing at the Kimmel Center yesterday afternoon. "This was originally scheduled to be about nondiscrimination in sports," said state Rep. Brian Sims, D - Phila., whose district encompasses the site of the alleged assault, at 16th and Chancellor streets on Sept. 11. "But when the hate crime happened, we switched it over so we could make it about hate crimes in general," he said.
September 27, 2014 |
More than 300 people gathered at LOVE Park on Thursday to call for an expansion of the state's hate-crimes law to include crimes motivated by sexual orientation. The rally, spurred by the Sept. 11 assault of a gay couple near Rittenhouse Square, drew a slew of local and state leaders, who expressed sympathy for the victims and stressed the need to expand current legislation. State Rep. Brian Sims (D., Phila.) organized the rally. Speakers also drew attention to issues in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, including violence against transgender individuals and bullying in schools.
September 26, 2014 |
THEY WERE all embarrassed to be at the rally in LOVE Park yesterday - from the state lawmaker to the community activist. This is Philadelphia. This is 2014. This should not have happened. We should not have to be here, they said. But the gay couple was beaten in Center City two weeks ago and the estimated crowd of 300 people was in LOVE Park yesterday to push for legislation that would restore sexual orientation to the state's hate-crime laws. "Our laws are a reflection of our morals and our values," said state Rep. Brian Sims, Pennsylvania's first openly gay legislator who organized the rally.
September 24, 2014 |
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said Monday that the department has concluded its investigation into a Center City assault that left a gay couple seriously injured - and that the District Attorney's Office is now reviewing the case. "We feel that there is sufficient evidence to have charges placed against some of the individuals there," Ramsey said in an interview. As prosecutors review differing accounts of the Sept. 11 incident, the case has spurred calls for changes to the state's hate-crime statute, which does not cover crimes motivated by sexual orientation.
September 23, 2014
OVER THE PAST 15 years in the U.S. Congress, I have been representing the citizens of the city of Philadelphia with pride and honor. I have been fortunate to see how our city has grown to respect and promote diversity. The LGBT community in our city has worked hard and been very lucky to have some great political leaders to ensure their acceptance and a place at the table. This recent gay bashing in downtown Philadelphia, in what I consider to be a hate crime, has no place in our fine City of Brotherly Love.