The Lead

Pgh activist looks to become Pa’s first openly LGBTQ member of Congress

By: - November 8, 2021 2:27 pm

By Ryan Deto

PITTSBURGH —  Even though Pennsylvania has yet to finalize the boundaries of its future congressional districts, the races for Pittsburgh’s open congressional seats are heating up. A new urban Pittsburgh district, and the likely replacement to Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, already has three candidates looking to retiring replace U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle.

And now, a new suburban Pittsburgh district, the one likely to replace Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District, has a new challenger in Democrat Sean Meloy, who is hoping to make history as the state’s first openly LGBTQ U.S. House member. The seat is currently held by U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, who’s seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2022.

Meloy is a senior political advisor for Victory Fund, a political group that works to elect LGBTQ people to all levels of government. Meloy’s role is focused on non-federal races. In his announcement video posted on social media, he says he grew up in Hampton Township in Pittsburgh’s North Hills.

“Today, I launch my campaign for Congress in #PA17,” Meloy wrote on Twitter. “I was born and raised in Allegheny County. I’m a public school kid, a lifelong organizer and the product of a middle class upbringing that is no longer available for so many families. I’m running to fix that.”

The new suburban district around Pittsburgh hasn’t been drawn yet, but if it were to remain similar to its current boundaries, it would be a swing district. In 2016, former President Donald Trump won the 17th District by less than 3 points, and in 2020, President Joe Biden won it by a similar margin.

Victory Fund noted in a press release that out LGBTQ Democrats in Kansas, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and New York have successfully won swing districts recently.

Navy veteran Chris Deluzio, also a Democrat, announced his candidacy in August. Republicans have yet to announce any candidates for the suburban Pittsburgh seat.

Victory Fund has not endorsed any candidate yet for the seat, and says in a press release that all candidates will have to go through its endorsement process to be considered. But former Houston mayor and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, Annise Parker, praised Meloy in a statement and said that he is a huge advocate for Pittsburgh and the region.

“There is no bigger advocate for Pittsburgh and the surrounding communities than Sean, who invests enormous amounts of time and resources to building up the Democratic party and its candidates throughout the state,” Parker said. “Not driven by ideology or absolutism, Sean is a leader who prizes progressive pragmatism and believes a government that reflects the diversity of America will perform best for its people. He’s helped many of our LGBTQ members of Congress win tough races in key swing districts, so it is fitting he is now on-track to do the same in Pennsylvania.”

Ryan Deto is a reporter for Pittsburgh City Paper, where this story first appeared

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