Where suburban Philly’s 2020 congressional hopefuls stand on LGBTQ issues, explained

(Image via The Philadelphia Gay News)

By Philadelphia Gay News Staff

PHILADELPHIA — The race for the U.S. Congress in suburban Philadelphia this year looks a lot like the race for president. Most Democrats want a return to normalcy and most Republicans have fallen in line behind President Trump. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns about voting equity, LGBTQ-specific issues have, at times, taken a backseat in the campaign trail.

The Philadelphia Gay News took a look at local congressional races and what candidates have done recently to support the LGBTQ community.

Unsurprisingly, most Democratic incumbents have supported LGBTQ rights through their voting record and most Democratic candidates have expressed support for the LGBTQ community on their campaign web sites.

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On the other side, most Republican candidates do not mention the LGBTQ community on their campaign web sites, and several have openly opposed or voted against LGBTQ rights. We looked at candidates in Pennsylvania’s 1st through 7th districts. Each candidate’s party designation is in parentheses. An (I) denotes the incumbent in each race.

PA-1: Bucks County, Montgomery County

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R)(I): Fitzpatrick voted yes on the 2019 Equality Act, and in 2018 he recognized the New Hope Pride Parade on the floor of congress. He received a 71 out of 100 on the latest Human Rights Campaign Congressional Scorecard, which measures support for LGBTQ issues and equality. In 2017 he co-sponsored the Fair and Equal Housing Act, which sought to provide consistent and explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people in housing.

Christina Finello (D): Finello has stated that she will “actively work in congress to restore the rights that Donald Trump’s Administration has stripped from the LGBTQ+ community,” including reversing the transgender military service ban, allowing LGBTQ couples to adopt children, and getting the Department of Education to protect LGBTQ students against bullying and harassment. Finello has also stated she will defend marriage equality and support federal legislation to ban discrimination in housing and employment.

PA-2: Northeast Philadelphia, North Philadelphia

Rep. Brendan Boyle (D)(I): Boyle has continually received a 100 percent score on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard, which measures support for equality. He was an original cosponsor of the Equality Act in 2015, and he cosponsored the resolution again in 2019 and voted yes. He also was a co-sponsor of the Do No Harm Act, which sought to prevent the Religious Freedom Restoration Act from bypassing civil rights laws. Boyle also pushed for an LGBT-inclusive hate crime law while in the Pennsylvania state House.

David Torres (R): There is no mention of LGBTQ issues on Torres’ campaign website, and in a letter to the Northeast Times detailing his policy positions, he also did not mention the LGBTQ community.

PA 3: Center City, West Philadelphia, North Philadelphia

Rep. Dwight Evans (D)(I): Evans received a perfect score on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard, which measures support for LGBTQ issues. He cosponsored and voted yes on the Equality Act, he cosponsored the Do No Harm Act and the Safe Schools Improvement Act. Evans has been a longtime supporter of the LGBTQ community, dating back to his time in the PA State House in the early 1990s, where he voted against an anti-marriage equality resolution.

Michael Harvey (R): There is no mention of LGBTQ issues on Harvey’s campaign website or campaign Facebook page.

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PA-4: Montgomery County, Berks County

Rep. Madeleine Dean (D)(I): Dean cosponsored and voted for the Equality Act in 2019, and she received a perfect score on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard. She has hosted LGBTQ community leaders in her office’s Diversity and Inclusion roundtable series. In 2020 she attended the LOVE WINS Gala, hosted by Montgomery County’s LGBT Business Council. Dean has said that “Legislation is a step towards the bigger picture, which is a country that fully recognizes and supports the LGBTQ+ community.” She has also stated that every LGBTQ American should have discrimination protections, and she supported the Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, protecting LGBTQ people from job discrimination.

Kathy Barnette (R): Barnette’s campaign site does not mention LGBTQ issues. A 2010 article written by Barnette appeared in the Canada Free Press, in which Barnette writes: “Make no mistake about it, homosexuality is a targeted group in the Bible, right along with cheats, drunkards, liars, foul-mouths, extortionists, robbers, and any other habitual sin(1 Corinthians 6:10).  A major problem arises when one of these groups collectively starts engaging in political paybacks, intimidating the public into silence, and using the Law to legitimatize their way of life.”

PA-5: Delaware County, Chester County, Montgomery County, South Philadelphia

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D)(I): Scanlon cosponsored and voted for the Equality Act in 2019, and she received a 100 out of 100 on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard. She is a vice-chair of the Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus. She cosponsored resolutions in support of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, which works to protect LGBTQ students as well as students of marginalized identities, and in support of LGBTQ Pride Month. As an attorney, Scanlon challenged discriminatory definitions of marriage.

Dasha Pruett (R): Pruett’s campaign site does not mention LGBTQ issues.

PA-6: Chester County, Reading, Berks County

Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D)(I): Houlahan is a member of the Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus, and she received a perfect score on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard. She wrote: “As a mother of a gay daughter and a believer in equality for all, I am honored to stand beside my colleagues in the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. We must continue to fight for and elevate LGBTQ voices.” Houlahan cosponsored and voted for the Equality Act in 2019.

John Emmons (R): Emmons’ campaign site does not mention LGBTQ issues.

PA-7: Lehigh County, Northampton County

Susan Wild (D)(I): Wild voted in favor of the Equality Act and co-sponsored the to-be-voted-on Don’t Block LGBTQ Act, which seeks to amend the 1934 Communications Act barring schools and libraries that receive universal service support from prohibiting internet access to LGBTQ resources. She was endorsed by the HRC in 2020, received a perfect score on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard, and she serves as a member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.

Lisa Scheller (R): Scheller has previously voted against providing medical benefits to the same-sex spouses of county employees. Her campaign website does not mention the LGBTQ community.

This story first appeared in the Philadelphia Gay News, a publishing partner of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.