The only response we got from Sims is from a now-deleted tweet, which read:
“LOL in my entire life I’ve never said these things to Tom or anyone else. I did make it abundantly clear to him that killing the effort to advance LGBTQ legislation in Pennsylvania with his weird campaign effort is something that I’d make sure advocates knew about. And they do.”
The two points — that Sims never said those things in his life before and that Murt was killing the effort to advance LGBTQ legislation — are strange. How does a pro-LGBTQ bill kill the effort to advance LGBTQ legislation? Or is it that Murt didn’t consult with LGBTQ members of the House?
The real reason might be a lot simpler. In the upcoming election, Sims is supporting the Democratic candidate running against one of the Republican co-sponsors of the legislation. That would indeed be playing political football with our rights. And the one doing it is Sims. He is putting politics before LGBTQ legislation.
But it does not stop there. Sims also sent a memo to members of the LGBTQ Equality Caucus asking them not to sign on to the legislation. Does he not understand the expression “building bridges?” This legislation very well might not have passed or received public attention, but what it has become is a Sims-created mess.
Each time we introduce pro-LGBTQ legislation, we need to gain support and allies from both sides of the aisle. We shouldn’t attack those allies.
Sims’ memo asking Equality Caucus members to not sponsor the legislation also puts them in the middle of something they did not want to be a part of, and it is simply unfair to put them in that position.
Simple fact here, Sims attacked an ally who has introduced and voted for LGBTQ rights in the past.
With Sims’ failure to deliver LGBTQ non-discrimation legislation in his eight years in office, you’d think he’d support any positive LGBTQ movement in Harrisburg. Or is it because his name was not front and center this time?
Unwillingness to work with allies, no matter what party they happen to be in, might be why we have arrived at this point.
History shows we have to work with allies. There would not have been non-discrimination legislation in Philadelphia without working with people, including Republicans, who became allies. There would have been no domestic partners legislation without allies.
And Pennsylvania would not have had marriage equality a full year before the U.S. Supreme Court ruling if it were not for allies in Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration who persuaded him to leave in place a lower court ruling allowing same-sex marriage.
Behavior like Sims’ creates enemies rather than allies. Behavior like Sims’ is partly why we don’t have a non-discrimination bill in Pennsylvania. There are many other reasons as well, but this one certainly does not help.
It begs the question: how many Republican state reps will hesitate to support LGBTQ legislation after this?
Mark Seagal is the founder and publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News, where this piece first appeared. It is reprinted by kind permission.