It is important a response is given to Christopher Pinto’s recent op-ed attacking state Representative Brian Sims — the first openly LGBTQ state legislator in our Commonwealth’s history. From the start of the op-ed, it is clear that Pinto has a personal grudge against Brian and that claims of supposed disservice to the LGBTQ community by Brian were based on the grudge, not reality. A vendetta from nine years ago blinds the writer to the impact Brian has had in Harrisburg and on equality in the Commonwealth.
Republicans have been in charge during Brian’s entire tenure — consistently blocking attempts to bring pro-LGBTQ legislation to the floor — so to blame Brian for the lack of legislative progress is absurd. Yet having Brian as an unwavering LGBTQ voice in Harrisburg has helped expose those opposed to equality and rallied allies to remain committed. He has been a beacon of hope for LGBTQ youth across the state, who look up to him and realize that they too can one day seek public service.
I have seen his impact firsthand from my service alongside Brian on Governor Wolf’s historic LGBTQ Commission, where Brian helps track and lead strategy on the pro and anti-LGBTQ bills in Harrisburg. Brian works with our other out legislators, Malcolm Kenyatta and Jessica Benham, to find any opportunities to secure pro-LGBTQ legislation or policies, including through amendments, as they attempted just last month. In my positions as Chair of the Pennsylvania Democratic LGBTQ Caucus and Vice President of Political Programs at LGBTQ Victory Fund, I know Brian also worked tirelessly to ensure he didn’t stay the only openly LGBTQ legislator, putting countless hours into supporting LGBTQ candidates across the state and country.
Yet where the attack on Brian really falls short is claiming his constituents are disappointed. Brian has been reelected every two years since he took office in 2012. That is the case even though Mr. Pinto’s allies consistently try to oust him from office by running candidates against him. The true disservice is that energy and resources from our community are being used to fend off unnecessary attacks on Brian instead of being spent on an offensive effort to grow LGBTQ representation across the Commonwealth. I hope most who read the op-ed saw it for what it was: personal dislike wrapped in a rainbow flag. Brian’s constituents know he is fighting for them every day.
Sean Meloy is the chair of the Pennsylvania Democratic LGBTQ Caucus and Vice President of Political Programs at the LGBTQ Victory Fund.