In the wake of the reversal of Roe v. Wade and a seemingly endless spate of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation introduced across state governments, a group of grassroots activists, campaign professionals, elected officials and allies collectively formed Agenda PAC, a national political action committee. Its purpose: to launch aggressive paid communications plans that call for accountability for anti-LGBTQ politicians and elected officials, while defending elected officials who are proponents of LGBTQ rights.
Agenda PAC operates on pro-LGBTQ and pro-choice core values, and pushes back against conservative legislation that seeks to undermine those civil rights.
“The Supreme Court has laid down a marker with Roe, and it’s more clear than ever that our most fundamental freedoms are on the line,” State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, chair of the Agenda PAC board, said in a press release. Kenyatta was the first out LGBTQ elected official of color to serve in the Pa. General Assembly, and the first out LGBTQ man of color to run for U.S. Senate. “Our basic and sacred freedoms are at greater risk now than at any point in recent history. It’s time to take the fight directly to those who attack our rights. Agenda PAC is putting anti-LGBTQ+ politicians and incumbents on notice: we see you and we won’t stop until you are out of office.”
Kenyatta is part of Agenda PAC’s founding team, along with Joe Trippi, long-time political strategist and principle of Lever Communications; Celinda Lake, veteran pollster and principle of Lake Research; Florida State Sen. Shevrin Jones, the first out gay and first Black LGBTQ person elected to Florida’s legislature; Nebraska State Sen. Megan Hunt, the first out LGBTQ person elected to the Nebraska unicameral legislature; North Dakota Rep. Joshua Boschee, the first out LGBTQ elected official in that state’s legislature; and Ted Bordelon, LGBTQ political consultant, board member of Liberty City LGBTQ+ Democratic Club, and Agenda PAC founder and executive director.
“Agenda PAC is poised to fill a gap in the political ecosystem and serve as a rallying point for donors and grassroots activists looking for action on LGBTQ+ freedoms and choice,” Agenda PAC Senior Advisor Lake said in a press release. “Key demographics for Democrats – especially women – are being moved by the increased threats to freedoms we’ve seen ramp up after Roe and crystallized by Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurrence, and Democrats need more players like Agenda PAC to reach these voters.”
In 2022 alone, state legislators have introduced 238 bills that would restrict LGBTQ rights, about half of which specifically target trans rights. Twenty-three U.S. states have introduced anti-LGBTQ bills, and 13 states have signed such bills into law, according to the HRC.
Pennsylvania is among those state governments with discriminatory bills running through the legislature. Earlier this year, both the Pa. House and Senate passed a bill that would prohibit trans women and girls from participating in school sports that correspond to their gender. This past summer, the state Senate passed two bills targeting LGBTQ youth in schools including curtialing classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation, said to be more comprehensive than Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. While Gov. Wolf will use his veto power to not let these bills become law, it would be a different story if ultra conservative gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano wins the election this fall.
The PAC’s number one order of business is to defeat Mastriano, whose views align with the aforementioned anti-LGBTQ bills and then some. Mastriano has publicly voiced his beliefs that gay marriage and protections for gender identity should be illegal; that LGBTQ couples should not be permitted to adopt a child; and that abortion rights should be restricted, among other extreme political convictions.
“We have the chance to be the tip of the spear with target voters who are very worried about ultra-MAGA overreach on choice and LGBTQ+ rights,” Agenda PAC Senior Advisor Trippi said in a press release. “Our ability to harness the enthusiasm of this moment with a vital new player like Agenda PAC is crucial.”
The PAC also has plans to tackle at least two U.S. House races, potentially targeting districts in California, Michigan, New Mexico, Maryland and Ohio.