Brian Sims, an out Pennsylvania state representative, is sick and tired of his state being one of just 15 in the country where LGBT people aren't covered by hate-crimes law. At a press conference with Democratic colleagues Tuesday, Sims appeared agitated with the lack of rights — outside of marriage — granted to LGBT Pennsylvanians.
"This state doesn't offer a single statewide LGBT civil right to people like me other than marriage, and that's ridiculous," Sims said, gesturing emphatically.
"And what happens is attacks like this, on people like me, in my neighborhood," Sims continued, referring to the September 11 attack on two gay men that left one victim with his mouth wired shut. Three suspects — including an area police chief's daughter — have been charged in the attack.
"Don't let people tell you that we only have six or seven days left in session," Sims added. "That's B.S.!"
"We're a full-time legislature," Sims continued, pointing and slamming his fist on the podium. "We are here until November 30. We've got 60-some-odd days left in session, and if we can't pass a law like this, to protect basic citizens in their home, then we're not doing our job."
Repeatedly enumerating the LGBT acronym, Sims acknowledged that he often uses the acronym to be "palatable," especially in the halls of the state capitol in Harrisburg.
"I want to say it very loudly," Sims went on, raising his voice. "Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. Because there is no place in Pennsylvania where people are pretending that we don't exist more than they are here in the capitol."
The press conference, held in the capitol rotunda Tuesday afternoon, aimed to renew pressure on lawmakers to pass an amendment to existing hate-crimes law that would add attacks based on gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability to the list of those that can be prosecuted as hate crimes. That legislation was introduced in both chambers of the legislature in January 2013, but Republican leadership of the committees where the bill has stalled have indicated they have no intention of moving it forward.
Incidentally, Sims's passionate speech took place at the same press conference where his Democratic colleague in the Senate, Jim Ferlo, publicly confirmed that he is gay, making him the first out member of the State Senate.
Watch Sims's remarks below.