Over 40 LGBTQ+ leaders in Pennsylvania have endorsed one of gay State Rep. Brian Sims opponents for lieutenant governor ahead of the keystone state’s Democratic primary on May 17.
The leaders held a press conference on March 3 at the William Way LGBT Community Center in Philadelphia. They announced they were backing State Rep. Austin Davis in the lieutenant governor’s primary, the Washington Blade reports.
In their announcement, the advocates said that Davis had the best chance of winning in the November general election and he has been a strong supporter of LGBTQ+ rights in the state. Davis, a first-term senator from Western Pennsylvania, would be the state’s first Black lieutenant governor.
“The move is a stunning rebuke to Sims, who has previously been endorsed by national LGBTQ groups, including the Human Rights Campaign and the LGBTQ Victory Fund,” the Blade wrote.
Davis attended the press conference along with Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who the leaders also endorsed for the Pennsylvania governorship. Shapiro is running unopposed in the primary. The Blade reports that Shapiro had endorsed Davis earlier this year and considers the senator to be his running mate in the primary.
Both said they would support pro-LGBTQ+ legislation in the state.
“I am humbled and grateful to have the support of so many leaders from LGBTQ+ communities from all across our commonwealth – and I am ready to continue fighting for them as Pennsylvania’s next lieutenant governor,” Davis said at the press conference. “Every Pennsylvanian’s rights should be protected under the law, and in Harrisburg, I have worked to protect LGBTQ+ rights and advance equality.”
While no LGBTQ+ leader said anything about Sims not supporting LGBTQ+ rights if elected, local activists have criticized Sims in commentary pieces published by The Philadelphia Gay News.
According to the Blade, the criticisms levied against Sims include failing to provide his constituents appropriate services and that none of his legislative proposals have passed Pennsylvania’s legislature in the decade that he has been in office.
In a statement to the outlet, Sims said, “Fighting for LGBTQ+ equality has been the work of my life. You don’t have to look further than the legislation I’ve introduced and sponsored over the last decade or my career prior to office to see that.”
“Our community – like many other communities – is tired of being approached by allies for our votes only around election time when it’s most convenient,” Sims said. “We’re more than a set of photo opportunities and press conferences, and we deserve representation that will actually fight for our causes. We need elected officials who’ve stood with the community before the campaign season, and will still be here after election day. That’s why I’m running for Lieutenant Governor.”
The LGBTQ Victory Fund, which endorsed Sims, said “the LGBTQ community is not a monolith.”
“We have varied priorities, interests and political beliefs, so it is unsurprising a handful of LGBTQ community leaders would support other candidates,” Victory Fund spokesperson Elliot Imse told the Blade.
“Yet the majority of LGBTQ voters and community leaders are excited to elect Brian Sims as the next Lieutenant Governor of the Keystone State, and his fundraising numbers are all the evidence you need,” said Imse. “Pennsylvanians’ enthusiasm behind Brian’s historic candidacy is resounding.”