Every human deserves equal protection under the law. But, as one openly gay Pennsylvania lawmaker pointed out Tuesday, that is not the case for LGBT folks in his state.
"This state doesn't offer a single statewide LGBT civil right to people like me other than marriage," state Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) said emphatically in video footage from a press conference at the state capitol building in Harrisburg. "And that's ridiculous."
Sims was partially responding to a violent attack on a same-sex couple Sept. 11 in Philadelphia. The two men were brutally beaten and allegedly called "dirty fags," but the attack could not be classified as a hate crime in Pennsylvania because state law does not cover crimes motivated by a person's sexual orientation.
Pennsylvania is one of 15 states with hate crime laws that do not cover LGBT people.
Sims' speech on Tuesday put pressure on lawmakers to pass an amendment to Pennsylvania's existing hate crime law. The amendment, which was first introduced to both chambers of the legislature in January 2013, would add attacks based on gender identity, sexual orientation and disability to the list of those that can be prosecuted as hate crimes.
"We've got 60-some-odd days left in session," Sims said. "And if we can't pass a law like this to protect basic citizens in their home, then we're not doing our job."
Amen to that.