|From||United States of America|
|Birth||16 September 1978, Washington, D.C., USA|
Brian Kendall Sims (born September 16, 1978) is a Democratic member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in the 182nd district. Elected in 2012, Sims is also a lawyer and activist on LGBT civil rights. Sims is the first openly gay elected state legislator in Pennsylvania history. He won reelection on November 6, 2018.
Early life and education
Sims was born in Washington, D.C., the son of two Army Lieutenant Colonels of Irish descent. Sims was raised in the Catholic Church but stopped attending church at the age of 16. Sims lived in seventeen states before settling in Pennsylvania in the early 1990s. He later completed his undergraduate studies at Bloomsburg University, in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania in 2001. In 2000, Sims was the co-captain of the Bloomsburg University football team, and was recognized as a scholar athlete. During the 2000 season, the longest season in the Division II school's history, Sims came out as gay to his teammates. In doing so, the regional All-American and team captain became the only openly gay college football captain in NCAA history.
In 2004, Sims earned a J.D. Degree in International and Comparative law at the Michigan State University School of Law.
Sims served as the President of Equality Pennsylvania, and as the Chairman of the Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia (GALLOP), until he stepped down from both positions in 2011. In 2009, Sims joined the faculty of the Center for Progressive Leadership and the National Campaign Board of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. He was selected as one of the Top 40 LGBT Attorneys Under 40 in the United States by the National LGBT Bar Association in 2010.
Planned Parenthood confrontation
Sims received attention in 2019 for videos he posted to social media confronting people protesting outside of a Planned Parenthood facility in Philadelphia. In April of that year, Sims offered $100 to anyone who could dox three teenage girls who were protesting by praying outside the facility. A few weeks later, in May, Sims posted another eight-minute video of himself confronting a woman who was protesting by praying with a rosary outside the same facility. He suggested it was unchristian and racist to "shame" people engaging in a lawful activity. He encouraged his social media followers to dox her and protest outside her house. Sims also criticized Catholicism.
Following the incidents, more than one thousand pro-life supporters rallied outside the facility, with many calling for Sims' resignation. He responded to calls for an apology or that he resign by calling critics bigoted, sexist, and misogynistic "Bible Bullies". Sims admitted to being "aggressive" in his confrontation.
Before assuming public office, Sims served as staff counsel for policy and planning at the Philadelphia Bar Association. During his time at the Bar Association, Sims worked with attorneys, legislators and community organizations on issues ranging from gender and pay inequity to environmental regulation.
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
In 2011, Sims announced his intentions to run for representative of the 182nd Legislative District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Sims defeated Babette Josephs, a 28-year incumbent, in the 2012 Democratic primary. He did not face a Republican challenger in the November general election and was elected.
Sims was the first openly gay person elected to the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Although he was not sworn in until January 1, 2013, because Pennsylvania state representatives' term of service and legislative duties officially begin on the first day of December following their election, Sims shares the designation of being its first openly gay member with Rep. Mike Fleck (R–Huntingdon), who came out in a newspaper article published later that day.
In June 2013, after the Defense of Marriage Act had been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, Sims tried to make a speech in the Pennsylvania House supporting the decision. Daryl Metcalfe, who was one of several representatives who blocked Sims from speaking, said "I did not believe that as a member of that body that I should allow someone to make comments such as he was preparing to make that ultimately were just open rebellion against what the word of God has said, what God has said, and just open rebellion against God’s law."
Sims made national news on October 3, 2013, when he and fellow Democratic Rep. Steve McCarter introduced legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania. Sims has also introduced a bill with fellow Democratic State Representative Erin Molchany to help reduce and eliminate the gender gap in rate of pay as well as legislation to ban the practice of conversion therapy with Rep. Gerald Mullery.
Sims has also made efforts to work with federal legislators on issues of LGBT civil rights. On March 28, 2013, Sims penned an open letter to U.S. Senator and fellow Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Casey Jr. urging him to come out publicly in support of same-sex marriage. This, combined with many other calls, ultimately resulted in the senator voicing his support for the measure. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) also chose to vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in the U.S. Senate after Sims and a number of other activists wrote to him on the matter.
On November 11, 2013, Sims teamed with Republican State Representative Bryan Cutler to introduce a bill to replace Pennsylvania's system of electing judges with a merit-based system, which did not receive debate in the PA House.
Sims currently serves of the House Commerce, Game and Fish, Human Services, State Government, and Tourism and Recreation Committees. Sims serves as Democratic Chair of the Human Services Subcommittee on Mental Health.
Sims has served as the prime sponsor of 68 bills or resolutions, of these, one bill has progressed to be debated on the house floor, and nine resolutions have been passed.
After The New York Times tweeted a cartoon portraying Trump and Putin as a gay couple, Sims said it's time to stop the homophobic jokes.
In the 2016 elections, Sims was briefly a candidate for Pennsylvania's 2nd congressional district, but opted to run for re-election to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives instead. Sims was challenged by Lou Lanni, Marni Snyder, and Ben Waxman in the Democratic primary, defeating all three. Sims did not face a Republican challenger in the November 2016 general election.