|Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
from the 182nd district
January 1, 1985 – November 30, 2012
|Preceded by||Samuel Rappaport|
|Succeeded by||Brian Sims|
August 4, 1940 |
|Spouse(s)||Herbert B. Newberg|
|Alma mater||Queens College (B.A.), Rutgers-Camden School of Law (J.D.)|
Babette Josephs (born August 4, 1940) is a Democratic politician and attorney, and a former member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Josephs was first elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1984 and represented the 182nd Legislative District, which encompasses Center City and South Philadelphia, through November 30, 2012. As the senior woman legislator in the General Assembly, she served as the Democratic chairwoman of the House State Government Committee from 2001 to 2012. She was also the convener of the Women’s Caucus of the General Assembly.
Throughout her career, Josephs has chaired or been a member of a number of legislative committees.
- State Government Committee, Democratic Chair (2001–2012)
- Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, Member (2003–2012)
- Philadelphia Delegation, Co-Vice Chair
- Democratic Policy Committee, Member
- Women of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, Convener
- Select Committee on Information Technology Member (2008–2012)
- Advisory Board on Statewide Uniform Registry of Elections (SURE), Member (2001–2002)
- Joint Select Committee to Examine Election Issues, Member (2001–2002)
- House Appropriations Committee, Member (1993–2002)
- Health & Welfare Committee, Subcommittee Chair
- House Judiciary Committee, Secretary (1989–1990), Member (1987–1994 & 1997–2002)
- House Health and Human Services Committee, (1985–1992 & 1995–2002)
- Children and Youth Committee, Member (2001–2002)
- Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, Member (1999–2000)
- House Urban Affairs Committee, Member (1997–1998)
- Game and Fisheries Committee, Member (1989–1990)
- House Insurance Committee, Member (1985–1996)
- Professional Licensure Committee, Member (1985–1986)
Josephs is involved with a number of civic organizations, including the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. She is also the co-founder of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League's Pennsylvania chapter.
Prior to her election to the legislature Josephs was active in law and political organizing.
- Executive Director of Citizens Coalition for Energy Efficiency 1980–1981
- Co-founder and Executive Director National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League PA and its foundation, the Clara Bell Duvall Education Fund 1978–1980
- Private law practice 1977–1979
- English Teacher in the Philadelphia Public High Schools 1963–1964
Pledge of allegiance
In October 2001, Josephs was the only House member to vote against a rule requiring students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools. The constitutionality of the law was later challenged, and in 2003, the U.S. District Court struck down the law on constitutional grounds.
2010 primary campaign
In April 2010, the political campaign of her Democratic primary opponent Gregg Kravitz gave to The Philadelphia Inquirer a tape of Josephs that was made by a Kravitz supporter who attended a Josephs fundraiser. In the tape, Josephs accused Kravitz of lying about his sexual orientation in order to pander to LGBT voters, a reportedly powerful bloc in the district. "I outed him as a straight person," Josephs said during a fund-raiser at the Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant, as some in the audience gasped or laughed, "and now he goes around telling people, quote, 'I swing both ways.' That's quite a respectful way to talk about sexuality. This guy's a gem." Kravitz denied stating that he is gay and asserted that he identifies as bisexual. However, he said he did not recall telling people that he "swings both ways" and that his sexuality was not a qualification for office, "I bring it up only in the context that it's important for the LGBT community to have a seat at the legislative table." He also added that it would be good for socially conservative lawmakers in the capital to work with an openly bisexual colleague. Josephs also called Kravitz a "trust-fund baby" with no discernible job history who was running for the House because he was bored, a charge also denied by Kravitz, who cited his work with a local congressional candidate. Mark Segal, publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News and a supporter of Josephs, said, "We've [the LGBT community] hit a new high point when candidates are accused of pretending to be gay to win a seat. I've been doing this for 40 years, and I never have heard of this kind of charge in any race in the nation. I take that as flattery. It shows how far we've come."
Josephs defeated Kravitz in the primary by 2,000 votes.
- Representative Babette Josephs. "Experience as a Legislator". Retrieved 2010-04-26.
- Representative Babette Josephs. "Civic Involvement". Retrieved 2010-04-26.
- Representative Babette Josephs. "Personal". Retrieved 2010-04-26.
- freedomforum.org / The Associated Press. "Pledging to instill patriotism". Retrieved 2010-04-26.
- Ingrid M. Johansen / University of North Carolina School of Law. "State Pledge of Allegiance statute violates the constitutional rights of students, parents, and private schools". Retrieved 2011-09-05.
- The Pennsylvania Progressive
- The Philadelphia Inquirer
- "PA State House 182 - D Primary". Election Results. Our Campaigns. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
- Former State Representative Babette Josephs official website