|Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives|
from the 182nd district
|Assumed office |
December 1, 2012
|Preceded by||Babette Josephs|
Brian Kendall Sims
September 16, 1978
|Alma mater||Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania (B.S.)|
Michigan State University (J.D.)
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 Roman 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.
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.
Sims came under criticism in 2019 for videos he posted to social media confronting people praying 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 abortion rights opponents 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.
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.
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- Mosbergen, Dominique (November 7, 2018). "LGBTQ Candidates Record Historic Midterm Wins In Rainbow Wave". HuffPost.
- "Gay and nonreligious in a Republican state, Rep. Brian Sims puts his faith in humanity - Religion News Service". September 10, 2014. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
- "Family Portrait Brian Sims". The Philadelphia Gay News. Archived from the original on October 6, 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2011.
- "Sims to challenge Babette Josephs in 182nd Dist". The Philadelphia Gay News. Archived from the original on October 6, 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2011.
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- "Former college football captain was openly gay". Outsports.com. Retrieved December 27, 2011.
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- Gstalter, Morgan (May 8, 2019). "Pennsylvania state lawmaker responds to backlash: 'I will do better'". The Hill. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
- Argos, Greg (May 8, 2019). "Mother Of Teens State Rep. Brian Sims Confronted At Planned Parenthood Says She's Concerned For Family's Safety". 3 CBS Philly. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
- Cummings, William (May 9, 2019). "Philadelphia Archbishop slams Pennsylvania lawmaker who confronted abortion protesters". USA Today. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
- Fiorillo, Victor (May 6, 2019). "Brian Sims Berates "Old White Lady" Protesting at Philly Planned Parenthood". Philadelphia. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
- "'We Will Not Back Down To Bullies': Anti-Abortion Rally Outside Philadelphia Planned Parenthood Draws Large Crowd". CBS3 Philly. May 10, 2019. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
- Palmer, Ewan (May 7, 2019). "Rep. Brian Sims Confronts Pro-Life Protesters at Planned Parenthood Clinic: 'What You're Doing Here is Disgusting'". Newsweek. Archived from the original on May 7, 2019. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
- Gstalter, Morgan (May 7, 2019). "Pennsylvania lawmaker offers $100 to anyone identifying anti-abortion protesters". The Hill. Archived from the original on May 7, 2019. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
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- Pennsylvania Constitution, Article II, Section 2 http://sites.state.pa.us/PA_Constitution.html
- "Republican State Rep. Mike Fleck: I'm Gay". Politicspa.com. 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
- Reilly, Mollie (June 27, 2013). "Brian Sims, Pennsylvania Lawmaker, Silenced On DOMA By Colleagues Citing 'God's Law'". Huffington Post. Retrieved June 29, 2013.
- Artavia, David (June 27, 2013). "Rep. Brian Sims to Introduce Marriage Bill in Pennsylvania". Advocate.com. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
- "Bill Information - House Bill 1811; Regular Session 2013-2014 - PA General Assembly". Legis.state.pa.us. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
- "House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda - PA House of Representatives". Legis.state.pa.us. November 25, 2013. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
- Jonathan Tamari. "Gay PA Rep. praises Toomey, Casey". Philly.com. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
- Sims, Brian (March 28, 2013). "The Time Is Now: An Open Letter to a U.S. Senator". Huffington Post.
- Colby Itkowitz, Call Washington Bureau (April 1, 2013). "Bob Casey support for gay marriage - Morning Call". Articles.mcall.com. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
- Siddiqui, Sabrina (November 1, 2013). "Openly Gay Lawmaker Calls On Pat Toomey To Back ENDA". Huffington Post.
- "Toomey Votes For ENDA". PoliticsPA. November 7, 2013. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
- "On its merits: A new bill offers sense on judicial elections - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. November 18, 2013.
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- Center, Legislative Data Processing. "Bills by Sponsor, Brian Sims, Session of 2019".
- "New York Times offends with 'homophobic' cartoon depicting Trump, Putin as lovers". Fox News. July 17, 2018.
- "Pennsylvania - Summary Vote Results". Associated Press. April 26, 2016. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
- Brian Sims for Pennsylvania official campaign website
- State Representative Brian Sims official caucus website
- Representative Brian Sims (D) official PA House website