Out candidates abound
by Angela Thomas
May 16, 2013 | 979 views | 0 0 comments | 53 53 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As Pennsylvanians and Philadelphians go to the polls May 21, they will be able to consider a number of LGBT candidates, some of whom could make LGBT history if elected.

Leon A. King 2d, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas

King is the only openly LGBT candidate for Common Pleas judge. King has been active within the LGBT community, having served on the board for the William Way LGBT Community Center and currently sitting on the board of The Attic Youth Center. The former prison commissioner has also been instrumental in helping incarcerated individuals with HIV/AIDS gain access to medication. King told PGN that, if elected, he hoped to raise LGBT awareness in the judicial system. “Right now, we only have two [out LGBT] people on the bench, so it is good to continue to raise the community’s profile.”

Inja Coates, Philadelphia Traffic Court

Coates, who identifies as bisexual, is a self-employed therapist and LGBT activist. She said she plans to bring her progressive nature and diverse background to advocates for Philadelphians who are underrepresented. “I bring an ability to be clean and fair and I’ve been involved with the social-justice movements for many years — the whole litany of racial justice, representation. You have to know the different issues that the community is facing.”

Robert Tuerk, Philadelphia Traffic Court

Tuerk is an openly gay attorney who previously ran for Traffic Court judge in 2011. He got into the race again, he said, because he’s eager to restore the reputation of the court. “I want to bring competence, fairness and equal justice for everyone,” he told PGN. “I am a fair-minded person, therefore no one would be discriminated against in my courtroom.”

Dan Miller, Harrisburg mayor

If elected, Miller would become the first out mayor in Harrisburg — as well as throughout the entire state. Miller, who currently serves as Harrisburg City Controller, said he not only plans to help Harrisburg with its financial issues, but his tenure would promote visibility for LGBT candidates. “I think it’s important to have openly gay elected officials who perform well and who are respected by the voters and the citizens for doing a good job,” he said.

Bryan Tate, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Tate is running for state representative in the 95th district in York and, if elected, would be Pennsylvania’s third out state lawmaker, and the first Republican to be elected as an out candidate. The York native is vice president of philanthropy at York County Community Foundation. Although Tate has a wealth of non-LGBT-specific issues he plans to work on, marriage equality and nondiscrimination are also on the top of his list. “I think Pennsylvania needs to step up and provide the same equality to LGBT persons that it provides to everyone else,” Tate said.

Andrea Myers, Hatboro Council

Myers, an out lesbian, was instrumental in bringing forward an LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance to Hatboro. The measure passed but was ultimately veoted by the town’s mayor. Myers’ family has a long history of serving the community. “Even though our local attempt at countering discrimination was ultimately vetoed, it opened up a lot of dialogue,” she said. “LGBT candidates, local leaders and allies to our community help bring real, tangible faces and voices to the forefront in these discussions.”

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