Lib City releases first-ever lawmaker rating
by Jen Colletta
Apr 03, 2014 | 1476 views | 0 0 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club this week released its first-ever LGBT Legislative Scorecard, which evaluated all state lawmakers from Southeastern Pennsylvania on their positions on LGBT equality.

Scores were based on legislators’ cosponsorship of current LGBT-related bills.

Lawmakers scoring 100 include Sens. Larry Farnese (D-First Dist.), Michael Stack (D-Fifth Dist.) and Daylin Leach (D-27th Dist.), as well as Reps. Ed Neilson (D-169th Dist.), Kevin Boyle (D-172nd Dist.), Mike O’Brien (D-175th Dist.), Michelle Brownlee (D-195th Dist.), Cherelle Parker (D-200th Dist.), Stephen Kinsey (201st Dist.), Mark Cohen (202nd Dist.), Mark Painter (D-146th Dist.) and Steve McCarter (D-154th Dist.).

Lawmakers were scored based on their support for a bill to ban LGBT discrimination, a measure to include LGBTs in the hate-crimes law, a measure allowing for marriage equality and a bill to ban conversion therapy for minors — all of which have been introduced in both the House and Senate.

House members were also rated on the anti-bullying PASS Act and a measure to repeal the state’s ban on marriage equality, neither of which have been introduced in the Senate; senators were also scored based on their support for legislation that would revamp the name-change process.

Senators scoring an 80, meaning they cosponsored all but one bill, include Vincent Hughes (D-Seventh Dist.) and Anthony Williams (D-Eighth Dist.), while House members with an 83, who are lacking cosponsorship of one bill, include Reps. Brendan Boyle (D-170th Dist.), Curtis Thomas (D-181st Dist.), Brian Sims (D-182nd Dist.), Jordan Harris (D-186th Dist.), Vanessa Lowery Brown (D-190th Dist.) and Matthew Bradford (D-70th Dist.).

The scorecard was spearheaded by Liberty City’s Policy & Advocacy Committee, led by co-chairs Micah Mahjoubian and Jordan Gwendolyn Davis.

Mahjoubian said the organization last year released an Issues Agenda — centering on the topics important to its members — which helped inform the legislation that formed the basis for the scorecard.

“We’ve had a long history of endorsing Democrats who we believed are strong on LGBT issues but we’ve always felt that the next step was to begin to work with them more proactively to make sure that, after they answer our questionnaires, they follow through and enact legislation,” he said. “Last year, with the Issues Agenda, we talked about the values and issues we should be supporting and then this year, we wanted to focus on evaluating legislators so we knew where everyone stood and who we need to work with more to move these issues forward.”

There were 64 representatives rated overall. Of the 38 suburban lawmakers, nine, all Republicans, scored a 0. There were 16 senators included, and six of the nine suburban senators scored a 0, also all Republicans.

No Philadelphia-based lawmaker in either chamber rated a 0; the lowest-rated Philadelphia senator was Sen. Shirley Kitchen (D-Third Dist.) with a 40 and the lowest in the House was a tie at 17 among Reps. Bill Keller (D-184th Dist.), Ron Waters (D-191st Dist.), J.P. Miranda (D-197th Dist.) and Dwight Evans (D-203rd Dist.).

“We weren’t surprised to see we had a group of Philadelphians who were 100-percent supportive, but the biggest eye-opener was how much work we have to do out in the suburbs,” Mahjoubian said. “On the first page of the scorecard there’s lots of check marks for all the Philadelphians, and then you turn the page and there’s much fewer, even among Democrats.”

Mahjoubian said this initial scorecard should serve as a platform for enhanced discussion about LGBT issues among lawmakers and ideally will encourage increased cosponsorships and legislative movement.

“It was almost like a pop quiz for legislators; we didn’t inform any of them we were doing this, so it gives us a snapshot of what’s going on right now,” Mahjoubian said. “There are nine months left of the session and we want to get as many Democrats as close to 100 as possible.”

Liberty City is going to be setting up meetings with lawmakers to press them on bills they haven’t yet cosponsored and will issue another scorecard at the end of the year.

“When the new session starts in January with new members, we will let them know ahead of time that these are the issues we care about, and that we’ll be scoring them on these pieces of legislation and that we encourage them all to sign on.”

To view the scorecard, visit www.libertycity.org/scorecard.

Comments
(0)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet