The leaders of the Pennsylvania LGBTQ+ Equality Legislative Caucus carry the torch of a new era of leadership that is more aligned with the group’s identity. This is the first time since the group’s founding in 2011, that its leader has been a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
State representative. Malcolm Kenyatta of Philadelphia and Jessica Benham of Allegheny County — two of five members openly outside the PA legislature — are now co-leaders of the organization, along with founding Rep. Dan Frankel of Allegheny County and co-leader since 2020, Sen. Katie Muth.
“At the time, the best way I could think of to become an LGBTQ+ ally was to organize like-minded allies to work together with equality-driven advocacy groups — we were outnumbered, but Pennsylvania’s LGBTQ+ trust us to fight for them, help keep them safe and free from discrimination,” Frankel said.
“Today, the best way for me to be an ally is to step aside and enthusiastically support the leadership of our LGBTQ+ legislators,” she said.
The Harrisburg-based group is a bipartisan group composed of members of the General Assembly that advocates and fights for equality for the LGBTQ+ community in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Muth said, “Pennsylvanians have continually improved the diversity of the General Assembly, and each of us should advocate for a representative democracy.” “Serving as president has been a true honor, and I will never stop advocating for equality for my LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors, but no one knows what’s best for a community.”
Founded by Frankel in 2011, the caucus has grown in numbers and strength as they fight against the opposition and for the rights of LGBTQ+ people.
“With each election, the Democratic caucus gets closer to truly reflecting the diversity of our state, and that representation contributes to stronger, better and more inclusive legislation for the Commonwealth,” Frankel said. “I want to make sure that all persuasionists know that the legislators they identify with are at the table.”
Some of Frankel’s significant contributions include the introduction of the Fairness Act in 2000, which would provide civil rights protections for the LGBTQ+ community, as a fledgling legislator.
For the better part of a decade, Frankel has widely opposed efforts by the Republican Party to ban gay marriage, prevent state universities from providing same-sex benefits and interfere with the rights of LGBTQ+ parents.
He was instrumental in passing a bill to protect LGBTQ+ people from hate crimes in 2002, before it was struck down by the Commonwealth Court in 2008 on a technicality.
Frankel and Muth praise both Kenyatta and Benham for their rise to politics despite their short time in office, impressing enough to be approved as the group’s new co-leaders.
“In their short time in office, both have distinguished themselves as tough, determined and highly intelligent, and I’m excited to see those skills move into leadership roles,” Muth said.
Kenyatta, who has represented Philadelphia District 181 since 2019, thanked Frankel and Muth as he and Benham set out to co-lead the organization, pledging their commitment to the cause, the community and the issues that hurt them to be confirmed.
“Rep. Frankel has been invaluable in the ongoing fight to make Pennsylvania a better place for all, and I know that the LGBTQ+ community remains a fierce ally in Senator Muth in our fight for equal rights under the law.” ” Kenyatta said.
“To that end, I am pleased to work with Rep. Benham, a trailblazer and champion, to be the next co-chair of the Equality Caucus. This session, Harrisburg will finally see the long-pending anti-discrimination bill passed. Security has to be met, among other priorities – and we are going to work with both sides to achieve this.”
As for newcomer Benham, who has represented District 36 in Allegheny County through 2021, she said she hopes all the work done under Frankel and Muth will only further their mission and get their legislative efforts to Gov. Josh’s desk. Will bring Shapiro.
“Knowing that more members from the LGBTQ+ community will join us in the House, I am confident this session will result in continued progress towards justice and I look forward to fighting for much-needed change,” Benham said. Am.”