Vote LGBTQIA+ in 2024

As president of the Steel City Stonewall Democrats, it is extremely gratifying to write to my community about how thrilled I am to see so much more LGBTQIA+ representation on the ballot than I have ever seen.  Whether for Auditor General, State House Representative, or Convention Delegate, our community is making our way onto the ballot, into government, and into decision-making.  And don’t get me wrong, I appreciate our allies – love them to the moon and back, really—but allies are no substitute for LGBTQIA+ people at the table to represent ourselves.  

Let’s start with Malcolm Kenyatta… Malcolm is just amazing.  He will be an Auditor General who cares intimately about how money spent in the Commonwealth affects people’s lives.  I believe he will dedicate every moment in the role to making sure every dollar spent enriches the lives of everyday working Pennsylvanians.  He is dedicated to seeing that state funds, including school funds, are not used to discriminate against anyone, including the LGBTQIA+ community.  Kenyatta  brings the lens of a young, Black, gay man raised in North Philadelphia.  He is always aware of how government action plays out in his life and his community.  He won his State House seat in 2018, in part, because his community fought for him when he experienced homophobic slander on the day of the election.  In 2022, he became the first Black LGBTQIA+ person in the country to run for a US Senate Seat.  He is what the future can be, but we have to show up for him, canvass for him, donate, and tell people how much better their lives will be with him at the helm.

And then there’s the State House.  Once upon a time, the only out LGBTQIA+ member of the State Assembly was Brian Sim of Philadelphia.  Now we have La’Tasha Mayes, Jessica Benham, and Abigail Salisbury from Allegheny County alone. In addition, our caucus has Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade-El from Lancaster.  We need to build the LGBTQIA+ caucus in Harrisburg, and they can only get reelected if we put in the work. 

We need to support more political power going to trans and non-binary members of the community; when the experiences of gender-diverse people are included, we build a better society for everyone.  It is exciting that trans politician Tyler Titus serves their community on the Erie City Council and will run for higher office.  They are pushing for a better political future for all of us including the trans community.  

Our caucus is growing but still needs our support. You might have noticed I didn’t mention the State Senate – there is a lot more work to be done there, and if our community keeps showing up for the State House, we’re going to get people on the State Senate as well.  In addition, I would like to give special recognition to House ally Dan Frankel, who has been fighting for the Fairness Act for many years – he’s been fighting for it since before I knew it was on the political agenda.  If we keep the State House and flip the State Senate, I predict it will become law in the next cycle.

And Allegheny County stands to elect three LGBTQIA+ delegates to the August Democratic convention in Chicago and a staunch complement of allies.  When I first saw the list, I couldn’t believe my eyes that we would be getting so much representation.  From Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District, we are sending Jessica Benham, Jim DePoe, and Nathaniel Yap.  All have worked tirelessly on behalf of the community.  This is not a shallow nod to diversity but a recognition of how the LGBTQIA+ community has worked to carve out a place for ourselves in the political landscape.

For this momentum to continue next year the community needs your help.  We need you, the reader, to run for school board, borough council, mayor, or magistrate.  We need you to volunteer as a poll worker.  We can’t have representation on the ballot and in government without the people to run for office.  And we need people from all walks of life: all races, all gender identities, all sexual orientations, and all levels of ability.

Everyone who cares about our community must show up at the polls on Tuesday, April 23rd to support the LGBTQIA+ community and our allies.  You can read more about the candidates on the Steel City Stonewall Democrats‘ website.  It’s the people who show up who make the decisions.  When we don’t show up, the people who seek to oppress us win.