HRC Endorses Pro-Equality Leaders for the Pennsylvania Legislature

by HRC Staff

Post submitted by Lucas Acosta (he/him), former Deputy Director of Communications, Politics

If elected, Benham will become the first openly LGBTQ woman elected to the Pennsylvania legislature and the first openly autistic woman elected to a state legislature in the country.

HRC today endorsed State Senator Larry Farnese for reelection and Jessica Benham for the Pennsylvania State House. 

“Pennsylvania is at a crossroads. For too long, LGBTQ Pennsylvanians have lived with the threat of being fired or discriminated against solely because of who they are or who they love,” said HRC Pennsylvania State Director Ryan Matthews. “Pennsylvania is the only state in the northeast without a law prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ people.  To change that, we must elect bold, progressive pro-equality leaders like Senator Farnese and Jessica Benham who will work to ensure LGBTQ Pennsylvanians gain the full legal equality they deserve. This election, we have the opportunity to turn the page in Harrisburg and Senator Farnese and Jessica Benham are crucial components to achieving that goal. HRC is proud to endorse Senator Farnese for reelection, and Jessica Benham for election to the Pennsylvania State Legislature.” 

“I have been a proud advocate for LGBT+ rights for over a decade in Harrisburg and so I am honored to receive the endorsement of the Human Rights Campaign for State Senate. Now, more than ever, we need to fight to ensure that all Pennsylvanians are treated with equality and dignity,” said State Senator Larry Farnese

“As potentially the first out LGBTQ woman elected to PA’s state legislature, I'm honored to have this endorsement because of the work that HRC does in advocating for LGBTQ equality. I look forward to helping make our shared vision a reality in Pennsylvania,” said Jessica Benham. 

Senator Larry Farnese has been the leading advocate in the Senate Democratic Caucus for pro-LGBTQ legislation, and is the prime sponsor of SB 614, Pennsylvania’s LGBTQ non-discrimination bill. Farnese serves as the Senate Democratic Caucus Secretary and Chair of the Judiciary Committee, and has been crucial to HRC’s advocacy to protect the 416,000 LGBTQ Pennsylvanians across the commonwealth. 

As Director of Development at the Pittsburgh Center for Autistic Advocacy, Jessica Benham has been a crucial voice for autistic Pennsylvanians, giving a voice to a community long unrepresented in advocacy. If elected, Benham will become the first openly LGBTQ woman elected to the Pennsylvania legislature and the first openly autistic woman elected to a state legislature in the country. Benham has committed to supporting non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians if elected. 

HRC has prioritized investments and organizing in Pennsylvania since 2017, and had 9 staff on the ground in the Commonwealth in the closing weeks of the 2018 election. In the midterm elections, HRC members and supporters completed over 1,128 volunteer shifts. In the final four days of GOTV alone, our staff and volunteers knocked on over 5,680 doors. HRC hosted 26 Equality Action Academy trainings to give HRC members and supporters the tools they need to take action locally in legislative advocacy and in support of pro-equality candidates.

In the 2018 midterms, HRC helped register more than 32,000 voters and recruited more than 4,200 volunteers, who worked over 8,500 shifts and clocked more than 30,000 volunteer hours. In the critical final four days of the campaign, HRC staff and volunteers in get-out-the-vote efforts alone knocked on more than 80,000 doors, and held 36,400 conversations with voters at their doors and by phone on behalf of our endorsed candidates. HRC's unprecedented grassroots mobilization represented an investment of approximately $26 million to recruit volunteers, mobilize constituents, register voters and grow the organization's grassroots army in an all-out effort to pull the emergency brake on the hateful anti-LGBTQ agenda of the Trump-Pence administration and elect a Congress that would hold them accountable.