3 Republicans Join LGBT Equality Caucus, Plus Poll Results on Gay Rights Issues

Ross Murt
Reps. Chris Ross (left) and Tom Murt: two of three Republicans in the LGBT Equality caucus

It’s a big day for gay rights advocates in Pa. Equality PA unveiled the 58 members of the LGBT Equality caucus in Harrisburg, including 3 Republicans. The group also announced the results of a public poll that show wide public support on its issues.

“Any member of the General Assembly who is reluctant to vote in support of LGBT civil rights should look at the more than doubling in size of the LGBT Equality Caucus from last session coupled with our overwhelmingly positive poll numbers for reassurance that their colleagues are there and the public is with them,” said Ted Martin, executive director of advocacy group Equality Pa. “Pennsylvania is the worst state in the northeast when it comes to how we treat our LGBT citizens, and now is clearly the time to trade in that sad title.”

The 58 member caucus includes 35 state Representatives and 13 state Senators. Among them are three Republicans: Rep. Mike Fleck (R-Huntingdon), who came out in December as Pa.’s first openly gay lawmaker; Rep. Tom Murt (R-Montgomery) and Rep. Chris Ross (R-Chester). Murt and Ross each is married and has children.

The caucus formed for the previous legislative session and had just 26 members – and no Republicans.

“While many Pennsylvanians are still evolving on LGBT civil rights, a strong majority agree that LGBT people like me should not lose our jobs or be denied a table at a restaurant or a room in a hotel based simply on who we are,” said Rep. Brian Sims (D-Phila), the first openly gay person elected to the state legislature.

While gay marriage is a hot topic in many states, it’s not the most important issue for most LGBT activists in Pa. It’s not even in the top three. “Marriage” earns no mention in the caucus mission statement (below).

The biggest subject they want to address is non-discrimination: having it written into law that employers and businesses may not deny a person employment or services based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) introduced a non-discrimination bill Wednesday.


Equality PA Wednesday released the results of a poll it had commissioned that shows wide public support on anti-discrimination.

Equality PA also commissioned a public poll via the Pittsburgh-based firm Civic Science. Its methodology is rather unique, relying entirely on online surveys. The poll was conducted Jan. 29 and 30. The number of respondents varies per question.

Asked whether LGBT citizens should be granted the same civil rights as other minority groups, 62% of the survey sample of 1,350 said yes versus 29% who said no. (44% to 42% among self-identified Republicans).

Asked whether people should be protected from being fired on the grounds of their LGBT status, 69% of 1,160 respondents said they should versus 24% who said they shouldn’t. (61% to 28% among self-identified Republicans).

Finally, asked whether hotels and other businesses should be permitted to deny service to individuals based on LGBT status, 72% said no versus 23% who said yes. (62% to 28% among self-identified Republicans).


Here’s the caucus mission statement:

“The mission of the Pennsylvania LGBT Equality Caucus is to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality. The bi-partisan LGBT Equality Caucus will be comprised of Members of the General Assembly who are strongly committed to achieving the full enjoyment of human rights for LGBT people in the Commonwealth and around the nation. By serving as a resource for Members of the General Assembly, their staff, and the public on LGBT issues, the Caucus will work toward the extension of equal rights, the repeal of discriminatory laws, the elimination of hate-motivated violence, and the improved health and well-being for all regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.”

Its members are:

House: Reps. Frankel (co-chair), B. Boyle, K. Boyle, Bradford, Briggs, V. Brown, Brownlee, Clay, Cohen, D. Costa, P. Costa, Cruz, M. Daley, Davis, Dean, DeLissio, Dermody, Evans, Fabrizio, Fleck, Gainey, Harkins, J. Harris, B. Keller, Kim, Kinsey, Kirkland, McCarter, McGeehan, McNeill, Molchany, Mundy, Murt, O’Brien, Painter, Parker, Roebuck, Ross, Rozzi, Santarsiero, Schlossberg, Sims, Sturla, Wheatley and Youngblood.

Senate: Sens. Leach (co-chair), Blake, Farnese, Ferlo, Hughes, Schwank, Smith, Stack, Tartaglione, Teplitz, Washington, Wiley and Williams.

15 Responses

  1. Dear Ms. Grecco, the “conservative leader”, to borrow a page from Dame Lauren Cooper…

    Are you Ronald Reagan? Are you Ronald Reagan, though? Do you wish you were Ronald Reagan? When you’re at home, right? Like, when you’re at home, do you pretend that you’re Ronald Reagan? Were you in a bunch of badly rated cowboy movies? Do you shout “tear down this wall!” when doing home renovation?

    I hear what you’re saying, right? But the question is: Am I bovvered? Am I bovvered though? Look at my face. Look at my face. Does my face look bovvered? Nope. Cos I ain’t even bovvered. Face! Look! Bovvered! “Conservative Leader!” Ain’t even bovvered. Albert Einstein? Ain’t even bovvered. Ronald Reagan? Ain’t even bovvered. William Shakespeare? Fear not, my lady, forsooth, he be not bother-ed! Face! Bovvered! Not even bovvered!

    In case you don’t understand, try this: Suis je bovvered? Regardez mon visage: Est-ce que mon regard le visage bovvered? Non! Mon visage n’est pas bovvered!

    We, the LGBT people of the Commonwealth are NOT bovvered, in’nit tho!

  2. It’s funny when people oppose granting basic rights to a body of people unless it involves somebody in their own family.

    I bet if Phyllis Schlafly’s (btw – she is hardly esteemed) son was beaten up or fired because he was gay – she would have come to his defense. The issue is more for folks who do not have powerful moms to be also afforded protection. Nobody should be fired or refused service at an hotel or restaurant simply because they are gay. It’s pretty sickening that there are people who would like to see gay folks thrown out of a restaurant or be made jobless. What about a returning gay veteran from Iraq or Afghanistan? Have you folks no shame?

  3. CHEERS to Rep. Mike Fleck (R-Huntingdon), Rep. Tom Murt (R-Montgomery) and Rep. Chris Ross (R-Chester) for joining the LGBT Equality caucus! Especially welcome is the fact that Murt and Ross each is married and has children, to ensure the side of love continues to swell our ranks. Thank you all three.

  4. @Jocelyn Grecco,

    Thank you for telling everybody you are “a conservative leader” … in every post you have written on this site. Perhaps you believe that if people read it several times, they will believe it. I doubt it. Nobody cares who you are, and nobody believes you are important.

    In the very least, I’m sure it makes you feel better about yourself, for now. Someday, however, the person who needs to announce her importance to others will accept her lack of importance. Good luck dealing with your eventual self-awareness, you will need it.

  5. As a conservative leader I can tell you that a significant majority of elderly voters are very much opposed to gay rights, even those seniors who are gay and live in the closet. If Republicans want to keep a strong majority they need to stick with the Tea Party on the conservative traditional values of such esteemed leaders as Phyllis Schlafley, who has a gay son but still she sticks to her principles and is aggressively opposed to him having any gay rights. That is courage in action. Republicans need to show such courage and to reach out to seniors and the elderly on the issue of rejecting the radical homosexual agenda that is destroying our nation.

  6. Great news – hope it doubles again in size for the next legislature. That said – this state desperately needs state-wide protection for its LGBT citizens.

  7. This is great … have to walk before we can run. Keep up the pressure on SE PA suburban GOP members.

  8. Yeah that seems to happen a lot. I fall into it myself when talking about non-discrimination — and particularly bullying.

    Also, way to go to two straight ally Republicans. I never thought strongly one way or the other about Tom Murt — he was just another Republican that enabled extremists like Daryl Metcalfe and Mike Turzai. But now he actually has a little something to recommend him.

  9. Umm…
    Minor correction needed:
    “Equality PA Wednesday released the results of a poll it had commissioned that shows wide public support on discrimination.”

    should read
    “wide public support against discrimination”.

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