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On Wednesday, students gathered to ponder the legal dynamics behind the rainbow flag. 

Lambda Law hosted a panel entitled “What is next for the LGBTQ Movement” to provide an insider’s view to the hot button issue amidst public fervor after the monumental legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide since this June.

The panel featured Rep. Brian Sims, the first openly gay state legislator in Pennsylvania and Professor Seth Kreimer, lead counsel in Whitewood v.s. Wolf, the case in which a federal judge struck down Pennsylvania's ban on same sex marriage in 2014. Rep. Sims is also a lead co-sponsor of the Pennsylvania Fairness Act and current candidate for the democratic nomination for the 2nd congressional district.

Glen Forster, 2L at Penn Law and the Political Director of Penn Law Lambda, moderated the panel while Mary Catherine Roper, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU of the state of Pennsylvania and longtime LGBTQ activist shared her keen insights and knowledge about generations’ of efforts pushing the equality movement forward.

Sims expounded on the provisions of the Fairness Act and his journey fighting for equality as a state legislator. This year, faced with opposition from the conventional Catholic Conference, Sims garnered a most impressive number of co-sponsorship for his bill from Pennsylvania's local chambers of commerce and women’s rights communities, attracting unprecedented Republican support.

Kreimer provided an outlook for the possible next steps regarding LGBTQ’s civil rights advancement in the context of the recent Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage. According to Kreimer, the decision is on the one hand “a magnificent step forward,” but it does not necessarily help litigation processes. Kreimer also called for special attention to the transgender population, who are counted as a member of the LGBTQ group but in fact face even tougher civil rights challenges.

Roper related the history of LGBTQ community fighting to change public opinions before the marriage movement. The group has thus far evolved from the coming out movement in the 1980s towards human rights campaigns with an anti-discrimination angle to help their counterparts identify with what the two groups have in common.

Sims stressed on the role of the non-LGBTQ population as powerful allies in promoting LGBTQ equality. “As unbiased and selfless entities supporting equal rights for the LGBTQ community,” he said, “non-LGBTQ advocates are in fact much more powerful.” 

While remaining optimistic about growing open-mindedness of coming generations, Sims emphasized that there’s still a long journey ahead to curb discrimination in public perceptions aside from the legal remedies.

Roper narrowed the LGBTQ equality movement down to daily personal conducts. “Don’t let people around you to use abusive language make disparaging comments about one’s sexuality,” she said. "Allowing these things to persist is allowing discrimination to persist.”

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