A Philadelphia lawyer made history on Tuesday when he was sworn in as the first openly gay lawmaker elected to the Pennsylvania legislature. Brian Sims, 34, ran unopposed in the November election after ousting longtime Rep. Babette Josephs in the Democratic primary in the Center City district. "The tide has changed," said Sims, a civil rights advocate who recently stepped down as board president of Equality Pennsylvania, the statewide lesbian and gay advocacy organization. "2012 will go down in history as when being anti-gay puts you in the minority." By coincidence, Sims will be one of two openly gay lawmakers in the General Assembly this year. In a surprise announcement last month, Rep. Mike Fleck, a sitting Republican lawmaker from Huntingdon County, revealed that he was gay. Sims said that with two gay members, the legislature would have a more difficult time ignoring gay civil rights issues such as discrimination in the workplace and in housing - the focus of legislation he has already introduced - as well as hate crimes and bullying.
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