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Gay Democrat denies ‘aggressive, hostile and threatening’ verbal attack on Republican over ‘joke’ LGBT+ rights bill

Emma Powys Maurice August 6, 2020
Republican

Democrat Brian Sims (left) is said to have threatened Republican Tom Murt in a late-night phone call (YouTube/Philadelphia Inquirier/The Intelligencer)

Brian Sims, Pennsylvania’s first openly gay house representative, has denied threatening a Republican over contentious LGBT+ equality bill amid a police investigation.

Tom Murt, Pennsylvania house representative for Montgomery County, called police alleging that Sims subjected him to a furious curse-filled tirade on Monday night (August 3).

The Democrat allegedly told Murt that he would “ruin” him, that he was “finished”, and that he would “get [him] for this”.

Murt said it wasn’t clear what sparked Sims’ anger, but he speculated that it was over a proposal for discrimination protections for the LGBT+ community.

While Murt’s proposed bill appears broadly progressive, sources told the Pennsylvania Capitol-Star it “smacks of Republicans using LGBT+ issues as a political football to signal moderation”, at a time when there is less than a dozen days of legislation left before the election.

Sims reportedly said as much in an “angry, enraged and wrathful” text message to Murt after the bill’s sponsorship memo was circulated on Monday, the Courier Times heardThe message accused the Republican of treating LGBT+ rights as “a joke”.

He followed this with a phone call that Murt described as “a verbal, hostile and threatening attack on me personally, using foul language, screaming”.

“I asked him three separate times, ‘why are you attacking me and why are you so upset if we agree on this issue?'” Murt wrote in a statement.

“He never answered me. I could not and did not further respond to him, as he would not stop yelling and screaming.”

The language was “so aggressive and belligerent”, Murt said, “it was hostile, and of a threatening nature”.

“On order to protect my family and my staff, I wanted to talk to a police officer,” he added.

Sims dismissed Murt’s description of the events in a since-deleted tweet. “In my entire life I’ve never said these things to Tom or anyone else,” he wrote.

“I did make it abundantly clear to him that killing the effort to advance LGBT+ legislation in Pennsylvania with his weird campaign effort is something that I’d make sure advocates knew about. And they do.”

The equality proposal thought to be at the centre of the call is still unwritten. Murt said it was created with input from the LGBT+ community, but declined to identify any of the stakeholders he’d spoken to.

Upper Moreland police confirmed on Wednesday (August 5) there was an ongoing investigation into the incident, but would not comment further on any details.

More: 2020 presidential election, brian sims, discrimination protections, Pennsylvania, Republican Party, Tom Murt

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