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Pa. House LGBTQ Equality Caucus has historic new leadership

Pennsylvania LGBTQ Equality Caucus has new leadership in Harrisburg
Pennsylvania LGBTQ Equality Caucus has new leadership in Harrisburg 02:29

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The Pennsylvania LGBTQ Caucus has new leadership in Harrisburg, and it's a historic change.

The Victory Institute Conference in Washington, D.C. was held this week -- people working to get LGBTQ lawmakers elected.

CBS Philadelphia caught up with one of them on his way there, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta of Philadelphia.

"I'm going to be moderating a panel with new state elected officials," Kenyatta said, "including one from Allegheny County Rep.-elect La'Tasha D. Mayes, who made history becoming the first open lesbian who ever served in the Pennsylvania general assembly."

Kenyatta will soon become the first openly-gay chair of the Pennsylvania House LGBTQ Equality Caucus.

The co-chair is Rep. Jessica Benham of Pittsburgh.

"It's time for fresh leadership," Rep. Dan Frankel, of Pittsburgh and the current leader, said.

Frankel is not a member of the LGBTQ community but formed the caucus in 2010.

Why not have someone from the LGBTQ community chair it? Simple.

"I did not have members who identified as LGBTQ in our caucus at that time," Frankel said.

"We now have five openly LGBTQ members from Philadelphia, from the Philadelphia suburbs, also from Allegheny County," Kenyatta said.

Kenyatta says Frankel and others have been great allies, so why the change?

"When you have members of the General Assembly who identify as LGBTQ talking to other members," Frankel said, "it is really compelling."

"I told my coming out story on the on the House floor," Kenyatta said, "the first time I'd ever done that in a public forum. My mom stopped me at the door. And she asked, 'Malcolm, are you gay?' Somehow, I found the strength to say yes."

Kenyatta says she wasn't happy, but then she came around.

All 65 members of the House LGBTQ Equality Caucus are Democrats.

Both, Frankel and Kenyatta noted several Republicans did vote with them in favor of an anti-discrimination law, which nonetheless fell a few votes shy of passing.

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