Today, a coalition of LGBTQ+ grassroots activists, campaign professionals, allies, and elected officials announced the creation of a political action committee dedicated to LGBTQ+ rights.
The organization, called Agenda PAC, intends to challenge politicians and incumbents who oppose LGBTQ+ rights through targeted activities. Its mission is to not only hold anti-LGBTQ+ politicians accountable but also to defend LGBTQ+ elected officials and create an aggressive paid communications campaign, the organization says.
In the wake of the Dobbs decision in which the conservative Supreme Court repealed Roe v. Wade, and Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a concurring opinion that the court should reevaluate similar cases dealing with marriage equality and same-sex intimacy, out Pennsylvania Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta tells The Advocate that it’s beyond time to act.
“When Clarence Thomas wrote that concurrence, he welded together the freedom to love and to choose, which are both at great risk,” Kenyatta says.
He notes that some states have already moved to criminalize abortion while others are scrambling to take away the right of reproductive choice from their residents.
Agenda PAC will serve at the intersection of pro-LGBTQ+ and pro-choice action to fight against conservative attempts to undo the progress made over decades, according to a press release.
“We’re filling a gap and creating something that doesn’t exist right now, in terms of an entity that is completely focused on creating aggressive political campaigns going after these beatable bigots who are trying to take away our freedoms as LGBTQ+ folks and take away the right to choose on a number of different fronts,” Kenyatta says.
He adds that with the record number of anti-LGBTQ+ laws being introduced at all levels of government this year, it’s more evident than ever to bring the fight for LGBTQ+ rights to the doorstep of those who attack the LGBTQ+ community.
The organization plans to strategically fill this gap, put its resources into winnable electoral races, and move pro-LGBTQ+ donors, advocates, and activists to action, Agenda PAC says.
Kenyatta, who will serve as chairperson of the board, says he's focused on beating "all the beatable bigots," in the upcoming elections.
Joining Kenyatta on the founding team are political strategist Joe Trippi and pollster Celinda Lake. Also joining are Florida state Sen. Shevrin Jones, Nebraska state Sen. Megan Hunt, and North Dakota state Rep. Joshua Boschee. In addition, Ted Bordelon, who led the organizing of the PAC, will serve as executive director.
“Key demographics for Democrats – especially women – are being moved by the increased threats to freedoms we’ve seen ramp up after Roe and crystallized by Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurrence, and Democrats need more players like Agenda PAC to reach these voters,” Lake said in a statement.
The PAC’s first electoral priority will be defeating Mastriano – one of the most controversial candidates for governor nationally who has a history of anti-LGBTQ+ views and remarks. Mastriano was at the January 6th insurrection. He has said that marriage equality should “absolutely not” be legal, discrimination against gender identity should “absolutely not” be put into law, and LGBTQ+ people should not be allowed to adopt.
Kenyatta, who had rocketed into the national spotlight because of his role in defending Pennsylvania’s election results when Republicans in that state attempted to adjust the results of the 2020 general election in which Donald Trump lost the state, is the first out LGBTQ+ elected official of color in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
He says that since then, he’s received vile attacks and even death threats that needed to be investigated by police.
The experience has solidified his resolve to fight back, he says.
“The reality is, I have learned people don’t fight you when they think you’re losing,” Kenyatta says. “They fight you because they know that you are winning. They know that not only are we going to make the American promise accessible to all people. They know when we say all, we mean all people no matter who you love, no matter how you identify, and no matter who you are.”
Top photo: Pennsylvania state Rep Malcolm Kenyatta (L), Nebraska state Sen. Megan Hunt, Florida state Sen. Shevrin Jones, and North Dakota state Rep. Joshua Boschee.