Advocates for women’s equality lost a champion on August 28, 2009, with the death of Larry Frankel, former state lobbyist for the ACLU of Pennsylvania.
For sixteen years, Larry was the voice of civil liberties in Harrisburg. He was one of only a handful of public interest lobbyists there, one of a very few whose only currency is the force of their arguments. He excelled at marshaling facts to build his case for or against a piece of legislation. He was a pragmatic and creative strategist and a consummate bridge-builder who liked to make allies out of enemies. In an environment charged with partisan rancor, where civility is often in short supply, even his strongest opponents had nothing but praise for Larry.
We are most grateful to him for his devotion to women’s equality and for his tireless work on behalf of LGBT civil rights. Larry understood the primacy of reproductive rights and could be counted on to reject compromises that would weaken women’s reproductive freedom. With Stacey Sobel (formerly of Equality Advocates), he is correctly credited with stopping Pennsylvania’s headlong rush to amend its constitution to ban gay marriage and prevent recognition of non-marital relationships. It would be a fitting tribute to Larry’s vision of equality and justice if Pennsylvania were at long last to pass basic civil rights protections for LGBT people by banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression—a cause into which Larry poured years of his life.
The Women’s Law Project joins the ACLU and so many others in the community of mourners in Pennsylvania and beyond in remembering Larry with gratitude for his hard work and friendship. We will miss him.