About Us



Welcome to Pennsylvania Equality Project


The Pennsylvania Equality Project is the largest grassroots organization in Pennsylvania fighting for LGBTQ civil rights. At both the federal and state levels of government, we seek an end to discrimination, a ban on conversion therapy, protection from bullying for students and teachers in schools, and fairness and equality under the laws of Pennsylvania and the United States.



Our History & Mission Statement

PEP Banner

Founded in 2011, Marriage Equality for Pennsylvania was initially an organization dedicated to fighting for and winning equal marriage rights for same-sex couples living in Pennsylvania. On May 20, 2014, Judge John Jones of the Central Pennsylvania federal district ordered that same-sex couples be granted the same marriage rights as opposite-sex couples. With the victory in Court, came the need to change the name of the organization.

Now known as the Pennsylvania Equality Project or PEP for short, the organization remains committed to raising awareness of equal rights issues across Pennsylvania. We do this through our newsletter, petitions, rallies, and attending intersectional events with other organizations across the Commonwealth. We remain committed to providing as much information for the LGBTQ community as possible. In an effort to remain as transparent as possible, our Revised By-laws are available for download by clicking the button above. They are awaiting Board approval at our quarterly meeting on February 17, 2020. If you have comments, questions, or concerns, please contact us at info@paequality.com.

The Pennsylvania Equality Project (PEP) seeks to end legal discrimination based on real or perceived sexual and gender identity. Furthermore PEP also seeks to end maltreatment against people within the LGBTQ+ community. PEP is working with other organizations to ban conversion therapy on minors in Pennsylvania. PEP’s goal is to secure equal and equitable treatment under the law for all Pennsylvanians regardless of ethnic heritage, sexual and/or gender identity, age, or race, disability, and take any appropriate actions toward that goal.

Where we have been (2011 – 2014)

Between 2011 and 2014, many advocates and activists from across Pennsylvania joined our organization, which was then known as Marriage Equality for Pennsylvania. In Harrisburg, Katie Somers served as our press liaison to legislative leaders in Harrisburg. In Connellsville, Fayette County PA, Paula Johnston formed the Southwest PA Region of the organization. She led rallies and demonstrations in a part of Pennsylvania not accustomed to such events. In 2012 and 2013, Paula held Valentine’s Day events at the Fayette County Courthouse. She has been involved with the LGBTQ civil rights movement for many years. As a result, she won the Equality Award in 2014 for her activism. In Edinboro, Joshua Szczesny was the co-founder of Marriage Equality for PA, having organized more than 15 events across Pennsylvania in 2013 alone. He worked with local area bands in Scranton and held a Ska concert for marriage equality. He also marched on the Capitol in Harrisburg in 2013. Joshua Kratz served as the Executive Director for the organization. During his tenure, he organized several events in the Pittsburgh area, and put together many of the brochures and other pieces of literature used at Pride Events in 2012 and 2013. Tom Hall served as our local liaison in Philadelphia and advocated for marriage equality at City Hall among his other duties. The efforts of these men and women are not forgotten by our organization. Listed below are the other winners of the Equality Award given by Marriage Equality for Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Equality Project.

It Passed

Equality Award Winners 2017

The following people were awarded the Pennsylvania Equality Project’s Equality Award for 2017: Caitlyn Strohmeyer (President, TransFamily of NWPA), Jason Landau Goodman (Executive Director, Pennsylvania Youth Congress) David Moore (President and Founder, Pennsylvania Equality Project), and the Lifetime Achievement Award Janice Rael (Advocate and Activist).

Equality Award Winners 2016

The following people were named Equality Award winners for 2016: Michael Mahler (Editor, Erie Gay News), Daylin Leach (PA State Senator).

Equality Award Winners 2013 – 2015

The following people were awarded the Pennsylvania Equality Project or Marriage Equality for Pennsylvania Equality Award between 2013 and 2015: John Fetterman (Mayor of Braddock, PA and now PA Lt. Governor), D. Bruce Hanes (Clerk of the Orphans Court, Montgomery County, PA) State Representative Brian Sims (Philadelphia) Paula Johnston, ME4PA SWPA Regional Leader.

On May 20, 2014, federal district court Judge John Jones III issued a ruling in which he declared that marriage is a fundamental right, and to exclude same-sex couples violates the US Constitution. He emphasized his hope that one day, laws that cause discrimination would be discarded into the dustbin of history.

Where we are going

On July 16, 2018, the Pennsylvania Equality Project, Inc. formally incorporated as a corporation in PA; on September 18, 2019, the organization received its 501c3 status as a purely public charity organization. Beginning in June 2019, we launched our first of what would become many surveys to gather data about the LGBTQ population in Pennsylvania. The topics for the survey thus far have included: discrimination, coming out, bullying, and a needs assessment of all LGBTQ people in Pennsylvania. We intend to use this information for our next important task which is to open a community resource and drop-in center in Meadville, Pennsylvania. We will be sharing our ideas, and seeking input in the coming months. For now, we ask all our supporters to help us continue to grow. Participate in our surveys, read our upcoming newsletter, and join our mailing list. You can contact us by using the information in the footer of any page of our website.


Update August 24, 2021: After a successful Erie Gives Day 2021 in conjunction with the Erie Community Foundation and the Nonprofit Partnership, we are excited to be participating in Crawford Gives 2021 with the numerous other nonprofit organizations located here in Crawford County. Please take a moment to click on their link and become a donor on August 30 – 31.