A representative from the Mayor's office will be meeting with representatives from various LGBT organizations and entities to discuss the composition of the new Advisory Council. While the Mayor's planning team has reached out to Leadership Pittsburgh, LP will not be playing any part in the formation of the council. That's regrettable as the process for establishing a brand new advisory entity would be strengthened by more transparency and some unbiased perspective. LP will work on structural and procedural issues. Still, I think that first step would make this seem more legitimate.
There are whispers (and snickers) from multiple corners that this advisory council is just a empty gesture or an attempt for Luke to appear more progressive as he faces reelection and lays the groundwork for his next political steps. My personal concern is that this board is going to be packed with Luke supporters (mostly gay white male business owners who need a good relationship with the sitting Mayor) and a few handpicked token Ls Bs and Ts.
Call me cynical if you will, but I'm willing to be wrong on this. I hope I'm wrong on this and certain individuals don't sit on the Advisory Council, creating real opportunity for fresh new voices to engage the Mayor's team on these issues. It isn't as if he is going to stop paying attention to his donors.
What could we reasonably expect from the Administation? Well, we can expect that LGBT civil protections and domestic partner benefits are integral to any City-County merger discussion.
We can expect that the Mayor take a better look at the internal climate of his employees and determine how LGBT friendly it is. Really is. Do a survey. Look at DP benefit applications. Figure it out. At least try.
We can expect the Equal Employment Opportunities manager, Tamiko Stanley, will work to recruit LGBT employees, a task that goes hand in hand with creating a more gay-sustainable work climate.
We can expect more appointments of LGBT city residents to boards and commissions and not just the art related ones.
We can talk about increasing sensitivity training for First Responders, but also receptionists and other front line staff with whom one's gay status might come up in conversation while seeking services or information.
We can expect the Mayor to hire an openly queer person in his office. Not someone that everyone “knows” is gay. A person who claims his or her gay identity with pride and dignity.
We can expect the Mayor to pay attention to the plight of the GLCC and step up to ensure this vital institution finds a new home.
I can expect that other bloggers will stop having stories to share about Mayoral staff making gay-bashing comments and/or being completely threatened by the slightest hint that they aren't 100% virile manly women-loving men.
We can expect that at the next ACDC gay meeting, Luke will show up and answer tough questions. Not send a surrogate.
We can expect access to the Mayor at events and meetings where this is opportunity for real contact, not just social events and parades.
We can expect something meaningful. A change in the City culture. Perhaps that's a tall order, but City Council has done the work on civil protections and domestic benefits. Now it is up to Luke to execute all of that into a City that truly integrates the LGBTQ community across the board.
So, we need to all turn up and submit names for this board that aren't the usual round of folks. I have two in mind. Who are you going to nominate?