Melissa has the story at the City Paper.
She covered the Allegheny County Council hearing on a proposed Human Rights Commission. She talked to pro-ordinance folks. She talked to anti-ordinance folks. She considers multiple angles on the gay rights versus religious freedoms issues. All in all, she does a pretty good job covering the event.
Seriously? In four paragraphs, she nailed a story the Post-Gazette completely botched.
On a well-below-freezing night, hundreds of people lined up to make their way through a painfully slow security check at the county courthouse. They filled every seat in the fourth floor's Gold Room, and scores more stood in the hallway waiting for a chance to get in.
Typically, seats at county council hearings are at no such premium. But this was no typical hearing.
The topic at hand was a proposed county ordinance, Bill 4201-08, which seeks to establish a county-wide human-relations commission that would bar discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as such less-controversial bases as race or disability. While such discrimination is already illegal in the city of Pittsburgh, and 13 other municipalities statewide, federal anti-discrimination laws don't apply to LGBT citizens at all.
The bill was introduced in July by freshman councilor Amanda Green. Eighty-five people pre-registered to speak, and 65 actually did, 48 in favor of the ordinance and 17 against it. Those against the ordinance — clergy, physicians, parents and small-business owners — overwhelmingly cited religious objections. People speaking for the ordinance included gays, lesbians, transmen and transwomen, high school students, psychiatrists, elected officials and clergy.
See how deftly she reminds us that some clergy support it and some are opposed, unlike the Post-Gazette's sensational muckraking attempts to reduce this to Family Feud: Homos v Fundies edition.
There's nothing new hear except a willingness on the part of the City Paper to put this political turn of events into the context of the much more ballyhooed drama unfolding at Club Pittsburgh. The CP at leasts considers the fact that a multiple-day, front page Post-Gazette story just might have some impact or connection to gay politics.
Of course it does!
The same fear mongering that drives people underground to have anonymous sex also motivates people to stand up in front of hundreds of people claiming that they can't possibly have gay people living in their apartment buildings. FEAR. The same titillation factor that generates headline after headline with sly references to “gay sex” generates robo calls to Councilpersons about the gays recruiting innocent Boy Scouts, comandeering the ladies changing room at Kmart and destroying our entire legal system with frivolous law suits about lesbian hair cuts. FEAR. FEAR. FEAR.
This is precisely why I urge you to keep a few things in mind. Pay attention to media coverage of gay issues. It does help shape public opinion. Support independent local media. Ask questions. Challenge the status quo. Shake some trees. Yes, you might end up with some angry gay people who are relying on privileges of their skin color, gender and socioeconomic status to offset the gay card, but so be it.
By the way, I was interested in the affinities of the speakers. I for one am not going to patronize a businessowner that is willing to work alongside the gays but not have them in his house. I'll have the list of speakers for you as soon as possible.