From the PG: Gay Marriage And Domestic Partner Registry and oh something from the City Paper, too

That title reflects exactly how creative I feel this morning.  I had weird dreams all night in which I was a character in the soap opera, The Young & The Restless only the other characters included a ghost, Jim from Taxi and Freddie Prinze, Sr.  I kept asking everyone to marry me (they all wore red pullover sweaters over a white tee shirt) and nobody would.  I did help find the missing little girl who had built herself a snow cave with the help of the ghost (help with the cave, not the finding).  Then Ana woke me up. 

So … Happy New Year, correspondees!  🙂

In the Post-Gazette, there's a warm-intended letter to the editor from Amy Bucciere of Center “reframing” the issue of gay marriage.

The legal system of rights, tax breaks, inheritance, etc., of two people united as a family is an institution often called civil union. Historically, marriage and civil union have been considered one and the same.

The unconscious melding of these two institutions — one religious, one legal — no longer works and unfairly sets religious leaders and gay rights supporters against one another. Each group is often caricatured as extreme, hateful and prejudicial in defending their own reasonable and worthy points of view.

I challenge legislators to reframe the question. Marriages, granted by religious institutions, and civil unions, granted by the government, must be teased apart. To “marry” or partner, each couple, regardless of sexuality, will appeal to both their religious institution and their governmental institution to sanction the pairing.

This way, religious freedoms and civil rights are fully intact according to our long-held and vitally necessary edict — the separation of church and state.

Amy's intentions are noble, but I'm not she has been paying attention as I think the church-driven anti-marriage group is very much in favor of religious social structures being fused into the American legal system.  It is how they want to continue to exert power and control, especially over people who don't agree with them. 

I think there should be a distinction between partnerships and marriage.  Some people live intentionally without the institution of marriage.  They deserve a word, too, as much as they deserve the freedom to marry.  I also deserve a word and that same freedom.  Marriage comes bestows more than 1,000 federal and state rights on a couple.  That's the kind of equality I'm talking about.

Speaking of partnerships, the PG's Rich Lord takes a look back at 2008 in terms of City functionality.  He uses the following as a soft example of one success of Mayoral/Council partnership.  Ahem.

By contrast, registry of domestic partnerships, including long-term gay relationships, passed council and won the mayor's signature. There was no rush to register. In the second half of the year, just four couples signed up, according to city Personnel Department records.

How sad that this sets the tone for City triumphs for the year.  The office of Bruce Kraus told me that six couples, four LGBT and two heterosexual, have registered but perhaps Rich and I checked into this at different times.  What Lord probably had edited from his story by some snippy editor is the sentence explaining that the City Personnel Department did not inform couples previously registered with the City (as employees) of the new opportunity.  There's the lack of “follow through” as cited by City Council President Doug Shields. The Mayor signed the bill, got the carefully orchestrated photo op (just the right balance of white gay male supporters) to enhance his queer street cred and then proceeded not to renounce his opposition to civil unions. Meanwhile, he sets up plans for an Advisory Board but refuses to answer any questions about it. Quite a triumphant moment for our City in terms of political achievement (not) and gay rights (ha).

Over at the City Paper, long-time supporters of the queers (in a fair and balanced way), Marty Levine writes up the latest goings on at the County level.  As reported earlier, the County is facing some an opportunity to provide basic civil rights protections to the LGBTQ community.  Levine focuses in on efforts by the wingnuts and their head wing, Ms. Diane Gramley, to undermine support of the ordinance based on fear and ignorance.  The quotes from County Councilman Michael Finnerty and Matt Drozd do not give me much hope for the power of logic and reality to persuade.

One of the defections is Scott Township Democrat Michael Finnerty, who now says state law “gives adequate protection and we don't have to start to single out another group or groups.” Finnerty says his mind was changed by “a lot of the e-mails I have seen” from constituents, “especially from church groups.” Those opposed to the measure outnumbered those in favor approximately 30 to 3, he says. “I got phone calls from businesspeople who don't want to have this gender expression [included], to be held to that. People could put in a job application, turn around and sue” over a spurious claim of gender-expression discrimination.

“People's human rights are always a high priority – don't get me wrong,” says county Councilor Matt Drozd, who pulled his co-sponsorship of the legislation. But he added, “This is not a high priority now. This will take us more time and take away from the pressing issues this county faces. Roads that aren't repaired. Bridges that aren't repaired. People who are losing their homes. Let's talk about them.” He labeled the move “controversial” and said it required further study.

OK, as I'm quoted saying later in the article, Finnerty is just WRONG that existing law is good enough. And Drozd … when exactly does human rights become a high priority — when the tanks rolls?  I mean, WTF?  People are losing their homes, but there are plenty of gay people who can't get a home in the first place. 

Here's what Drozd probably meant to say, but just got so excited that anyone from a newspaper called him that he forgot. “I'm concerned that my constituents who are part of the LGBT community (he probably wouldn't include Q so I'm just trying to be accurate) may be experiencing discrimination or treated unfairly when they seek the same basic rights as any other family — the security of employment, a safe place to live, etc.  Discrimination – in any form – hurts the fabric of the entire community and I think this issue warrants close attention from my colleagues.”  <this is a made up quote in case you didn't get that>

So, the glove has hit the floor my dear friends.  Do we wait until the tanks roll and all the bridges are fixed to get on Matt Drozd's radar or do you get yourself down to the Big Queer Rally on Saturday, January 10 from 2 – 4 PM to make a statement about what's on your radar, especially come election time? 

Happy New Year!

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