Post-Gazette Ignores Trans Community When It Comes To Discrimination

When I saw the headline “Jurassic Legislature: As gays marry, lawmakers won’t protect their rights” I cringed. I thought to myself as I opened the link “please let them get it right, please let them get it right.”

BOOM. They got it so very wrong.

The poor performance of the state Legislature has a number of telltale markers, but its refusal to amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to address discrimination based on sexual orientation has lately become one of the most glaring. It has added unfairness to the list of legislative failings.

They forget gender identity and gender expression. No mention of those classes at all. No mention of people who are bisexual or transgender at all.

No mention. Not only is this a horrible, divisive mentality, but it is factually wrong.

Fact – HB 300 and SB 300 includes gender identity and gender expression. Passing a bill to cover sexual orientation without these categories is not on the table. Nor should it be. Facts, Post-Gazette. Facts are good.

Fact – HB 300 is not about marriage equality. We are the only marriage equality state that does NOT have statewide non-discrimination protections. That’s how we end up losing domestic partner benefits and being screwed if we don’t rush out to get gay married right away – even though we might actually face discrimination if we do.

The inconsistency in the Post-Gazette’s coverage is dismaying. The ship is listing to the right, weighed down by denial of reality and a lack of informed sources. It is especially dismaying given the terrific piece Michael Fuoco produced on the local trans community earlier in this year.  I truly do not understand how Reg Henry and Tony Norman participate in these decisions. Rest assured, I’ve invited them and many other members of the media to meet the larger community, not just those most prominent or likely to present themselves. And both men have columns to address these issues.

Sexual orientation will not protect my Ledcat when she’s confronted about using bathrooms because she’s wearing gender neutral clothing and has short hair. Sexual orientation will not help trans residents who struggle with unemployment numbers twice those of the general population or poverty rates that are horrible. Sexual orientation does not cover our entire community and is not acceptable.

I refuse to allow these tacit suggestions that the lesbian and gay community turn our backs on our siblings and neighbors go unchallenged. It does matter. We cannot allow ourselves to be divided or to even hint that this is an acceptable tradeoff to gain protections for ourselves. We cannot capitulate to mainstream media that rejects facts in favor of headline bait.

I invoke my right to parody to make my point. Ahem.

The poor performance of the state Legislature largest newspaper in Western PA has a number of telltale markers, but its refusal to amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act include gender identity and gender expression to address discrimination based on sexual orientation has lately become one of the most glaring. It has added unfairness to the list of legislative media failings.

Worse yet, lawmakers editors have no excuse. Thanks to the ruling of a federal judge, this year same-sex couples have finally been allowed to marry and they have rushed to do so. Public opinion hasn’t condemned them; indeed, the self-evident joy of these unions has largely drained the controversy. What seemed to some as strange has quickly become commonplace.

In light of this sea change in social attitudes, the principle that LGBT people gays and lesbians should be able to live normal lives with the same legal rights as others shouldn’t even be an issue. But in the Paris of Appalachia state Capitol, those charged with the future of Pennsylvania still work as if their calendars never advance from the past and its musty old prejudices.

For the remnant still operating on those old hatreds, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act GLAAD media guide has long prohibited described certain practices of discrimination — such as in employment, housing and public accommodation — because of such factors as race, color, religious creed, ancestry, handicap or disability, age, sex or national origin. It is now entirely logical to add sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to this list.

The measures to do this are House Bill 300 and Senate Bill 300. But as the Post-Gazette reported Sunday, these vehicles for progress have gone nowhere. They might as well be in the pound, because they’ve sat in committees for over a year.

A new era has arrived, but it’s the same old, same old from Harrisburg. Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, the Republican from Cranberry the Post-Gazette editorial board known for his hostility to gays, queer people other than gay men stands ready to do nothing as chairman of the House State Government Committee, editor of the paper where HB 300 fair and accurate coverage has gone to die.

Religious freedom is already protected by the legislation. So we wrote six articles about Franklin Graham. As with so much else it can’t bring itself to do, the Legislature the Post-Gazette has no excuse for still thinking some Pennsylvanians don’t deserve the same protections as others. No excuse, just shame.

 

Shame on you, Post-Gazette Editorial Board. Shame on you.

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