Sunday, June 5
by Sue on Sun 05 Jun 2011 11:53 AM EDT
Target is holding a shareholder meeting here in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, June 8, 2011. This is the first such meeting since the corporation donated $150,000 to support an anti-gay candidate in their election bid.
There was immediate backlash. It is a terrible contradiction to tell us you want our shopping dollars and support us, then try to elect someone who denies us our basic equal rights. More on the donation specifics here. These donations are tricky, but understand that this was from the actual company. Executives within the company also made personal donations (including one from the CEO to Michelle Bachmann) which are troubling, but there's a little more gray when it comes to choices made by employees. The $150,000 donation came from the profits WE generate by shopping at the store, not the salaries of the employees.
Groups have united to plan a protest at the meeting on Wednesday, 12 PM at the new store site in East Liberty (you can't miss it).
Participating organizations include: Keystone Progress, Common Cause, Action United, Delta Foundation, We Are One Pennsylvania.
So why does this matter? Here's the perspective from Common Cause
The LGBTQ community should take heed of this. It is not a coincidence that they chose to support Tom Emmer, a State Rep running for Governor of Minnesota. It was a calculated decision that probably had to do with business, but conveniently overlooked Emmer's strong stance against marriage equality, LGBTQ parentings, and his affiliation with an "incendiary" Christian group. This man was much more Darryl Metcalfe than Tom Corbett if I can make so bold a continuum.
If you work in the East End or can get away for a bit mid-day, please make an effort to head to East Liberty and send a message. Let them know you are paying attention. We can't stop corporations from making huge financial donations to the 2012 elections. Do you want Target funding anti-equality candidates in Western Pennsylvania?
My post on personal choices around boycotting Target and other companies ... another time. It is constructive to know we can participate without the interminable inner struggle about where we spend our dollars. So let's take advantage of this opportunity, queer Pittsburgh, and send a message. We are paying attention.
Wednesday, June 1
by Sue on Wed 01 Jun 2011 03:11 PM EDT
I'm a little behind the curve, but kudos to Easton, Pennsylvania for doing what Allegheny County leadership won't by extending domestic partner benefits to your employees. Yes, I mention Allegheny County because I was genuinely shocked to read that only 5 municipalities across Pennsylvania have addressed this equal rights issue, especially given how many private sector employers offer these as a matter of routine. Allegheny County is woefully behind the ball with regard to the economic development indicator.
We should note that the Commonwealth provides domestic partner benefits. Truth be told, this is only half the battle. If the climate isn't LGBTQ-friendly in the workplace, people aren't going to out themselves to access these benefits. Another somewhat shocking fact is that not every public employee union affiliated with the City of Pittsburgh has added domestic partner benefits to their contracts. More than fifteen years after the City first offered them. What the heck is going on in those labor halls that they either don't have LGBTQ members OR those who are there aren't being taken care of? That's a black mark on labor.
It is imperative that we continue to work for employees paid with our tax dollars to access health insurance and other benefits for their families. That's a given in my book. However, we must also continue to push for LGBTQ-friendly ordinances -- and the statewide ordinance -- to provide workplace protections. The two go hand in hand.
I don't have a link, so I'll publish the press release in its entirety courtesy of the PA Diversity Network. One thing I did find on their website is a running list of LGBTQ municipal legislation. That's worth a read.
Tuesday, May 24
by Sue on Tue 24 May 2011 01:48 PM EDT
Bethlehem gave preliminary approval to the establishment of a local Human Relations Commission and the inclusion of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression as protected classes. A final vote is set for June.
Not so fast.
Steadfast sponsors of the bill voted against it as amended because it would have no investigatory powers (???) and allow for very sweeping exemptions based on religion.
This is why we need to work dilgently to amend the statewide HRC to include these classes and close up these idiotic loopholes for bigotry. Loopholes for bigotry sounds like a comedy sketch band name, doesn't it?
by Sue on Tue 24 May 2011 12:04 PM EDT
Yesterday, Tenneessee Governor Bill Haslam signed into law a bill that prohibits TN municipalities from having stronger anti-discrimination laws than are in place statewide. This means Nashville's provisions including sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression as protected classes are invalid. No new laws can be passed unless on a statewide level.
Controversy has erupted in the corporate community as LGBTQ organizations respond to the TN Chamber of Commerce decision to support the legislation. Well, to be fair, when it was too late to actually stop the legislation, the Chamber changed its mind. Many of the coporations represented on the Chamber Board have been commended for their inclusive and anti-discriminination policies. Garden State Equality has rescinded planned honors for AT&T, Pfizer and KPMG which would have been awarded at their upcoming June 25 Legends dinner.
This is serious stuff. Imagine if this where to take hold of some Pennsylvania minds? Rolling back hard fought anti-discrimination ordinances across Pennsylvania would be devastating. We have 20 municipalities that have addressed discrimination in their communities; Tennessee had one (Nashville). I'm not sure how viable it would be to undo the work of 20 municipalities. But it bears a moment's pause.
It has been intriuguing, though, how the LGBTQ community has been working within the corporate community to hold them accountable for walking the walk. You can still chime in on this issue. Americablog Gay has a list of Facebook and Twitter accounts of corporations involved in this decision where you can share your thoughts. It is interesting to see people diligently post comments in unrelated threads as the corporations try to tighten up controls on their FB walls.
Here's another post on how the companies responded after their complicity was exposed to the light of day (not necessarily when they were first made aware of the legislation, mind you). Blue Cross didn't do such a stellar job of responding. ALCOA stepped up.
When you think about a little story about Chick-Fil-A donating a few sandwiches and a few months later, corporate honors are being rescinded because of social advocacy failures ... you might wonder where the future of corporate accountability might take us.
Monday, May 9
by Sue on Mon 09 May 2011 03:28 PM EDT
Over the past few days, bloggers have taken note of a piece by Andy Birkey in The American Independent describing a carefully planned campaign by "Family Policy Councils" in now Republican controlled states. Essentially, an infusion of cash from an unidentified source will fund a three prong approach:
This quasi-relationship issue is nothing new to PFI which made headlines earlier in the year by partnering with Chick-Fil-A to sponsor a marriage workshop in Central PA, a workshop that fits smack into the larger context of the IGNITE plan. While Chick-Fil-A denied formal affiliations with anti-marriage groups, the blog Good As You found close ties between the company's philanthropic wing and organizations such as the National Organizations for Marriage.
Chick-Fil-A corporate has tried to parse the situation so as to create a wall between their investment of "marriage strengthening resources" and their desire to sell you a chicken sandwich without judgment. It is artifice at its most dangerous because most people still think they were simply donating a few chicken sandwiches to a local church event.
My suspicions were raised when PFI announced that their annual dinner would take place in Cranberry Township, an affluent suburb about 40 minutes north of Pittsburgh. Cranberry is home to Pennsylvania State Representative Darryl Metcalfe, a tea partish uber-conservative with a long history of anti-gay initiatives. Metcalfe is also chair of the powerful State Government Committee and recently introduced legislation to pass a Marriage Amendment in PA. The most recent attempts to write bigotry into our Constitution were rebuffed (2008 and 2010) at the committee level. Metcalfe's current's chairmanship coupled with a newly elected Republican Governor and shifts in the composition of the Legislature make this battle more threatening.
Things just seem a little too cosy.
Getting back to Ignite, PFI's annual operating budget averages $1.4 million yet they plan to spend $1.5 million over the next 18 months. In December 2010, they announced a matching pledge drive to raise $7500 which Birkey says was successful, but the source of the matching funds remains anonymous. Coupled with similar grants around the country, the numbers start to really add up. Where is this money coming from? These groups aren't saving that much by scraping up chicken sandwich donations, my friends.
The plan itself is somewhat uniform.
Here's a little more detailed glimpse into what PFI has in mind . (Click on image for larger view)
Full brochure is attached below.
Plans include marriage seminars, supporting legislators that promote their agendas and concerted focus on choice and the marriage amendment.
PFI has launched the marriage workshops, invited anti-choice darling Lila Rose to be their keynote speaker, hosted a large event in Metcalfe's backyard and got a seed grant of $7500 from an anonymous source. There's a plan at work here and one that potentially involves the investment of millions. The plan is in motion and the Marriage Amendment is just one strand.
There's a pattern amidst these threads ... Metcalfe, Cranberry, Chick-Fil-A, Winshape Foundation (Chick-Fil-A foundation), the Cathy family which owns Chick-Fil-A. Is the Winshape Foundation and their larger partners behind the donations? Is Metcalfe one of the "statesmen" PFI lauds in their brochure?
I hope progressives continue to dig. Chick-Fil-A went on a PR frenzy to convince you to keep buying chicken sandwiches and milkshakes and waffle fries. If there's more to that particular relationship, we need to know.
The money came from somewhere and isn't limited to Pennsylvania. Birkey's piece details goings on in South Dakota, West Virginia, Indiana, Louisiana, Arizona and Florida.
The source of these anonymous seed grants matters, but the bigger issue is the fact that our opponents are in the trenches and they are well funded on multiple fronts. The current PFI blog posts focus on school choice and abortion. These are hot topics in the Corbett Administration.
It also illustrates the need to build coalitions and pool our resources. When I read that PFI plans to target half a million on three issues, one of which is the marriage amendment, I believe we need to broaden the scope of our own individual agendas. Destroying the public school system, for example, will not be good for children in LGBTQ families and/or children who identify as LGBTQ.
Please continue to pay attention. Elections are right around the corner and you can make an impact by electing (or retaining) progressive women and men. We need to support the attacks on labor, public education, health care, reproductive justice as vigilantly as we defend our community. Finally, we need to pay attention to the well-laid plans of those who would deny us our freedom and liberties.
Friday, May 6
by Sue on Fri 06 May 2011 02:37 PM EDT
It is hard to keep up with the good stuff, but I'm sure you want to know about it ....
Wednesday, May 4
by Sue on Wed 04 May 2011 09:06 PM EDT
(scroll down for links to the 2011 Blog for Equality participating blogs)
I'm sad that we need to rally the troops once again to stand up against yet another attempt to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution in order to "protect marriage." Sigh. But I'm happy the troops are there to be rallied.
Here's how it works
- Your post should be up before or on Tuesday, May 10, 2011
- Any blogger can participate.
- Write a blog post on any angle of the issue that you like (or don't like). Length is not important.
- Contact me (email, twitter, facebook) with a link so we can track participation.
- Spread the word to other bloggers who might want to chime in.
In my recent half dozen posts, you'll find more details including the 5 Western PA legislators serving on the relevant committee alongside the legislation's sponsor and committee chair, Daryl Metcalfe - R, Cranberry. Let me know if you need more details.
- This is the Equality Pennsylvania petition to which you may want to direct your readers.
- This is the link to the actual bill should you find that helpful.
That's it! Once your post is up, please use your social media tools to spread the word. I can attest that these "swarms" are read over and over and over again throughout the year. Together we can send a message to Pennsylvania that the lives of LGBTQ persons are not political fodder.
Thanks to Maria at 2 Political Junkies for logo design.
FWIW, there are four separate pieces of legislation that are LGBTQ+ on hate crimes, civil unions, marriage equality and civil rights protections. I am looking forward to sprinkling some of that goodness into the conversation.
2011 Participants **New contributors for 2011
Einstein's Desk ** Blog for Equality Day
Angels of Sodom ** Blog for Equality '11
2 Political Junkies - Dayvoe Blog for Equality Day
2 Political Junkies - Maria Signs of Spring in PA
The Pittsburgh Comet Trib is Succinct, Eloquent on Topic of Liberty
Burgh Baby ** An Equal Opportunity to Suck Face
topherhoff ** Blog for Equality Day 2011 - Pittsburgh
intense chaos ** Blog for Equality
Thomas C. Waters ** LGBT Equality in PA: Far from a reality
Examiner.com (A.J. Mayowski)** Equality and the Killer
Six Kitties (Ledcat) Blog for Equality Day 2011
A Spork in the Drawer The Thing Is, They're Losing and They Know It
After the Bridge Blog for Equality Day
PGH is a City Blog for Equality Redux
Three Rivers Anthology ** Blog for Equality Day
Amadi Talks Blog for Equality Pittsburgh 2011: Here We Go Again
Ms. Mon's Salon A Reminder That We Are All Created Equal
Deal Snob Pittsburgh Blog for Equality Day May 10, 2011 (Blog for Fairness)
The Radical Middle In Honor of Blog For Equality Day
Here's What I Have To Say ** Blog for Marriage Equality Day
The Narrative in the Blog sent in this submission a little late, but very welcomed! Blog for Equality Day 2011
Other links of note:
The Tribune Review Editorial Board: "But constitutions are not for denying rights; they're for enumerating them. This is poor form, the antithesis of liberty, and the effort should be rejected."
Other shout outs to note:
by Sue on Wed 04 May 2011 11:23 AM EDT
They have a fancy new website which makes it easier for me to find the press releases since they keep kicking me off their email lists ...
On HB 1434
The word "marriage" is the issue. Marriage a legal term used to describe a civil institution. I want access to that institution. I don't give a hoot about the religious constructs of marriage. But there's no way to parse the word and people who think we can magically come up with a solution which satisfies everyone are thinking desperately. No one is coming to take over the church ceremonies. Relax and save your hysteria for the natural gas companies where it is well deserved.
Setting aside the other LGBT legislation, I just shake my head that so many issues will go unaddressed while elected officials rally around this. I'm sure it will be the toast of Cranberry Township tomorrow night when Metcalfe, the Pennsylvania Family Institute and rightwing darling Lila Rose will be gathering for the PFI Annual Dinner. I wish I had ability to infiltrate. With a Flip Cam.
by Sue on Wed 04 May 2011 10:49 AM EDT
UPDATE: I didn't dig deep enough when I originally posted. Western PA Reps Krieger and Mustio also cosponsor this legislation. My apologies.
Metcalfe's plan to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution begins in the State Government Committee of which he is the Majority Chair. As Chair, he has the power to bring the amendment to a committee vote. It would be best to squelch that and you can help by contacting the other members of the committee.
The message is very clear. There are many more important issues than this and we need our elected officials to focus their time and energy on them -- the economy, transportation, taxes, health care, the environment, etc.
Note that there are several Southwestern PA committe members. It is not too early to galvanize your networks to make the calls and make it personal -- people in our neighborhoods need jobs, healthcare, focus on energy issues, education, etc. The links will take you to the reps contact page - phone, email, webforms, etc. Just a few clicks if you live in Moon or Penn Township and you can help put this divisive issue aside to focus on your family priorities.
Seth Grove - York County
Jim Cox - Berks County
Matt Gabler - Clearfield and Elks Counties
Linda Schlegel Culver - Northumberland and Snyder Counties
George Dunbar - Westmoreland County (Jeannette, North Huntington, Penn Twp, Irwin, North Irwin, Penn)
Eli Evankovich - Armstrong and Westmoreland Counties (New Kensington, Penn Township, Murrysville, Upper Burrell, Lower Burrell, Allegheny Township, Arnold, Export, Bethel Township, Cadogan Township, Parks Township, and Gilpin Township)
Glen Grell - Cumberland County
Marcia Hahn - Northampton County
Rob Kauffman - Cumberland and Franklin Counties
Jerry Knowles - Berks and Schuykill Counties
Timothy Krieger - Westmoreland County (Greensburg, Hempfield Twp, Delmont Borough, Hunker Borough, New Stanton Borough, Salem Township, South Greensburg Borough, Southwest Greensburg Borough. Unity Twp, Youngwood Borough) **COSPONSOR**
T. Mark Mustio - Allegheny County (Aleppo Twp, Ben Avon Heights, Collier Twp, Edgeworth, Findlay Twp, Haysville, Kilbuck Twp, Moon Twp, North Fayette Twp, Ohio Twp, Osborne, Robinson Twp, Sewickley, Sewickley Heights, Sewickley Hills) **COSPONSOR**
Brad Roae - Crawford County
Jerry Stern - Blair County
Babette Josephs (Minority Chair) - Philadelphia County
Tony Payton, Jr. - Philadelphia County
Steve Samuelson - Lehigh and Northhampton Counties
Greg Vitali - Delaware County
Tim Briggs - Montgomery County
Eugene DePasquale - Montgomery County
Florindo FaBrizio - Erie County
Kenyatta Johnson - Philadelphia County
Eddie Day Pashinski - Lucerne County
Steven Santarsierio - Bucks County
by Sue on Wed 04 May 2011 09:40 AM EDT
From the Trib ...
It is a bit challenging to come up with someonething new about this one other than quiet disgust. John Morgan at The Pennsylvania Progressive plans to out closeted legislators who cast any affirmative vote on this one.
While we can hope this illustrates the distance between Metcalfe and the "rest" of the Republicans, I suspect this will not go quietly into the good night. Democrats have voted for this in previous terms so we can take nothing for granted.
Please take a moment to sign the petition up at Equality Pennsylvania's site.