Wednesday, January 30
by Sue on Wed 30 Jan 2008 10:41 PM EST
As you recall from Tuesday, City Council voted 7-0 to support state legislation including "sexual orientation" and "gender identity/gender expression" into the classes protected under the PA Human Relations Act. Motznik and Payne were out of the room during the vote, hence the 7.
My sources tell me that both Motznik and Payne co-sponsored this resolution, as did all of the other members of Council except Ricky Burgess. Burgess did vote in favor of the legislation. So, I am told, it is practically the same thing as a unanimous endorsement.
I guess. What do you think?
I'm still waiting to hear what happened in Harrisburg with the marriage amendment. You know that's one thing that really frustrates me -- we get these "hurry, hurry, hurry" messages from the lobbying groups with very concrete deadlines by which we must take action. Then, days and days go by with no follow-up, not even a simple acknowledgement. In the information age, that's unacceptable. We need better infrastructure. There's no weekly, much less daily, gay media source in Western Pennsylvania. Websites aren't being updated and voice mail boxes are full. Email messages go unacknowledged.
Here's what I would have liked on Wednesday. A blast email:
That's long been a downside to local LGBT everything -- communication does not filter from the top decision makers on down to the everyday homo.
The good news is that Diane Gramley hasn't updated me, either.
Monday, January 28
by Sue on Mon 28 Jan 2008 08:30 PM EST
From our friends at Steel City Stonewall Democrats comes word that 7 out of 9 members of City Council have agreed to support the proposed "Will of Council" which essentially gives a big thumbs up to state legislation that would include "sexual orientation" and gender identity and expression" as protected classes under the Human Relations Act. These protections already exist within the City; this action underscores that those protections have strengthened the City
Two aren't supporting it. That would be Councilman Dan Deasy of District 2 (which includes the neighborhoods of Banksville, Chartiers City, Crafton Heights, Duquene Heights, East Carnegie, Eliott, Esplen, Fairywood, Mount Washington, Oakwood, Ridgemont, and Sheraden). That would also be Councilman Ricky Burgess of District 9 (includes the neighborhoods of East Hills, East Liberty, Homewood, Larimer, Lincoln/Lemingon/Belmar, And Point Breeze North).
I can only speculate as to why either man would choose to stand silently by while this opportunity passes. Reverend Burgess is a former board member of the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force so it is inconceivable that he not be aware of the discrimination so many members of our community have faced in the housing market and on the job. Surely, he must have absorbed that the stigma of AIDS is deeply intertwined with the stigma of being gay and that a just society does not allow vulnerable individuals to go without a place to live or the means to feed their family simply because they don't fit in.
I believe unanimity is important on this issue. I have oft stated that Pittsburgh is a good place to be gay and that Pittsburgh's gay community strengthens the entire region. A hallmark of my belief rests on the legacy of this local piece of legislation that could. We have inherited a Mayor who does not believe in civil unions, but we do have the fortune to stand upon the shoulders of many activists who worked tirelessly to achieve this reform.
I'll be at work tomorrow when Council votes on this. Maybe someone can email me the outcome?
Friday, January 25
by Sue on Fri 25 Jan 2008 04:19 PM EST
Diane Gramley might be a bit worried about how awesome you guys have been about calling your State Senators to oppose the so-called protection of marriage amendment.
Here's what she shared with me today:
OK, so she shared it with her entire email distribution list. Having been part of that list for over two years, I sense a shift in tone. Gramley knows that people who might feel a little so-so on gay marriage are likely to be more sympathetic to extending civil protections in employment, housing and so forth to LGBT individuals and families.
So keep up the good work. If you haven't done so, call your Senator and ask s/he to oppose the Marriage Amendment. Ask them about the PA Human Relations Act.
Diane thinks you mean business. Prove her right.
by Sue on Fri 25 Jan 2008 01:56 PM EST
In today's Tribune Review, I found ample evidence of the need for our entire community and our allies to remain vigilant. It is a simple letter to the editor and I'm sure no one is surprised to read a pro-Catholic/anti-gay marriage letter there. Nonetheless, this letter isn't guised as some hysterical screed invoking horrific images of a thunderous God striking down the homo sinners.
For every such letter published, we must have multiple contacts with our elected officials and the general public. We need people to understand our issues and our lives and our stories.
Contact you senator today. You have to do it before Monday. It will take just a few moments of your time.
Now I'm going to enjoy a few chuckles at the expense of Mr. Merkovsky's oblivion with regard to marriage as an economic pact.
Thursday, January 24
by Sue on Thu 24 Jan 2008 03:29 PM EST
Just got word that City Council President Doug Shields will introduce a "Will of the Council" on Tuesday that will express the Council's support of HB 1400 which, along with SB 761, will amend the PA Human Relations Act to include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression" as protected classes.
From Council President Shields' statement:
This is an important gesture and one that deserves a unanimous vote. Please pick up your phone and ask your City Council Representative to support this Will of Council.
I am very pleased that my State Rep (Chelsa Wagner) and State Senator (Wayne Fontana) are sponsoring the state legislation. I hope my City Councilwoman, Tonya Payne, votes in support of this legislation.
People shouldn't be denied employment or housing because they are gay or they don't conform to gender normative behavior. This is pretty basic stuff and Pittsburgh's been ahead of the curve for over a decade.
Here's the resolution:
A shout out to Shields' Chief of Staff, Selena Schmidt, for her wonkish skills in helping me find the "gender identity and gender expression" phrasing in the City Code.
by Sue on Thu 24 Jan 2008 11:15 AM EST
This week's City Paper advises readers on recent changes in local PrideFest activities, including new management, a new location and the expansion to a week-long event. As we reported earlier, the Delta Foundation is sponsoring a community meeting to unveil the proposed changes and generate community investment in the larger effort (Tuesday, February 5, 7-9 pm - follow the link for more details).
The CP article is a nice update, especially for straight allies who may not be aware of the changes.
I'm looking forward to the meeting.
Wednesday, January 23
by Sue on Wed 23 Jan 2008 03:07 PM EST
I think it's wrong for the government to discriminate against people because of a person's sexual orientation. I think that gay men and women ought to have the same rights as heterosexual men and women to make contracts, have hospital visiting rights, and join together in marriage. I don't understand why it is considered by some people to be a threat to heterosexual marriage to allow it for gays and lesbians. Shouldn't we be promoting the kind of faithfulness and loyalty to one partner regardless of sexual orientation? Because if we don't do that, then to that extent you are promoting promiscuity and promoting all the problems that can result from promiscuity. And the loyalty and love that people feel for one another when they fall in love ought to be celebrated and encouraged and shouldn't be prevented by any form of discrimination in the law.
by Sue on Wed 23 Jan 2008 11:24 AM EST
It's back. Sigh. From Equality Advocates:
A gay visitor (Anthony M. Brown) to Pittsburgh (Greensburg) took a few minutes to share his thoughts with the Tribune Review.
Anthony, thanks for making time to share your thoughts. Another quarter heard from is the American Family Association of Pennsylvania where Diane Gramley was stomping her faith-clad furry boots because "homosexual organizations" got the jump on her in broadcasting this legislative flurry. Here's an interesting claim:
As always, Diane asks for your money but not your prayers.
This was an ugly victory last time around in 2006 and a clear example of social conservative Democratic values clashing with the interests and civil rights of the entire LGBT community. Here's how the last round of elected officials voted on the marriage amendment. Many of those in the House took the straightforward coward's way of voting in favor of amending the constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. The Senate did this elaborate dance of "yes, I am, no I am not" switcheroos so they could vote against the "concept" while not having to deal with a pro-homo vote.
Don't let them get the jump on us. Contact your Senator today and ask her/him to oppose amending hate into our Constitution.
Tuesday, January 22
by Sue on Tue 22 Jan 2008 01:14 PM EST
I am pro-choice. Tuesday is the 35th Anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision and bloggers throughout the nation are working to raise the profile of reproductive choice vis a vis Blog for Choice 2008.
My right to make decisions about my reproductive health is not something I take lightly. While only three when Roe was decided, most of my adult years have been defined by an increasing assault on this personal freedom in the name of an undefined "fetus" which has become a personless poster-child for an agenda determined to beat women back into an age of suppression and repression.
I have many friends who identify as pro-life. They pray for unborn children and march to restrict access to abortion. Some fervently believe the rhetoric they are spoon fed by patriarchal structures that historically hold women in a subservient positions (hello, Catholic Church). Some honestly think it is about babies. Most don't give a damn about those babies once they exit the birth canal, particularly if they are born into families that are poor, of color, single, gay, young or in some other aberration from the mythological "traditional family." Or if those babies suck up tax dollars.
My point is that there are many people who buy into this mythological assault on unborn children. Hence, the need for those of us who see through this fairy tale to hold the line, politically and legislatively.
I confess that my record is not perfect. I voted for Bob Casey, a pro-life Democrat, to oust woman and homo hater Rick Santorum. But choice is important to me.
I applaud creativity. Chris Potter, editor extraordinaire of the City Paper, inspired many of us with his response to the 2007 WDUQ/Duquesne University/Planned Parenthood debacle.
In 2003, the Gertrude Stein Political Club of Pittsburgh earned my respect when they stood up to the Pittsburgh Tavern Guild who refused them entrance to distribute slate cards that did not endorse openly anti-choice Gene Riccardi. The Tavern Guild forever lost respect in my eyes for their heavy handed, self-serving maneuver as well as the clear illustration that issues that impact women (and our autonomy) came in second place to issues that impact their bottom line and/or political connections. Shame on them.
Pittsburgh recently elected an anti-choice Democrat as our Mayor for the next two years. His only vote related to reproductive freedom was against the Bubble Zone, a law that protects women from abusive protests at clinics. Luke gave no explanation for his vote.
Western Pennsylvania is a Democratic town with a big Catholic social conservative twist. We cannot afford to take lightly when movers and shakers in our town impose an anti-choice mindset on the rest of us, be they bastions of intellectual freedom or business owners, much less 27 year old elected officials. Our bodies are not up for barter. Our choices are not up for debate.
Last year, I blogged about the hypocrisy of those on the other side. This year, I believe it is imperative that we examine the support of our allies right here in Pittsburgh - a town of staunch Democrats and staunch Catholics. A town where the largest Presbyterian Church in town voted themselves off the island to join a more conservative communion. A town with one (1) local female talk show host who is also the only local liberal talk show host.
What does this have to do with voting pro-choice? Well, that nice young man who you wanted to have a chance as Mayor is going to someday set his sites on an elected position where he votes on more than bubble ordinances. Those business owners who put political allies ahead of the lives of half of their own community are now financially supporting that nice young man. Can you win a statewide seat on an anti-choice ticket? Ask Bob Casey. I'd prefer not to be in a position of Casey v Santorum anytime soon.
My point is that we must pay attention to the local situation as well as the state and federal situations. My point is that we includes the women and men of the LGBT community. My point is that when the next generation of local Democratic leadership clings to a Catholic-fused political reality (no civil unions, no birth control, no bubble zone, etc) AND the next generation of local gay leadership continues to fund that guy ... women need to pay attention. We need to sit down with these men and make sure they understand why choice impacts every single woman in our community.
It is important to vote pro-choice. It is important to read the questionairres distributed by the Gertrude Stein Club and the Steel City Stonewall Democrats and pay attention to the questions about choice. It is important that the questions be asked.
We are not making progress or moving forward with a 27 year old Mayor that is anti-choice and anti-civil union. It is incumbent on us to educate him and ourselves on the implications for our lives if reproductive choice continues to erode under the relentless assault from those who would happily impose their value systems on our bodies.
Thursday, January 17
by Sue on Thu 17 Jan 2008 10:48 AM EST
The week of January 28 through February 3 is a call to action day per Equality Advocates ...
Here's a list of current cosponsors of the legislation.
Equality Advocates are urging us gay folks and our allies to contact our reps to either thank them for their sponsorship or ask them to sign on.
Click here to find out which lucky soul is your representative.
Click here for talking points from Equality Advocates.
This really matters. Ledcat and I live in the City and we both work for employers with a presence in the City. My organization includes sexual orientation in our non-discrimination policies, but I can't lie and say that I haven't faced homophobia in the workplace. I appreciate the company policy, but I deserve the safety that knowing my employment is not going to be threated by the ignorant, homophobic behavior of people with whom I happen to work.
My state rep, Chelsa Wagner, is on-board. I've already thanked her, but I'll do so again.
Take a few moments of your time, fellow queers and the straight people who love us. We deserve civil protections and none of us can afford -- NONE OF US -- to be complacent. Click the damn link and take three minutes to compose an email.
You can be sure Diane Gramley and her merry band of bigots are deluging the reps from the other side of hate and intolerance.