Monday, March 31
by Sue on Mon 31 Mar 2008 08:30 AM EDT
I've been wracking my brains all weekend for an approach to this day. You've read all the facts about the legislation attempting to amend the PA constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. It has the potential to hurt a lot of people, gay and straight alike.
You've read all the arguments from those who want to impose their Christian-interpretation of marriage on the rest of us. And those who believe gay rights are not a civil rights issue (check out today's Post-Gazette for more on that). You've also heard from thoughtful Christian leaders who do affirm individuals who are LGBTQ. There was also civil rights luminary Coretta Scott King's affirmation. We can trump card each other until the end of the day.
What you may not know, particularly if you are heterosexual, is the impact that all of this has on day to day life. All of what? All of the constant negative discussion about the gay community -- of course, there is a connection between the rhetoric that people hear in the pulpit and the way they treat gay people, or teach their children to treat gay people. Love the sinner, hate the sin is not the American way. Treat people poorly who get between you and what you believe is yours is a bit more accurate, particularly when there is a relentless drum beat about their being "one" way and "one" truth in a land of religious freedom.
I live in Pittsburgh, a fairly gay-positive place considering how socially conservative most Catholics can be. Still, there are probably three public places in the entire region where I would be comfortable holding the hand of my partner, Ledcat. We spend entire weeks where we only touch each other inside our home or our vehicle. I'm talking the most simple gestures -- and believe me, I'm very aware of those right now. We lost our beloved pet this week and I've been inconsolable. You know that feeling of grief that sweeps over you unexpectedly ... imagine that the person you love is right next to you, but has to be careful about the things she says or the way she touches you when consoling you about a deep loss.
It is horrible. We have been fortunate to only have experienced a few frightening incidents -- mostly kids and mostly being stupid. But it is still frightening to have anyone try to menace you because they think you are gay. They get that message from their parents, their preachers and their peers -- gay people are fair game. So they use whatever power they have -- intimidation, verbal harassment, even constitutional amendments -- to keep you down. It happens at all levels -- I once had a supervisor send me an email with an embedded photoshopped image that degraded lesbians. He thought it was funny. It might have been funny coming from my friend Bob, but not someone with power and authority over my career.
We have to pick our battles. I fought back against the supervisor because I had protections in place. I walked away from the menacing kids and found a public space because I had no protection from their ignorance other than the brightness of public opinion. I'm fighting back against this amendment because I think we have to draw a line in the sand on this one. Let the bigots stew in their own hatred and fear if they so choose. That's why they have their own churches. But just as they are free to practice their religions, I am free *from* their religions.
Change is on the horizon. Children grow up surrounded by cultural gay images -- television, music, movies, video games, etc. They have gay friends in school and know gay neighbors. This chips away at the mantra of fear emanating from those who seem to have the most to lose if we are granted our due equal rights. OK, so I still don't understand who that is, but I'm trying to allow bigots their due.
I want to hold Ledcat's hand. Ultimately, I want to hold her hand in mine forever. But I'm content to start with holding it at Target.
Just this morning, I read my favorite comic strip, For Better or For Worse, and there is a reference to gay marriage (Michael's friend Lawrence is gay and has a partner, Nicholas). It is a casual reference, but I thought it an auspicious omen for this first ever Pgh Blogging for Equality Day.
For B4E posts from my fellow bloggers, click on the logo at the top and follow the links ...
Saturday, March 29
by Sue on Sat 29 Mar 2008 11:30 PM EDT
Michael Geer, President of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, is an ignorant pea brained jerk. And that's me in a mellow mood. The PG published his letter to the editor (and NOT mine). He makes two points in response to the PG's editorial that the "marriage protection" amendment is unnecessary (and redundant)
First, [t]he PG editors seem unwilling to look beyond Pennsylvania's borders when it comes to understanding the debate over the proposed Pennsylvania Marriage Protection Amendment, SB 1250
Ahem. Mr. Geer. You didn't do your homework on this one. Please consider Ohio where the amendment you propose allows men who batter their partners to avoid conviction of domestic abuse because they aren't married. Or Michigan where a similar amendment deprives state and municipal entities (including colleges) from offering domestic partner benefits, hampering their recruitment efforts. Or Florida, where a proposed amendment, will impact approximately 17,000 children with same-sex parents.
So, yes indeed, let every Pennsylvania voter -- every resident, adult and child alike -- look outside our state to see what havoc this legislative hatred brings into the lives of thousands of people, heterosexuals included. I suppose you could say that those Ohio women shouldn't be shacking up with men outside of marriage. Or that Michigan should send more recruiters to Oral Roberts University anyway. And, shucks, Florida loses children in the child welfare system so often, that what's another 17,000 anyway?
How does any of this protect your marriage? Because none of you have made that clear. You just hide behind the next argument.
Without a Marriage Protection Amendment, Pennsylvania's marriage law is at risk from a legal challenge that could arise at any moment. It's time for lawmakers to let the people decide and pass SB 1250. To the Post-Gazette, it may be bigotry, but to most Pennsylvanians, it's simply fair.
Let the people decide. That worked out well during Reconstruction and the following ... well, forever years. It took the people nearly 140 years to decide that women should vote (maybe someone should remind the Christian Women's Groups of that). If only that pesky Supreme Court would stop interfering, the people could just keep on deciding who deserves civil rights and who doesn't.
Wrong, Geer. The CONSTITUTION decides. Check out the comments from City Council Pres. (and honorary lesbian) Doug Shields in a previous post. The people don't get to decide to create a second-class group of citizens because our very existence offends you. Life isn't fair, Geer. A lot of things offend me --- people who kill animals, parents who abuse their children, the entire system of senior support services in our nation -- but what especially offends me is when religious bigots like you want to impose your moral belief system on the rest of us, especially when you play some sort of quasi-democracy shell game.
You can't cry "freedom of religion" in the name of Constitutional law and then turn around to strike out the parts of that document that you don't like. That's just wrong. There's nothing fair about it.
I just hope some more people decide to call their Senators. You can bet your Bill of Rights that Geer has mobilized a full flotilla of Christians to make those calls. Are we gonna let him get away with this?
Thursday, March 27
by Sue on Thu 27 Mar 2008 03:22 PM EDT
A big thanks to all the wonderful members of the Burghosphere who participated in this first ever Pgh Blog for Equality. We had a few folks join in at the last minute. Here are the links to the participating posts in no particular order. Thanks also to those who promoted the event.
March 31, 2008 is the day that the Burghosphere speaks out about attempts to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
For all the details on the legislation, the co-sponsors, and the talking points, visit Equality Advocates. Equality Advocates is not officially connected to Pittsburgh Blog for Equality.
Join the conversation.
Wanna post our button on your blog? Code is below:
<p><a href="http://www.pghlesbian.com/blog/_archives/2008/3/27/3606171.html"><img src="http://www.pghlesbian.com/PghBlogButton" /></a><p>
As we get 'em, we'll post a list of participating blogs.
"Web logging" for equality will be
Wednesday, March 26
by Sue on Wed 26 Mar 2008 12:47 PM EDT
I called my State Senator's office yesterday (Fontana) and discovered that I was the first person to thank him for voting against SB 1250, the Anti-Gay Family Amendment. The first person. What the heck is up with that? Why aren't people calling? Actually, plenty of people, just people from the christo-bigot flavored variety, are calling.
I just wrote everyone in my address book and asked them to call. It seems so easy to brush off making that call ... the threat of the legislation passing seems ridiculous. But it isn't. The threat is very real. And if you are or love someone who is in an unmarried heterosexual relationship, the threat is real for you, too.
Joe Brandtner of Beechview took a stance. I hope he made a phone call, too.
I like it. He sound angry and fed up, as well he should be. Our legislators are trying to distract voters from real issues by tapping into fear based bigotry about sexual orientation and many, many religious leaders are going along for the ride. It is a clear agenda of discrimination AND AND AND AND ... a DISTRACTION from what is really important to your family ... schools, taxes, health care, infrastructure, violence. Oh, and the economy.
How can it be that no one has called Senator Fontana's office?
Tuesday, March 25
by Sue on Tue 25 Mar 2008 12:58 PM EDT
Short, but sweet. Have you written your letter to the editor, yet?
Thursday, March 20
by Sue on Thu 20 Mar 2008 07:29 PM EDT
I love when there's good gay stuff in the City Paper. It reminds me that journalists with actual journalistic street cred pay attention to our community and find us interesting and informative.
I fully expected the paper to cover Doug Shields' showdown with Sally Kerns. I was kinda disappointed they gave Diane Gramley so many inches to spew her bigotry and that they didn't talk to any of us gay people about the whole situation, but this isn't the first time I've disagreed with editorial decisions about content. And, on the plus side, Gramley's own words pretty much prove my point that she's an idiot, without any homosexual accents.
To my intrigue, the CP's Melissa Meinzer wrote a really informative piece about Pitt's Rainbow Alliance providing support for Iraqui individuals who are LGBTQ.
Sometimes it takes such a smack in the face to make us appreciate that dealing with Gramley and Kerns is the worst I've contended with recently. And underscore the imperative for us to step up and demand leadership on LGBTQ issues, both local and international.
I'm hoping all of you are taking a page from the Rainbow Alliance's book and making some calls to your elected officials about marriage amendments.
Tuesday, March 18
by Sue on Tue 18 Mar 2008 05:12 PM EDT
Well, we lost this round. Our local allies, Jay Costa and Wayne Fontana, voted no, but even with Republican Jane Earll they couldn't prevent the "marriage protection" amendment from being voted out of committee. The legislation heads for the Appropriations Committee and then to the floor of the full Senate.
Here's how the vote went down. Note that Jane Orie went with the bigots, even though she didn't cosponsor the amendment.
yes -- lisa boscola, john gordner, jane orie, jeff piccola, john rafferty, mike stack, barry stout, M.J. white, stewart greenleaf, joe scarnati
no -- patrick browne, jay costa, jane earll, wayne fontana
I have had a really tough day at work so coherent commentary may be out of reach for this lesbian. When I think of the outrage over the Sally Kern hate-spew, I can't help but wonder if each of those people calling for her resignation took the time to weigh in on this particular issue right here in Pittsburgh. Right here.
Cause guess what? Last time around, our Senators played political footsie to have their homo-friendly appeal and keep their traditional Catholic values voters happy. I'm guessing not much has changed. This amendment calls for a ban on civil unions which may have repercussions for heterosexual couples as well as reach far beyond marriage to impact health care decisions and estate decisions and so forth. This apparently is the deal breaker for the Republi-bigots. Strip out the civil union language and they take their toys and go home.
It disgusts me that we have so few people willing to just say "hey its wrong." Instead, we have to play games and engage in the same old, same old. I am so tired of being a political football.
I'm just really tired.
Saturday, March 15
by Sue on Sat 15 Mar 2008 03:37 PM EDT
The Gertrude Stein Club of Greater Pittsburgh is a non-partisan political club.
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Friday, March 14
by Sue on Fri 14 Mar 2008 12:51 PM EDT
h/t Slag Heap
Representative Sally Kern
Today I listened to your remarks (http://www.victoryfund.org/listening. ) related to your views on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people (GLBT). I was thoroughly disgusted by what you had to say and astonished that someone who presumably took an oath of office to uphold the U.S. Constitution and the laws of this nation would espouse hateful, bigoted and un-American views.
I sit here in my office and only wonder who else might be on your "less equal" list. I also wonder, if we should follow your illogic, what it is we should do about this "threat" to the nation? Round them up and put them in extermination camps? How would you have us "cut out this cancer" assuming we do away with our Constitution and Bill of Rights and host of other civil rights we enjoy in this free and democratic nation? Of course you always have the option to relocating to a country that embraces polices of persecuting those who are "less equal." But then AGAIN, you to may run the risk of being persecuted yourself.
Your remarks, whether you know it are not, provided an incredible display of ignorance and intolerance. You incite others to cause harm and even death to those who are of the GLBT community. New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned his office for far less an offense than the ones you committed in your remarks. I would hope that you too would recognize your offense and do likewise - resign.
I find no place at the table for a public policy maker who would espouse hate, discrimination and bigotry. Your remarks amply illustrate why you are unfit for office and the honor of representing the best interests of all law abiding people in your legislative district.
As the President of the Council of the City of Pittsburgh, I require an apology from you for your senseless, mean spirited attack on one my colleagues and the Council as a whole. I would think, should you take the time to reflect upon your hateful, bigoted words. An apology is also in order to the GLBT community, their families and their friends. Short of a a miracle, I do not expect that you will. I find persons of your ilk completely blind to your ignorance.
I any event, I would hope that the fair-minded people of Oklahoma will disavow your position in this matter and take the matter up with your state human relations and ethics commission. I would also ask that your legislature censure you and all other hate mongers who truly are a threat to peace loving and law-abiding Americans everywhere.
City of Pittsburgh