Now this is a nice way to wake up.  Yesterday, we had a really strange day including the purchase of our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree which was marked down to $10.00.  Typically, we get a nice big one, but this year feels different so we scaled back.  Even so, the tree is taller (just slightly) than Ledcat.  It fits nicely in the living room and was much easier to wrangle through the front door.  So I think we have a new tradition.  $10.00 is a good deal.  Pointsettas cost more than that.

I stayed up late last night wading through the comments section and responding to email messages.  Then I slept without coughing and woke up to coffee and a non-blizzard.  Ha. 

Today, I'm just making some random musings. 

The Guardian reports a lack of lesbian (and other queer) foster parents, especially tragic given the increasing number of LGBTQ teens in the system because of their sexual orientation/gender identity.  My colleagues at the GLCC tell me that there are multiple homeless gay youth who show up for the youth programs each week.  My colleagues at my agency affirm that there are homeless gay youth living on the streets because they aren't comfortable in the existing shelter structures.  So if you've considered it, there are young people who need you right here in Pittsburgh.

The New York Times affirms that separate but equal, in terms of civil unions versus marriage, is not equal.   Civil unions should convey all civil benefits, but they don't.  New Jersey has evidence to demonstrate this and the Governor plans to do something about it by pushing the legislator to take action.  Incrementalism vs fairness will be locked in a death grip for sometime. 

Plans are underway for a Pittsburgh based protest as part of the National DOMA protest under the "Join the Impact" umbrella.  This will be on January 10, 2009.  I haven't found any concrete details yet, but put this date on your calendar.  Even if marriage isn't your top issue, sending a signal about the activist energy in the LGBTQ community is powerful and gives our legislative allies leverage on our other more immediate issuers here in Pennsylvania.  And, frankly, you will get a real lift from being part of something bigger than yourself.  It might motivate you to start a blog or write a letter or join Steel City Stonewall.  I hope we see more local advocacy leaders at this protest.  I'll keep you informed.

Now for Rick Warren.  I doubt I have to bring you up to speed on that raging debate.  PageOneQ has just about every link on the blogosphere, including what Barney Frank has to say and how the HRC is handling the matter. I'm personally interested in what the members of our local LGBTQ community of faith think about it.  Do you have some thoughts to share with me, either via comment or via email? 

Personally, I think it was a misstep on the part of Obama, but he's known for reaching waaaay across the divide to build unity.  The problem is that there doesn't seem to be a lot of middle ground between evangelicals who believe that homosexuality is a sinful lifestyle and homosexuals who want equal rights.  Or is there?  I have friends who identify as evangelicals.  I know they feel there is some choice in the matter and that marriage is a no-no,  but our interpersonal bond has opened up a lot of middle ground especially as they've gotten to know Ledcat (or about Ledcat through our conversations).  The trick is flipping the switch between their friend Sue, the lesbian and all lesbians and all LGBTQ individuals.  That's a challenge our community struggles to address -- to out ourselves to the ordinary person in our life who is a fervent Christian instead of just challenging the wingnut on the other side of the protest sign or the hate letter. 

Still, this decision is also very symbolic and there is great fear in the community that Obama will backpedal on any sort of equal rights issues to avoid damaging coalitions he needs to advance his other priorities.  The fear is legitimate because it is going to take a long time to generate consensus on gay marriage.  Even as the polls show that repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell is acceptable to most Americans, the conventional wisdom is that the military has to come to Congress for this be a real culture change.  So what's a progressive minded President to do aside from beginning those dialogues?  Perhaps he can introduce more Americans to openly gay folks by appointing them to serve in positions for which they are qualified and for which they have been excluded because they aren't in the closet!

Oopss.  Too late.  All the Cabinet positions for which openly gay individuals were being considered have been filled.  By individuals who identify as heterosexual (you never know).  From The

Steve Elmendorf, a former deputy campaign manager for John Kerry and senior adviser to Dick Gephardt, called it ?very disappointing? that a number of high-quality LGBT candidates had been passed over. ?It?s a very diverse and inclusive cabinet for every community except for the gay and lesbian community,? he said.

Not that anyone?s counting, but the 22 cabinet-level positions as announced/projected include three Latinos, two Asian Americans, four African-Americans, five women, and, yes, two Republicans.

Elmendorf observed that the top-tier White House staff doesn?t appear to have any LGBT people in it either. ?That just makes the Rick Warren thing an extra kick in the stomach,? he said.

So, what does this mean for all the average queers in Pittsburgh?

First, I really would like to see leaders in our faith community take a more active role in advocacy.  I'd like to see a contingent of the Spirituality Group marching alongside the always present PFLAG folks.  I'd like a thoughtful written response to the Rick Warren debacle.  I'd like them to speak out on ensuring that queer families and individuals struggling in a recessed economny are not forgotten by the safety net providers, including faith based groups.  I'd love to hear from them and know what's happening on that level.

Second, we need to channel all these emerging energies into some cohesive force which means I'm going to drag out my oft-used battle cry for the LGBTQ advocacy leaders to get themselves into order.  Surely SOMEONE in the community can have a chat with the Mayor's people. Someone knows a staffer or two.  Someone can intervene to turn the advisory council discussion in a more productive and fair direction.  I hate that it takes behind the scenes discussion, but clearly the folks involved are clammed up tight.  My prediction based on the evidence at hand?  This will be another Domestic Registry situation ... no outcome, just fanfare. 

Well, there's a Charlie Brown tree to decorate and, apparently, housework!