Friday, February 25
by Sue on Fri 25 Feb 2011 12:29 PM EST
State Representive Cohen has introduced a measure that would expand existing law to recognize civil unions. HB708 has several familiar cosponsors, including Dan Frankel, Jake Wheatley, Chelsa Wagner, Dom Costa, Paul Costa, Mark Gergely. 41 sponsors in total. This legislation has been referred to the Judiciary Committee as of February 12, 2011. Several cosponsors sit in the Judiciary Committee.
State Senator Daylin Leach introduced a similarly timed bill to extend marriage to same sex couples. SB 461 was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 9, 2011. More on why Senator is ardent on this issue.
In addition, State Representative Josh Shapiro is poised to introduce legislation which would amend the Hate Crimes statute to include sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
Also, Representative Dan Frankel from right here in Pittsburgh plans to reintroduce legislation that expands protected class to include sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. This would provide protectsion in housing, public accomadation and in the workplace.
Interesting situation to have 4 critical pieces of legislation in a state controlled by Republicans. I'm sure there's a strategy. I'll keep you informed on any momentum these pick up as well as the potential reintroduction of marriage discrimination legislation to put a DOMA referendum before the voters.
by Sue on Fri 25 Feb 2011 09:58 AM EST
From Thursday's Post-Gazette comes word of a new LGBTQ radio program called "The Gay Agenda"
I urge you to read the story to see why the co-hosts signed on for this volunteer project. Kudos to Pitt to bringing a pro-LGBTQ show back to the airwaves.
by Sue on Fri 25 Feb 2011 09:47 AM EST
The Defense of Marriage Act took another blow this when the Department of Justice (part of the Executive Branch) anounced it will no longer defend DOMA in court. Pittsburgh's own Reg Henry weighs in with a very pragmatic priece.
The attorney general issued a statement, part of which I believe addresse Reg's concerns.
This is not a blanket denial of the appropriate role of the DOJ, but a clear statement that DOMA cases will be subjust to a higher level of scrutiny based on the Administration's interpreation of certain segments of the law. My understanding is that the DOJ does not routinely defend every such case anyway, but we must be wary of greater state momentum to implement DOMA state by state. This, of course, includes Pennsylvania.
North Carolina is already pushing an constitutional amendment.
Advocates have been warning for years that the increasing tangled web of equality will create a myriad of problem for everyone, including the IRS. If marriage equality challenges to DOMA are subject to a heightened level of scrutiny, what impact will that have on the courts and the 10th Amendment?
It is complicated my friends, but imperative that we try to stay on top of these changes. And even more imperative that we work hard to elect pro-LGBTQ officials locally and statewide.
by Sue on Fri 25 Feb 2011 09:15 AM EST
Good news from Maryland.
Obviously good news, but also note the role that electing LGBTQ legislators on the state level played in changing the conversation. In Maryland, LGBTQ legislators "humanize" the rhetoric around the dialogue --- "gays" suddenly become your colleagues leading lives probably similar to the other electeds.
While we don't have this dialogue on a state level, a positive step forward is electing local leaders who are openly gay and willing to have those significant conversation. City Councilman Bruce Kraus, for example, changes the dynamic on the regional level simply by being at the table as a peer to those who might otherwise not really know an openly gay person. Electeds don't have to preach, they simply need to be themselvces as they work on budget, parking and gas drilling issues.
Meanwhile, Hawaii has embraced civil unions. The legislation was signed by the Governor and goes into effect in January 2012. This makes civil unions available to both same sex and opposite sex couples. Read what Hawaii Equality has to report on how the legislation moved forward and what sort of impact this step toward marriage equality will have for resident of Hawaii.
Pennsylvania has legislation for both civil unions (House Bill 708) and mariage equality (SB461 ) on the table. It will be interesting to see how these bills progress through a very Republican controlled state government.
by Sue on Fri 25 Feb 2011 08:47 AM EST
This looks interesting ...
GOT MESSAGE? Would you like to add to the progressive message and maybe win a few hundred bucks? The
Sounds interesting. The winning pieces will be part of the Club's annual fundraiser.
For more details go here
Monday, February 21
by Sue on Mon 21 Feb 2011 01:07 PM EST
I first learned about this story at Pridefest a few years ago. Erin Davies has her vehicle vandalized, including homophobic graffiti and the always original tag "Fag." Erin took action and began driving the vehicle around the nation to educate people about homophobia. Sure enough, she drove in the Pride March that year.
Erin is back in the region, speaking in Fayette County and showing the documentary she made during her journey around the nation. She speaks on Thursday, February 24, 2011.
I love that she claims the title activist, too.
by Sue on Mon 21 Feb 2011 01:01 PM EST
Dan Savage is incredibly naughty and wonderful in the same breath. Thanks to his creative and intrepid readers, the Savage definition of Santorum remains at the top of the Google search for Rick's name. Rick's wikipedia entry is third.
The Post-Gazette reported that Savage's readers have clicked away to put the santorum definition to the top of the search engine in light of Santorum's hope for a presidential bid. Santorum's staffers tried to "do something" about it, but the Google does not lie. So now there's the spin of Santorum being persecuted by homosexuals.
Fortunately, Santorum's polling does not impress. However, I keep giggling when I reread the sentence "I've been in the trenches for years" with regard to the frothy, fecal matter reference. Ask me not why it makes me laugh, but I just get all sorts of amusing photos of the "man on dog" variety running through my head, minus the poor dog.
Ah, Google, we bow before your mighty algorithims.
Saturday, February 19
by Sue on Sat 19 Feb 2011 11:55 AM EST
Blogging has been a bit sparse of late. Chalk it up to some time constraints, lack of inspiration due to information overload and other stuff. Blah, blah, blah.
It is still tough when I sit down in front of a crisp, fresh post opportunity and draw a complete blank. Stuff is happening ... stunning protests in Wisconsin, local rallying for women's rights and LGBTQ stuff all over the nation.
But I got nothing. I could toss up some links of the "What we missed" variety, but I'm sure you are reading the national LGBTQ blogs. Aren't you? You should.
Here's what is on my mind today
- Why is my cursor jumping around so much (I think it involves drivers and will require a large amount of time to repair)
- Will the anti-public union movement come to Pennsylvania? Since many LGBTQ folks in the unions are closeted, what does that mean for them and for domestic partner benefits?
- Planned Parenthood gets defunded by the House of Representatives. WTF?
- I'm going to do some volunteer work today which is a refreshing change. More on that later.
- I have scary medical tests on Tuesday. Of course, I don't get results for 3-4 weeks so pray for me, okay? Nothing life threatening, but one of those "let's rule some stuff out" sort of tests.
- Tomorrow I get to go to cool UU church, engage in a 90 minute discussion on philosophy and history and then get an organic facial. Plus, there will be Ledcat's famous meatloaf for dinner. Big day of awesome.
Hope your weekend goes well.
Thursday, February 17
by Sue on Thu 17 Feb 2011 10:07 AM EST
The Pittsburgh City Paper's Lauren Daley provides excellent coverage of a story on transphobia in the local media and the ensuing community response.
In short, WPXI covered the arrest of two female identified individuals who were allegedly engaged in prostitution. Outrage arose over the station's bungling of gender and trans terminology during their story.
Daley goes on to detail the WPXI coverage.
I first learned about this story from the Queer Events List an email community of 700+ individuals. A few members who caught the broadcast quickly jumped online calling for a response from the community. Several people, myself included, contacted the station. I heard nothing back. Others reported hostility when they called the news editor to complain.
The thread throughout the discussion was the responsibility of Pittsburgh's LGBTQ community to educate the media about these and related issues to ensure fair and accurate reporting. In that spirit a group gathered at the Gay & Lesbian Community Center to do just that. One organizer, Rayden Sorock, sent out this planned approach a few days after the meeting.
Viewer feedback to WPXI is a good idea, especially if the numbers are substantial AND a solution is proposed. As of now, there is no central go-to place for a coordinated LGBTQ media response. I get all sorts of requests for comment and I know there are a few other folks who are oft quoted, but it is more about being a contact/connection with certain media outlets than a coordinated effort. This is a weakness in Pittsburgh's community and it would be a gap well filled by the GLCC should they have the resources to do so.
The YouTube video campaign is intriguing and a creative solution. The relationship with the jail is another positive goal that would address systemic change. It is an issue that has arisen many times over the years I've been part of the community. Perhaps a fresh perspective generated by a grassroots movement will spur action.
The group has a Facebook page. if you'd like to get involved.
Sorock also commented for the City Paper story.
The good that comes out of this story is the big picture thinking. The women who were arrested have departed the scene, but their experience transcends the community. If this group of motivated trans advocates can mobilize a systemic approach to the broader issue, they'll create a more respectful community for everyone.
That's a big "if." Last year's gay bashing incident in Bloomfield galvanized scores of folks (including moi) to turn out for a vigil near the scene of the alleged incident. Folks struggled to control the message and conflicting reports on the incident soon leaked out, disillusioning both the allies of genuine gay bashing victims and the community at large. Details are still murky. What didn't happen was a meeting of those minds to sit down and talk about the realities of gay bashing in Pittsburgh. Opportunity lost which is a reflection on the divides permeating the local LGBTQ community ... but you've heard me expound on that before.
Both situations present the complications of more vulnerable members of our community enduring homophobia and transphobia. The fact that these women are alleged prostitutes and/or the decisions of the Bloomfield folks on how to interact with the police only serve to highlight that the issues disproportionately impact folks who may be already marginalized even within our community.
The grassroots response is heartening. In Bloomfield, a group emerged to provide safety in numbers approach to reclaiming safe spaces in their neighborhoods. It isn't a 501c3 and has no website, but they do represent an approach to the problem as well as a potential voice at the table.
Are those at the table ready to make room and open themselves to alternative points of view? For the sake of women like Nakala Jackson,Tamika Jones and nameless other victims of discriminatory treatment, let's hope so.
Tuesday, February 15
by Sue on Tue 15 Feb 2011 07:30 PM EST
A message from longtime activist Jeanne Clark.
Strong language from a stalwart leader who has been a longtime defender of women (and men and children and humanity) in the face of increasing attacks from cowardly control-freaks who -- when you get down to it -- don't trust us to make decisions about our own bodies, our own lives.
I don't remember a time when women resorted to lye and coat hangers to end unwanted pregnancies, but it scares the hell out of me. And it really pisses me off. Get your hands and your minds out of my uterus and focus on the friggin economy.
542 Fourth Ave.