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View Article  AFA of PA invokes violent imagery with regard to Barney Frank

Got a heads up from our friends at End Bigotry in Venango County about a press release from the American Family Association of Pennsylvania that narrows in on US Congressman Barney Frank.  In general, they are commenting on the need for Congress to move right.  I say "they" loosely because this is mostly about Diane Gramley. 

?We?ll put Barney Frank on notice.  ?A Sleeping Giant has awakened and the majority of Americans do not share in your goal setting.?  Americans are tired of waking up to find an America that they hardly recognize.  This is not a game to them, it is a war to get our country back,? Gramley further stated.

In the wake of the attempted murder of Congresswoman  Gabrielle Giffords, I'm suprised the AFA of PA has left this up.  Declaring war on a member of Congress is a sad reflection on their tactics and feeds right into the "slippery slope" debate that has been raging for the past two days.

Suddenly "a war to get our country back" seems a lot uglier than just words.  Google cache here.

Diane Gramley is not harmless.  She's no longer tilting at windmills.  She has some serious victories in her back pocket and a lot of alienated, suffering people vulnerable to her hate speak.  I'd like to think Diane Gramley wouldn't shoot Barney Frank and intends only to engage in a war of words, but is her lack of "scrubbing" hubris, ignorance or something more?

UPDATE:  Just me.  At first I thought I was overreacting, but I keep mulling over the sheer amount of time Ms. Gramley has invested in her agenda. It can't be easy to turn out people at hearing after hearing much less slog through the pile of inaccurate information she relies on for her testimonies.  OK, that was facetious.  But I do worry about the tipping point.  When is Ms. Gramley responsible for moving beyond saying that Barney Frank is a fag who is an abomination before God and encouraging someone to do something about it? It is an age old question, but she's a very good example of someone who intentionally uses loaded, vivid imagery about the LGBTQ community to evoke hatred and repugnance.  I worry. 

 

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View Article  Pittsburgh's First Openly Gay Elected City Councilor Announces Intent to Run for Reelection

Councilman Bruce A. Kraus to Seek Second Term

January 11, 2011?Councilman Bruce A. Kraus announced today that he will be seeking a second term as a representative on Pittsburgh?s City Council.  The primary election will be held on May 17, 2011.

 

In a letter to constituents, Councilman Kraus cited?among other accomplishments?a few examples of the many successes that he has had in his first term:

 

?         Protecting libraries in our district?we will soon see a renovation of our South Side branch library.  In addition, efforts are underway to bring a new state-of-the-art library building serving Knoxville, Carrick, and our other Hilltop communities

 

?         Responding to our neighbors? needs more efficiently with the opening of our Hilltop District Office on Arlington Avenue

?         Working to reduce gun violence through responsible gun ownership legislation that requires reporting lost and stolen guns

 

The Councilman promised to continue to focus on keeping neighborhoods safe, clean, and green and to continue improvements to his constituents? quality of life.

 

 ?It has been an honor and a truly rewarding experience to represent our neighborhoods on City Council,? Kraus said.  ?I am pleased to have been able to follow through on my campaign commitments and proud of what we have been able to accomplish.? 

 

In his first term, Kraus served two years as chair of the Committee for Public Safety and currently chairs the Committee on Public Works.  Among his legislative accomplishments were the passage of numerous bills focused on safe and clean streets and improved quality of life for residents and businesses alike.

 

Bruce Kraus was first elected in 2007 with 55% of the vote in the Primary Election and 86% in the General Election.

 

District 3 of Pittsburgh?s City Council includes the neighborhoods of Allentown, Arlington, Arlington Heights, Beltzhoover, Knoxville, Mount Oliver City, Saint Clair, the South Side Flats and Slopes, and parts of Carrick, Mount Washington, and Oakland.

View Article  PG Letters to the Editor on LGBTQ Equality

Folks, it is a good time to get your fingers stretched and send in your own letters.  Politicians pay attention to people contacting them personally, but they also watch the opinion sections of the media.  If you need an angle, consider writing in about Chick Fil A if you are a customer.  Talk with the franchise owner of the restaurant you visit and ask them point blank if they would support an organization like the Pennsylvania Family Institute.  Then write a letter.  Very simple, but imagine how many people you can educate.

Two letters today ....

Daniel Robinson of Tarentum writes a pretty incoherent letter that seems to say he doesn't hate gay people, but his hands are tied because God told him being gay is wrong.

Hate isn't the emotion guiding people who take God serious, love is. What people do with their lives is between them and God. Likewise, those who place their faith in the Creator who endowed us with our rights, can't be asked to ignore His definitions of "right and wrong."

It is sort of a live and let live, but my side is really right approach to writing letters.  Or living life.  Or judging.  It also shows that people are making decisions about our equality based on some sketchy reasoning.  Do you want Daniel voting on your equality (no matter who you are)?

Major Gregorio Sheehan (Ret) is more blunt about the repeal of DADT

The result will be that conservative Christian men, the backbone of American combat units, will think twice before enlisting or re-enlisting, the thought of sharing a foxhole with a homosexual being repellent to their senses.

Well, I didn't know conservative Christian men were the backbone of combat units. Is that based on anything more than his subjective perspective?  Like the Pentagon survey?  Hmmm.

Regardless,  Daniel and Gregorio took the time to write and I'm sure they had an impact in some households, an impact that doesn't serve our community well. 

When can we expect to read your letter?

View Article  I make me smile

I talked my hair stylist into sharing her wireless code while Ledcat got a snip ...

One of my favorite gals, asked if It was ok to watch as her partner had her hair done. Sure Sue, I replied, and before I could say cream or no cream, her workspace was set up. Computers on, tweeter is tweeting, coffee is being consumed, do you mind if I create an office space in your entry way? This cyberspace, savvy computer queen is going to text everyone she knows about HairPeace, unless she is knocked out of the way by an incoming client who is blind!

To be fair, I did inch out of the way of the customer who was visually impaired.  I'm not a monster. 

Susan has a hilarious, touching memoir of her life "growing up in the hair industry" called Hair Peace (Susan is Buddhist). 

I am very much looking forward to being prominently featured in the volume II where she "matures in the hair industry." 

Check out Susan's new blog On The Fringe to catch daily updates from the salon where all the cool lesbians get their hair styled.  Her clientele is very intriguing ...

View Article  In times of trouble ...will God bring it?

While I was sojourning this summer, I had the chance to get reacquainted with God.  God came to find me in a most unusual form ... a politically conservative Christian evangelical.  We became friends and he listened patiently to my questions.  We were able to agree to disagree and then talk about the things that interested us both, rather than get caught up in the obvious areas for snags. 

And I gained a new freedom ... a person that cared about this piece of my identity and didn't launch into tirades about Christianity and homosexuality (either direction). 

When I did social service ministry in Kentucky, I spent a fair amount of time with friends who were evangelical, pentecostals and some who believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible.  Most were wonderful, kind, loving people who rarely uttered a bad word against anyone.  Some weren't.  But they embraced me even when they knew I wasn't interested in conversion and we had loving conversations that stay with me to this day. I feel a little ache when I think back to those times.

The thing my friend has said to me this year has been very simple ... just listen.  He doesn't try to change me or convince me I'm wrong or belittle me because I don't believe exactly what he believes.  He just urges me to listen and I guess he has faith in the message. And me.

I kept moping about wanting a liberal evangelical church.  Which led me to Jim Wallis and his God's Politics Blog.  If you follow me on Facebook, you may have noticed that I've been peppering my status updates with Scripture and inspirational quotes.  That is all courtesy of Reverend Wallis' daily email.  It has been amazing (and not) that almost every day, the scripture speaks to what is happening for me. 

Wallis is part of the Sojourners Ministry ....

Sojourners ministries grew out of the Sojourners Community, located in Southern Columbia Heights, an inner-city neighborhood in Washington, D.C. The community began at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, in the early 1970s when a handful of students began meeting to discuss the relationship between their faith and political issues, particularly the Vietnam War. In 1971, the group decided to create a publication that would express their convictions and test whether other people of faith had similar beliefs.

There is no Sojourners' community in Pittsburgh.  The closest are Akron and Altoona (go figure).  That makes me sad.  I've attended services at some of the local liberal churches and it doesn't resonate.  I appreciate the solidarity, but nothing has stuck yet.

So I stick with my daily email.

I don't get the chance to talk with my friend very often right now, but maybe that's necessary so I can *stop* talking and start listening. Maybe the time for me to talk/text/email about what I think has come to an end and I am going to have to listen. 

My friend isn't a fan of Jim Wallis ("Marxist"), but I guess that's whose gonna see me into this listening phase.

In typical me fashion, I have to get the last word and post the blog here on my site in the middle of a lesbian and feminist blogroll and tell the world that I want to be an evangelical. 

So ... bring it on, God.    

View Article  Gay intern "Ran toward the bullets" to save Giffords' life

Openly gay, newly minted intern Daniel Hernandez is credited with saving the life (LezGetReal) of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords when she was shot Saturday in Tucson, Arizona.

Hernandez is a Junior at the University of Arizona and a member of  the City of Tucson?s Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues. 

Follow the link for compelling video interview with Hernandez.  I don't want to go on at length about this "gay" angle, but it is important to acknowledge him for his heroism and to remind us that all human beings are capable of great courage literally under fire.

This quiet story has popped up on all the major gay blogs, an example of the sad irony that a gay Latino man stepped forward in Arizona to literally stop the lifeblood of a community leader from flowing away.  He held her hand.  Her stayed by her side. He did everything an American is expected to do.  In Arizona a state that assails his community on a regular basis. 

From JoeMyGod courtesy of the Dallas Voice:

Hernandez, who confirmed that he is gay in an interview with Instant Tea on Sunday morning, is a member of the City of Tucson Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues.

?She?s been a great ally to the LGBT community,? Hernandez said of Giffords during the brief interview across a bad connection.

According to the Arizona Republic, Hernandez was standing about 30 feet from Giffords during the ?Congress on Your Corner? event outside a Safeway store near Tucson. When the gunshots began, Hernandez ran toward them and began checking the pulses of people who?d been hit. When Hernandez got to Giffords, he used his hand to apply pressure to the entry wound on her forehead. He pulled her into his lap and held her upright so she wouldn?t choke on her blood. Hernandez used his hand to apply pressure to the wound until someone brought clean smocks from the meat department of the grocery store.

He stayed with Giffords until paramedics arrived, then climbed into an ambulance with her. On the way to the hospital, he squeezed her hand and she squeezed back

On a related issue, I got a little note from Lt. Dan Choi asking for support to have Daniel Hernandez invited to the State of the Union address.  If you think that's fitting, join the Facebook group here.

America is stronger because of men like Daniel Hernandez.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Hernandez as the one who was rescued, instead of Congresswoman Gifford.  Our apologies for the error.

View Article  Moment of Silence

Tomorrow, I'll try to process. 

Tonight, I just want to remind you the our President, Barack Obama, has asked all of America to join in a moment of silence Monday at 11 AM to commemorate all of the victims of the violence in Tucson, the survivors and deceased alike. 

"Tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. eastern standard time, I call on Americans to observe a moment of silence to honor the innocent victims of the senseless tragedy in Tucson, Arizona, including those still fighting for their lives," the president said in a statement. "It will be a time for us to come together as a nation in prayer or reflection, keeping the victims and their families closely at heart."

The president will observe the moment of silence with White House staff on the South Lawn of the White House, the statement said.

It is the least we can do.

View Article  HoBo's

I missed this in the Trib Review.  To be fair, the online edition is unclear whether it is a local piece or a reprint (there's a byline and a tagline).  But "he" takes a closer look at the pursuit of the institute of marriage for the LGBTQ community in the context of "anti-marriage" movements of the past. 

Of course, the lunacy of the bohemian free-love shtick should have been obvious from the get-go. For instance, when Michael Lerner, a member of the anti-Vietnam War "Seattle Seven," did marry, in 1971, the couple exchanged rings made from the fuselage of a U.S. aircraft downed over Vietnam and cut into a cake inscribed in icing with a Weatherman catchphrase, "Smash Monogamy."

Today Lerner is a (divorced and remarried) somewhat preposterous, prosperous progressive rabbi who officiates at all kinds of marriages -- gay and straight -- and, like pretty much the entire left, loves the idea of open gays becoming cogs in the military-industrial complex.

 He also rightly identifies the socio-economic divides that threaten to undermine attempts to act cohesively right here in Western Pennsylvania.

The gay experiment with open bohemianism was arguably shorter. Of course, AIDS played an obvious and tragic role in focusing attention on the downside of promiscuity. But even so, the sweeping embrace of bourgeois lifestyles by the gay community has been stunning.

Now I'll admit I'm a bourgeois lifestyle gay woman.  I just try to be aware of it and use my privileges to help.  I realize how hollow that rings, but I also genuinely do think he's right now .... the divide is here. I've talked about it before so I won't rant here, but as we move into a post-DADT world we are going to see this playing out more and more often in the national debate.  Organizations are now pegged as Gay, Inc (by me, too) and inside/outsider status seems to change daily.  Organizations are struggling to reconcile the different agendas and priorities, but also the shifting cultural differences within the gay community.  Setting aside those who oppose marriage in general, there is a very strong middle sector of the LGBTQ community who are much more concerned with their jobs, their housing and their healthcare.  Marriage equality could help, but it seems to drain resources from efforts that could help much sooner and much more concretely and not be grounded in your identity as one-half of couple, rather than your identity as an American citizen.

Many of my conservative friends -- who oppose both civil unions and gay marriage and object to rampant promiscuity -- often act as if there's some grand alternative lifestyle for gays. But there isn't. And given that open homosexuality is simply a fact of life, the rise of the HoBos -- the homosexual bourgeoisie -- strikes me as good news.

I share the belief that as gays gain power and influence, it can be good.  It can also cut them (us?) off from some of discriminations that power and influence (and affluence) buffer. 

The challenge we face here in Western PA is that we don't have a leader who bridges these worlds.  The only place where this barrier may come down is at the bars, but we've moved past the time when bars are "the" institutions for the community. With that comes the price of addiction, risky sexual behavior, isolation, and an insular, if somewhat safe, worldview. We haven't yet moved to a place where there's a replacement here in Pittsburgh.  There are organizations who try and achieve moderate success, but ... no leader. 

That's going to be the necessary next step to galvanize Western PA's LGBTQ community to face down Darryl Metcalfe and push back against forces that perhaps strip us of existing rights and protections.  Finding someone to inspire, to effectively reach across the socio-economic divide and to live transparently will be a challenge.  Finding someone to unite the leaders of their factions and harvest their energies will be even more challenging as no one cedes power, even perceived power, without a fight. 

I guess the challenge is to decide whether the fight is best fought within the community or beyond.

View Article  Another PG Letter to the Editor for Marriage Equality

The PG Community Forum is beginning to grow on me.  Today, we find another pro-equality letter to the editor from Attorney Bruce Wilder of Downtown.

Short, sweet and to the point and with an affirming message for same sex parenting.

On the issue of "majorities," please note that anti-miscegenation laws were struck down by the courts at a time where neither public opinion nor legislation would have ever accomplished that goal.

The comments reflect the usual stupidity and brilliant support. 

OK, I have to ask.  Lots of kind grow up with Mom and Grandma, or Dad and Aunt Ruth or even Grandma and Grandpa as their primary caretakers. Setting aside the circumstances that lead these children into non-traditional families, folks rarely imply that being raised by a mother and grandmother irrevocably damage a child because of the "what do I call these two women" perspective.  Yet, the myriad of homophobic slams about "which gay man is the mother" with regard to Elton John seems to actually carry weight.  Does anyone ask what the children of twice divorced Madonna, mother to three children with three different fathers, call her and/or their fathers?  Of course not, because its more interesting to focus on her dating life.  But no one cares.  Does Lola call her Mom, Mum, Mommy, Madre, Madonna, Hey You, etc?  I have no idea and I've never seen it mentioned.  I'd venture to say any confusion the children experience has more to do with the paparazzi and coping with any fallout from divorce, just like most children.  Elton John is not a mother.  He is a parent.

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View Article  Frst Time at Voluto Coffee

This is a shameful admission, but I've never made it to Voluto until this morning.  I pride myself on not being neighborhood bound, but we just never made it over here.  This morning, I had some time to spend while Ledcat went to another commitment so I popped in and was delightfully surprised and incredibly remorseful at my tardiness within the same second.

 

The location is great, right along Penn Avenue and the space is great, too.  It is actually warm in here, even near my window seat.  Decor is modern and sleek without being too smooth.  I've had a cup of the the dark roast house blend which really perked me up, followed by a decaf Americano (I still don't know what this is).  Both were flavorful and rich.  I love strong coffee, even when I drink decaf. I love the cups ...

 

Voluto serves 49th parallel coffees from Vancouver. I'm not sure of the source of the pastries, but I'm dropping crumbs from a delicious cranberry orange scone into my laptop as I type this (don't tell Robert Blackwell).  And very grateful Ledcat gave me this treat. 

Voluto's homepage features an interesting blog which is a great idea to keep the page fresh and people coming back, both virtually and literally.  You can follow them on Facebook.  They keep mostly daylight hours, but they are open on Sundays which is an advantage.  It can be tough on a working person to find coffee outside of Squirrel Hill during non-work hours so the Sunday open is very appealing. 

And service.  The owners were very friendly and helpful, even when I was wandering around seeking a good spot to see my computer screen.  I'm sure I looked foolish, but we must sacrifice in the name of blogging. 

I regret that life got in the way of venturing this way from the beginning.  I won't make that mistake again.

Voluto is high on my list of places to which I plan to return soon.  I encourage you to do the same. 

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