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View Article  The Mayor's GLBT Advisory Council

I left tonight's meeting with some unanswered questions that I have submitted to his staff, so I'm going to give you a brief overview of the proceedings and save my analysis for a later date.

There 25 people in attendance, plus two folks from the media (City Paper and Rustbelt Radio).  They are accepting nominations through January 15, 2009.  Nominees should submit a cover letter and a resume.  City residency seems to be very important, but they might allow for exceptions in the case of significant GLBT organizations. 

The advisory council will determine its own agenda, timeframe, term limits and other issues.  The nomination review committee will include Deputy Chief of Staff Kristen Baginski, local businessman Gary Van Horn and other yet to be identified individuals. 

Start combing your networks for nominees.  Stay tuned for analysis. 

View Article  Breaking News from NJ: Civil Unions Aren't Working, State Should Permit Marriage

Just in:

Today at 3:56pm
This is a message from Garden State Equality:

This is huge. The New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission has completed its final report. In a unanimous vote, the Commission pronounces the civil union law a failure and recommends to Governor Corzine and the legislature that they enact a marriage equality statute.

The report will be posted online at 10:00 am ET Wednesday, December 10, 2008 athttp://www.nj.gov/oag/dcr/curc.html

Now more than ever, we ask you to attend Garden State Equality's FED UP WITH INEQUALITY Town Meeting for North Jersey on Wednesday, December 10 at 7 pm, The Baird Center, 5 Mead Street, South Orange; or Garden State Equality's FED UP WITH INEQUALITY Town Meeting for South Jersey on Thursday, December 11 at 7 pm, Scottish Rite Auditorium, 315 White Horse Pike, Collingswood. Please tell all your friends.

Harvey Milk's nephew Stuart Milk is speaking live at the Wednesday night town meeting in South Orange. On Thursday night in Collingswood, we'll show video excerpts of Stuart's speech.

If you would like to email Governor Corzine and key New Jersey legislators telling them to enact the Commission's recommendation of marriage equality, we've already prepared an email letter for you. All it will take is a couple of clicks and 30 seconds of your time. To email our letter to officials, visithttp://eqfed.org/campaign/FinalCommissionReport

I'm sitting at the City County Bldg waiting for the planning meeting for the Mayor's Advisory Council to commence.  It is ironic that in the land of Google, CMU and other technological feats, we can't get a decent wireless signal in the City County Building.  I'm in the hallway doing contortions trying to get this posted.  I'd love to liveblog, but I doubt that will happen when I enter the bowels of the Mayor's office.  We'll see ...

Anyway, big news from NJ, huh?  Here's the link:  http://www.nj.gov/oag/dcr/curc.html

More later. 


View Article  Post Summit Summit

Well, I couldn't resist as we had to crawl back through the mountains to Pennsylvania in the dark.  Brrrrr.  However, we are safely home and have rounded up all the critters from their various "band camps" much to their delight.  The boys are studiously not talking to us and Ana is sleeping off her weekend.  The cats forgave us pretty quickly. 

It has been a hell of a night.  We drove out of DC fairly smoothly until I got a little weary around Breezewood.  So we had to eat at a Perkins Restaurant.  The kind of place with processed everything, lots of folksy-cutsey decor and country music (Froggy 98) blaring in the bathroom. I swear they gave me Sanka.  We both now have stomach aches from all that processed goodness. I knew we should have gone to Bob Evans.  At least eggs are normal food.  I think.

Then, Ledcat took the wheel.  We kept the heat down so we didn't get sleepy.  I tried to talk cheerily of holiday plans and presents.  She grunted a lot and muttered something about setting all of our computers afire so there'd be no further need to travel to blog conferences.  The guy at the toll booth told us the Steelers were losing.  Ledcat was depressed. I was secretly hoping that meant no playoff game Steeler Nation folk in the Northside.  Alas, they pulled it out.  We stopped in Norwin to pick up the boys who were very low key and well-behaved, but smell alarmingly of kennel.  I dropped Ledcat and the kids at home and went to pick up Ana.  She had handled her first separation from us with surprising aplomb.  I loaded her and her 10 tons of band camp junk in the car and then spent 30 minutes trying to capture a stray dog (with a collar) and avoiding the 50 million police cars cruising Brighton Heights.  Apparently, my cell phone call to Ana's Aunt Debby was on speaker phone while I was trying to simultaneously find the bacon strips, secure Ana to the seat belt and use her Chihuaha leash to capture a 40+ dog.  In the dark.  I'm sure it was hysterical on that end of the phone call. 

I couldn't find the dog.  I am sad about that.  I hope he went home.

After contending with cat litter, trash, unloading the car in the midst of the departure of the Steeler Nation and peeved dogs, I am worn out.  I'm glad I checked Facebook because I forgot about a meeting.  There is some weirdness on my inherited Palm Pilot that is preventing Datebook synching so I am very lost when it comes to all my appts.  Is the Universe telling me to buy the damn Blackberry already? 

So, that is the behind the scenes glimpse of a post-blogging-summit wrapup.  My head is swirling with ideas and I need to rest with them for a few days so I don't dive in to even more overcommitment.  Ledcat wants to track down the jeans Cathy Renna was wearing.  I want to talk with the pastor-blogger from Massachusetts who reminded me of one of my favorite foster parents.  We both have pledged to avoid the Hyatt chain of hotels in the future. 

I have six minutes to get to bed. Did I mention that the alarm clock in our ritzy hotel room was broken and needed to be fixed by a "technician" who never showed up?  And that my 6:45 wake up call came in at 5:00 AM?  And that since there was no alarm clock, I got up and completely ready to go before catching a glimpse of the real time on my cell phone.  That was great. 

At least I am not forced to wear a country gal costume and work at Perkins. And drink Sanka. 

View Article  PG: Opinions You Should Read

The Post-Gazette editorial board comes out in favor of a Florida ruling that the state law banning LGBT adoption is unconstitutional.  Let us take a moment to be grateful here in Pennsylvania that we are not fighting back a similar ban or another round of marriage amending garbage (not yet).  Pennsylvania has 20,000+ children in the foster care system so a ban on gay foster parenting would be patently harmful to children.  This past June, I facilitated a session on gay foster parenting and adoption.  Everyone there -- 17 people -- wanted to adopt.  I hope some of them followed through. (I was there for foster care so I'm not sure what happened.)

Frank Martin Gill, a gay man from North Miami, waged and won the legal battle so he could adopt two foster children he has raised for four years. But the case is likely to be appealed and could end up ultimately in the hands of the Legislature.

Before the lawmakers act next time, they owe themselves -- and Florida's children who are seeking a home -- a reality check.

Keep this on your radar, folks.  Children's lives are at stake.  I know someone who worked in the Florida child welfare system so I kid you not ...

View Article  LGBT Blogger and Citizens Journalist Initiative - Day One

It has been a busy day in the big city for us.  The Initiative is just ... really cool sums it up best.  The majority of yesterday's inconveniences were forgotten in the many small nifty things that we experienced today.  I met Pam Spaulding and Autumn Sandeen from Pam's House Blend.  Jake Kaskey from Equality Advocates is here and we had a nice chat during our walk over to lunch with the Victory Fund conference.  Nick from PageOneQ.com, Jeremy, Lane, the list goes on and on.  With apologies to Gab Bonesso's comedy skit, it was this surreal fusion of real-time cyberstalking, gushing groupie experiences.  And that was before the coffee arrived.

Ledcat and I have been chatting about some of the great information we gathered today.  We have some thinking to do about the real focus of this blog and to whom we are speaking.  One thought that came to mind is how many heterosexual people tell me that they know about my blog because of referrals from other bloggers, such as the Political Junkies, MacYapper and Bram.  It is sort of insulting to be a footnote, but I could reframe that as my being able to impact other bloggers with bigger readerships than my modest visitors and get our community messages in front of a larger audience. 

One strength of what we've been doing for the past three years is our attempts to contextualize LGBTQ "issues" in terms of our actual lives.  While I may often veer into the mundane, I try to make this blog a reflection of my real life experiences as a lesbian living in Pittsburgh. 

The session that was very impactful was on activism and advocacy.  We talked quite a bit about the consequences of generating attention via blogging and to what lengths folks will go to get the story for the cause ... hidden microphones, etc.  I have a whole array of gadgets to purchase. LOL.  Watch out!  Seriously, it was inspiring and I wish more advocacy groups from Pgh were part of this conversation.  We have a long way to go in terms of cyber-organizing. 

Lunch, as I mentioned, was where we joined the Victory Fund conference going on concurrent to ours.  Kate Clinton was emceeing and was quite hysterical.  Barney Frank was the keynote speaker and was just brilliant ... he spoke with so much hope and optimism about the new Administration.  I wanted to believe, I really did. 

Something sort of unusual happened.  A woman attending the Victory Fund conference joined Ledcat and me at our table.  We chatted and it turns out that she is a former assistant women's basketball coach at Penn State.  So, she and Ledcat (PSU alumni) swapped notes and we had a very interesting chat about Renee Portland.  It was fascinating to get some backstory.  I missed the whole panel discussion because I was enthralled with this insider glimpse into a story we followed pretty closely here at pghlesbian.com.  Nothing earthshattering or that would surprise you.  Just confirmation that PSU is better off without Portland.

Tonight, we relax and rest up for a full day of conferencing tomorrow, followed by the drive back to Pittsburgh.  Through a snowstorm.  Great.  I have to pick up Ana at 8 AM and be at a meeting at 10 AM so a delay is not good.  However, driving through a snowstorm in a Honda Civic is not my idea of good times either.  I see a stop at a Motel 6 in our future.  Thankfully, both Ana's Aunt Debby and my boss are aware of the situation.  The price we pay for networking.

Speaking of Ana ... check out our girl at "bandcamp" with Aunt Debby ...

This is Ana and her BFF Trent, a pit mix who adores her.

Ana wearing her glow-in-the-dark winter coat.  She gets positively ecstatic when we pull it off the coat rack and wriggles so much that it becomes quite a challenge to wrap her up.  It proves very useful at night when you need to track her movements and assure she actually leaves the deck to visit the yard, but you are wearing socks/slippers and it is rainy and cold outside.  We call it her "Bat Cape."

That's it from this end.  Coming up in Pittsburgh's gay week .... the Steel City membership meeting on Tuesday evening and Mayor Luke's GLBT Advisory Council planning meeting on Weds.  My goal is to live blog both events, but storm delays could hamper those plans.  I'm sitting down to chat with City Councilman Bruce Kraus.

Have you figured out who to suggest for the Mayor's panel?  This is important.  Hope to see you at one of these meetings!

View Article  Blogging Summit: The Preview

It is the eve of the LGBT Blogging Initiative/Summit in Washington, DC and what fun we've had getting here.  I was late getting out of work so we got really behind leaving Pgh.  We made it to the kennel with literally 6 minutes to spare before they closed.  We drove through snow in the Laurel Highlands.  We ate bad food at a reststop.  I learned that my damn $25 Starbucks "member" card doesn't work at every Starbucks.  We got lost in NW DC and nearly set up camp at a bus shelter.  Our very ritzy hotel has a great view and very attentive staff.  It didn't have cups in the room, "complimentary" coffee or free wireless access.  We took the concierge's advice on dinner at a local Italian restaurant where we got pegged as cheap non-alcohol consuming women and had horrendous service, while the same waitperson gave outstanding service to the heterosexual couples and families surrounding us. (I REALLY HATE THIS because I am a great tipper).  One $3.50 can of soda later ... we are watching television and listening to the bar revelers and hotel muzak. 

On the bright side, our little Ana is greatly enjoying her "band camp" experience and Aunt Debby has sent us multiple photos of Ana essentially taking over the household in less than 10 hours.  I was wrong about forgetting to lock the doors to my car.  I'm with Ledcat.  People have been pretty nice (except for the server).

And I'm excited about the conference.  Meeting Pam Spaulding will be a real highlight.  Tomorrow, as they say, is another day. 

A few other thoughts ...

Yesterday, I wrote about Marty Levine's article in the City Paper covering the Anti-Prop 8 Momentum in Pittsburgh. I overlooked a related article on the progress of the County Anti-Discrimination legislation which is much more significant for Pittsburgh queers than Prop 8.  Go check that out.  We'll revisit this issue in more detail after the conference.

Something that struck me as Ledcat and I drove to DC was that Marty only interviewed (or at least quoted) young adults connected with the universities while dissecting the generational divide in local LGBT advocacy efforts.  I agree that there is a disconnect, but I wonder what he would have found had he ventured into Pegasus, Your Inner Vagabond or the Ava Lounge to talk with young queer adults who are not students?  Would there be a difference?  It was a relatively young group that organized the Dyke March, but the turnout was pretty diverse in terms of age.  So I wonder what the paradigm looks like when you factor in socio-economic status and transitory residency versus permanent residency? 

View Article  Prop 8 - The Musical
I can't make the embedding work so please go see this video http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/c0cf508ff8/prop-8-the-musical-starring-jack-black-john-c-reilly-and-many-more-from-fod-team-jack-black-craig-robinson-john-c-reilly-and-rashida-jones
View Article  Is Flabbergasted a Second or Third Wave Queer Advocacy Term?

From yet another excellent City Paper piece by Marty Levine about the Anti-Prop 8 rally comes this quote from moi:

And local leaders "are not capitalizing" yet on the post-Prop 8 enthusiasm for LGBT causes, says Sue Kerr, who blogs locally with Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents. "Maybe they didn't realize what was going to happen at Schenley Plaza and they're not using the technology to get the word out." Still, she says, "I was flabbergasted at how many people showed up [at Schenley Plaza] -- and I didn't know most of them. It was viral, post-modern organizing" through the Internet. "That's a lesson learned, hopefully."

Go read the whole article for some interesting perspectives on the generational divide in terms of advocacy perspectives.  And help me figure out why I used the term flabbergasted!

View Article  Steel City Stonewall Announces Membership Meeting

Here's an important upcoming meeting. Note that this is one day prior to the Mayor's mtg and an excellent opportunity to discuss nominations for the Advisory Council as well as any process issues.  A planned agenda item is recruitment for Steel City.  As I've said before, I think this is one of the most important opportunities to leverage gay momentum into some sort of impactful action for our community.  Join!

Membership Meeting

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008, 7:00 PM - 8:45 PM
Mount Washington
831 Boggs Ave
Pittsburgh, PA, 15211

Steel City Stonewall Democrats will be holding a Membership Meeting on December 9th at 7 PM. The major goal of the meeting will be to vote on the adoption of new by-laws for Steel-City Stonewall Democrats. 

In addition, we will also discuss the important upcoming 2009 elections for City /County Council, Mayor, & the Judiciary.  We also would like to get your input on the future direction of the chapter as well as suggestions for recruitment. 

Light food & drink will be served at the gathering.

Please RSVP Lance Friedman at historycat101@aol.com or 412-728-5262

Membership dues for 2009 are due in January.  The 2009 Pennsylvania Primary will be April 22nd and our 2009 Endorsement Meeting is tentatively scheduled to be in late February.  Dues must be paid in advance of the 2009 Endorsement Meeting in order to vote on who SCSD will endorse in the 2009 Democratic Primary.   You can pay dues by paypal at www.steel-city.org or feel free to bring a check to the Membership Meeting.  Ten dollars of your dues go directly to National Stonewall Democrats in Washington D.C.


View Article  Update on Domestic Registry

According to the City of Pittsburgh - Department of Personnel re: the Domestic Partner Registry signed into law June 2008:

There are six partners that have applied for the registry.  Out of the six, five are same sex and 1 is opposite sex.

I assume she meant six sets of partners or six couples (12 partners, total).  Still, six?  Huh? 

We haven't registered.  We were informed by the Department of Personnel and City Council staff that we would receive information as we are one of the handful of gay domestic partners registered as City employee (not in the new registry).  We have *never* received anything.  No notice, no letter, no postcard, no email, nothing.  And, as our benefits haven't changed, there's no need to register.  I see no reason to do so.  We have the affidavit.  What else is there?

How will six couples be leverage to convince an employer to offer domestic partner benefits?  The least you could do is get your own employees registered, Luke.  That would bring the total to nearly 70 couples. 

I still think there's opportunity for this registry to be meaningful, it its grown in such a way that families in greatest need of the benefits can overcome barriers to registering.  A really well done brochure on how to register with very concrete information and specifics could be great. 

Maybe six is a reasonable amount?  I'm meeting with City Councilman Bruce Kraus later this month and I'll get his take on this.  He and Doug Shields got the legislation passed.  Again, it is up to the Mayor's team to execute things. 

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