Thursday, April 10
by Sue on Thu 10 Apr 2008 10:06 PM EDT
Hmmm. I'd be curious to know how diverse this group really is ... how much representation from the bisexual and trans communities? Anyone who is actually poor (college years don't count) and gay? How many persons of color and is it proportional to the larger community?
I'm especially curious about the T factor given the hoopla over ENDA on the national level.
And why kick off at a bar? Sing it sisters ... stereotype! (Does she support creating a healthier work environment in that bar with a smoking ban and a union? Would the owners still give her money?)
On the flip side, no news of a steering committee from the Obama camp. I'll have to ask dayvoe about that one. Do we have any ex-gay leaders living in Pennsylvania?
Anyway, here's the list of Hillary's homos. See if you recognize any names. Ask them about any upcoming Pittsburgh based Hillary/LGBT appearances or events. I'll have my shiny new press pass by then, surely.
Pennsylvania LGBT Steering Committee:
Tuesday, April 8
by Sue on Tue 08 Apr 2008 07:21 PM EDT
A lot to impart so bear with me.
First, the hearing. If you cannot attend, you can submit written testimony. This comes from Sue Frietsche, Pittsburgh's Women's Law Project go-to-woman. I am still trying to determine if you can email it. Ledcat and I are working on a joint letter.
It can be in letter form, addressed to Senator Greenleaf at: Senate Judiciary Committee, Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg PA 17120, and it should be entitled, "Testimony of [your name] on Senate Bill 1250".
So, that's one critical piece of information and just proves that it is sometimes worth kicking up the dirt to find the flowers. Thus, if you cannot attend, you have no reason not to let your voice be heard on this important issue. It doesn't have to be profound or anything like that. Just write.
Second, I've mentioned my concerns about the "information dissemination" process around this legislation. I shared my concerns with local and statewide LGBT advocacy folks. Most agree that a dearth of resources are part of the problem. Stacey Sobel of Equality Advocates gave me a lot of insight into the process. I suspect, like many situations, it boils down to communication. The fact that I received at least 13 copies of the hearing notice (including a few today) does not offset the fact that it took four days to get the information in the first place. Creating another group or setting up another website is not the answer. We have to find a better way for advocacy groups to get the word out here in Pittsburgh -- it is *our* responsibility to make it happen.
Finally, I hope you caught the letters to the editor in today's Post-Gazette. One is from a long (very long) time friend of mine, Keith Bajura. His optimism is buoying amidst all this hearing hoopla:
Then there is Marilyn Reed of Pine (where is Pine?) who hasn't been paying attention to the facts. She claims that this amendment won't impact domestic partner benefits. Then she trots out the worn out "Let the People decide!" argument. Sigh.
That didn't work out so well for the people in the 2000 election, did it Marilyn? This whole line of thought makes civil rights something that can be bestowed upon certain groups on the whim of the majority. Isn't that a scary world, Marilyn? There was a time, Marilyn, when the voters didn't think that you - a woman - had the right to vote. Or to get an education so as to be able to write letters to the editor. Was it okay for those people to make that series of decisions? Hmmm ...
Still no letters in the Tribune Review. What is the deal?
Please write your testimony. Let the Senators on the Appropriations Committee hear from you. It does make a difference.
by Sue on Tue 08 Apr 2008 12:25 AM EDT
Word trickled out Sunday about the upcoming Pgh hearing on SB 1250 which would amend the constitution of PA to permanently ban gay marriage. And other stuff, too. But no one on the right is talking about the negative backlash for their families beyond the voo doo protection from homo marriage.
I have had a dozen email messages today from various groups trying to muster the troops for Thursday. The odds are not good -- the hearing is in the middle of the day, we have had four days notice and, frankly, our side is not well-organized. I know that might make me a traitor to the cause to admit that publicly, but someone has to cry wolf. Because we seemed a lot more organized last time and barely won that round. This hearing was scheduled on 4/3 and Pittsburgh's queer community first heard about it on 4/6. We lost three, almost four, days of prep time and no one seems to have a good answer to that.
You know *they* are organized. And well-funded. And will be there in full force on Thursday.
I also know that local bloggers seem very well-organized to tackle this hearing. No one has to convince them that it is newsworthy which means thousands of blog readers are going to get some insight beyond a 30 second sound-bite on KDKA. I say work with the bloggers.
Look at Pam's House Blend. It is one of the largest sources of LGBT information, period. We could build on that energy here in Pgh AND tap into the terrific support of our heterosexual blogging allies, who frankly outnumber the gay bloggers. Far outnumber.
If you can be there on Thursday, it will make a huge difference. Every gay ally counts. Don't let parking or crowds or rush hour traffic deter you. You can be damn skippy sure it won't keep the Cranberry home-schooling Christo-bigot housewives from loading up the SUVs and rolling into town to defend their marriages.
Our folks are doing their best with really limited resources. Things need to change and each of us has to step up to be part of that change. My best suggestion is to join Steel City Stonewall Democrats. They broke the news about the hearing before any other local source. In some cases, it took 24 hours for other groups to catch up. Co-chair Kris Rust assures me they are expanding scope to work on issues, not just campaigns. Go to this hearing. Wear your sticker and be counted. Then go home and join Steel City. Stop by their booth at PrideFest. Read up on their slate. See how their endorsed candidates for state offices vote on this issue.
And, hey, gay groups -- use the bloggers. Not just me, for Pete's sake. 18 bloggers participated in Blog for Equality. They are paying attention and you just need to send them an email to start a dialogue, potentially reaching thousands of readers.
Be part of the solution.
Sunday, April 6
by Sue on Sun 06 Apr 2008 04:11 PM EDT
Courtesy of Steel City Stonewall Democrats comes this news.
Your faithful correspondent, alas, cannot attend as I have work commitments that cannot be missed. So I hope you will attend and speak your mind.
It is frustrating to only receive four days notice (and some change, I guess) for a middle of the day hearing. 3/4 of my work commitments are flexible enough to accomodate these sort of things, but not all of them. I guess that is how things go. It is particularly frustrating, though, in this case as lower income LGBT (and straight) families will be hit very hard by this type of discrimination and are least likely to be able to just drop everything at work for a 2 PM meeting.
Please let me know if you plan to attend.
Friday, April 4
by Sue on Fri 04 Apr 2008 09:44 PM EDT
Hmm ... what do we have here? A local defense attorney plays the gay card to defend his pedophilia client. A University of Pittsburgh Neurologist was nabbed in a sting and has been identified as a "preferential offender," meaning he has a preferred type of victim. It ain't pretty and makes him fairly dangerous if released. His lawyer thinks house arrrest is appropriate:
Talk about a back-handed compliment. How exactly does it help your client to draw the oh-so-ridiculous link between pedophilia and homosexuality? Who do you win over with that argument? People who hate pedophiles, but like gay people? Or the other way around?
What else can I say about the stupidity of this statement?
Tuesday, April 1
by Sue on Tue 01 Apr 2008 10:07 PM EDT
It is completely true. My innocent little email was rejected by the Steel City Media cyber guardians. I just wanted to ask Chris Potter a question. Rest assured, Potter was on it once I made the call. And once it became apparent that someone in marketing couldn't email her boyfriend ... well, he was on it a little bit. He does have important columns to write and it has been awhile since he played the white-straight-guy privilege card so I'm gonna assume this was all just a big misunderstanding.
The important thing is that Gary and Beth are gone, right? Right?
OK, onto other topics. Letters to the editor. The PG has been full of 'em -- everyone has something to write about gay marriage. Some of it is good, some of it is crap. Most of it is poorly written, but filled with joie de vivre!
Interesting to me has been the dearth of letters in the Tribune Review. What's up with that? Have the subscribers been so blindsided by Richie's meeting with Hillary Clinton that they've lost track of important gay-bashing goals? I mean how are you supposed to oppress an entire group of citizens if your base isn't stepping up on the letter writing? The next thing, we'll be distributing civil rights to Mexicans, Hondurans and <gasp> people who wear turbans but aren't Islamic. What is this world coming to?
I wrote a letter to the Post-Gazette, but I forgot to send it to myself so I'm not 100% sure what I wrote. I know that I did praise Doug Shields and draw comparisons between Sally Kern and the gay marriage amendment stuff here in PA. I thought it was topical and had a national contexty flair that has yet to come to light in the other "published" letters. Whatever.
Seriously, my letter. It rocked.
Slow day at lesbian central. I didn't cry when I came home which is a first since Mona's demise. I really appreciate when people offer their condolences, but it isn't fun when someone wants to know about the injection experience. I would think my terse one-word answers would be a social cue that I don't want to talk about it. Ledcat brought my tulips from a local flower store here on the Northside. He has a dog and now she wants a small little dog. I draw the line at a dog that could actually squeeze outside of the fence.
See what lesbian marriage creates? Tulips (patronizing local businesses), a clean load of dishes (cleanliness next to Godliness), Chinese take out (more local business and the family of Ming Na -- hottie!), the one repeat of NCIS I missed this year (don't ask and I won't tell), and my secret hope that Ledcat will go ahead and replace the cat vomited sheets while I'm up here doing important blogging work.
Q92.9. I listen. I find the autotron female voice very amusing. As well the lack of gay bashing phone calls being aired. Ah, sweet.
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?
Friday, March 28
by Sue on Fri 28 Mar 2008 11:48 AM EDT
Rene Portland must be rolling over ... wherever she is.
Penn State is holding a same sex ceremony for two couples to kick off PrideWeek on campus. Diane Gramley and her wingnuts are up in arms, but most of the feedback from people who actually live in State College has been positive.
More in the Post-Gazette.
Yes, another reason why you should call you State Senator. "Pro" voices need to be heard from, too.
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