Thursday, January 24
by Sue on Thu 24 Jan 2008 03:29 PM EST
Just got word that City Council President Doug Shields will introduce a "Will of the Council" on Tuesday that will express the Council's support of HB 1400 which, along with SB 761, will amend the PA Human Relations Act to include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression" as protected classes.
From Council President Shields' statement:
This is an important gesture and one that deserves a unanimous vote. Please pick up your phone and ask your City Council Representative to support this Will of Council.
I am very pleased that my State Rep (Chelsa Wagner) and State Senator (Wayne Fontana) are sponsoring the state legislation. I hope my City Councilwoman, Tonya Payne, votes in support of this legislation.
People shouldn't be denied employment or housing because they are gay or they don't conform to gender normative behavior. This is pretty basic stuff and Pittsburgh's been ahead of the curve for over a decade.
Here's the resolution:
A shout out to Shields' Chief of Staff, Selena Schmidt, for her wonkish skills in helping me find the "gender identity and gender expression" phrasing in the City Code.
by Sue on Thu 24 Jan 2008 12:44 PM EST
by Sue on Thu 24 Jan 2008 11:15 AM EST
This week's City Paper advises readers on recent changes in local PrideFest activities, including new management, a new location and the expansion to a week-long event. As we reported earlier, the Delta Foundation is sponsoring a community meeting to unveil the proposed changes and generate community investment in the larger effort (Tuesday, February 5, 7-9 pm - follow the link for more details).
The CP article is a nice update, especially for straight allies who may not be aware of the changes.
I'm looking forward to the meeting.
Wednesday, January 23
by Sue on Wed 23 Jan 2008 03:07 PM EST
I think it's wrong for the government to discriminate against people because of a person's sexual orientation. I think that gay men and women ought to have the same rights as heterosexual men and women to make contracts, have hospital visiting rights, and join together in marriage. I don't understand why it is considered by some people to be a threat to heterosexual marriage to allow it for gays and lesbians. Shouldn't we be promoting the kind of faithfulness and loyalty to one partner regardless of sexual orientation? Because if we don't do that, then to that extent you are promoting promiscuity and promoting all the problems that can result from promiscuity. And the loyalty and love that people feel for one another when they fall in love ought to be celebrated and encouraged and shouldn't be prevented by any form of discrimination in the law.
by Sue on Wed 23 Jan 2008 11:24 AM EST
It's back. Sigh. From Equality Advocates:
A gay visitor (Anthony M. Brown) to Pittsburgh (Greensburg) took a few minutes to share his thoughts with the Tribune Review.
Anthony, thanks for making time to share your thoughts. Another quarter heard from is the American Family Association of Pennsylvania where Diane Gramley was stomping her faith-clad furry boots because "homosexual organizations" got the jump on her in broadcasting this legislative flurry. Here's an interesting claim:
As always, Diane asks for your money but not your prayers.
This was an ugly victory last time around in 2006 and a clear example of social conservative Democratic values clashing with the interests and civil rights of the entire LGBT community. Here's how the last round of elected officials voted on the marriage amendment. Many of those in the House took the straightforward coward's way of voting in favor of amending the constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. The Senate did this elaborate dance of "yes, I am, no I am not" switcheroos so they could vote against the "concept" while not having to deal with a pro-homo vote.
Don't let them get the jump on us. Contact your Senator today and ask her/him to oppose amending hate into our Constitution.
by Sue on Wed 23 Jan 2008 10:44 AM EST
MSNBC picked up a little blurb on plans to make Pittsburgh a gay tourist mecca. gay and lesbian, excuse me.
Of course, the story quotes two white gay male business owners. Both of whom are nice enough fellows and do good things. But if I were an out of town lesbian picking a spot to drop my travel $$, I might like to see that women are in leadership positions, too. The Vice-Chair of the GLCC is a woman. Why not quote her? There are several local businesses owned by women who would love to get some women (and men) tourist dollars. A researcher at Pitt is a transwoman with a significant presence on the national level in her field and in the trans community.
Nothing personal against these particular gentleman. I understand they have two slots open on their board of directors and here's hoping they put diversity high on the list of attributes. Filling both slots with talented, experienced individuals that don't look like the traditional Pittsburgh bar owner will go a long way in sending a message both internally and externally about the value men in our community have for women, queers of color, bisexual men and women, transgender men and women, and so forth.
If we are going to change the perception that Pittsburgh is not a progressive or modern city, we must start right here and make changes in how we share power and leadership. Sharing the power is the key to a true partnership.
Here's hoping for a new refrain.
Tuesday, January 22
by Sue on Tue 22 Jan 2008 01:14 PM EST
I am pro-choice. Tuesday is the 35th Anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision and bloggers throughout the nation are working to raise the profile of reproductive choice vis a vis Blog for Choice 2008.
My right to make decisions about my reproductive health is not something I take lightly. While only three when Roe was decided, most of my adult years have been defined by an increasing assault on this personal freedom in the name of an undefined "fetus" which has become a personless poster-child for an agenda determined to beat women back into an age of suppression and repression.
I have many friends who identify as pro-life. They pray for unborn children and march to restrict access to abortion. Some fervently believe the rhetoric they are spoon fed by patriarchal structures that historically hold women in a subservient positions (hello, Catholic Church). Some honestly think it is about babies. Most don't give a damn about those babies once they exit the birth canal, particularly if they are born into families that are poor, of color, single, gay, young or in some other aberration from the mythological "traditional family." Or if those babies suck up tax dollars.
My point is that there are many people who buy into this mythological assault on unborn children. Hence, the need for those of us who see through this fairy tale to hold the line, politically and legislatively.
I confess that my record is not perfect. I voted for Bob Casey, a pro-life Democrat, to oust woman and homo hater Rick Santorum. But choice is important to me.
I applaud creativity. Chris Potter, editor extraordinaire of the City Paper, inspired many of us with his response to the 2007 WDUQ/Duquesne University/Planned Parenthood debacle.
In 2003, the Gertrude Stein Political Club of Pittsburgh earned my respect when they stood up to the Pittsburgh Tavern Guild who refused them entrance to distribute slate cards that did not endorse openly anti-choice Gene Riccardi. The Tavern Guild forever lost respect in my eyes for their heavy handed, self-serving maneuver as well as the clear illustration that issues that impact women (and our autonomy) came in second place to issues that impact their bottom line and/or political connections. Shame on them.
Pittsburgh recently elected an anti-choice Democrat as our Mayor for the next two years. His only vote related to reproductive freedom was against the Bubble Zone, a law that protects women from abusive protests at clinics. Luke gave no explanation for his vote.
Western Pennsylvania is a Democratic town with a big Catholic social conservative twist. We cannot afford to take lightly when movers and shakers in our town impose an anti-choice mindset on the rest of us, be they bastions of intellectual freedom or business owners, much less 27 year old elected officials. Our bodies are not up for barter. Our choices are not up for debate.
Last year, I blogged about the hypocrisy of those on the other side. This year, I believe it is imperative that we examine the support of our allies right here in Pittsburgh - a town of staunch Democrats and staunch Catholics. A town where the largest Presbyterian Church in town voted themselves off the island to join a more conservative communion. A town with one (1) local female talk show host who is also the only local liberal talk show host.
What does this have to do with voting pro-choice? Well, that nice young man who you wanted to have a chance as Mayor is going to someday set his sites on an elected position where he votes on more than bubble ordinances. Those business owners who put political allies ahead of the lives of half of their own community are now financially supporting that nice young man. Can you win a statewide seat on an anti-choice ticket? Ask Bob Casey. I'd prefer not to be in a position of Casey v Santorum anytime soon.
My point is that we must pay attention to the local situation as well as the state and federal situations. My point is that we includes the women and men of the LGBT community. My point is that when the next generation of local Democratic leadership clings to a Catholic-fused political reality (no civil unions, no birth control, no bubble zone, etc) AND the next generation of local gay leadership continues to fund that guy ... women need to pay attention. We need to sit down with these men and make sure they understand why choice impacts every single woman in our community.
It is important to vote pro-choice. It is important to read the questionairres distributed by the Gertrude Stein Club and the Steel City Stonewall Democrats and pay attention to the questions about choice. It is important that the questions be asked.
We are not making progress or moving forward with a 27 year old Mayor that is anti-choice and anti-civil union. It is incumbent on us to educate him and ourselves on the implications for our lives if reproductive choice continues to erode under the relentless assault from those who would happily impose their value systems on our bodies.
Monday, January 21
by Sue on Mon 21 Jan 2008 07:30 PM EST
Here's some cheery polling data:
Obama on homophobia. h/t Pam's House Blend. (she has the video posted).
I probably should pull this out for a separate thread, but I gotta get some Ledcat-approved work done tonight.
This is the inverse of the conversation that I have never heard in Pittsburgh no matter how many community forums I've attended or leadership trainings I've participated in or celebrations I've celebrated --- why do we scorn and ignore our gay brothers and sisters of color? I had a chat recently with someone about some openings for leadership and the value of actively seeking to diversify the membership. The response fell into the worn out refrain of "why don't they come to us?"
I've said before that the most diverse segment of our community is the under 30 crowd. Diverse in terms of race, gender, queer identity, etc. We could learn a lot from that group and I'm rather thankful that I'll be around as they move into the leadership roles -- or create their own.
Just my $.02. It comes to mind whenever I hear the overly simplistic assessments of the intersection of race and gender in the Democratic primary campaigns. I hear a lot of local homos bitching and moaning about homophobia in the African-American community, but very little effort to stretch our own comfort zones out to get more involved in the local black gay community.
You should bookmark Pam's blog. She and her compatriots explore these themes on a regular basis. I don't have any answers, but I do like to keep bringing up the question.
Saturday, January 19
by Sue on Sat 19 Jan 2008 10:05 PM EST
Did you know the Firehouse Lounge was lesbian-friendly? I never thought about it one way or another. My class president was considering it for our 20th year reunion, but we went another direction. Maybe that's too bad ...anyway, if you want to hang out and watch the L-word, maybe this is an option. Let me know what it is like.
h/t to correspondent localmotionpgh
Thursday, January 17
by Sue on Thu 17 Jan 2008 03:43 PM EST
Just in case you thought Christian fringe nutjob Mike Huckabee has any redeeming qualities, here he is in an interview with beliefnet....
That's pretty straightforward ... changing the definition of marriage to include two men or two women is tantamount to a man and animal. There's none of that gay marriage opens the door to man on dog marriage logic that Santorum espoused. Nope, Huckabee makes a much more straightforward equivalent.
Sigh. Not that it really makes any difference.