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View Article  Legislative Push to Expand LGBT Protections in Employment, Housing and Public Accomodations

The week of January 28 through February 3 is a call to action day per Equality Advocates ...

On January 28 - February 3, 2008, join activists across the state in pushing for the successful passage of non-discrimination legislation in Pennsylvania!

With the largest number of co-sponsors ever for pro-LGBT legislation in Pennsylvania, House Bill 1400 would protect all LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accomodations.

We need you to call or visit your State Representative and ask them to support House Bill 1400! Without your efforts we will not be able to pass this important piece of legislation.

Here's a list of current cosponsors of the legislation.

Bennington, Beyer, Biancucci, Bishop, Blackwell, Brennan, Buxton, Caltagirone, Carroll, Cohen, Costa, Cruz, Curry, Daley, DePasquale, Dermody, DeWeese, Donatucci, Eachus, D.Evans, Fabrizio, Frankel, Freeman, George, Gerber, Gergely, Harkins, Helm, Hornaman, James, Josephs, Kessler, King, Kirkland, Leach, Lentz, Levdansky, Mahoney, Manderino, Mann, McCall, McGeehan, McIlvaine Smith, Melio, Mundy, Myers, Nickol, M. O'Brien, Oliver, Parker, Pashinski, Payton, Petrone, Preston, Readshaw, Roebuck, Ross, Sabatina, Samuelson, Santoni, Saylor, Shapiro, Siptroth, Steil, Sturla, R. Taylor, Thomas, Vitali, Wagner, Walko, Wansacz, Waters, Wheatley, Williams, and Youngblood

Equality Advocates are urging us gay folks and our allies to contact our reps to either thank them for their sponsorship or ask them to sign on.

Click here to find out which lucky soul is your representative.

Click here for talking points from Equality Advocates.

This really matters.  Ledcat and I live in the City and we both work for employers with a presence in the City.  My organization includes sexual orientation in our non-discrimination policies, but I can't lie and say that I haven't faced homophobia in the workplace. I appreciate the company policy, but I deserve the safety that knowing my employment is not going to be threated by the ignorant, homophobic behavior of people with whom I happen to work. 

My state rep, Chelsa Wagner, is on-board. I've already thanked her, but I'll do so again. 

Take a few moments of your time, fellow queers and the straight people who love us.  We deserve civil protections and none of us can afford -- NONE OF US -- to be complacent.  Click the damn link and take three minutes to compose an email.

You can be sure Diane Gramley and her merry band of bigots are deluging the reps from the other side of hate and intolerance. 

View Article  So a lesbian and a chief editor walk into a coffeehouse ...

Tonight, Ledcat and I sipped coffee and ooh la la'd with none other than Ms. Monongahela, Ms. Chief Editor.  We reconnoitered at a local coffeehouse. I can't tell you which one because, you see, they have eyes everywhere.  Even in the vegan rice krispie treats (i missed the marshmallows). 

It is always a fun time to meet another blogger in person. We bonded over our mutual admiration for John McIntire, the man called Potter and mocha drinks.  We have almost worked out the kinks for the official Society secret greeting.  Personally, I'm of the opinion that a few kinks never hurt anyone's secret greeting, but I'm not sure Ms. Mon agrees.  I bet McIntire would agree.  Unforunately, he'll never know how it works itself out because of the whole secret part.  Sigh.  Why did I bring this up?  Pretend you never read this. 

I promised my therapist I wouldn't blog or even by on my computer after 9:00 PM and I have blown the promise  for three days in a row.  Now I'm spilling all the handshake beans.  This is what happens when you get all crazy and have a mocha in the middle of the week. 

So ... someone tried to blow up Sweden with a dildo. 

The ACLU is defending Larry Craig's expectation of privacy.  Good for them.  People are so busy making jokes about "toe tappers" that they lose site of how invasive this whole sting operation was.  Is everything you do in a bathroom stall fit for police observation?

That's all I have tonight.  I'm tired from all the conversationing.  It is exhausting being scintillating. 

ps:  I am very excited that I made a story suggestion to the man called Potter and they might actually use it.  I won't ruin the surprise by identifying the topic, but it feels very gratifying that someone listens to your idea and thinks it is worth some resource investment.  i hope they assign someone cool to write the story because i will go around telling the entire free world it was my idea and only a cool person would endure that kind of behavior. 

pps: my 20th year high school reunion is coming up in June.  so far, there are only 2 homos in a class of 300+.  that's statistically improbable.  my truest and for sure oldest friend, Amy, whom I have known since the tender age of four is coming to Pgh and staying with us!  we even have a facebook group so i am really getting excited.  Ledcat is already sick of the nostalgia. 

 

View Article  Filled with GLEE - LGBT social networking site

Today's PG gave me the heads up on a new social networking phenomenon, GLEE - Gay, Lesbian & Everyone Else.  I have a little MySpace page which I rarely use.  I also have a Facebook page that has proven more useful in reconnecting with old friends and a lot easier to use.  Then, there is Linked In, a professional networking site.  That one is pretty innocuous. 

Overall, the sites aren't all that and a bag of chips.  Facebook is my preferred social networking site.  I've found a few friends from both high school and college, plus I can keep up with my brother and his family.

None of the sites are particularly connected to my gay identity.  The relationship options offered by Facebook default to heteronormative standards -- that kind of sucks.  There are tons of LGBT groups set up on both Facebook and MySpace.  MySpace is more difficult to use and it suits me when I'm a little manic, but not on a day to day basis. 

So I thought GLEE would be worth a whirl.  It is very cumbersome.  I enrolled earlier today and have yet to receive my verification email.  Setting up "my page" was boring.  I scrolled through other profiles of those online from Pittsburgh and it felt very "get a date" like.  None of my actual friends appear to be in the network, but I could be wrong.  So I'll keep my profile up and see what happens.  Check it aht!

View Article  No longer a Vagina Monologues virgin

Saturday night, Ledcat and I caught a local performance of The Vagina Monologues at the City Theater. It was bloggers night. I snatched two tickets as soon as word hit the Internet.  Clearly, this was the perfect occasion for Ledcat and I to see the show that pretty much defines your feminist street cred. 

Overall, it was a good experience.  The performers were engaging, the venue was comfortable and the crowd was energetic.  They built up the tension by alternating humorous skits with soulful monologues.  The piece about the use of rape in war zones was very sad.  The piece that pushed the envelope involved a survivor of childhood sexual assault describing the healing she found at the age of 13 when she was "seduced" by a 24 year old woman. 

That was tough and several of us chatting afterward agreed that there was just no way that was gonna fly.  While you feel this empathy and appreciation that the child found solace and comfort being treated with gentleness, the fact remains that the 24 year old woman seducing a child is little better than the grown man who raped her at the tender age of 10. I was angry that the child's earlier experience made the "seduction" seem less of a violation. 

You can catch the Vagina Monologues at the City Theater through Feb. 17th and if you mention "blog" when you call you can save $5.00.  The number is 412-431-2489. (I learned that calling versus purchasing tickets online will save you a few extra dollars.)

After the show, we toodled up to Cambod-ican Kitchen which was packed.  We caught a table in the corner and enjoyed one of favorite meals.  If you like Asian food, I highly suggest you swing by sometime.

Sunday we met up with Gab Bonesso for a late breakfast at the Square Cafe. She and John McIntire have a show coming up on January 25 at the Club Cafe.  We'll blog more about that later.  Suffice to say that this show will be minus the clump of shlubs from her last show.  Plus, one of our favorites, Jason Kirsch, will be performing. 

Breakfast with Gab is a good time.  She's one of the best hanger outters I know.  Admittedly, I have low standards ... coffee and witty banter are my bailiwicks ... but throw in some bacon,and references to sixteen obscure bands that Ledcat loves and it is a heck of a morning. 

 

 

View Article  Operation Sappho this Saturday
View Article  Homophobia Disguised as Religious Bias Claim Tossed Out

Mellon fired an employee, in part due to his disrespectful treatment of his LGBTQ coworkers and in part due to his inappropriate work behavior.  The employee, Avraham Schwartzberg of Squirrel Hill, filed a lawsuit claiming he was discriminated against because of his religion; he's an Orthodox Jew. 

He was a member of the company's group for people with disabilities, known as HEART, and in May 2005, like all other Mellon employees, he received an e-mail inviting him to a luncheon hosted by the Mellon's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employee group with Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Five days later he received a reminder from the head of the group for disabled employees about the luncheon.

His trouble at work started two days later when he sent a note back to the head of the disability group saying it should not be lumped in with other groups of workers. His note included the line, "If you happen to be black or purple or green, etc. or happen to have this sickness called gay or lesbian, just do your job."

The head of the group sent the note to the Human Relations department and later testified the e-mail showed a lack respect for other individuals. The company agreed and called Mr. Schwartzberg in for a meeting where he was told his e-mail reply was offensive and that while the company respected his opinion, he was required to treat all co-workers with respect. He replied later with a religious postcard and a note that said in part, "the true friend of gays and lesbians is the one that points them to help."

A US District Judge tossed the religious bia suit out. 

Previous decisions at this level have tossed out claims that religious freedoms allow discriminatory behavior targeting gays in the workplace. 

It sickens me when people in the workplace assume that homophobia must be tolerated as an outgrowth of Christian, Jewish or any other belief system. That's bullshit.  You come to work, you leave a little bit of your personal freedoms at the door when they conflict with the personal freedoms of other individuals. 

Amen, Mellon. 

View Article  What's Going On? Bingo. Not Much Otherwise

"That's a good thing, right?" responds Ledcat to my plaintive wail that there is nothing to blog about.  "No one is smearing local bar owners or other crap like that, right?"

She's got a point. 

OUTrageous Bingo is debuting at its new Oakland home of Rodef Shalom.  7 PM Saturday.  Be there or be (an Iron City) Square!  I amuse only myself with that one.  You, however, should go to Bingo and win big. 

I'm heading over to City Theater on Saturday to catch the "bloggers special" performance of The Vagina Monologues.  Stay tuned for a full review as only your lesbians can provide it.

An interesting twist on your typical gay bash. A 16 year old Dublin boy attacked and beat up a heterosexual couple after mistaking them for a gay couple (the woman had a masculine haircut).  She and her boyfriend have both recovered from their injuries.

Theresa Sparks, the trans woman recipient of the HRC's 2004 Equality Award, has returned the award in protest of the organization's continued support for a version of the ENDA that is not transinclusive.  Follow the link for more details.

Ledcat and I spend more time than you'd imagine reading magazines.  We have three weeklies, a biweekly and more than five monthly magazines.  I get the trifecta of feminist magazines -- Ms., Bitch and Bust.  I'm considering adding Curve and, after reading the feature on Lance Bass, The Advocate.  Rumor has it that Lance Bass might roll into town sometime this spring.  I'm more interested in reading his book than I expected.  Seriously.

My favorite magazine?  A tie between Bitch and The Week with a slight edge for Bitch.

View Article  Former Mellon a good place for gays to work. Plus, other stuff.

From the Post-Gazette we learn:

The former Mellon Financial Corp. was recognized by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, as one of the "Best Places to Work for GLBT Equality." Last year, Mellon merged with the Bank of New York, which did not make the list (http://www.hrc.org/issues/best_places_to_work_2008.asp). ...

Is your company on the list?  Mine is too small. Neither is my insurance agency, my cell phone provider, or my car manufacturer.  The good news is that my credit card company and the manufacturer of my computer are listed.  Plus, Starbucks - my guilty pleasure.

Here are the specifics on Mellon.  Let's hold our breath and hope that the merger will pull Bank of New York up to this level next year.

Also, the 4th Annual Pittsburgh NaviGAYtour is due out this spring.  Get it -- a gay and lesbian tour guide. Does that mean there's a separate issue for queers, bisexuals and trans men and women? Anyway, this little PG story is basically a giant soliciation for gay friendly restaurants who want to be included in the tour guide.  Make sure you tell your favorite local business.  Somebody call the Square Cafe! 

On the national front, Governor Bill Richardson is ending his Presidential campaign.  Richardson is by all accounts a progressive candidate on LGBT issues ...here's what Pam has to say.

* He signed legislation expanding New Mexico civil rights laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity. (At the time, only three other states had included transgender protections.)

* He signed a hate crimes law that included actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.

* He signed an executive order in 2003 extending health insurance and other benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of N.M. state employees.

* He's on record backing full-fledged civil unions and (unlike John Kerry) opposes state-level constitutional amendments banning gays from marrying.

* While in Congress, Richardson backed military service for out gay men and lesbians. That means, unlike Al Gore, John Kerry, John Edwards, Hillary and the rest, he was anti-Don't Ask, Don't Tell when it was very uncool to be.

I'm still pulling for Edwards even though I was not pleased with his comments about Hillary Clinton's demonstration of emotion.  I just can't get excited about Obama given my concerns about his pandering to religious interests.  Gussied up in lefty politics, it is the same marriage that makes Mike Huckabee so unpalatable.   Obama's affiliation with ex-gay zealot Donnie McClurkin is cause for concern, too.

This ties into yesterday's post about joining the Steel City Stonewall Democrats. 

If the frontrunning Democratic candidate for President can be (in either case) pretty weak on LGBT issues ...

If the Mayor of Pittsburgh can publicly oppose gay marriage AND gay civil unions without losing any of his gay support ...

If the County Chief Executive can publicly oppose domestic partner benefits for County employees and hide behind "the budget" while planning to run for Governor ...

If, If, If ... then we need to make sure our voices are being heard in the Democratic Party. Steel City Stonewall Democrats needs to be accountable for and accountable to the LGBT community.  You can make that happen. 

View Article  Steel City Stonewall Democrats Statement on Hijacked Email

Earlier today, someone apparently hacked into the website of the Steel City Stonewall Democrats and sent a very strange rumor out that a local LGBTQ businessowner is a rightwing Republican along with the thinly veiled suggestion that patronizing those businesses would fill the coffers of George Bush.  Something like that.

It took me about two minutes flat to debunk that rumor.  First, the message itself was poorly written and included a recommendation to visit MY site if the Steel City site went down.  That's odd, especially as I have no content up about that individual at all.  Second, I hit the City Paper website and found evidence that the individual had contributed to the Bruce Kraus campaign.  Kraus is not a Republican.  He is not a rightwinger.  He wasn't even endorsed by the local Dems. 

Finally, I asked Steel City for the heads up.  They have issued a statement:

Early this morning a message was sent out to a large number of addresses in our database from treasurer @ steel-city.org by some unauthorized person who hacked into our system or somehow obtained a password. We regret this unfortunate incident, and we are investigating the matter at this time.
The message pertained to a business owner in our community.  The business owner in question has in fact generously supported our community, including efforts by the Stonewall Democrats and the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force.  We apologize to this individual and to everyone who received the message.
Kris Rust
Co-Chair

I'm amazed at how many people came to my site in response to this rumor.  I'm further amazed how many times it was posted on livejournal.  My God, people, think!  What if someone posted an anonymous rumor implying you were betraying your community with no evidence to back it up? 

Ledcat thinks it is the handiwork of Diane Gramley or another wingnut.  Regardless of the source, we have to think before we pass along rumors.  Steel City Stonewall is a good organization that makes things happen on our behalf.  They deserve better than to be punked for a personal vendetta. 

So if you think this sucks, surf on over and do the best thing -- join.  Become a member and do your part to be part of building a strong local LGBTQ wing of the Democratic party.  We cannot afford to take things for granted here in Western Pennsylvania as far too many of our elected Democrats are social conservatives and shelter their homophobia behind the Catholic Church.  It is very important that the people we elect remember the LGBTQ in "we" especially as we head into the next Gubernatorial election (hi Dan O.), the 2009 Mayoral Election (Luke doesn't support gay civil unions, remember?) and so forth. 

The only valuable lesson is the reminder to think twice before spending your money in establishments that are hostile to your own self interest.  Put your gay dollars where they count.  Start with Steel City Stonewall Democrats.  Ledcat and I belong.  All the cool homos do.

View Article  GLCC launches new email blast

For those of you who want to stay in the loop of what's happening at Pittsburgh's Gay & Lesbian Community Center, check out the new GLCC email blast.  You can subscribe. 

Another great email resource is the Queer Events List with over 500 subscribers.  Join both!  Sure, you'll get some duplication, but it is worth it to keep up with all the cool stuff happening in Pittsburgh's queer scene.

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