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View Article  Does the GOP prefer to keep women poor?

I don't like when people put down individuals who receive welfare.  I don't like the term "welfare people" or the jokes about welfare queens or the condescending sneers.  I don't like the way the term itself is used to convey a litany of classist, racist, and sexist stereotypes which, unfortunately, now have the legislative muscle to keep poor women down and out. 

Feministing sent me to a great article on new welfare regulations at TomPaine.com written by Maureen Lane, co-director of the Welfare Rights Initiative at Hunter College City of University of New York.

For these families, the rules represent a narrowing of the best opportunity many have of moving, not just from welfare, but permanently out of poverty. Study after study has shown that when people receiving welfare have the chance to get an education?whether it?s earning a college degree, securing a GED or mastering the English language?their family incomes and long-term prospects improve far more than those families who remain trapped in low-wage jobs. Yet dead-end low-wage positions without benefits or security are frequently the only jobs people pushed off the rolls without education and training are able to secure in this economy.

Welfare is supposed to be a safety net for the most vulnerable people in our society.  Reform should include resources and programs that enable people to become self-sufficient, a standard that $5.50 per hour with no benefits does not accomplish.  That only accomplishes a vicious cycle of poverty with its full array of ancillary problems.

For details on local welfare rights inititiatives, go to Just Harvest.

View Article  Teach the children well .... how to hate

The youngest members of the Fred Phelps clan ...  h/t Good as You

View Article  CodePink Shout Out to the Dixie Chicks

It has been utterly too hot to blog.  Actually, I've spent the past three days staffing an exhibit my organization has had at a local conference so I've been tucked in the basement of the William Penn Hotel starved for sunshine, companionship and affordable food.  I have, however, had a laptop and wirless card but the lack of fresh air rendered me unable to string together a coherent thought.  Tomorrow is my last day. 

Here's something interesting ...

Those extremely cool CodePink women (and some men, too) will show up at the Dixie Chicks concert this Saturday, July 22, 2006 to support Marnie, Emily and Natalie.  


Who is CODEPINK?  

Just another reason I can't wait for the concert!!!!!!!! 


View Article  Are immigrants the new homosexuals?

According to WM. Jake Friel of Renfrew (where the heck is Renfrew?), the answer seems to be a resounding YES.

The July 9 article "Santorum Bets on Immigration in Re-Election Race" should be a must-read for all Pennsylvania voters.

The article does a great job of pointing out the strategy of making illegal immigration a hot-button issue for voters in this state to divert our attention from issues of much greater importance to Pennsylvanians. Passage of either proposed legislation will have zero impact on 99 percent of Pennsylvanians, yet our politicians want this issue to be in the forefront of the upcoming election.

Hot-button issue to divert our attention -- sound familiar?  Since the PA legislature minced its way out of the gay marriage bailiwick, the homo-threat has become less of a rallying cry for the faithful. 

Jake makes another interesting point about the relationship of the immigrant threat to your average yinzer Pennsylvanian:

The fact that Pennsylvania is not a destination for the desperate should be of greater concern to us. Even the desperate see little opportunity here.

Now that's an interesting perspective -- we suck so much that even illegal immigrants won't come here. 

I don't agree with his analysis on this point (I'm an optimist) or his perspective that anti-immigration legislation will impact Pennsylvanias.  My cousin's girlfriend is Southeast Asian.  My other cousin's husband is from India.  Yet another cousin's in-laws are from China. My dad's cousin's wife is from the Philippines. A former coworker was from Sweden, another is from Germany.  My friend's parents are from South Korea.  And that's just the first few people that come to mind.  So, yes, immigration issues are personal for me here in Pittsburgh. 

So, Santorum is right (a ha!) that immigration reform does matter to Pennsylvanians.  Divisive mean legislation intended to persecute and isolate struggling minority groups, incite xenophobic hysteria and further bash the rest of the world over the head with idiotic "America rocks" imperialism does affect us here in the Keystone State. 

Just wait until the mighty whites tucked in their gated enclaves realize that this legislation will impune their ability to recruit white immigrants for nanny and governess duties. 

Jake -- thanks for writing to the Post-Gazette  People like you give me hope that the tyranny might soon end.

View Article  Roxolana's Garden Ukrainian Restaurant on North Side - Correspondents Weigh In

Last night for the first time,  we visited one of our new favorite North Side eateries - Roxolana's Garden on Western Avenue -- just a block away from True actually.  The food was very good and the pastries were out of the world. 

We read about this restaurant earlier in the year in the Post-Gazette and had never made time to try it out.   Oh, what we've been missing all these months.  Right in our own back yard.

First, I have to say that the owner's children are two of the nicest, most well-mannered young people I have met in a long time.  In a time honored family business tradition, Ivan and Roxolana were pressed into service at the restaurant and both handled it with grace and aplomb.  Roxolana was our server and she was delightful, being very blunt when she didn't have an answer for our questions.  I liked that.  :-)  When we left, Ivan was taking a break on the front stoop, but still took the time to wish us a good evening. 

That's the kind of good customer service that brings people back to a restaurant.  There is many a grown adult server and manager in Pittsburgh that could learn a thing or two from Irene and her children.

We tried potato pancakes as an appetizer and they were delicious. I had asparagus strudel that was light and tasty, filled with mushroom and nicely cooked asparagus.  Ledcat went right for the good stuff and ordered pyrohi (piergoie) which were out of this world  - they have four flavors including cherry!

Then we sampled a few cookies for dessert.  Oh my!  The kolachi was delish and we tried some cinnamon roll cookies ... this is a great place to stop for a cup of coffee, cappucino or expresso and sample a homemade treat.  They also serve breakfast beginning at 6 AM which is a welcome addition to the North Side as breakfast in a non-smoking environment is hard to come by.  There's a nice patio.

The menu features a range of traditional (non-Ukraianian) lunch items including burgers and sandwiches.  Roxolana's has a bit of everything and is a great addition to the North Side. 

Is Roxolana's gay friendly? Ledcat and I try very hard to patronize small businesses as frequently as possible, both LGBTQ and non-gay.  A lot of our support comes from small business owners who recognize that our community is a viable market and come to know us as individual gay customers, rather than the "GAY" community.  We don't usually ask our restauranteurs about the attitudes toward homosexuality, but look for indicators of their openness and beliefs.  When we reviewed Cambod-ican Kitchen, they laminated it and posted in their restaurant as well as putting a link on their website. We go there all the time and have dragged all sorts of friends and family along with us to spend their money in this obviously LGBTQ friendly restaurant.

The North Side is teeming with middle and upper middle class homosexuals so I'd assume an astute business owner would welcome this crowd even if they don't drape their front door with rainbow flags.  I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

View Article  Top ten signs you are a Christian fundamentalist

h/t Republic of T and Curmudgeonly Crab

10 - You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.

9 - You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.

8 - You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.

7 - Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!

6 - You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.

5 - You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.

4 - You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs -- though excluding those in all rival sects - will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."

3 - While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.

2 - You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.

1 - You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history - but still call yourself a Christian.


View Article  SF Mayor Gavin Newsom - Democrat Leaders Lack Moral Courage to Speak Out on Gay Marriage

In a fresh off the press interview with Rolling Stone, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom takes Democrats to task for their spineless leadership on marriage equality. Newsom points out that their tepid waffling doesn't fool anyone, but reinforces everyone's belief that the Democrats lack conviction.  How is that going to win any votes? 

Rolling Stone: Listening to the Democratic opposition to the federal anti-gay marriage amendment, the party?s senators sounded more like Dixiecrats ? talking about marriage as a states?s rights issue ? rather than Democrats, pursuing this from a civil-rights perspective.

Gavin Newsom: Where?s the moral courage? It?s lost. I have the luxury of saying this from San Francisco, I certainly respect what it?s like saying this in parts of Kentucky or North Carolina, but also believe this issue won?t go away for the Democratic party we stand up on historic principles.

We?ve never run the 90-yard dash on equality ? ever. The history of this party is civil rights, women?s rights, human rights, labor rights, gay and lesbian rights. And for us to hold up civil unions and say that separate is somehow now equal ? when just a-year-and-a-half we ago celebrated the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board ? is transparent to the people. They see through the Democrats.

That?s why this issue was not seen by the Kerry campaign in 2004 in a positive light. Because people saw through John Kerry. They didn?t believe that he was only supportive of civil unions. Because here he was, running as a Democrat on all those proud traditions where we never fell short on equality. And so ? even though his position was exactly the same as Dick Cheney?s ? the American people questioned that. I don?t think the American people believe us. And that?s a big problem.

View Article  Round Up - Interesting LGBTQ tidbits from around the country

First, the exciting news.  John Stamos will play a wedding planner who is gay in the upcoming A&E movie "Wedding Wars" due to air this winter.  In the movie, Stamos' character boycotts his brother's wedding b/c his brother's boss and future father in law is a governor who opposes marriage equality.  Hilarity ensues as an important point about tolerance and equality is made. Plus, thousands of gay and bisexual men can fantasize about marrying John Stamos. (h/t Good as You)

Another amusing must-view is a video parody GAY put together around Fred Phelps and his merry bunch of phelpsians.  Rather than telling us "You are are going to hell"  GAY informs us "You are going to HELENA"   (another h/t to Good as You).  On a related matter, the Phelpsians were fined $5,000 for wasting police protection when they didn't show up for a funeral protest in Michigan.  Fred's whacky daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper told the press that the Holy Ghost told them to stay home and they would throw any citations in the trash can.

In an important note, a federal court has ruled that the White County, Georgia School Board must allow a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) to meet.  The School Board had previously decided to disallow any extracurricular group, but those groups continued to meet.  The ACLU pursued the matter.  (h/t PageOneQ).  Here's a great quote from one the student plaintiffs:

"This has been the best civics lesson ever," said Kerry Pacer, one of the founders of the student group said in the ACLU statement, "I couldn't believe the school was so unfair to us when all we wanted to do was to try to address the violence and harassment against gay students. I'm relieved that the court is going to make the school let us meet."

You tell 'em, Kerry.  Kerry is my mother's name so I'm especially fond of young person Pacer.  Good for you for sticking up for your rights.

In the tolerance twist you knew was overdue, homo vacationeers in Provincetown are accused of making slurs against heterosexuals and Jamaicans.  Police received numerous complaints that people were being called "breeders."  One woman reported being verbally accosted after it came to light she signed an anti-gay marriage petition.  She was called a bigot.

She IS a bigot.  She chose to sign a petition that discriminates against her neighbors. Should they just accept that quietly?  I'm not saying they should target her or act out, but calling her what she is seems acceptable to me.  Her priest acknowledges that signing the petition would lead to repercussions, but called this a "dramatic experience"  Puh-lease.  Try having your brother deny you access to his kids b/c you are queer.  That's dramatic.  Try losing your job b/c you are gay.  That's dramatic.  Try having to control your simple desire to hold your partner's hand to avoid being harassed.  That's dramatic. 

Now the incidents with Jamaican residents is different.  They attribute the increased intolerance to the looming debate over immigration and I'd agree that's very likely.  Guess what homos?  Not all Jamaican's are anti-gay.  Don't be fueled by the Ricky/George rhetoric on immigration. 

Bigotry is as bigotry does.

View Article  "Industrially Nude" Exhibit and 3rive -- Correspondents Weigh In

Last night, we caught the pre-opening night of a new multimedia art exhibit examining the juxtaposition of strength and vulnerability through nudity.  It is called "Industrially Nude" and its curated by our friend (and all around very cool chic) Stephanie down at The Headquarters on Carson Street.  The Headquarters gallery apparently is how the mighty whites at the South Side Works are trying to engage young people.  That in itself is a juxtaposition for another post ...

The show was very cool.  Some of the art was simply lovely, others rather disturbing in that way that makes you really think for a moment (or perhaps longer).  One of our local favorites, Vanessa German of 3rive, submitted pieces featuring local members of a queer art collective sharing their unique thoughts on vulnerability.   Those photos were especially moving to me because I've met those people.  They weren't disembodied representations of abstract ideals or unknown models stepping into a pose.  Rather than a concept laid on top of a model, the fusion of strength and vulnerability practically jumped off the photograph.  At least to me.  I had that immediate reaction of "damn, s/he looks good" combined with awe that they have the confidence to put themselves out there.  And I don't just mean posing nude b/c its all wrapped up in the amazing activism and artistry of these women and men. 

After viewing Vanessa's pieces, I went back to look at the others with fresh eyes.  I wish I had written down the artist of these lush lyrical paintings which would look awesome in our living room (but not so much in our bank account).

(I hate reviewing art shows b/c I have not a whit of artistic sensibility so I cannot comment on line, color, form, shadow, pungency or whatever else I'm supposed to mention.  I'm just going with my gut reaction and using some of my favorite words).

So the show was good and you can catch it (opening night is tonight).

But the best part was a performance by our definite favorite spoken word burlesque group 3rive (pronounced thrive).  I cannot find a website or myspace for them unfortunately.

3rive: (thrive): v., n. politically passionate spoken word performance burlesque inspired by the force of movement, language and the fierce desire to ignite and inspite empowerment and change.

They do these amazing pieces about personal empowerment, politics and anything you can imagine.  Its a lush, jaw dropping show because you just don't see women reveling in their sexuality while they call out political oppression.   I've seen them three times and I'll keep going b/c they inspire me.  And that, I suspect, is what they set out to do. 

3rive will be performing at Homo A Go Go in Washington, opening for Amy Ray.  Woo hoo!

Now for some random observations -- the crowd was mixed, but I was suprised at how many frat boys and clackers were there.  I was disappointed when they made disparaging comments about the show, the nudity and the homos in attendance -- who on earth invited these people?  Was it the free Ritz crackers and Pabst Blue Ribbon?  They just sort of appeared.   But the most offensive thing to me was the clackers who laughed along when their Duke-wanna be male friends made demeaning comments about women's bodies.  I thought briefly about using their pointy toed fake Mahnolas to beat some self-respect into the women, but then realized that if awesome photos of Colelea and Becca Cooper couldn't reach them it was doubtful that a raging middle aged dyke could do so.

I was also very annoyed by a snippy lesbian who objected when I wanted to simply put my drink down at her table.  Or rather the unused portion of the table where she was standing.  She gave me a once over sneer that infuriated Ledcat.  Then I saw her do it to another woman.  What the fuck is that about?  Its an art gallery -- people will bump into you, you mingle, you talk, you discuss the art, you even occasionally exchange an air kiss.  People can be so annoying.  Whatever.

Industrially Nude Art Reception

The Headquarters 2629 E. Carson Street

Friday July 14   8 PM

Free Admission!

View Article  Pittsburgh native son Evan Wolfson on NY Gay Marriage Ruling

Surf on over to The Advocate website for Evan's take on the NY marriage ruling.  Evan is the Executive Director of Freedom to Marry.  He's also a Pittsburgh native.   (h/t Pam's House Blend)

?Is that all there is? If that?s all there is, my friends, then let?s keep dancing,? sang Peggy Lee. If dancing means engaging others, by all means let?s dance; this discordant, tinny ruling did not stop the music. And if dancing means, well, dancing, then let?s keep working until all committed couples can dance, with family, friends, and loved ones, at their weddings, pursuing happiness, celebrating their commitment and love, equally protected by the law and the respect due every person.

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The Correspondents