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View Article  Presbyterians shake it up a bit

The evolution of mainstream Protestant churches continues to intrigue and bore me. I love that the dialogue continues, but I'm also of the opinion that its 2010 already ... let's get it resolved so we can fight poverty and war and all that biblically based stuff.

View Article  Exercise the mind?

I'm a bit slothful. After the holiday, we bought a Wii Fit Plus to make exercise as easy as possible.  I used it sporadically, but in May it really caught my attention.  I began using it 3 or 4x per week. Then I stopped drinking pop (2 lapses in 8 weeks).  Then I filled our office cupboards with healthier snack options. 

Now there's swimming - I don't know strokes very well, so I tread water for 45-60 minutes and consider that fine -- and, yesterday, a bike ride.

Whoa. (BTW, the male Wii trainer is much "nicer" than the female).

I attribute my new found attitude to a work based initiative called Step It Up. My employer has dedicated some resources to promoting a healthier lifestyle among employees.  We set weekly and monthly goals, added in some fun prizes as part of a monthly drawing for all who  particpate and voila!  It has captured folks imaginations.  One of my coworkers gets off the bus a mile up the road and walks to work.  Another is also using the Wii more often.  Everyone enjoys the snacks.  I bought Gatorade for all my sites and keep seeing the empty bottles (especially this past week). 

One colleague won a voucher for a bike rental.  Another won a year's subscription to a healthy lifestyle magazine. 

The initiative really made me think about role modeling.  We talk at length about the need for our residents to lead more active lifestyles so here is an opportunity for us to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak.  I also felt compelled to get involved to set an example for my team, both about the healthier lifestyle AND about being part of an organizational wide project.  I didn't anticpate I would *like* it. 

Our organization also provides us with a $200 yearly health stipend. I bought tennis shoes, sports bras, ankle and wrist weights and something else I can't remember.  Other people use it for copays, gym memberships, yoga mats, etc.  Someone else uses it for safety boots.  We also have access to a weekly chair massage and yoga.  Lots of non-traditional benefits that make a big difference. 

One downside has been less time for things like blogging.  Well, to be fair, that's also due to increased work stuff going on.  But I realize that not exercising my mind and my advocacy muscles comes at a price. Sometimes I'm too tired, but finding a balance is important.  So I'm going to try to do better, especially during the work week.  There's a lot of stuff going on. I hope you are reading Pam's House Blend and Joe My God and Towleroad to stay informed, but I'll make a greater effort on the state, regional and local stuff. 

As soon as I finish my Gatorade.  Kidding, giving up my AM coffee would be a serious cry for help. 

View Article  Pentagon survey on DADT panders to fears

What a joke.  The Pentagon survey sent to nearly half a million members of the military plays right into fears that the troops will be forced to encounter homosexuals in the shower. 


The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a nonpartisan legal services group providing counsel to troops discharged under the policy, said the survey's design could yield skewed results.

"Surveying the troops is unprecedented; it did not happen in 1948, when President Truman ended segregation, and it did not happen in 1976, when the service academies opened to women," network director Aubrey Sarvis said. "Even when the military placed women on ships at sea, the Pentagon did not turn to a survey on how to bring about that cultural change."

Skewed. Ha. What a waste of our taxpayer monies.


View Article  eQuality Giving Targets 2 PA Races

EQuality Giving, an LGBTQ equality campaign fund, has included two Pennsylvania candidates among their lists. This project is a viable complement to the ongoing call for LGBTQ persons to stop donating to the party, from the DNC to the ACDC, and focus on the candidates who support equality, rather than a party which is wishy-washy at best.

These candidates are the top priority for funding:

  • They are pro-equality (support all the Equality Goals)
  • They are running for federal or statewide office
  • They are in a competitive race (usually polling within 10 points of the opponent). See the criteria for endorsements.
    • All of the candidates to fund were personally interviewed by eQualityGiving.


Donate to MurphyMurphy campaign website

The outspoken Pennsylvania Congressman (and the first veteran of the Iraq War to serve in Congress) has made the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" a hallmark of his career. His passion on the issue has helped to provide cover for the Commander in Chief, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Secretary of Defense, all of whom now call for repeal of the blatantly discriminatory policy.

 "As the lead sponsor of the House's bill to repeal the deeply flawed Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, I am fully committed to ensuring equal rights to those in the LGBT community. We must redouble our efforts to repeal discriminatory laws and improve the health and welfare of all, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity."


Letter from Donor | Donate to SestakSestak campaign website

This 3 star retired Navy admiral supports all equality goals and has been an outspoken advocate for repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." As a Senator, he would co-sponsor equality legislation, just as he has done in the House.

"My position on the civil rights issues of the LGBT community is born out of my 31 years of service in the US Navy. I went to war with brave servicemen and women, where it was known - because of public surveys -that a certain percentage were gay. How can you come home and say 'you went to war for my country with me, but you don't deserve equal rights?' "

I try to support candidates, but I keep getting invited to $250 events and that's just not doable for this little social worker/blogger.  So I make my small contributions and do my best. 

Kudos to Sestak and Murphy for being at the top of the list.  Note that these are competitve races hence the absense of some of our long time advocates. 


View Article  Court ruling on federal DOMA

Interesting news from Boston.

In an enormous victory for same-sex marriage, a federal judge in Boston today (Thursday, July 8) ruled, in two separate cases, that a critical part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional.

In one challenge brought by the state of Massachusetts, Judge Joseph Tauro ruled that Congress violated the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution when it passed DOMA and took from the states decisions concerning which couples can be considered married. In the other, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, he ruled DOMA violates the equal protection principles embodied in the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

In Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Health and Human Services, Tauro considered whether the federal law's definition of marriage -- one man and one woman -- violates state sovereignty by treating some couples with Massachusetts' marriage licenses differently than others. In Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), a gay legal group, asked Tauro to consider whether DOMA violates the right of eight same-sex couples to equal protection of the law. Both cases were argued, separately, in May, and the decision released today is a relatively quick turnaround, given that some judges take almost a year to decide cases.

Fascinating turn of events. First, a victory for State's rights which will please the rightwingers, but the topic isn't very palatable to them.  Second, a victory for LGBT families who will now be able to access federal benefits previously denied to legally wed same sex couples. From the NYT.

"The Constitution isn't about political ideology," said Michael Boldin, the founder of the Tenth Amendment Center, a group based in Los Angeles. "It's about liberty, and limiting the government to certain divisive issues -- I applaud what I consider a very rare ruling from the judiciary."

Others, like Steve V. Moon, a software programmer and founder of States-rights.org, a group founded in Utah in 2008, said the judge's decision was both right and wrong.

"It's unconstitutional for the federal government to pass laws superseding state authority -- and the judge did affirm states' rights in this area," he said. "But I personally believe in the sanctity of marriage between a man and woman and support any state passing laws affirming the sanctity of marriage."

Mr. Moon said he feared that what might look like a states' rights victory could backfire. If judges in other states, drawing on Judge Tauro's reasoning, start throwing out marriage definition laws that were passed by residents or legislatures, "that could be detrimental to states' rights."

The Obama Administration is expected to appeal. Of course.

So the state to state battle continues ...


View Article  Surviving the 4th

Every year, I dread this holiday. I hate the firecrackerts, the crowds and the bickering.

This year, we were proactive and had a joint family/friend cookout on Saturday evening.  We had about 20 people throughout the whole evening which worked out well since we only had 17 chairs.  They were obstentiably there to see our newly renovated deck, but I think it my secret recipe jambalaya. We had a table filled with food, including thousands of desserts. 

It was one of those gatherings where you mix folks from all parts of your life and see what happens -- some family, work friends, old friends, casual friends, new friends, a few unknown guests and assorted spouses and partners -- stir, and stand back.  As usual, it was great. We had several folks who handled the social director role while we tended to the front door and squeezing food into the fridge.  We had others who played with the kids.  Then the pet people took turns holding a somewhat bewildered chihuahua. Everyone was nice to my Mum.

My favorite moment was playing catch with my niece. We had one of those generic plastic pool balls from Giant Eagle (yes, I am the master of last minute picnic purchases).  Like most kids, she tried to catch with flat arms and usually smacked herself in the face with the ball rather than actuall catching it.  I showed her how to use her fingers/hands and she was incredibly proud to catch 21 in a row (and count to 21). We high fived so much, my hands were sore. Even the misses were fun!  Watching a child master something new is pretty amazing. 

The only down side is that I broke the garbage disposal. Eh.

On the 4th, we went swimming (awesome) and then joined Ledcat's family, including said niece, for a cruise on the Gateway Clipper's Duchess. I took medication and drank two beers to cut the edge off the usual level of family closeness and it worked like a charm. The cruise was filled with all sorts of characters, including:

- muumuu wearing, gold eye shadow lady who was literally sharing makeup tips with the young girls at the table next to us. she was awesome. i am buying eye shadow this week. 

- a woman wearing satin pants who snuck into line ahead of us and almost earned a beat down from Ledcat.  I held her back.

- a man wearing blue snake skin shoes. apparently, he was a member of the military so he got to go to the buffet first.

- a couple who had a few too many and tried to sneak into the captain engine area place. that didn't go over well.  i was hoping for an arrest, handcuff to the railing and arrival of the river police, but they just got a stern talking too by this lady wearing a very handsome "I'm in charge" uniform. 

Among the extended family, I am the only one strong enough to lift niece at this point. That earns me big points because she wants to be held as much as her toddler brother. She loved the fireworks, but then got tired so I hauled her all the way back to the car. I pretty much rock the aunt thing on holidays (Can you say "box of stickers" for xmas?).  I also got to briefly hold nephew who is very very very particular. I think he was distracted by the fireworks, but there was no crying and he talked to me about wanting to "git" the fireworks.  So I count that as a win. 

The cruise is nice. Food is decent.  Beer selection is horrible. I tried a Miller Lite and frankly, could not remember the last time I drank beer from a can.  Especially beer that sucked so I switched back to grown up beer and it was much better.  Between modest amount of beer, the late hour and the niece lifting, I was very tired during the 90 minutes it took Ledcat to get us from our parking space at Station Square to the Northside.  I did have a moment of sanity where I jumped out of the car, stopped an SUV and helped her back out of the space.  I felt very butch.  I was also very proud that we did not argue during the traffic sojourn even as couples around us engaged in various stages of meltdown. 

The fireworks were nice. No one batted an eye when we held hands while watching them or when I put my arm around her while we were talking. I doubted anyone cared and that's another example of why it is good to gay in Pittsburgh. 

So today it looks like we are meeting a lesbian couple friend for a dip in the Citipools.  Another place where no one cares. No one bats an eye when we buy a family membership. The guards know us as the nice ladies who come at night. We talk freely and no one cares.  The kids just care that we take up space in the deep end where I like to quietly tread water, but that's because we are middle-aged ladies period and the guards won't let them splash us.  I can respect that.

Miller Lite.  What was I thinkinig?

View Article  Divorce, Etheridge Style


I get divorce, even a lack of civility and kindness. But how can a millionaire rock star rationally deny that the woman who helped raise her FOUR children, including the two she gave birth to, not to mention helped her through cancer, does not deserve alimony? 

I guess marriage brings out the best and worst in LGBT couples, too.  Sigh. 

You go Tammy Lynn ... don't let her power, wealth and fame intimidate you.  If she was a male rock star, the women would be howling in outrage.


ps: I'm not buying that horrid single or the album either.

View Article  Update on Children in Foster Care Act

This legislation which would give Foster Children some protections was stripped of protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the House version which passed in May.

The legislation sits before the Senate Committee on Aging and Youth

This is one of those under the radar, but very important issues for our community. I worked in foster care and can testfiy that there are plenty of parents who would not be supportive if a child in their care came out or was out when they were placed.  That child would end up in a group home setting PDQ and there's also nothing to protect them there. 

This is where we need decisive leadership to work with legislators to protect our children.  The stripped down version of the bill passed unanimously, which is good for foster children in general, but very telling about the value our elected officials place on some of the most vulnerable kids in our Commonwealth.

Let's all contact Daylin Leach who sits on this Senate Committee to see what we can do to get the language back in or at least learn if its viable.  If you tweet, @daylinleach. 

This is one of those baby steps we need to take for our children. 

View Article  Words from President Truman ...

From today's Post-Gazette ...

As we look toward the future, we must be sure that what we honor and venerate in these documents is not their words alone, but the ideas of liberty which they express. ...

The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence can live only as long as they are enshrined in our hearts and minds. If they are not so enshrined, they would be no better than mummies in their glass cases, and they could in time become idols whose worship would be a grim mockery of the true faith. Only as these documents are reflected in the thoughts and acts of Americans can they remain symbols of a power that can move the world.

That power is our faith in human liberty. That faith is immortal, but it is not invincible. It has sometimes been abandoned, it has been betrayed, it has been beaten to earth again and again, and although it has never been killed, it has been reduced to impotence for centuries at a time. It is far older than our Republic. The motto on our Liberty Bell, "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof," is from the book of Leviticus, which is supposed to have been written nearly 1,500 years before Christ. In the 35 centuries since that date, the love of liberty has never died, but liberty itself has been lost again and again.


So many people believe that Constitutonal principles require a strict adherence to the words themselves, not the absorption of their meaning and a reflection in our everyday lives.  This is one reason why I cannot understand that people who believe they have a constitutional right to religious liberty would deny other liberties to other groups. I would stand up for them, but too oft I find myself standing against the encroachment of religous liberty into my personal liberties. At the same time, I see my fellow LGBTQ disparage people who properly exercise their religious liberties. 

The problem, as I've said repeatedly, is that this is a false dichotomy. You are free to practice your religion, but not impose it on others.  That's the end of the debate. If your religious beliefs proscribe homosexuality, you are fine as long as you don't interfere with the liberty of others.  Participation in the public sector requires you play ball with the public rules. 

So it is really about changing those rules to allow religious liberty to exceed its Constitutional defined liberty.


View Article  Cheers!

I imagine a nice glass of lemonade in this glass ...



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