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View Article  Reverend Janet Edwards at Washington Post blog

The Reverend Janet Edwards weighs in on the banning of burquas in a very thoughtful post on how Christian women might feel to have their religious symbols banned.

She previously weighed in on how a covenant relationship with God mirrors the intimacy necessary for a healthy sexuality.

When the Church insists that marriage vows are the exclusive doorway into moral sex, it removes itself from real and crucial discussions about the morality of sex ? in part because a lot of immoral sex, like spouse battering and promiscuity, goes on within marriage, as well.

Janet is a wonderful leader in our community. I admire her willingness to take all sorts of risks for her faith. 

View Article  Philly Gay News Readers Overwhelmingly Support Hoeffel

Check out this poll from the Philly Gay News

 

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View Article  Allegheny Movement on Domestic Partner Benefits

The City Paper's own Lauren Daley was front and center at the very first meeting of the Allegheny County Human Relations Commission.  Sadly, the 8 AM start meant I had to be at work and could not be part of this historic moment.  However, the man called Potter has the scoop over at Slagheap.

Front and center was an issue near and dear to my little heart -- providing domestic partner benefits to employees of Allegheny County.  The Chief Executive has asked the HRC for recommendations on this matter.

The commission also asked to receive a report on extending domestic partner benefits to all county employees by its June meeting. Kennedy said her department has been researching the matter and found there could be tax implications for employees.

"It raised more questions than it answered," she told the commission of her research. "There are things we need to look for more information on."

Based on that report, the commission will make a recommendation to Dan Onorato, something the county exec requested, McGough said. Commissioners seemed generally supportive of the idea.

"To me," observed commissioner Sara Davis Buss, "it's the right thing to do."

"I want to get it done right. This is our first big thing and I want to be fast but I want it to be fast, thorough and complete," said commissioner Mark Nowak.

Yes, the tax implication needs to be made very clear to employees who opt in for these benefits.  It is grossly unfair and legislation has been repeatedly introduced at the federal level to address this inequity. It would be wonderful for Allegheny County legislators and executives to join the chorus calling for this redress while at the same time addressing the issue locally.  I am all for highlighting and addressing this unfair tax burden.

I can speak from experience that the money we spend on the additional taxes (my "partner" benefits are considered taxable income, not a pre-tax benefit) is significant, but offset by the savings of the family benefits.  In some cases, the costs don't make it the right decision -- it all depends on how good the benefit package is, after all. 

Still, the benefits are a choice.  As long as the County makes the tax implications clear, they are doing the best they can to support all families in their employ. 

Congratulations to the members of the Human Relations Commission on a successful start.  Check out Potter's summary to see what the plan is to address the discrimination complaints.  As always, a thorough run down on the issues that often slip under the radar.

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View Article  Joe Hoeffel Rally in Pittsburgh

You've probably picked up on the fact that I am supporting Joe Hoeffel in the primary race for the PA Governor's manse.  I believe his vision and experience will translate into the leadership we need to move ahead as a Commonwealth,  My support goes far beyond his solid stance on LGBTQ issues.  I like what's he saying about environmental, economic, educational and other issues.  I urge you to click on through to read what he has to say on these issues.  What strikes me when I visit the page is his consistent connection of a range of issues to improving the economy.  For example, Joe "gets" the connection between a vibrant cultural community and economic strength. 

You see this argument playing out today as various local leaders call for us to "invest" in the Carnegie Library system.  Investment implies a return and we can measure the impact of a cultural institution like a library.

I'm not voting for Joe Hoeffel because I'm a lesbian.  I'm voting for him because his vision for Pennsylvania most closely matches mine, both my hopeful vision and my pragmatic expectations. 

Others feel differently and the beauty of the primary (as described by the man called Potter) is our freedom to make a choice.  Yes, we need to think about the General Election but the slim margin by which Specter maintains his lead over Sestak indicates that Pennsylvania is not opposed to progressive values. 

What matters, my friend, is that you make an informed decision on election day, both May and November.  Read the questionairres, the endorsements, the editorials, the candidate websites and yes, even the blogs. :-) 

I invite you to join local supporters of Joe Hoeffel at an event next Thursday at the Schenley Park Ice Skating Rink. The event is from 5-7 PM and gives you one final chance to meet with Joe in person. 

Some say the vote is in the bag for Onorato. I say that your vote for the progressive candidate will have ramifications regardless of the outcome of the election. It does matter and they will pay attention to the support Joe receives.

The important thing is that the choice is yours to make.  That's the beauty of being an American citizen.  In spite of all the ridiculous things we see in the media each day, you have the opportunity to participate in the electoral process and be part of the solution.  Don't lose site of that fact.  Your vote matters.

Sermon off.  :-)

View Article  Be part of the solution

I read about this on Facebook ...

Want to pitch in and do your part to clean up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill? Get a haircut - and then donate your locks to Matter of Trust, a nonprofit group that uses hair to make mats and booms that can combat oil spills.

The mats soak up oil from the air, skin or water, according to the organization.

"You touch the oil with the hair and the hair just sucks it right up," Matter of Trust President Lisa Gautier told the Florida Times Union  "It looks sort of like a thick paper towel, about 1 foot by 1 foot, half an inch thick."

Matter of Trust has been collecting human hair and pet fur to help combat oil spills for about two years now. Thousands of salons across the country donate hair clippings that are swept up off their floors, according to the Matter of Trust Web site.

What a great way to make a difference.  My friend in NYC told me her son's hair salon has been participating for a long time. 

Watching the news coverage of this issue has been heartbreaking. I lived in Louisiana for three years so it feels extra personal.  I know hair is a small thing and can blind us to the systemic changes that are necessary to address the real issues. 

But it does really help to feel like you make a difference, as long as you keep perspective on the need to do more.

Pass the link along to your hair stylist or your dog groomer.

 

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View Article  Show us some Guv Luv

Speaking of Potter (he is always on my mind) ... here's a great breakdown of the gubernatorial race.  Note that this is a pithy snapshot on issues, not a comprehensive GOTV document. 

 

Speaking from the lesbian perspective, I think Joe Hoeffel has the most attractive disembodied head of the four. 

View Article  PG Shout out to LGBTQ runners

The PG ran a nice little article about local running groups. Among those listed:

It is good to see an article with a reference to a LGBTQ component of the community that ist woven into the story, just like community groups and chapters of national running groups. 

I knew someone in this group who loved it.  He told me there were walkers.  Hmmm .... I need a LGBT wii fit plus group. :-)

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View Article  Capital Region Stonewall Democrats endorse Hoeffel, Sestak
 
2010 Candidate Questionnaires and CRSD Endorsements
 
On Wednesday, April 28th, we held our annual Meet the Candidates Night at the Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center.   I hope you were able to attend; we had a full house with 23 candidates or their representatives speaking
 
Following the evening, the full CRSD Board met to discuss the candidates. The board made recommendations based upon the candidates' positions on LGBT issues and their ability to advance those issues.  The full CRSD membership then voted on which candidates to endorse. In order to receive CRSD's endorsement, a majority of members voting need to vote to endorse.
 

Clicking on a candidate's name will open a .pdf in a new window. (Sue's Note:  pdf links are not working, I will fix later today. Go to their site to view the questionairres).


Endorsed candidates are in bold and marked with an asterisk.
 

Pennsylvania Governor
The CRSD Board recommended endorsing Joe Hoeffel, and the CRSD membership endorsed him.
*Joe Hoeffel
Dan Onorato
Anthony Williams
Note: Jack Wagner did not complete the CRSD questionnaire and therefore was not eligible for our endorsement, however he did send us his responses to the Steel City Stonewall Democrats, which you can read here.

Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor
The CRSD Board recommended endorsing Scott Conklin, and the CRSD membership endorsed him.
*Scott Conklin
Doris Smith-Ribner

United States Senate
The CRSD Board found both candidates worthy of our endorsement, and the CRSD membership endorsed Joe Sestak.
*Joe Sestak
Arlen Specter

So all three Stonewall chapters in PA support Hoeffel with Pittsburgh also recommending Onorato. Pittsburgh and Philly endorse Specter and Capitol City endorses Sestak.  Interesting. 

On a related note, I also learned the Central PA has a Chamber of Commerce

 

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View Article  Fayette County prison guard gender stereotyping suit settled

We first discussed this back in December 2009 when the Tribune Review reported on a federal lawsuit filed by a state prison guard in Fayette County.  He claimed he was being harassed because he did not conform to gender expectations, including being too effeminate on the radio.  (What does that even mean, asks the female former radio host?)

The suit has been settled by mediation. No one is talking about what that actually means, but it doesn't mean a court ruling on the matter.

This man is a state employee who enjoys no state protections from being harassed on his sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation (remember, gay men act like women and acting like a woman is bad).  He worked in Fayette County which does not have county protections for sexual orientation. 

He was harassed because people thought he was gay.  He had to go to the federal courts to get help.  We don't know if he is gay. 

This could be you.  You could be the woman who dresses in trousers and has manly gestures.  You could be the man with the effeminate voice.  You could be a heterosexual person who is perceived as gay.  And you could be fired. 

Support ENDA and HB 300.  It is about our jobs.

View Article  Could Allegheny County see movement on Domestic Partner benefits soon?

Word on the street is that this week's meeting of the Allegheny County Human Relations Commission should include a report from the County Personnel Department on health insurance options from the County's vendor.  That should be a positive step forward.  At the very least, Chief Executive Dan Onorato will have a clear plan on how to provide dp benefits to non-unionized County employees.  That creates a foundation for the union negotiations, but I'm confident he won't make some employees languish while those negotiations take place.  Right? 

I'm not beating a dead horse. I'm following up on his promise to make this happen. There's no conceivable way this can't happen ... vendors offer these benefits.

The Commission's regular meeting is at 8 a.m. on Thursday May 6, 2010, in Conference Room 1 at the County Manager's Office in the County Courthouse. 

Allegheny County deserves these benefits before we consider sending our Chief Executive to Harrisburg.  It has been six years and counting.  It is time.

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