Monday, May 3
by Sue on Mon 03 May 2010 05:50 PM EDT
I have to give Ron Razete of Peace, Love and Little Donuts credit. His anti-gay bigotry was on display in the Post-Gazette, the Pgh City Paper, national blogs and the Urban Spoon and he didn't miss beat nor repent a single vile word he spewed.
But getting a two page spread in Pittsburgh's LGBT magazine, Cue Pittsburgh, is stunning. How on earth did he get free publicity from a gay publication?
It does prove my point that he's using the "peace, love, hippie" theme as a marketing ploy, but I'm intrigued how this played out. Did the wingnutters go looking for a palatable gay media source? Was this calculated or just chance? Did the wingnutter know what kind of magazine was interviewing his daughter?
The undeniable fact is that Cue Pittsburgh missed the boat in a big way. I wonder if the editorial staff is paying attention to local LGBT news if they simply "forgot" about the donut scandal? I am puzzled. It would be one thing if they were reviewing heterosexual owned businesses and overlooking gay owned companies, but this guy really hates us. How does Cue plan to respond? Will they step up and take responsibility for putting gay money in the pocket of a rabid homophobe? I truly hope so.
by Sue on Mon 03 May 2010 05:29 PM EDT
Senator Arlen Specter invites our community to meet with him. He's having a private meeting with a few LGBTQ leaders and then a reception open to the general public. Sadly, media are not invited to the private meeting. The good thing is that they consider bloggers media so all four of us can pat ourselves on the back while we wait for the scoop. LOL. No dogs allowed.
Seriously, I am comfortable knowing that the Sue Frietsche's and Dana Elmendorf's will be behind those doors. It would be nice if the Jodi Hirsh's were there, too, but that's probably too much to hope for. (Yes, I know that I've mentioned all women because I am very sure the male end of the LGBTQ community will be well represented).
I am very curious to ask Senator Specter how we here in Pittsburgh can help move the repeal of DADT and the passage of ENDA along. He's supportive of both so hopefully he'll have some constructive suggestions for us.
I won't have the guts to ask him why he's gone so negative on Sestak. The ads questioning his military service (does that count as swiftboating?) are way beyond the pale. Jon Delano tweeted that Specter only has a six point lead on Sestak so it is all fascinating at this point.
I'm also curious how Sestak is going to reach out to the Pittsburgh LGBTQ community. He lost the endorsement. I was asked to write a guest post when national bloggers discovered this little fact. (Guess what? I blame Dan Onorato!)
Sestakians, what say you?
So I guess Saturday morning, I'll have to leave my mulch and wildflowers behind and trundle off to Shadyside.
I hope they have wi-fi.
by Sue on Mon 03 May 2010 05:03 PM EDT
Hey, I know I've told you about this before ... but I'm trying very hard to keep current a Twitter list of local and statewide politicians. This is a most excellent way to observe the politicians in their natural habitat! LOL. Seriously, such a great way to see what matters to them and make some connections.
I just updated the list so wanted to put it out here again.
by Sue on Mon 03 May 2010 08:58 AM EDT
We like to keep up with local media coverage on LGBTQ issues, but things occasionally slip by us.
The Tribune Review ran a little AP piece on world condemnation of a Papal comment linking homosexuality and pedophilia.
The Vatican backed away from that winner of a comment, but I'm curious why the Trib ran this. Overall, the article condemns this attitude, but there seems to be a distinct trend in the Trib --- they run content that is anti-gay such as Pat Buchanan's column alongside local interest pieces about lesbian teenagers saving the world with food drives or some such thing. So I can't help but wonder which editorial instinct ran with this piece -- the part that wanted to get out the homosexuality/pedophilia story or the part that condemns it? You never know.
by Sue on Mon 03 May 2010 08:48 AM EDT
If you have been sort of "meh" about immigration <ahem> reform in Arizona and/or international affairs that don't involve sporting events, you should take a quick read of this piece in today's Post-Gazette, reprinted from the New York Times.
Not only is Uganda attempting to make gay advocacy illegal and potentially punish gay people with the death penalty, but Americans are helping them out in the name of "religious liberty." Yes, religious freedom to persecute the gay community in a very poor African nation is a high priority for certain American pastors.
Sunday, May 2
by Sue on Sun 02 May 2010 10:46 PM EDT
Which words strike you from my posts? I used www.wordle.net to generate a one time snapshot of my most frequently used words. What do you think?
by Sue on Sun 02 May 2010 12:18 PM EDT
Keeping up with "breaking" news on an significant legislative issue is tough, but we don't have the luxury of overlooking the big picture, especially when there is an intersection with federal and state/local issues.
There are two pressing federal issues -the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) and the passage of the Employment Nondiscriminaton Act (ENDA). There are certainly other issues in play - repealing DOMA, warding off federal marriage amendment, extending domestic partner benefits to federal employees, ending the domestic partner benefit tax penalty, etc. But DADT and ENDA are the most high profile issues and generally considered the best opportunity for the Obama Administration and the Pelosi leadership team to back up their promises to our community -- to do the right thing.
DADT's local connection? Good question. We don't have an organized contingent of local active or retired military tackling this issue. We did have a brave (and well-written) op-ed piece written by CMU grad student Karen Mesko about the dehumanizing impact of the policy on her life. Certainly, there is a local impact, but it may not be high profile.
Plainly put, the Obama Administration needs to do something to show leadership on LGBT issues. We need to believe our leaders will *do* something, not just talk about it. This starts with our President who has promised to be our "fierce advocate."
DADT may not be "your" issue, but please don't discredit the power of how this issue unfolds over the coming months. Congress is ready to act; this is breaking down to a battler of wills between POTUS and the Department of Defense/Pentagon. If Obama is not able to repeal this ban in 2010, the legitimacy of all other promises is up in the air. There is not a shred of factual data to show that holding up the repeal is about anything other than capitulating to bigotry.
Everyone who gathered at the rally in Bloomfield should keep their eye on DC tomorrow and the day after. I just read that the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network will be joining Get Equal and other groups tomorrow which is a significant step toward realigning the insider-advocacy groups with the grassroots. Have you been watching the growing revolt amongst the grassroots organizations against the Human Rights Campaign? The HRC is not containing the masses to stick with the Administration's time table on DADT and they aren't delivering to the LGBT base. I predict systemic shifts in the LGBT community when we emerge from this. Power and influence is spreading outside the Beltway/insider gays. This should be heartening to those in Pittsburgh who identify with the activists chaining themselves to the White House gates rather than attending power lunches with WH staff.
What's up for debate is the "impact" of federal action or inaction. Can we connect the dots between today's DADT rally in LaFayette Park and the Pittsburgh Friday night rally against local gay bashing?
We darn well should. And if we don't, then we aren't doing our jobs as activists. Gay bashing is a federally defined hate crime, but here in Pittsburgh we struggle with people feeling safe enough to report these crimes to the police. Statewide, hate crimes protections are on the table in the House and the Senate, but I'm not sure we are helping people understand that all the protections in the world won't matter if we don't report the crimes. At the same time, we need to strengthen the laws to send a message that the system is willing to engage the LGBT community. The system needs to let the community know that the police will listen and take them seriously, not bash us further.
How do we generate that groundswell in Pittsburgh so we can transform the "Don't Ask, Don't Report" culture?
ENDA is another opportunity to see this intersection. The votes are there to pass the legislation which would protect our jobs, but there is momentum to strip the legislation of its protections for the transgender community. Again, the HRC tacitly supported this exclusive version of ENDA, backing down when the grassroots swelled up in outrage in 2007. The message is clear: all or nothing. If we don't want a watered down version of the bill, the onus is on us, the LGBT community, to make the case for an inclusive version of the legislation.
I've been making that case and urging folks to contact Congressman Jason Altmire whose vote is unknown. He's supported these issues in the past, but the need to reach out to him is immediate and urgent.
At the same time, legislation to expand anti-discrimination protections in employment AND housing AND public accomodation is sitting in committee in the State House (HB 300). A strong show of support from our federal delegation on similar legislation sends another strong message to Western PA Democrats who are wavering on this issue -- federal legislation sends a clear message that discrimination in the workplace does happen which can open the eyes of our local legislators.
So what does ENDA have to do with a rally against gay bashing? Well, it wasn't the time to call for letters to our elected officials, but it was an opportunity to build some trust between the Pittsburgh insiders (inside Grant Streeters?) and the grassroots folks who made up the bulk of the attendees.
In my opinion, it really does boil down to the issue of police response. The people who have access (Delta Foundation, Mayor's Advisory Committee, donors, advisors, etc) along with our elected allies (Peduto, Shields, Dowd, Rudiak, Lamb, Fitzgerald, Green, etc) can use their access to reach out in a legitimate and respectful way that values the grassroots folks who made it clear that they are ANGRY. Condemning them for the anger is fruitless. Asking them to be patient is futile. Tapping into the anger to provide leadership on an issue that matters to them is the way to build unity on the statewide and federal issues.
Think about this. The bashing incident occured in the early hours of Friday morning. I heard about it and the planned rally at 12 PM when I was asked to help get the word out. By 9 PM that night, scores of people were on the ground. Why not tap into this grassroots energy in a constructive way and work in partnership on issues that impact everyone?
There really is no need for Grant Street meetings. For years, we've been having public meetings to talk about the fact that the police interaction with the LGBT community needs to be improved. We get it. The facts are that people are being assaulted and the necessary contact with the police is not happening. Throwing our hands up in the air because there are no police reports isn't going to make the streets a bit safer. Working with all of our allies to focus in on this breakdown in the system is a concrete response. The time for meetings has passed. The time for building bridges is nigh.
There is a need for a high profile Press Conference by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl to condemn gay bashing, followed by actual reform in the police department. Now, a meeting with Chief Nate Harper and the women who said they want to feel comfortable on the streets -- that would be something. A public statement from the Bloomfield Business Association alongside Ravenstahl alongside the community groups will send a message that Bloomfield does not condone these incidents. We know there are many more allies than bashers. We need those with power to step forward and forcefully condemn these assaults.
Who among us has the ability to get that ball rolling? I don't think it can be done successfully until there is more bridge building between the Grant Streets and the grassroots.
Let me be very clear. This is not about anyone doing something wrong (except the criminals). The Grant Streets and the grassroots all have something important to offer. This is about finding a new way of doing business that brings everyone to the table. This is about meeting at Hoi Polloi one evening or Voluto or the Merton Center or any place that meets people where they are, rather than the City-County building.
See where I'm going with this? Leadership by the White House on repealing DADT will reenergize the LGBT Democratic base. Leadership on local issues, like gay bashing, could redirect the anger into action, but it is going to require stepping off Grant Street and meeting the community where they are -- not where we think they should be.
Let's all roll up our sleeves, join hands and get busy.
by Sue on Sun 02 May 2010 10:20 AM EDT
TMZ beat People magazine to the punch with the disclosure that country music's Chely Wright plans to come out this week as a lesbian.
Hmmm. LGBT folks are divided as to whether this is significant news or ho-hum-not-a-big-name coming out. My personal opinion is that this does matter. Setting aside those "a ha" moments (Queen Latifah), there is bravery in this much less well-known, but still popular woman taking a step out of the closet. Isn't that what we want -- people to be proud of who they are?
If she comes out, Chely is rolling the dice on her career, just like many of us do when we come out. She probably has a bit more of a financial buffer, but the risk is there. The potential payoff is there as well ... a country music star can reach audiences most of us can't touch. She humanizes "the gay" in our society for an entirely new audience. From Queerty.com:
The significance of a country music name coming out could prove very good here in SW Pennsylvania where Toby Keith concerts turn the Northside upside down. Our challenge is to reach out into the hearts and minds of Pennsylvanians who don't have openly gay icons in their lives. Now they just might.
Saturday, May 1
by Sue on Sat 01 May 2010 12:57 PM EDT
Reports from the blogosphere indicate the White House may be trying to stall Congressional repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
OK, let me try to summarize this ....
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates issued a letter vaguely warning Congress NOT to include repeal of DADT in the military appropriations bill because they need to keep in mind the opinions of homophobic soldiers.
Pam has the story and the letter.
The White House responded by saying Congressional implementation will be delayed until the Department of Defense study is done in the latter part of the year. This is widely opposed by pretty much everyone because its a clear attempt to avoid hurting mid-term elections and yet another postponement of our equality to appease bigots.
Speaker Pelosi shot back.
DADT has quickly become a flashpoint issue, touching on some of the most basic issues of homophobia in our society. The idea of waiting until the voters are ready and the bigoted soldiers are ready is complete bullshit. It would seem to me that if you can prepare someone to go into a war zone and come out somewhat psychologically intact, you can help them learn to cope with serving alongside gay people.
Sunday will see a rally in Lafayette Park in DC featuring Lt. Dan Choi who has recently participated in two direct actions on this issue.
So what does this mean for Pittsburgh? We need to maintain the positive pressure on our federal officials. A great opportunity is coming up on next Saturday when Senator Arlen Specter offers a reception for the LGBT community. We can ask Senator Specter for his advice on what we can do with our specific delegation.
Isn't it tiresome to be told to be patient? Again?
Friday, April 30
by Sue on Fri 30 Apr 2010 08:04 AM EDT
Good for Thomas Hutter for stepping forward and standing up to discrimination and harassment.
It takes courage to file a complaint, much less go public with your story. Everyone who worked to pass this ordinance should feel good that your work paid off for Mr. Hutter and others.
This also reinforces the need to keep working for similar protections across Pennsylvania (HB 300) and the nation (ENDA).
I urge you to click through and read the whole story. Sad experiences.