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View Article  Possible movement to protect LGBT kids in the Pennsylvania foster care system?

We've reported before on legislation introduced by State Representative Phyllis Mundy to create a "Children in Foster Care Act" to identify and protect rights of our most vulnerable children.  The significant problem with this legislation is the need to strip protections for LGBT children out to ensure passage.

Representative Phyllis Mundy of Luzerne County says she has introduced her ?Children in Foster Care Act? legislation during every session since 2005. But this time, she?s made some adjustments that may make the bill more popular, by omitting a section that would have protected children against discrimination based on sexual orientation. Because many children are in foster care because of their sexual orientation, she says the clause would be relevant in the bill of rights. However, since she?s had trouble passing it with that inclusion, she says she?d ?rather pass an imperfect bill than no bill at all.?

I've been in touch with a few co-sponsors and determined that the language protecting LGBTQ foster children could be reintroduced as an amendment. That is an opening we cannot afford to miss, friends.  If we don't step up to protect children in our own community, who else can they count on? 

The list of cosponsors is here (there are 42).  These are friendly folks so simply drop them a line saying thank you for cosponsoring and ask them to remember that LGBTQ kids in foster care need protection, too.  Every one of you who reads this blog has some personal story to add ... a memory of your own experiences as an LGBTQ teen or a story from your loved one's life.  You just have to ask them to do this.  The legislation has bipartisan support so if the legislators from Western PA can head in to a vote with your comments to back up their vote, you can make a difference.

Peter Daley (Washington and Fayette counties)   Email him.

Dan Frankel (Allegheny County) Email him.

Patrick Harkins (Erie County) Email him.

Deberah Kula (Westmoreland and Fayette counties) Email her.

Tim Mahoney (Fayette County) Email him.

John Pallone (Armstrong and Westmoreland counties) Email him.

Joe Preston (Allegheny County) Email him.

Chelsa Wagner (Allegheny County) Email her.

May is Foster Care Awareness Month so I'll be following this legislation and the story.

The legislation is current in the Children & Youth Committee.

Stay tuned ...

View Article  Welcome to the newest Correspondent, Sarah!

Just wrapping up Pgh Lesbian Correspondent boot camp for our newest Correspondent, Sarah.  Woo hoo!  Ledcat and I are very excited about adding a new perspective to our little experiment in blogging.  Be sure to give her a shout out when she posts in the next few days. 

View Article  Facials. Mmmm.

Joe is a long time LGBT ally and these are wonderful facials and massages.  SRK


Sunday, May 16 is

Natural Beauty Value Day at

Colette?s Styling Salon,

located at 3957 Perrysville Avenue,

in Observatory Hill! 

From noon until 5 pm, specially priced half hour mini-facials will be offered for just $20!


The natural mini-facials will include an organic oatmeal cleansing massage, hot steam towels, a freshly prepared facial mask, hand and wrist massage, and toning & moisturizing.


Refreshments and snacks will also be available at the shop!


Schedule your appointment today!   Walk-ins are also welcome!


Please pack or wear a washable shirt with an open neckline and plan to arrive 10 to 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time to fill out the facial consultation form.


To make an appointment, you can either call Colette?s at 412-323-0999 or email Joe at joeskoski@gmail.com.  

Follow Get Your Glow On Facials on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/Pittsburgh-PA/Get-Your-Glow-On-Facials-and-Skin-Treatment/318154509836?ref=ts


View Article  25th Anniversary of Renaissance City Choirs

A quick FYI ... the Post-Gazette ran a nice piece on the RCC 25th Anniversary concert this weekend (Friday and Saturday).

And once again I must say to those who say we don't get good press, read this ...

Perfectly captures the essence of what amounts to a daily debate in the LGBT community, particularly the political/activist community.  :-)

One thing I like about Pittsburgh is the name .... it is not the gay and lesbian chorus that purports to be inclusive, the name is inclusive.  For more information about the history of LGBT chorus, click here.

RCC is a Pittsburgh institution and one of the few things that I hear about on a consistent basis -- you can't turn around without someone asking if you are going to the next concert.  It is pretty cool, actually.  The power of music to build community.

The article is a lovely read.  Check it out and take note. (Get it?)

View Article  The Wingnuts Are Coming! The Wingnuts Are Coming! Because ENDA might be coming, too ...

Picked up a few tidbits about ENDA today while I was in the waiting room at the vet. (She's fine -- needs antibiotics and a little diet switch).

The DC Agenda (formerly the Washington Blade) is reporting that Pelosi expects a vote soon.  The critical issue is sex specific Democratic Senators.  Good news?  None of them are from Pennsylvania, both of whom cosponsor the legislation.  Bad news?  You need to start emailing/facebooking/tweeting your friends in these states and figure out how to spur them to take a little action.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she thinks a floor vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act will happen ?soon? and the committee of jurisdiction is working hard to have a strong bill.

Asked by DC Agenda during her weekly press conference what?s preventing the bill from coming to the House floor as well as when she expects a vote, Pelosi said the House Education & Labor Committee is working hard to ?have the strongest possible bill? and she believes a floor vote ?will be soon.?

Congressman Barney Frank has some positive advice.  Make some calls. Here's where the pressure needs to focus in the Senate.

Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas

Ben Nelson of Nebraska

Tim Johnson of South Dakota

Kay Hagan of North Carolina

Evan Bayh of Indiana

Robert Byrd of West Virginia.

Six votes between you and more equality (regardless of your sexual orientation, my dear reader). Surely, you know someone in one of these six states.  College roomie. Sibling. In-law. Coworker. Penpal. Now's the time to shoot 'em an email and ask for a phone call.

Rest assured. Be very assured.  The wingnuts are going to hit Capitol Hill at full force. We can't afford to wait.

Speaking of which CBS has a stinker of a story up and running.  Ick.

View Article  University of Pennsylvania to provide insurance coverage of gender confirmation surgery to students

h/t Bilerico Project

From the Daily Pennsylvanian ...

In the next academic year, the Penn Student Insurance Plan will begin offering a new benefit for transgender students ? it will cover the cost of the gender confirmation process, also known as gender reassignment or transition.

The benefit covers triadic treatment, the term used for the three-step process of gender confirmation. Triadic treatment consists of psychotherapy, estrogen or testosterone hormone treatment and sex reassignment surgery, which involves the changing of genitals.

The benefit covers the costs of surgery for up to $50,000. According to a research report by the organization Transgender At Work, the cost of male-to-female surgery can average around $20,000.

This was a student led change that will increase premiums by pennies and allow the University to live up to the standard of non-discrimination on the basis of gender identity.  Next up, the students plan to push for similar extension of benefits for staff and faculty. 

Kudos to Penn!

View Article  Breaking: Obama on Same Sex Hospital Visitation

h/t Pam's House Blend

The President, in an extremely positive development for LGBT families, has directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure that hospitals participating in Medicaid or Medicare will allow patients to designate who may visit them as well as name their primary caretaker and decision maker. Countless tragedies have occurred because of denial of access or ability to decide on the health of a loved one because the hospital would only recognize the rights of a blood relative.

Now some of you may be shocked to learn that if Ledcat were transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital, I could be denied access to her bedside -- denied input on her treatment -- because we are not legally married.  Even with the paperwork, who needs the stress of stopping to find paperwork when you are in the midst of a medical crisis?  What if you can't find it quickly enough? What if you have to stop to explain it or review it or defend it while your loved one is calling for you from another room?  What if your partner's family isn't particularly fond of you and plays the blood relation trump card?

What if? What if? What if?  This is a big fear for me.  Ledcat and I have pretty good relationships with our mutual in-laws, but there's always the what if. 

Less than half of the US States have tackled this issue.  Pennsylvania is not among them, in spite of legislative efforts of State Rep Dan Frankel.

Pennsylvania law does not specifically provide for a partner to make decisions on behalf of an incapacitated same-sex partner, but, "an adult who has knowledge of the principal's preferences and values?" is among those listed. Contact must be attempted with at least five individuals before a partner would have authority. ? 5461.

An adult may appoint his or her partner to make health care decisions on his or her behalf. A valid health care power of attorney must identify the principal, appoint the health care agent and declare that the principal authorizes the health care agent to make health care decisions on behalf of the principal. ? 5453.

Citation: Health Care; Health Care Agents and Representatives: 20 Pa. Cons. Stat. ?? 5451 to 5465

Solutions?  Pittsburgh Pride has one of them and a very concrete solution.  It is an ACLU Seminar that shows you how to address this very issue.  We attended last year and I think it was one of the best events I've ever attended.  The problem is that setting up a domestic partnership legal agreement is expensive.  Heck, getting a Pittsburgh recongized domestic partnership listing in the registry can be out of reach for working class folks.  So the seminar is a great "how to" step, but we must press on for full equality. 

This is a step forward, but we must also remember that a Presidential memorandum may expire upon the end of his term.  Its legal status is not 100% clear.

Another concrete step is to contact your state rep and explain why this needs to be addressed. Share your real story.

Our families, especially yours, deserve your action.  We must continue to be vigilant.  And we must keep up the pressure on both the state and federal levels. 

Stay tuned for more details on what is happening in PA and be sure to show up at the ACLU Seminar.


View Article  Phone Banking for Joe Hoeffel

If you'd like to get involved, phone banking is a great way to support Joe's campaign.  The office is in East Liberty and you'll get everything you'll need. 

We do calls weekdays from 10am to 8:30pm, Sat 11-6, and Sun 12-7.

You can sign up here. 

View Article  Gainesville, Florida elects openly gay Mayor by 35 votes

Check out Pam's House Blend.  She has live blogging transcripts and more. 

Congratulations to Craig Lowe.

Speaking of Mayors, did I ever link to this story at the Advocate about Anise Parker and Joel Osteen? 


View Article  Hoeffel on Drilling Moratorium

From the HuffPo ...

"Coal mining was not well regulated in Pennsylvania," said Hoeffel, "and it is the same with gas-drilling."

Hoeffel has already met with landowners in southwest Pennsylvania's Greene County where gas and coal companies are blaming each other for pollution that killed all fish, mussels and other aquatic life along the 35-mile stretch of Dunkard Creek, which crosses the PA-West Virginia border.


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