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View Article  Gertrude Stein Club Endorsements

Good, LGBTQ positive information for the May primary. 

The Gertrude Stein Political Club of Greater Pittsburgh supports

the following candidates for the May 17, 2011, primary:

 

PA Commonwealth Court

Barbara Ernsberger

County Executive

Rich Fitzgerald (D)

County Controller

Valerie McDonald Roberts (D)

Allegheny Co. Council district 7

Nicholas Futules (D)

Allegheny Co. Council district 11

Barbara Daly Danko (D)

Allegheny Co. Court of Common

Pleas (two seats)

Alex Bicket

Eleanor Bush

Pittsburgh City Controller

Michael Lamb (D)

PGH City Council District 1

Darlene Harris  (D)

PGH City Council District 3

Bruce Kraus (D)

PGH City Council district 5

Chris Zurawsky (D)

PGH City Council district 7

Patrick Dowd (D)

PGH City Council district 9

Lucille Prater-Holliday (D)

District Judge 5-2-35

Hugh McGough

 

sdf

View Article  Dear Pgh. Let's support a candidate who isn't afraid of PrideFest.

I used to give Reverend Ricky Burgess the benefit of the doubt. He's the councilor for Pgh District 9. 

 

When City Council voted on a "Will of Counsel" resolution to support including sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in the state Human Relations Commission, he parsed his support. He voted for it, but did not sponsor it.  So touting it as "unanimous" was a bit ruined by his trying to have his cake and eat it, too.  It was also distasteful when you consider (as he never seems to do) that there are LGBTQ folks living in District 9, some out and some not, whom don't get swept up into the giant net of oppression he so often touts as unique to his reign.

Yes, the 9th District has tremendous challenges and has not been effectively stewarded by previous councilors.  But Burgess subtle anti-gay positions threaten the welfare of individuals struggling with the same socio-economic challenges and the double whammy of being gay.  I would expect Burgess' time on the board of the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force (PATF) to have opened his heart to the lives (and deaths) of women and men in our community.  He was right there in the midst of the strengths and those experiencing suffering. It staggers the imagination that he can't extrapolate to the general LGBTQ community's experience as second class citizens.

The crushing blow for me came in June 2010 when Reverend Burgess refused to support PrideFest or have his photo/name included in the City Council ad in the PrideGuide.

Such a simple gesture of support and goodwill to the LGBTQ community's annual festival and celebration.  This is far less controversial, but just as symbolic as a vote to say gays should be protected at work, in housing and when seeking public accomodations (think dinner at Applebee's). 

My other favorite maneuver has been Burgess' attempts to parry, thrust and isolate openly gay Councilman Bruce Kraus as some sort of stereotypical rich white gay man with no concern for the plight of the poor and oppressed in spite of the, well, facts.  He neatly sidesteps the plight of any gay person in today's Pittsburgh/Pennsylvania -legally second class citizens. Not protected from hate crimes. Not allowed to marry. Exorbitant costs to adopt your own child. Any and almost every right at the whim of elected officials who simply don't want to codify those rights.  He assumes (wrongly) that Bruce has been immune to homophobia or that Bruce is unaware that the experiences of low and moderate income LGBTQ persons is even more perilous.  He underestimates the capacity of his fellow councilor to empathize and that is a serious mistake.  Just as Mr. Burgess is concerned with the experiences of low income African-Americans living in District 3, Bruce is aware of the struggles of LGBTQ residents in District 9.  They represent a City together and Mr. Burgess' stereotyping of Bruce is a pathetic grandstand attempt to salvage his seat.  It is not leadership.

Shame on you, Ricky Burgess, for pandering to homophobes as the expense of your own residents. 

Fortunately, you have a choice this Saturday evening to bring a more studied voice to the City Council chambers and for only $10. Join Lucille Prater-Holliday at the Shadow Lounge from 6-8 PM and learn about a woman who has fought many a grassroots battle on issues ranging from environmental racism to affordable housing.  Learn about her vision for District 9, a vision based on her own experiences of poverty and racism and scratching her way to a bachelor's degree and her willingness to bring up the incredibly tough topics and demand, demand that District 9 get the resources and investment the residents deserve.

As for gay issues?  Lucille's sister was an openly gay woman in the African-American community in the 1980s and beyond.  She talks of her sister's refusal to live a lie, her strength and her closeness to her family.  She must also have witnessed the homophobia, the rejection and the pain of being second class all over again in an era when our President never uttered the word "AIDS"  Lucille absorbed these experiences and I have faith that she will be the Councilwoman who reaches out to LGBTQ persons living in District 9 who also struggle with fair housing, decent paying jobs and public transportation -- the issues that unite them to their neighbors. 

Lucille's name will be on the 2012 Pridefest proclamation. 

Your $10 can make all the difference.  If you can't stop by Saturday night, please consider a modest $10 donation. 

ps - I left word with Councilman Burgess' office asking "why?" but no response. 

View Article  Domestic Partner Benefits for Allegheny County - here's what the candidates think

This is just too good/bad for anything other than a direct quote.  The candidates for Chief Executive from both parties were meeting with the Executive Women's Council of Greater Pittsburgh yesterday.  Let's set aside whether they were addressing ladies, women or girls.  Actually, let's not.  What kind of campaigh staff doesn't review this with a candidate who must routinely use antiquated/offensive language or perhaps they simply don't know any women?  I don't know.  It boggles the mind.  I just hope the campaign managers caught it and begin a remedial course in "Women's Advancement in the 20th Century." 

I am happy to report that no one came to the gay Democrats endorsement and called us "the gays."  Of course, Chuck McCullough wasn't there.  He actually seems to believe gays don't exist as you will see ...

From Early Returns ...

When asked if they support same-sex benefits for county employees, Fitzgerald unwaveringly said yes, Raja said he had to study it and Flaherty said he would follow whatever policy Dan Onorato puts in place.

"I don't believe in that concept whatsoever," said McCullough.

<head on table>

Fitzgerald has his own opinion, a record of pro-LGBT action and the Stonewall endorsement. Great answer and glad to see he's going on the record to bring fairness to the County workforce.  I'd love to hear how he plans to roll this out, but he clearly shines on this issue. 

To be fair, that's not hard to do when you are dealing with the assorted buffoonery that follows.

Flaherty is letting Onorato take the lead on this? WTF does that even mean? In 20 years of public service, Onorato has cast two anti-gay votes out of two opportunities to vote.  His sole concession to the gay community was signing a piece of legislation two years ago.  We are told repeatedly that he lobbied for the Human Relations Commission, but his stubborn refusal to provide health insurance for his employees makes me wonder if he pulled a fast one on the gay community. It has been two years.  That is a lot of doctor's visits, trips to the ER, dental visits and other health situations that have arisen among the LGBT County employees. 

If the Emporer is  wearing new clothes, he did not have a gay fashion designer.  So why is Flaherty saying something so utterly just stupid?  It is clear Onorato is not going to cast a gay vote/take gay action (ha) before his next statewide run.  And if he is waiting until he's a lame duck ... shame on him for playing politics with people's health.  I think that runs against his role of overseeing the Health Department.  But getting back to Flaherty ... is he painting himself as a successor and, if so, why on this really small issue?  It is a position that hurts gay people --- he sought our endorsement just two weeks ago --- and it hurts the region's ability to attract business. 

Raja wants to study the issue.  I'm going to send him information.  Seriously.   He may be playing coy, but he suggests that he's open to learning more.  I don't expect a Republican to make this move because it would cost too much with the base, but still ... the answer made sense.

And McCullough.  I mean, what do you say?  Let's revisit the quote.

I don't believe in that concept whatsoever," said McCullough.

Does he not believe domestic partner benefits exist?  I'd be happy to show him my Highmark insurance card listing Ledcat at the insured and myself as the dependent.  Or the bills.  Or the additional takes we pay on this "income"

Or does he not believe domestic partners exist?  There's an official City registry!  We have recognition of our domestic partnership by a municipal government.  Plus, he's welcome to come to dinner (don't tell Ledcat I invited him - we'll pretend he dropped by) and see what a domestic partner household looks like. 

Does he think we should fund our own health insurance, one little old lady at a time?  Cause my domestic-partner-believin' church tells me that is wrong.

The answer lies in an earlier comment ...

 He refused to commit to placing any percentage or number of women in leadership roles, instead saying he should be judged on other battles he's fought for UPMC Braddock, against reassessments and the drink tax, and would fight for women too. "I'm here to do God's work . . . I have your back," he said.

I'm sure all the girls in the room felt incredibly reassured. 

 

View Article  Pgh Mayor contributes to "It Gets Better" project

I am very proud of Mayor Ravenstahl for contributing a video to the "It Gets Better" anti-bullying project. 

This is the sort of leadership we need from our allies.  I hope the Mayor will take a few steps down Grant Street to support the kids at the Gay & Lesbian Community Center in both the afterschool and Friday night social activities.  He is one of the few here in Pittsburgh who truly can make it better for the next generation of LGBTQ youth. 

Thank you, Luke. 

 

View Article  GLCC Youth Director chosen for Jefferson Award

I caught this very late last night.  Great way to end a weekend.

GLCC Youth Director has been named a Finalist for the 2011 Jefferson Awards. His profile will run in the PG on Wednesday. 

His name is Ben Cook and I met him in 2003 when I was on the GLCC Board.  I distinctly remember being impressed that he gave up his Fridays to support LGBTQ youth.

He's been there on Friday nights for over ten thousand hours. Ten thousand!

I've found Ben to be an articulate, generous man.  I've had a little bit of professional contact with him and his demeanor in his work life reflects the same values that take him to the GLCC.  We once had a conversation about the experiences of LGBTQ youth who were homeless and he was very quiet when he described the Friday night pizza snack as the only meal someone would eat that day. 

We should all be very proud to have a volunteer like Ben.  His work is at the heart of the critical role the GLCC plays in the lives of Pittsburgh's LGBTQ comunity.

View Article  Dear Virginia

A few days ago, Ginny Montanez came out as a Republican on her very popular blog, That's Church.

But this Sunday while reading an article about the Port Authority service cuts that went into effect today, I was first shocked to see the 67J was cut, because I assumed that was a pretty profitable and popular route. But I was the most shocked that transit union president Patrick McMahon said this to the media:

?Dan Onorato ? union buster,? Mr. McMahon said. ?That?s the label you will have whatever else you do in your life. You stink. You?re a Republican.?

The very day I outed myself as Virginia Montanez instead of PittGirl, Chad Hermann at the Radical Middle latched on to this letter to the editor I wrote when George Bush was re-elected, wondering how my readers were going to like me knowing I was a Republican. This resulted in some uproar from readers who were shocked I ever voted for a ?war criminal.? Yes. WAR CRIMINAL. I voted for him because as you already know ME LOVE KILLING! GRRRRR.

Nearly 170 comments followed, many of which were very supportive of Ginny. What struck me?  How many people were willing to "accept" her Republican lifestyle because she isn't like the rest of them.  They liked her in spite of party affiliation. 

Say what?  Now I do not know Ginny personally, even though we brushed elbows at a fundraiser last summer.  I don't always agree with her and I have admittedly cast an envious glance or two at her comment sections. 

But here's what I do know. When I asked her to help me raise funds to provide holiday gifts to families experiencing homelessness and/or living with mental illness, she did it. She simply said "How can I help?"with no concern that holiday gifts for 44 year old mentally ill men living in a shelter is not content for a very sexy blog post.  It is just real.  She helped and there was absolutely no question from her about the worth or value of the cause. She just helped.

Here's what else I know. Republicans are good people. A very dear friend of mine is a conservative Christian fundamentalist.  I don't love him in spite of these facts. I love him because he lives the real values, not the hyped-up media portrayed values. I love him because we can agree that people need affordable housing and just disagree on how to create it. I love him because when I called him at 11 PM with an emergency, he was there by 8 AM the next morning and again the next day and the next.  He isn't a stereotype to me and he isn't an exception.  He reads me something, we argue and then we go have lunch.  It is all good.  I don't have enough fingers to count the ways he lived up to his values while the rest of us were talking about it.

My Dad is a Catholic Republican who loves George Bush and Rick Santorum. I try to talk with him about issues, but he has none of that talk. He is just glad I ended up with a lawyer, albeit a female, and treats her exactly like he treats my sister-in-law.

My point is that I love my friend and I love my Dad for who they are, not in spite of it. That's what I expect from them, right? No "lifestyle" comments, no "Sue and her friend" comments. My friend actually asks me a lot of questions and thinks my trust in the federal government is more perilous than my sexual orientation.

I write a political blog and I have taken swings at Republicans and probably did the very thing I'm railing about.

When I saw the piece in the Post-Gazette about Ginny, I just stopped what I was doing.  She wants good public transportation, so do I. It sure seems like we can write a big list of "things Sue and Ginny agree about" if we tried.

If you told me you liked me in spite of the fact that I'm a lesbian or because I'm not like "those" lesbians, I would take a deep breath and smile while sweetly asking you to explain and just watch you dig yourself in deeper and deeper to show what an unbelievable homophobe you really are.  I might punch you, but Ledcat frowns on potential lawsuits.

I like Ginny because she thinks 44 year old men living with mental illness in a shelter deserve a holiday gift just like kids and you and lesbians and George Bush.  I think George Bush deserves a holiday gift.  Seriously.  But remember I'm the lesbian who wants to be an evangelical (remind me to tell you that I might actually be able to pull that off).

Ginny doesn't need me to defend her. But I will say that I learned a lesson about my broad strokes. There is a difference between Republican parties, strategies, tactics, plans and belief systems AND people who are Republican. 

One thing I admire about Western PA Republicans is their willingness to be honest. There are a lot of Republicans in Democrat clothing and I find that abhorrent and self-serving the highest degree. But I also find it abhorrent to deny women reproductive healthcare. That's where it gets tough to sort out motives and beliefs and so forth. 

It is a murky path we tread, but let's try to be a little more genuine.  I have Republican friends, people I love and admire and appreciate. I have to work harder to remind myself that I am swooping them up into stereotypes.  Perhaps that's inevitable when you blog politically, but it doesn't feel very good. 

Frankly, if I had lunch with Ginny, I'd probably be more concerned about her pigeon-hating than her opinions on unions.  I like pigeons.  And unions.

And I like Ginny for putting this out there.  Good conversations require self-disclosures, both lofty and otherwise. 

View Article  Fundraiser for Lucille Prater-Holliday

Saturday, April 9, 2011, my new friend Lucille Prater-Holliday will hold a fundraiser at the Shadow Lounge from 6-8 PM. Tickets are $10.

 

Lucille is running for City Council in District 9 (East Liberty, Homewood, Point Breeze, Garfield, etc).  She is challenging incumbent Rev Ricky Burgress.

 

Ricky Burgess has repeatedly slapped the LGBT community in the face in SPITE of his former tenure ass a PATF board member.  Most recently, Burgess refused to join in the City Council Pride proclamation which is about as tepid support one can offer.  Even more recently, Burgess implied that openly gay councilman Bruce Kraus is a ?rich white Republican? who has no idea was it is like to be oppressed.  What sort of collegiality is this? What sort of dialogue does that open on meeting the needs of the LGBTQ community in District 9?  What kind of stereotype does that put out there about gay people?  That?s a sickening cheap shot and serves only to keep LGBT folks in his district deep in the closet. 

 

There are plenty of gay folks in District 9 and Ricky Burgess is hurtin' them all. 

 

This is the District of Hope. Dreams of Hope has performed repeatedly at the Kelly-Strayhorn,  Vanessa German opens her newest piece tonight at that same venue. There is hope politically and her name is Lucille Prater-Holliday.  She?s a single parent with a strong background on social services.  She?s very smart, a powerful  speaker and isn?t afraid to take the bus down to Grant Street. She has great ideas and a lot of passion.  Lucille?s now-deceased sister was an open lesbian for decades when that wasn?t a good idea.  Lucille has been poor, has struggled to raise her sons, has stood behind her community groups when they were under assault, has stood up to her own absentee landlord and still makes time to create beautiful green spaces so children have a place to experience green.

 

She needs your help to challenge a Councilman who isn?t doing anything for our community.  It is a chance to invest your $10 and your two hours into the sort of change that will help a very vulnerable district and the larger City.  Plus, you?ll be out by 8 and off to whatever great queer friendly activity is next on your agenda.

 

If you are pissed off about the gay bashings in Lawrenceville and Bloomfield, you should come. 

 

If you know about the underground gay-conversion ?ministries? in Pittsburgh, you should come.

 

If you want to see Homewood get some attention and resources, you should come.

 

If you want a smart City Council that stays in touch with the community in a very real way, you should come.

 

Lucille was endorsed by the Steel City Stonewall Democrats.  Revered Burgess didn?t even submit a questionnaire.

 

Most political fundraisers are FAR more expensive. Lucille also knows that our collective $10 donations can generate change. 

 

Please email me if you need more information. 

View Article  Planned Parenthood Foe to speak in Pittsburgh

The Pennsylvania Institutue has one upped itself with regard to shining a light on the Chik-Fil-A homophobic mentality. Next up is a Pittsburgh based dinner with a keynote speaker infamous from defaming Planned Parenthood with so-called undercover footage.

2011 Friends of the Family Banquet -- in Pittsburgh, PA

2011 Pittsburgh Friends of the Family Banquet
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Pittsburgh Marriott North
100 Cranberry Woods Dr

Cranberry Township, PA (Outside Pittsburgh)

Keynote speaker, Lila Rose, is founder of Live Action Films, and has gone undercover to expose the seedy side of Planned Parenthood. At age 22, her recent exposes have been featured in numerous news outlets, including the O'Reilly Factor, CNN, The Washington Post, US News & World Report, The New York Times, and NPR.

Register by April 21. Call us at 717-545-0600 or 1-800-FAMILY-1.

An opportunity to financially support the Pennsylvania Family Institute will be presented.

 Lila Rose and her Live Action Films purport to tell the full story, minus the edits.  Her website is unbelievable.  No mention, of course, of the evidence or facts presented by Planned Parenthood.

This dinner should be a hoot.  I bet Darryl Metcalfe will be front and central.

And I told you the Pennsylvania Family Institute was going to move into Metcalfe territory.  They already have two more sessions of The Art of Marriage scheduled for late spring. It is a big difference from donated sandwiches to $1,000 table fundraisers.  Do not rest easy. 

 

View Article  Exercising Judgment in the East End

When I asked Hugh McGough to sit down with me and talk about his campaign, I was admittedly most interested in the significance of electing Pittsburgh's second openly gay official (third in Allegheny County). I was unprepared for a thorough schooling in the ways of the magisteria, the judicial politics of the East End and a touching story of a child who believed he could never be a judge. 

In 45 minutes. While eating a sandwich at our meeting spot, Amani International Cafe on the Northside. 

Hugh has twice run for judge before, both time seeking a seat on the Court of Common Pleas. It has been an ambition of his since his youth - his father was a lawyer so he knew about such things as judges.  But as a young man realizing his identity as a gay person, Hugh was also growing aware of the reality that being gay was essentially illegal.  A violation of the sodomy law was a felony which prohibited one from serving on the bench.  That's an awful lot of discouragement for a young adult, but it seemed to infuse Hugh with more of a determination to use his powers for the good of the community rather than remain in the closet for the good of his erstwhile dream. 

Admittedly, I never really had this debate.  Even when I came out, it didn't strike me that (sodomy laws were gone in PA in 1972) that my life was criminal even while I was acutely aware that my life was reviled.  I've known Hugh for years, understood that he wanted to serve on the bench, but had no idea how that ambition was shaped by homophobia.  I never really thought about it more than the challenges of running as an openly gay man or perhaps enduring behind the scenes homophobia. 

 

Hugh is running for the Magisterial District Court (commonly known as Magistrates) seat in the East End, a highly revered bastion of progressive politics.  When the current magistrate announced his intent to retire, Hugh saw the oppotunity to fulfill his dream in a district disproportionately represented by voters who were familiar with him and his work.  Sort of an unexpected window opening after the previous election door swung shut.  Twice. Then sort of "hey, what about this?"  Hugh turned his eye to a different type of judicial role, one that is really on the front lines of sorting out the legal responsibilities, protections and so forth for all parties involved, before they turn downtown.  The magistrate can also be the final word on smaller financial matters (under $12,000 which doesn't seem that small to this social worker at all).

What I knew know about district magistrate judges was pretty much 1) they were very helpful when I had to evict someone and 2) two unsuccessful candidates in my district put their flyers through the mail slot which is illegal and does not bode well either for being lawful or setting aside their own self interests.   Neither won. **Note to candidates on the Northside - I'm paying attention.

Apparently, this is the last vestage of a dated legal system that predates the Revolutionary War.  Justices of the peace presided over the peace and eventually morphed into the present day magistrate who actually has a significant amount of legal work even while operating without a significant amount of required legal knowledge.  I kind of knew you didn't need to be a lawyer, but I was surprised that you don't even need a high school degree or a GED.  You just need to go to magistrate school for one month and pass the test.  Then you consolidate your power baise, raise your sons to run for Mayor and, oh wait ... never mind.

I guess I was so taken with Hugh's professionalism about the position, his knowledge of the types of cases and his years of experience appearing in district court as an attorney, that I'm just aghast the rest of us don't take it equally seriously.  I can smirk a little because my magistrate - for whom I did vote - is a licensed and well-respected attorney, Derwin Rushing.  No violation of US Postal Law by him, thank God. 

So the East End may choose to elect yet another practicing attorney. Hugh's opponent in the race is City Councilor Doug Shields, whose paralegal background proves more legal experience than many of the seated magistrated and plenty of practical experience as in political matters.  The lesbians love Doug. I just wish he'd stay on City Council to protect us from yet another round of legacy leadership that will take a decade to mature into independent critical thinking.  Doug, why are you eroding the progressive base that keeps my family safe on multiple levels? I fee like we are doomed to political version of SORAS (Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome).

This could be one of the more interesting races the East End has known since ... well, I don't know since when but I bet it will be close to what happens when Dan Frankel retires.  Minus the weeping (mine). 

In all seriousness, Hugh has an impressive resume, both legally and in terms of community services.  He has plainly put a lot of earnest thought into how he can combine his dream and best serve the people who have always had his back.  That's not a bad way to make a career move. 

How interesting for Pittsburgh that we have a four way race for a magistrate seat, a four way race for two City Council seats and a three way race for another.  I'm learning more every year how politics is local.

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