Tuesday, March 23
by Sue on Tue 23 Mar 2010 08:16 PM EDT
Just a quick nod to our friend, the wonderful Mr. Potter over at Slag Heap.
Good stuff. We are very lucky Mr. Potter is among us.
Monday, March 22
by Sue on Mon 22 Mar 2010 11:24 PM EDT
I have done you all a great disservice on this topic. Someone I trusted told me that Pittsburgh City Council never took a vote on domestic partner benefits and I took that person at their word. I went with the assumption that Onorato has never cast a vote on LGBT issues. I should have done my own research. Bad enough, I thought.
I was wrong. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette May 1999 (I apologize that it is broken into two images, but you can click the link to see the original).
He voted against domestic partner benefits in 1999 as a City Councilman and then spent six years not taking action on them as the County Chief Executive. When he runs for Governor, as I reported earlier, he forms a commission the week before both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia's Stonewall clubs hold their endorsement votes.
That's a pretty brazen maneuver. I was trying to be open-minded and pleased for County employees until I realized that I was played or just lazy.
There's more. While we know that the City Council vote on adding sexual orientation to the human relations ordinance took place in 1990 before Onorato joined the Council, I have a 1998 Beaver County Times article filed from the Associated Press that describes the vote to add gender identity and expression to the same ordinance.
Guess who voted against it? Yes, the sole "nay" vote was Onorato.
Onorato voted no on including protections for gender identity and gender expression. In 1998, he didn't think persons were experiencing discrimination -- there wasn't proof. Do you think that was a reasonable perspective in 1998 Pittsburgh?
Well. I just had a piece published statewide stating that Onorato has no voting history on LGBT issues and I was completely wrong. His voting record on LGBT issues has been 100% against us. Yikes.
But he's a changed man and, oh yeah, he wants to be Governor. To prove he's sincere, he waits until one week before the gay endorsement ... oh, I already said that.
I'm going to take a few hours to rethink all that has transpired over the past 72 hours here at Lesbian Central. I think people are trying to hoodwink you into thinking Onorato has been benign. The articles show that has not been the case. They are also trying to get you to believe that he's changed, but the domestic partner issue flies in the face of that argument.
To be fair, there are Onorato supporters who seem to truly believe he's changed. They didn't obscure anything. But the best I can say is that it is far too little, too late. I'm done with the meaningful conversations with my frenemies. Get me to the nearest Hoeffel phone bank.
Sure, you can go with the inevitability argument and vote for Onorato. He needs our votes and with his alleged speech tonight to Liberty City Democrats, he's indicating he'll tell us what we want to hear. He may even extend domestic partner benefits.
But you have a choice. You aren't bound to the laws of war chests and political family dynasties and loyalties and all of that. You can vote for the candidate who believes in full equality for all persons - Joe Hoeffel.
Turn out Sunday for the endorsement. Don't let the gay community settle for the candidate who is a lukewarm version of an ally when we can have the real thing. You are the only one who can make that happen. You need to show up on Sunday, you need to join Steel City Stonewall and you need to cast your endorsement vote. Plus, there's food. What's not to love?
Joe will be there. He's traveling across Pennsylvania to be there because he believes you deserve equality. Can you give up a few hours of your Sunday to believe in yourself?
by Sue on Mon 22 Mar 2010 10:03 PM EDT
I had never heard of him. I began following him on Twitter simply because he's a PA elected official. He's a somewhat frequent tweeter so he began catching my attention. Here's his website.
Last night, he made a comment Speaker Pelosi that caught my attention:
So I retweeted questioning if this is the kind of thing a leader should tweet? Really? I figured it was typical Republican Teabagging bull.
He responded. Oh my God, I'm conversing with a Republican during HCR and no slurs are being exchanged! :-)
So I looked him up. He represents the 150th district which is Montgomery County -- home of our friend and future Governor, Joe Hoeffel! Yes, he's a Republican, but here's what his bio says ...
Note the lack of references to family values. He's concerned about taxes, urban sprawl and reform. If you follow him on Twitter, you'll see a lot of references to his own family so he's clearly a family man. He just doesn't seem to think MY family has a negative impact on his family.
Then I learned this.
I was like "Shapiro's Discrimination" what? So off I surfed to look this up. Rep Josh Shapiro is also a tweeter. I found out that Shapiro introduced Hate Crimes legislation in 2009. And sure enough I find that Rep Vereb voted "aye" for HB 745 which expanded hate crimes protections to the LGBT community when it was in the Judiciary Committee. The legislation has been recommitted to Appropriations.
I knew this legislation existed, but what a pleasant surprise that a Republican brought it up in conversation.
So that's pretty cool. He saw my screen name and took the time to connect with me. In the midst of a real hatefest over #hcr, I had a nice little interlude with an elected official from across the aisle.
by Sue on Mon 22 Mar 2010 08:47 PM EDT
Tonight, Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato addressed the Liberty City Democratic Club in Philadelphia (their chapter of Stonewall Democrats). A member asked him about the lack of domestic partner benefits in Allegheny County. This is what he reportedly said:
I will try to confirm with his campaign ASAP. More importantly, I'll try to confirm with his administration. I've been trying to get HR Director Kathy Kennedy to respond to me for two solid months to no avail so maybe now that they have GOOD news to report, they'll be more forthcoming.
One point I just have to make. If this quote is accurate, it proves that all along he could have done this and that claims to the contrary were disengenuous. I'm really looking forward to all of those apologies. LOL.
Seriously, this would be good news for Allegheny County and pave the way to a better culture in the County workforce. I'd be very happy.
Sunday, March 21
by Sue on Sun 21 Mar 2010 02:13 PM EDT
The headline is a bit misleading, but the Post-Gazette's Mackenzie Carpenter has a good piece on recent legal action involving anonymous comments. I thought it worth examining.
We are a tiny blip in the Burghosphere. Not much commenting, but most of it is anonymous. Our comment feature can be tricky to use so I suspect it is most often just easier than intentional. I monitor and remove comments that cross the lines of libel (I believe), but it is important that you realize there is no real anonymity in the blogosphere.
Bloggers have been dropping like flies in Pittsburgh, most citing the consumption of time as too much a burden. Part of that time is monitoring the comments.
Saturday, March 20
by Sue on Sat 20 Mar 2010 12:45 PM EDT
Steel City Stonewall Democrats are posting their candidate questionnaires. Be sure to check them out to see what your potential elected officials have to say about LGBT issues. I think most of the questionnaires should be up by the end of the day. The national Stonewall folks which host chapter sites are experiencing some technical difficulties.
Bilerico has a powerful post about the "birth" of the new civil rights paradigm with the emergence of LGBTQ activism second wave. (Links are active).
I doubt Pittsburgh will see this sort of activism anytime soon until the "neat and clean" gays are willing to meet the activists on their own turf. We are a very planned, careful community. I see a need for the folks who are careful to parse the "activism" out of advocacy to be a little less concerned about accessing power and more willing to take these kind of risks. I also see the need for bridges and for the activists to engage a little, too. You can't realistically create change if you aren't willing to sit down at the table once in awhile. That sort of myopic idealism creates tremendous power vaccums that are being filled by the same old, same old.
Lt. Dan Choi has crossed from being a symbol of the gay-powers-that be to an activist hero. He has already put his life on the line for every American, now he's put everything else on the line for every queer American.
How long, Pittsburgh, do we continue to plod along the careful route that has brought us what? Baby steps that make it a more palatable region for upper middle class white gays to get a meeting with political leaders? Elected Democrats who are terrified to support our civil rights? Gubnatorial candidates who don't believe we deserve full equality (or health insurance)? People who want our pink dollars but stay in the closet themselves?
I suggest we are going to continue to plod along for awhile. That's who we are. We may joke about it, but maybe we should embrace it.
Or maybe we need to consider exactly why Lt. Choi is a leader. He could have kept on the muckety muck tour circuit, testified before Congress and made the talk show rounds to keep up his upper middle class gay street cred. Instead, he did something pretty darn dramatic for a military man which may be the final nail in his career coffin. He led by example, not by words alone.
Can you name anyone in Pittsburgh willing to put themselves on the line like this to secure your benefits and rights? Anyone?
by Sue on Sat 20 Mar 2010 10:03 AM EDT
This is a time honored tradition in the region and sounds like a great way to get out, be out and enjoy yourself. These games are one of those things we always say we are going to do. If I wasn't a total clutz and had a horrible softball experience in graduate school, I might even try to play. But let's start out with being a fan.
There are recruitment events today and tomorrow. A discounted membership rate for new members. What a perfect way to celebrate spring! Check it out!
There are sooo many ways to get out and meet new people in Pittsburgh's LGBTQ community. Softball is something you can enjoy either as a participant or just a fan! What could be better?
Friday, March 19
by Sue on Fri 19 Mar 2010 10:24 PM EDT
I was contacted by a board member with the Steel City Stonewall Democrats regarding an earlier post in which I criticized Dan Onorato for failing to answer the SCSD question on domestic partner benefits. SCSD acknowledged that they made an error uploading the file and sent me evidence that in the original question, Onorato responded as follows:
The link to his complete questionnaire is here.
The Steel City website has been down over the past week so this was a strange technological fluke, albeit an incredibly ironic twist that this one particular word was deleted. I'd go so far as to say prophetic but I do believe that it was an honest mistake. As I know the link was circulating before I put up my previous post, I do hope the organization makes an effort to clarify the mistake at least with the three campaigns most affected.
Dan Onorato did answer the question on domestic partner benefits and answered the survey completely.
Still, "yes" seems a bit inadequate. How can he just sidestep the fact that he doesn't actually offer domestic partner benefits to his own government employees? Did he hope no one would notice? At least, he didn't write "it is complicated."
At this point, he's screwed from a political perspective because he can't offer them at this late date and look sincere. He could, however, offer them at this late date and do the right thing regardless of how it looks politically. That option is always on the table. Leadership. Conviction. Equality.
Joe Hoeffel's questionnaire is here.
That's an interesting last point Joe makes. In May 2009, I wrote about Pennsylvania extending domestic partner benefits to Commonwealth employees. In other worlds, they are available. However, I've been told by union organizers that not all state unions have opted to access this benefit so clearly this is work to be done by Rendell and the next Governor to ensure same sex families have access to benefits - especially health insurance.
Not only does Joe have a record of the benefits being available in his County (before he came to office even), but he's offered them to his campaign staff, too. He's also making a very strong statement of commitment to "push" for benefits, not giving us a one word answer.
I know that I've been hitting this issue hard for weeks now, but here is an opportunity to simply compare the candidates words ... and actions.
I regret being the bearer of inaccurate information. I can say I acted in good faith and did look up the revised information as soon as I had access to my computer. While the organization is apologizing to the campaigns, I apologize to my readers for misleading you.
Thursday, March 18
by Sue on Thu 18 Mar 2010 08:58 PM EDT
Pennsylvania has been part of history this week with a groundswell of action to successfully squelch the Marriage Protection Amendment (plus, our own Pgh Blog for Equality). Yeah, us!
Today, eyes turned first to the Internet, then DC, then more to DC and now as I type ... across the nation.
The day started with another blogswarm, this one dedicated to urging movement on the ENDA. The goal was to generate pressure on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to make things happen. Dozens of bloggers posted and the phone calls overwhelmed the phone system. From Bilerico:
Then things get interesting.
Lt. Dan Choi and other members of GetEqual, a new direct action LGBTQ group chained themselves to the White House gate to demand action on repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
From Pam's House Blend:
Lt. Choi and two others were arrested and are still being detailed as I type this.
Reports from Twitter indicate that 5 persons have been arrested from this action.
For the latest updates, follow @GetEqual on Twitter.
Still, there's more.
Activisits in San Francisco organized coordinated protest sit-ins in Pelosi's district offices. There are rumbling of nationwide late night gathering to protest the detainment of the protestors.
LGBT leaders are discussing the ramification of direct action versus advocacy led by the mainstream organizations. That discussion is important, but Pittsburgh and statewide advocates can learn some lessons from the powerful image of Lt. Choi chaining himself to the White House gates. We have relinquished a lot of power to behind the scenes political donors and there is absolutely no infrastructure to support direct action tactics. The self-appointed advocates are not talking with the activists from the Dyke March and Bash Back. To be fair, that's a two way lack of communication.
Let's hope the conversation continues and trickles down into viable coordinated action on a local level. This may be wishful thinking on my part.
by Sue on Thu 18 Mar 2010 11:22 AM EDT
Bilerico has asked bloggers to "swarm" around ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. House Speaker Pelosi is holding up this legislation which would provide employment protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
The tide in the LGBT community is moving toward standing up against Democrats who are tepid on our issues and show no willingness to demonstrate leadership to protect minorities which is a hallmark of the Democratic party. Right? Hence my ongoing frustration with Chief Executive Dan Onorato, but let's not go there. As Dr. Jillian Weiss, the leader on ENDA, has remarked "If the base stays home in November, Speaker Pelosi will be out of job." We are a force to reckoned with and to accomplish that we need you to take action on ENDA with as much enthuasiam as you showed on the Marriage Amendment this week.
Won't it be nice to be pushing FOR rights instead of AGAINST losing them?
It is legal for you to be fired if you are gay unless you live in a municipality that protects you. It took until 2009 for Allegheny County to make that move. If you work in Cranberry, you are screwed. People across this nation lack this basic protection that should be a national standard. How many of you have to "be discrete" at work about your partner? It is exhausting and it erodes your ability to form natural bonds with your team if you have to censor yourself all the time. It is also demoralizing that people can be fired for the perception that they are gay.
I once had a coworker get away with bashing me for being gay. She complained about my "bringing that" into the workplace when I made an innocent comment referencing my partner. I was pooh-poohed by management which I have never forgotten. A few years later, a senior manager sent around an email with a vulgar, demeaning reference to lesbians. I filed a complaint and was not pooh-poohed, but I know damn well that filing complaints impacts your employment in subtle ways. I was fortunate enough to have the Ciy's non-discrimination ordinance to back up my complaint. My job was not in jeopardy, but my ability to move up was probably dampened. Standing up to discrimination at work is very difficult and draining.
We need our leaders to champion safe workplaces for LGBTQ persons. Enough with the capitulation and the hesitancy. This is about doing what's right for people who are suffering at the hands of bigots.
Please call Speaker Nancy Pelosi at 202-225-4965. Ask that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, HR 3017, move to a vote.
Please be polite, but firm.
After you call, please tell us how the call went by clicking here. If you get a busy signal or hang up, let us know that too.
If you want more information on Speaker Pelosi's position on ENDA as stated by her office, you can find it here
Let's work together to let Speaker Pelosi know that we want action now!
At the end of the day, we will post a round-up of how the day went. Stay tuned.