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View Article  P.S. - Why I Didin't Go

Recently, I was invited to attend a meeting with Onorato.  I asked if someone from the queer-identified community could attend and I was told no, it was invitation only.  Then I was told it was a meeting for people who supported Onorato.  I explored that a bit with others attending and decided that I didn't want to risk 1) supporting the ongoing exclusion of queer-identified persons from the table and 2) being perceived as supportive of someone who doesn't get domestic partner benefits. 

I was debriefed. No one queer was invited.  They were "represented" by the upper echelons.  Some people changed their minds and threw their support to Onorato.  The best is that I was apparently publicly derided for "refusing to attend unless I could bring my own guests."

That's not true. I refused to attend because they didn't want queer people at the table, not because I couldn't bring queer guests.  I refused to attend because the campaign was intentionally vague and I'm not interested in being a token.

When I called the Mayor's LGBT Advisory Council and asked if they would invite a dyke identified and a queer identified group to their meeting, they immediately said yes and sent out invitations.  I can't say if the groups will attend, but at least they were invited and included.  At least, they have an opportunity to bring up their issues and concerns for themselves. 

I tried to be civil with the Onorato folks.  I asked around to see what the meeting was about.  The campaign ignored my inquiries and the other LGBT (not Q) folks invited had widely ranging theories on what the meeting was about -- from a public announcment on civil unions to a brainstorming session on gay issues.

But I'm the problem.  Not the elected officials whose lack of action I write about.  Nope, it is me.  A lesbian with a little blog here in Pittsburgh.

If they had responded in a civil manner instead of bashing me in a meeting with LGBT (no Q) leaders, perhaps there would be room for conversation. That's too bad.

View Article  Civil Rights Have Never Been Won By Politely Asking For Them, They Have Been Won By Demanding Them

View Article  Is it time for LGBTQ activists to pay Mr. Onorato a faith-based visit?

Lez Get Real has a story on a planned direct action at the Cathedral in Chicago led by long-time activist Andy Thayer.

To back his point Thayer told LGR, ?This is not just about the equal right to marry. In Illinois, Cardinal George and his predecessors over the years have worked behind the scenes to vehemently oppose every piece of equal rights legislation for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender (LGBT) people that has been proposed, including opposing equal employment rights, equal access to housing, equal access to public accommodations and equal access to adoption.?

Thayer also noted the Church hasn?t been above playing hardball to get their way, ?the church leadership recently threatened to torpedo support for Congressman Luis Guiterrez?s immigration law bill if it included any consideration for LGBT people and in Washington, DC, the church leadership threatened remove support for the homeless there if the District upheld its equal marriage rights bill. This is why we will call the Church leadership?s bigotry out into the open for all the see with our protest,? said Thayer.

As a personal note, I have been following Andy?s career as a rabble-rouser for a very long time now and he never makes idle promises. So you can be sure the folks attending Mass at Holy Name this Sunday are going to hear what he has to say.

I can't help but wonder what would happen if Pittsburgh's LGBTQ community were ready to shed the "be patient and let the politically connected gay men take care of things" approach to equal rights and take action for ourselves.

I wonder if Andy Thayer would think the "be patient and work behind the scenes" approach to County domestic partner benefits is working out.  What do you think? We've waited six years ... how much longer will you support this approach?  (They even try to persuade me to be "less divisive" but I say putting your money where your mouth is has only bought us photo ops and a general brush off.)

Maybe we should take a lesson from the animal advocates (and Andy Thayer) and pay Mr. Onorato a visit at his church?  Ha. Wouldn't that bring the issue to the forefront! Better yet, pay him a visit when he attends mass in Philadelphia to show them he's about as progressive as Corbett, just less honest.

After all, six years of waiting for his gay friends and allies to convince him to do the moral thing hasn't really worked out too well.  Maybe a little media attention to the issue would help?

I mean the geese were already dead.  I'm not aware of any County employee family members who have died for lack of health insurance, but that doesn't mean it hasn't happened.  My sources inside the County unionized and non-unionized employees is that they don't want to rock the boat by "coming out" politically. Hmmm. 

I suspect the good Catholic gays of Western PA would feel the same way.  Too bad.  Maybe we could take a page from Bash Back Pittsburgh which actually did something to make a point about the gay-bashing owner of Peace, Love and Little Donuts.

At 11:00 AM on January 16th, around twenty queers and allies occupied the tiny donut shop and the space in front of it. Our pink and black flag waved while our boombox blasted ?You Made Me Gay? and other catchy tunes guaranteed to queer even the straightest of passersby.

We danced, sang, chanted, and had a wondrous time creating space for ourselves, all while handing out informative and celebratory flyers, signed with love by ?the crazies, kooks, and freaks.?

Razete protested, denied the quotes we had taken from his own blog, and claimed he ?hated the sin but not the sinner.?

With all of the love Ron had for the partiers, he still asked us all to leave, at which point a major queer make-out fest ensued inside his hateful donut shop. Ron?s discomfort angered him so that he physically pushed four occupants out into the street and slammed the door.

With a donut shop in distress, it was no surprise when its blue-clad protectors came swiftly to the scene. With queers endangering their donut-dipping freedom, we knew they were gonna come down on us hard. Unfortunately for them, the queers knew more about the law than they did and the po were unable to break up the party.

The group pressed on shouting, ?Hate tastes like shit! No queer bashers in the Strip!? as onlookers joined in to dance down the Soul Train or take our amazing flyers. Several potential customers of PLLD turned around to find breakfast elsewhere and others went inside to confront Razete about the quotes. Angry about this, Ron threatened to press charges. The cops? demands to know ?Who was inside?? were left unanswered. Nobody talked, everybody walked. After our music CD ended and our flyers were all gone, the group dispersed for the safety of all involved just before Ron could come out and identify anyone.

Note there was no actual bashing.  They handout flyers, kissed each other and engaged in lawful First Amendment protected speech.  They are not done with this hater.  I think a little Bash Back at an Onorato fundraiser would be just the shot in the arm the LGBTQ community needs.  Domestic partner benefits is about fundamental socio-economic inequities like health care and life insurance, not marriage equality.  It is practical and concrete. The lack of domestic partner benefits disproportionately impacts lower income families who are less likely to be able to purchase health insurance coverage through the so-called free market. 

Imagine if a Bash Back generated the kind of buzz necessary to force Onorato's hand?  I'm sure the six year approach folks would take credit for laying the groundwork, blah, blah, blah.  But it would definitely shine a light that this approach hasn't worked. 

I know someone will bring up the anti-discrimination ordinance in the comments section.  It took him ten months to publicly support the bill and I frankly don't believe people who claim that he was working behind the scenes. I don't believe you because ten months after THAT he refuses to provide domestic partner benefits.  I think you are being disengenuous to pacify us and avoid revealing that you don't have as much influence as you would have us believe. 

You might believe it. I don't believe you. 

sdf

View Article  Why does Harold Ford's run for the Senate impact Onorato?

The New York Times interviewed Emily Ford, wife of candidate for the open Senate Seat from New York.  In this interview, she takes some credit for Ford's recent much lauded turnabout on LGBTQ issues.

So we must entertain the plausibility (not just the possibility) of a candidate doing what we want -- growing as a person to better understand LGBTQ views.  For ten years, Ford's voting record on our issues has been deplorable.

He voted twice for a federal amendment banning marriage equality.  Twice.  He voted to oppose same sex adoptions in DC.  The LGBTQ community has pretty much written him off as a "which way does the wind blow" opportunist who is also suddenly a "pro-life, pro-choice" candidate in spite of anti-choice votes when he served in Congress.  Why is it his sudden mission to reclaim the term "pro-life"?  From who?  Murderous anti-abortion zealots who assassinate doctors and pimp out their children to hold pictures of fetuses at public events?  No thanks.  They can keep it.

The problem is that elected officials seem to suddenly have a change of heart when they run for office, not when they face a critical vote and face reelection. 

That brings us to Dan Onorato who is running for Governor.  I could believe the snake oil being sold to me that he changed his mind on the anti-discrimination ordinance IF he had publicly supported it prior to his April 2009 letter.  That was too far into the game IMHO.  However, I am being told that he had to work behind the scenes to persuade reluctant Democrats to get on board.  I'm not a behind the scenes Democrat donor so I have no idea if that's true. 

I know from in front of the scenes (where the voters are) that a strong anti-discrimination stance from a Democrat leader would be powerful. 

But the biggest difference between Harold Ford and Dan Onorato is that Onorato has failed to do something in his CURRENT term that would make a difference - provide domestic partner benefits to County employees.  Harold Ford has been out of office for three years so maybe he has changed and been unable to act on that change.

Onorato could do something today when he gets to the office.  But he doesn't because he and his campaign team haven't figure out how that would "look" for the campaign.  It is the worst kind of evidence that he's not sincere because is failing every single day that goes by to do the right thing for his employees and his LGBTQ constituents. Or that he is sincere but won't take action when he has the opportunity because of fear.  What kind of pro-LGBTQ candidate is that?

Either way, he fails the litmus test.  Over domestic partner benefits which is like the lightest, most non-controversial gay issue in town.  If he can't make health care available to people that work for him, do you REALLY think he's going to go the mat on statewide issues?  He'll always have another election to face so he'll always have a reason to proceed with caution. 

Let's not even get into Onorato's attempt to redefine pro-choice.

Harold Ford and Dan Onorato are too little, too late Democrats.  Their timing is fraught with reasons to be skeptical at best.  Onorato's lack of action is screaming with reasons to look elsewhere for a candidate.

Or you can trust the behind the scenes donors who have no accountability to you, the voter. 

Your choice.  So to speak.

sdf

 

 

View Article  Report from the field
Does anyone else have a dedicated pair of snow shoveling jeans? Mine hang in kitchen to dry. I put them on for a grocery trip to work. That was a good idea as I was engulfed in a snow bank at Giant Eagle AND at the drop-off site.

So now I've got thigh high wet jeans and a 30 minute wait for an appt. Bronchitis is looking more and more likely, eh?

Northside is just so-so in the flat neighborhoods. I don't hear good things about the hilly neighborhoods but here's hoping for a "blitz" our way soon. Oakland I better today.

I gotta wonder - where is everyone going to park when we do get back to work? Craig St - already difficult to find parking - is one giant plow trail. I just plowed into embankment and made my own spot. Are they going to move this snow? Marty Griffin on KDKA was suggesting they put the trash removal guys to work shoveling snow to be removed. I bet there's a union rule against it, but at least there's outside the box thinking.

I am so glad to be out of house that I don't care about what I encounter. I just need to interact with people and make sure my program folks are okay.

It would be nice to have dry pants, though.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
View Article  Snow Day Six #snOMGpgh

Well, I woke up at 6 AM completely confused about which day of the week I was facing.  I'm still technically off work, but I have to do some shopping for the sites and residents so I'm off to Giant Eagle. I also have to drive Ledcat to work as her vehicle is a giant lump of snow, in spite of several shovelings.  I have appointment in Oakland at 11:30 so here's hoping Oakland Catholic is plowed out so I can find parking.  Then I have to shovel. Again. 

I don't mind shoveling the front walk enough to trudge between the sidewalk piles to get to the street.  It is keeping the back deck clean enough for the dogs that is futile with the wind.  Deus is "reluctant" to descend the steps to the yard so I have to keep chipping away the ice and spreading dog friendly salt.  It is never ending task as dogs need to visit yard several times during the day.  I am sure it will be compounded with the looming melt-freeze cycle we'll hit soon, followed by another 2 inches of snow Sunday night. 

Every time we go out, I am whisked back to 1977 when a blizzard engulfed the region. I remember the "fun" part of life -- snow tunnels, sledding, snowman building.  I also remember being afraid of the really high walls of snow along the walk and the incessant whine of tires trying to get off the street and get working men like my Dad... to work.  Driving on North Avenue yesterday, I was transported back in spite of my 4wd, GPS, Blackberry and accoutrements of modern life.  I've compared every winter since with that experience (I was in Baton Rouge for the 1993 blizzard).  Grown up blizzard is very different than 6 year old blizzard experience. 

Is anyone else ready to scream by the sound of a shovel scraping the sidewalk?  Then you immediately feel guilty because you have power, heat, food, 4wd and nice neighbors to help you out. 

Not much news from the local LGBT front.

The GLCC has been closed due to the weather.  OUTrageous Bingo is on for Saturday night. 

The Steel-City Stonewall Endorsement meeting is coming up on March 28, 2010.  To vote in the endorsement, you'll need to be a SCSD member.  You can become a member for as little as $15 which gives you a say in the overall power of the LGBTQ community in the region.  Your voice can say that we matter when it comes to politics.  I know the location is very awkward for a LGBTQ meeting (steakhouse on the Northshore ???) but I urge you to consider joining.  Whether your cause is the former Art for AIDS or Pridefest, all of those services and progams are impacted by the people in office.  Those events are meaningless if we continue to elect socially conservative Democrats who do not value and appreciate us enough to afford us equal citizenship in Pennsylvania. 

I promise to post the SCSD questionnaires in plenty of time for you to read up on the candidates, along with a little commentary of course.  :-)

Nationally, Twitter has been buzzing that Lt. Dan Choi has been reactivated for duty in spite of his impending discharge under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."  That's not quite accurate.  Lt. Choi is doing his regular rotation of National Guard Duty.  That's a good thing in that he hasn't been stripped of these duties, but it doesn't mean he's being deployed anytime soon or that his legal standing regarding discharge.

A letter in the PG Community Forums regarding ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Well, kudos to our intrepid PG delivery person who struggled through the snow to get us a fresh paper.  I'm off to refill the coffee mug, take a look at the paper and head out to deliver Ledcat to work. 

Hope your day is warm, well-lit and safe.

View Article  Then there are Pennsylvanians who believe in Equality

It is Freedom to Marry week and nearly 30 people showed in Harrisburg in support of SB 935 which would legalize same sex marriage in Pennsylvania. 30 is pretty impressive considering the weather.

Ha.

Sponsor Daylin Leach:

Now this legislation has 3 cosponsors.  3. 

I am not a proponent of pushing for marriage equality in Pennsylvania.  That doesn't make me an incrementalist because I do believe SW PA Democrats are ridiculous panderers to fear mongering bigots when it comes to civil rights for the LGBTQ community.  Granting domestic partner benefits is about fairness and equality.  I'm realistic enough to know that marriage legislation ignites the bigotry and sends quasi-Democrats even further away from their values (or closer to their real values?). Hence, the lack of domestic partner benefits.  Fear.  Caving into bigotry. Missing the point.

Still, I applaud 30 people for turning out on a miserable day to stand up for equality. 

View Article  West Virginia on brink of anti-marriage equality amendment; could PA be next?

Well, I'll Towleroad fill you in ...

West Virginia delegates are considering a "drastic" parliamentary move to discharge a bill from committee that would allow debate on a measure to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage:

"Bi-partisan support of the so-called marriage protection amendment includes the majority leader as well as minority leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha. He?s one of several delegates becoming frustrated over what he feels are stall tactics to keep the amendment from leaving committee. 'A number of states throughout the country have recognized homosexual marriage and we think we need a safeguard to keep that from happening here and we think the people of West Virginia want that safeguard, so there?s a frustration out there, and we think it should be brought to the House and debated,' said Armstead."

Here's an interesting tidbit from WV Public Radio:

Bi-partisan support of the so-called marriage protection amendment includes the majority leader as well as minority leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha.

Take note of that.  The Democrat leader of the House in West Virginia supports amending discrimination into their constitution. 

Thomas Waters has a thoughtful post about the potential for a similar amendment to make its way to the Senate Floor. 

SB 700  707 has bipartisan support.  Democrats Senator Musto (Carbon, Monroe and Luzerne counties) and Senator Kasunic (Fayette, Washington, Westmoreland and Somerset counties) are co-sponsors of this legislation. 

Is that cool with you?  If Democrats feel safe enough to cosponsor the legislation, more Democrats will safe enough to vote for it.  I bet you know someone in Kasunic's district.  Do you think they could pick up the phone on this snowy day and make a call? Phone calls matter. Let's break it down.

FAYETTE COUNTY
Townships: All
Boroughs: All

SOMERSET COUNTY
Townships: Addison, Allegheny, Black, Brothersvalley, Elk Lick, Fairhope, Greenville, Jefferson, Jenner, Larimer, Lincoln, Lower Turkeyfoot, Middlecreek, Milford, Northampton, Ogle, Paint, Quemahoning, Somerset, Southampton, Stoneycreek, Summit and Upper Turkeyfoot
Boroughs: Addison, Berlin, Boswell, Callimont, Casselman, Confluence, Garrett, Hooversville, Indian Lake, Jennerstown, Meyersdale, New Baltimore, New Centerville, Rockwood, Salisbury, Seven Springs, Shanksville, Somerset, Stoystown, Ursina and Wellersburg;

WASHINGTON COUNTY
Boroughs: Allenport, California, Charleroi, Coal Center, Dunlevy, Elco, Roscoe, Speers and Stockdale

You and your family/friends can call his district office at 724-626-1611.  Just tell him that you don't want to amend the Constitution to include discrimination and then mention ANY ISSUE you'd prefer he focus on -- jobs, health care, senior services, roads, public transportation, education, etc.  Just give him a reason to put his energy into something else.

Review the list, check it twice, and call your folks in these areas.  I know we have gay folks in Uniontown which is Fayette County.  Let's kick this up a notch.

Discrimination is NOT ACCEPTABLE from Democrat Leadership. This is why the inch-by-inch approach you Onorato supporters keep crowing about is holding us down. We need forward momentum (aka progress) not incremental "tolerance" from our next Governor. 

View Article  Lesbians: Snowed In

Well, I've been able to get out for work purposes, but Ledcat and I are both struggling with some cabin fever.  Don't get me wrong -- we are so very grateful that our power never failed us and that we managed to dig the vehicles out with some assistance from our neighbors. 

Note:  one real test of a relationship is reconciling different "plans" for desnowing a car.  Then two middle-aged women squabbling about how much of a shovelful is too much just adds to the fun.  Especially when one (moi) has a cold that has kept her in bed for 12 hours at a time. 

Fortunately, we survived and our relationship is stronger than ever.  Well, it better be because Ledcat's car ain't going nowhere for a few days and I have 4wd.  Ha.  I wonder when she'll read this?

Anyway, we've both been home from work (one non-essential City employee and one social worker at a closed agency).  I've been on the phone for hours upon hours addressing site issues and I have to say that I am so impressed with how much effort my team has put into getting to work.  If anyone deserves a big hand, it is someone who sleeps on a hard floor so they don't miss their shift or someone who walks from the Hill District to Oakland (and that means back up a big hill to get home at the end of the shift). The rest of us need to pick up the slack when we get back. 

Speaking of work, I made a grocery run for the sites yesterday.  Took me 25 minutes to get to the local Giant Eagle and then over an hour in the store simply  because I had to backtrack down each aisle to avoid the check out lines.  The frozen pizza section was almost wiped clean (I took the last 6 pizzas for my team in case they remained stuck).  The soda aisle also wiped clean (I snagged a few 12 packs of ginger ale to treat said cold).  Milk was well stocked along with eggs, toilet paper and cereal.  I'm glad the essentials are getting through for delivery. Cat food was also pretty low (at least the fancy schmancy flavors our spoiled felines like). 

Roads weren't too bad until I hit Oakland .... wow.  So terrible.  The Boulevard was horrible and it took me 30 minutes to go three blocks ON TUESDAY because the side streets weren't touched.  I had to back all the way down a street (being pursued by a mail truck) and finally go down the wrong way of a one way street to get near the office to drop off groceries.  Then I traveled to the other site, off Bates, and it was also terrible.  I finally stopped in the middle of the street to unload because horrible parked cars and mounds of snow kept me from the driveway ... it was beckoning me like a well shoveled light in the horrible dark, but alas, not for me.  So staff unloaded and I resisted the urge to scream at people honking at me. 

I came home down Bates and through town.  Town was terrible, too.  I was so happy to get onto the Ft. Duquesne Bridge (state road) that I almost didn't exit 279.  LOL.  We braved a bit more and stopped by Hoi Polloi for lunch.  We had hoped for crowds so we could feel normal, but it was pretty much just us and Christopher. I found an untouched patch of snow and just plowed right through to park.  Then we came home to stare at each other for the rest of the day.  LOL. Seriously, I did another round of shoveling ... I have my "shoveling jeans" in the kitchen so I can just hang them up to dry and then slip them on to head back out.  Then homemade chicken soup and I curled up with a book called "Snow" which is very dreary and makes me appreciate 1) this snow and 2) not being born in a remote part of the world where electricity is a luxury. 

Here's the intersection of North Avenue and Chateau at 9 AM Wednesday.  Neither has been touched by a plow, just tire tracks.

 

Right now the only problem for us is the wind.  Each time I let the woofers out, a huge gust of snow blows into the kitchen.  Having trouble convincing them to stay outside long enough to take care of business unless I go out with them. I prefer to stand at the kitchen door, making encouraging gestures through the window.  It isn't working. 

So let me get on with the blogging ...

View Article  Luke in his big boy snowsuit

Shamelessly stolen from the Post-Gazette (no paper since Friday so I think I'm entitled) ...

 

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