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View Article  Pgh Stonewall Dems Search for Social Media Editor

I'm very pleased that Steel-City Stonewall Democrats are on the search for a volunteer to focus solely on social media.  I've been working on this project with other local LGBT social media users and really want to applaud the group for embracing these tools to support their mission.  The job description is also attached to this post as a Word document that you can circulate.

This is a concrete way someone who has social media experience and a desire to be part of the solution can get involved. There are also opportunities for folks to serve as "aggegrators" to help keep the organization's followers, fans and tweeps well informed on issues related to the group's mission.  What an excellent opportunity for Pittsburgh!

Please repost this information. 

Volunteer Description:  Social Media Editor for Steel City Stonewall Democrats

 

Steel-City Stonewall Democrats, a chapter of the national Stonewall Democrats, is looking for an experienced social media user to coordinate social media activities for the organization.  This position will require daily monitoring of political and LGBT information on a local, statewide and national level and the dissemination of this information to the members of the Steel-City Stonewall chapter. Steel-City Stonewall is a regional chapter of a National organization with over 90 chapters and offers a unique opportunity to engage individuals at a grassroots level to be involved with the LGBT movement and the political process.

 

This position will require daily monitoring of political and LGBT information on a local,statewide and national level and the dissemination of this information to the

members of the Steel City Stonewall chapter.  The editor will recruit and oversee

volunteer aggregators who will feed relevant information to the editor to be reviewed and filtered by the editor for dissemination.  Aggregators can include members of the organization as well as allies. Posting to Twitter/Facebook/related feeds twice

daily on weekdays and once daily on weekends. ** Can be shared duty. Monitoring

comments section of blog to ensure compliance with guidelines. 

 

The editor will chair a social media committee and attend board meetings on a

bimonthly basis to coordinate projects with the organization leadership.  S/he will maintain regular contact with the Executive Committee as well as the board liaison to the committee.  The board will make themselves available to provide guidance as needed. 

 

Posting priorities will be coordinated by the board. For example, if the board

identifies a critical race, the status updates should educate followers on relevant

mainstream media and blog coverage of said race. The individual should have experience using social media tools such as Twitter,  Facebook, MySpace and Flicker among others and be able to  commit to 5 hours  per week with primary duties during weekday hours. 

 

The editor will recruit and oversee volunteer aggregators who will feed relevant information to the editor to be filtered for dissemination.  Aggregators can include members of the organization as well as allies. 

 

Responsibilities will include:

  • Reviewing aggregated information as submitted by volunteers.
  • Posting to Twitter/Facebook/related feeds at least twice daily on weekdays and once daily on weekends. ** Can be shared duty.
  • Monitoring comments section of blog to ensure compliance with guidelines.
  • Recruiting social media volunteers to support this project and supervising their delegated projects.
  • Maintaining confidentiality of the SCSD membership list

 

Interested persons should contact Lance Friedman at  lance@steel-city.org Please provide links to your twitter feed, blog and/or facebook page for review. 

sdf

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View Article  Tuesday

Peduto endorses Joe Hoeffel.

?Joe Hoeffel is a progressive leader who will fight for Pennsylvania,? Peduto said. ?I am supporting Joe, because he understands the challenges facing communities like Pittsburgh, and he isn?t afraid to make the tough decisions to change the direction of our economy for the benefit of working families. He has a record in support of reforming state government to make it more transparent and accountable to the people. He knows how to balance the tough financial issues that Pennsylvania faces with a progressive agenda to build a 21st Century economy.?

It is very sad to hear my fellow queers say things like "We have to be realistic" about a primary. In January.  Did you learn nothing from Natalia Rudiak's election?  Seriously people ... that was a year ago. 

Joe Hoeffel's County has offered domestic partner benefits since 2001.  He offers them to his campaign staff.  His campaign staff, for God's sake. 

Joe Hoeffel likes gay people.  He thinks we deserve jobs, housing, health insurance and marriage equality.  He includes us fully in his vision for Pennsylvania, not just to the extent permitted by the Pope.

Really.  It is January.  Senator-elect Brown has not wiped the progressive slate clean.  Calm down and realize that nothing is inevitable in January. 

The Trib runs a piece on the Prop 8 Trial. 

Too bad for the GOP that its base won't allow that emphasis on individual liberty and the pursuit of equality -- the ultimate crux of the Republican Party of Lincoln and Reagan -- to be a road map for a party looking to gain ground in this year's midterm elections and position itself to retake the White House in 2012.

Olson rightly points out that "society suffers no benefit" from outlawing same-sex marriage. There isn't any "real basis," he says, for the belief that legalizing such relationships would invite the deterioration of heterosexual marriage or encourage polygamy.

Nor does his case compel Christianity -- or any other religion with conflicting tenets -- to recognize gay marriage.

Ah, but Daniel Haggerty of Chippewa begs to disagree (yes, I had to look up where Chippewa falls in PA).

Americans truly do not believe that homosexuality is dignified or decent. We are disgusted at any thought of what it means and pray that our kids will be spared from this very difficult lifestyle. As parents, we will do whatever it takes to avoid any positive presentation of homosexuality, not because of discrimination but because we know instinctively it is wrong and unnatural.

At least he has the cahones to lay it out there.  We are not decent human beings.  We deserve second class status lest we spread our indecency to other people's children.  Daniel Haggerty isn't inching along to thinking we deserve a few rights. He doesn't give a flying fig what conservatism means.  His a faith-based hatred fueled by half-truths and misunderstandings. 

Finally, as religious people, we know that when the federal government gets involved, you either play ball or you go out of business. That's why the Diocese of Boston no longer facilitates adoption; it refused to place children with homosexual couples, as required by Massachusetts law, and its adoption program was shut down. Does anyone really think the church will be given a pass when it comes to marrying gay couples?

Adoption is not a religious process.  The Diocese of Boston Catholic Charities was contracted by the state to provide this service to children in the community.  The law said that those children deserved homes based on certain criteria.  Sexual orientation of the adopters is not a legal reason to deny a child a home. The Diocese opted not to participate in a civil process that violated their religious beliefs. Someone else picked up that contract.  There's no "right to run an adoption program" that I'm aware of. 

But you can't get around it.  If you think LGBTQ folks are indecent, any weapon is fine. 

But, heck, Bill Gates isn't worried that Uganda wants to make homosexuality punishable by death.  Why should I worry about a little indecent slur? 

 

View Article  Florida Gay Adoption and Other Stuff

From the Orlando Sentinel comes a thoughtful story on an impending court ruling regarding the constitutionality of a statewide ban on LGBT adoption.

Florida is the only state that outright bans adoptions by gay people, although it allows gays and lesbians to be foster parents.

In November 2008, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman ruled that the law was unconstitutional after Gill and his partner applied to adopt the two boys who are now 4 and 9. The Florida Attorney General's Office, on behalf of the state Department of Children and Families, appealed the ruling.

"For the first time in the 30 years of the ban, a court had heard all the scientific evidence on how kids do when they are raised in gay families, and came to the conclusion that there's no rational basis to believe that kids do better with straight families than gay people," said Robert Rosenwald, Gill's ACLU attorney. "The appeals court should uphold the Lederman decision because it is based on evidence, scientific evidence that is largely undisputed by the state."

Mathew Staver, whose
Maitland-based Liberty Counsel filed a brief in support of the state, said the appeals court should uphold the adoption ban.

"To permit same-sex adoption is essentially a policy that says children don't need mothers or fathers," said Staver, whose organization opposes gay rights.

This has relevancy here in Pittsburgh where so many folks have stepped forward interested in adopting the Haitian children from the Bresma Orphanage.  From the PG:

Haiti, for example, is one of a few countries that allow a single woman to adopt a child.

On average, an international adoption could take up two years in the processing of paperwork and cost anywhere between $22,000 and $25,000, said Ms. McLaughlin-Butzine.

It is very unclear if LGBTQ families or individuals can adopt from Haiti.  It is highly relevant given the probability of a significant number of children being orphaned by the earthquake and their proximity to the United States, especially Florida.  Bringing children into the US foster care system under orphan visas does not trump the adoption policies of their home countries.

Wikipedia has an interesting chart of how LGBT rules role out in different nations.

As many countries will permit single parent adoption, there is a line of thought that LGBT couples can have one partner complete the adoption process and subvert the law by completing a second parent adoption back in the US.  That's fairly repugnant to me because the entire adoption is based on a lie and could be legally challenged by the child's country of origin.  Bilerico has more on this approach and the pending impact of Haitian orphans.

It is also repugnant to me because of the 125,000 American children needing homes.  Going overseas to lie about your family while children in your own nation are ignored is borderline immoral.  Mind you, it is the lie that bothers me more while the simple pursuit of transnational adoption just bugs me. 

We can help the children of Haiti by investing that $20,000 into relief efforts. 

View Article  Does background as Scout master bias judge in Philly Scouting case?

The Philly Gay News is reporting that the federal judge who recently issued an injuction in a case involving the City of Philadelphia and the Boy Scouts was himself a Scout official. The twist is that his time with the Scouts did overlap his time on Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. 

Philadelphia has been providing a City owned property as Scouting headquarters at below market rent.  In recent years, they decided that the Scout sanctioned discrimination against sexual orientation conflicted with the City's non-discrimination policies.  In other words, while the Scouts as a faith based organization are not required to comply with the law per se, they should not receive public subsidies (aka rent subsidy). 

City officials want to evict the Scouts from the building because the organization won?t permit openly gay participants, nor will it pay fair-market rent of $200,000 annually.

In their attempt to remain in the building, the Scouts filed a federal lawsuit in May 2008, alleging discrimination by city officials for exercising their constitutional right to ban gays.

The lawsuit relies largely on a 2000 Supreme Court decision stating that the Boy Scouts of America aren?t a public accommodation, so they?re not required to comply with local civil-rights laws protecting gays.

The city responded by noting that the Scouts are free to associate with whomever they please, but they aren?t entitled to city subsidies to facilitate discriminatory practices.

The Scout cried foul and off to Court everybody went.

City attorneys objected to the injunction issued by Buckwalter on Nov. 18, 2009. It effectively prevents Common Pleas Judge Mark I. Bernstein from ordering the Cradle of Liberty Council?s eviction from 231-251 N. 22nd St. at this stage of the litigation.

Also at the Jan. 19 proceeding, Buckwalter gave both sides until Jan. 22 to submit a memorandum before deciding whether the Scouts should post a bond for the duration of the injunction.

Buckwalter additionally said there may be a public hearing at a future date to determine the bond amount, if he decides one should be posted.

I'm assuming the bond would be the technical way to ensure the Scouts pay the back rent if the Court decides it must be so?  Regardless, the federal court has now made it possible for the Scouts to continue to reside in Philadelphia tax payer property without paying fair rent.

Can Buckwalter remain objective given his affiliation with the Scouts while serving on the Court of Common Pleas?  The City attorneys have raised no objection.  It was awhile ago, after all, but it does go to show just a lack of common sense.  If you aren't supposed to be affiliated with groups that might come before you, it just seems ridiculous.  At least he disclosed now.

The bigger issue this brings to light is this claim that the Boy Scouts have the right to discriminate against LGBTQ persons AND receive public subsidies.  They claim that paying fair market value on the property is violating the constitution.  It is so utterly ridiculous.

So continue to not support the Boy Scounts.  Not only do they teach intolerance and bigotry, but they want your tax dollars to do it. 

sdf

View Article  Focus on the Family and ther Superbowl: Is CBS biased toward anti-choice social issues?

Major fail on the part of CBS with regard to accepting faith based advertising.

You might recall back 2006, the United Church of Christ wanted to run a series of ads reaching out to the "unchurched" with a bit of pizzaz.  CBS rejected the advertising, deeming them "too controversial" for network television.  Here is one of the ads:

Fast forward (recurring meme this week, eh?) to the 2010 Superbowl set to air on CBS.  Focus on the Family is set to spend $2.8 million on this ad.  Video not available, but here's a description:

The 30-second spot from the international family-help organization will feature college football star Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam. They will share a personal story centered on the theme of "Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life."

Jim Daly, president and CEO of Focus on the Family, said the chance to partner with the Tebows and lift up a meaningful message about family and life comes at the right moment in the culture, because "families need to be inspired."

"Tim and Pam share our respect for life and our passion for helping families thrive," Daly said. "They live what we see every day ? that the desire for family closeness is written on the hearts of every generation. Focus on the Family is about nurturing that desire and strengthening families by empowering them with the tools they need to live lives rooted in morals and values."

Change.org weighs in.

Five years ago, television network CBS rejected as too controversial an advertisement from the United Church of Christ (UCC) that suggested churches should be places free from discrimination, including discrimination based on age, gender, race, and sexual orientation. At the time, CBS told the UCC that the network had "a longstanding policy of not accepting advocacy advertising."

Fast forward five years, and now CBS is prepared to run an advertisement during the Super Bowl -- the largest watched television program in the entire country -- from vehemently anti-LGBT organization Focus on the Family. Focus on the Family has a long history of spouting anti-LGBT beliefs, from calling gay marriage perverted, to saying that homosexuals were a threat to civilization, to telling girls that sex education strips them of their modesty. On top of that, the advertisement that Focus on the Family plans to run during the Super Bowl will take an anti-choice viewpoint.

A history of anti-LGBT actions, coupled with tackling an issue like abortion -- and CBS doesn't think that counts as controversial?

So what to do?  One thing you can do to weigh in locally is call the local CBS affiliate ... yes, that would be KDKA and let them know if you think CBS should be carrying such a controversial ad, especially given their history with UCC.  The number for KDKA is +14125752288.  You can weigh in via email here.

Weigh in with CBS here.

You can also join a national petitions at Change.Org here.

The Facebook page is here.

One point to keep in mind is there is no move from the UCC to run their ads (4 years later).  It is simply a point of reference to hold CBS accountable for consistent decisions with regard to advertising decisions, especially those that promote a social issue agenda. So the message is clear -- don't run the Focus on the Family ad. 

sdf

View Article  Lutherans leaving diocese

I am so tired of reporting on this, but I suppose I must.

An Evangelical Lutheran church in Monroeville will vote this month whether to remain in its denomination, the first Lutheran church in Southwestern Pennsylvania to take such a step.

The Jan. 31 vote at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church comes largely in reaction to a national August vote that will allow noncelibate gay and lesbian pastors to serve as clergy in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

That policy ? expected to take effect in April ? will allow such individuals to lead denomination churches as long as they can show they're in committed, lifelong relationships.

"A number of people have expressed their opposition to what is happening. The ... issues are the authority of Scripture, and many of us feel that we cannot find any support in Scripture for blessing same-sex unions and ordination of gay clergy," said the Rev. Dr. Eric D. Ash, Good Shepherd's pastor.

Another church gone.  This is boring me.  I really wish Pittsburgh's church beat reporters would examine the faith based homophobia with a more critical eye than discerning who gets to keep the marital assets. 

I recognize that these are painful decisions for people who belong to churches, but WHAT DO YOU EXPECT when your faith community endorses bigotry and intolerance? 

Sheesh.  Wake me up when a Catholic parish figures out how to wrest themselves away to join another diocese... now that would be interesting?  Who keeps the bingo chips?

 

 

View Article  Holy Smokes - The ACDC Responsive?

Yesterday, I wrote about the ACDC's failure to put information about committe folks on the website.  Blah, blah, blah ... accountability, transparency, connections.  All that jazz.

Today ... the information is available on their website. Here's the link. It is actually the same link as in my original blog post so I need to fix that reference. 

To be safe, I've attached the actual Excel spreadsheet to this post.

Kudos to the women of Run, Baby, Run who worked hard on this.  They are a determined group who have just shown that things can happen.  (Oh, those women's groups!)

From what I can tell, there are 277 vacancies.  So who is ready to step up and get some good progressive voices bringing change from within?

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View Article  Untitled

As you may know, California is the scene of a critical trial on Proposition 8 right now.  It was originally supposed to be broadcast, but the US Supreme Court nixed that.  Your best bet is to follow the live Twitter feed vis a vis #Prop8.  Contributors/observers include the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Advocate as well as a host of individuals. 

Live tweeting sure has revolutionized legal proceedings. The Post-Gazette has been embroiled in a bit of a hue and cry over Tracie Mauriello's tweeting from the Bonusgate trial.  With PA House elections right around the corner, folks should be paying attention. 

What does the "Coakley Effect" mean for the LGBTQ community?  More of nothing.  Maybe I'm ridiculous for thinking Onorato will do something about domestic partner benefits ...

Apparently for the duration, as long as the White House feels politically vulnerable, and believes that LGBT citizens are not seen as in dire need of removal of institutional discrimination. There is no urgency being created by those who advocate for us, or direction to tell the community how to express the frustration and lack of dignity with which Congress and this White House has treated the LGBT community.

She hasn't even lost at this point and the vulnerability means well, how do you do "less than nothing" in terms of LGBTQ civil rights? 

Other stuff of interest

Feministing has an interesting and oft-overlooked perspective on abortion. 

 

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View Article  Sigh. Cat Specter, why do you disappoint me so?

Dear Cat,

There is no such thing as gay sex. Any sexual act performed by LGBTQ persons can be performed by straight persons.  Anal sex is not gay sex.  Oral sex is not gay sex. Swinging from a trapeze wearing a dildo is not gay sex.  It is simply sex. 

In today's column you made this slip albeit in a slightly different context - the gay sleepover.

Cat, this sort of shorthand is problematic for me.  It feeds into the perception that "gay" means different, lesser, strange.  Yes, the concern about her husband's sexual orientation is worth addressing, especially if he's engaging in sexual contact that could put her at risk. Keep in mind, Cat, that contact with other women can also put her in danger. 

Yes, it is inappropriate for a grown married man to regularly sleep over with anyone else, male or female. 

Yes, his irritability about her questions is equally troubling.  A frank conversation is overdue between these two adults and she has every right to ask him point blank if he's engaging in sexual contact that violates the rules of the marriage. 

But gay sleepover?  Come on.  You can do better than that.  You have been doing better than that for the past few years.  I'm not suggesting one slip up sends you spiraling into an abyss of homophobia, but I urge you to show more care in your phrasing.

"Gay" anything is not appropriate shorthand.  It is the adult equivalent of "that's so gay" which is absolutely devastating to LGBTQ kids AND kids from LGBTQ families.  It wasn't that long ago you were in high school and whatever your "status" back then, I'm sure adult life has given you perspective on the agony many kids suffer at the hands of the peers. 

You commit the same sin.  When that slur is hurled around the high school locker rooms it often labels kids who as your "Blood Pressure Rising" says "Everyone thinks" is gay.  When adult advice columnists do the same thing,  the damage can be more widespread. 

Sleeping over with another adult who may or may not be gay does not constitute a gay sleepover.  An event organized by the GLCC to raise awareness about LGBTQ homelessness might be a gay sleepover. The difference is that the event might have a gay theme whereas the other could simply be an illicit tryst by two men who may or may not identify as gay. 

You don't know the whole story and your shorthand, casual reference to the gay sleepover hurts people.

You never followed up on your uninformed capitulation to racism in housing. You may not do so here either, but I certainly hope you'll think it over.  Don't ask your gay friends, Cat.  Ask the professionals who work with the children in Pittsburgh's high schools. 

sdf

View Article  Is the ACDC intentionally out of touch with local Democratic voters?

Over the past four years, I've made no bones about my dissatisfaction with Allegheny County Democratic Committee. 

Back in 2007, I tried to get information on my committeepersons.  First attempt.   Received a call back with my particular information, but no systemic response as how to access this information independently. I received another phone call with a bit more information that served to reveal how poorly the ACDC was utilizing social media (pre-Twitter/Facebook surge) as basic as a website. I failed to understand why there was so much secrecy about the committee composition, deducing that business as usual meant "trust us to take care of you, little voters."

Also in 2007, the ACDC hosted what I called the "Big Gay Chat" to connect the endorsed candidates with the LGBT community.  End result?  Nada.  I am not aware of a single thing that came out of this conversation except the ACDC's ability to delude itself that it is a bit more gay-tolerant.  The party has done nothing since then, not even another candidates forum.  (Hint, hint.  Not too late to remedy that this year. I'd love to bring some of these House Dems into a gay chat.  If Len Bodack can do it, they can, too).

To be fair, individual elected officials did make promises they have also neglected:

Rich Fitzgerald:  committed to schedule a sit down with Marc Cherna to discuss LGBT issues.  committed to work on extending civil rights protections to the county and working with progressive Republicans to make it happen.

Michael Lamb:  committed to training school principles on LGBT student issues. committed to keeping domestic partner benefits for city employees impacted by any further mergers of city and county offices.

To my knowledge, the sit down with Mr. Cherna has yet to take place.  It simply hasn't been a priority of the community or County Council.  That's not to say DHS is terrible on LGBT issues, but there's certainly room for improvement.  Lamb has told me he's working on it, but I'm not going to bother bringing up County domestic partner benefits issues for fear I'll lay my head down on the keyboard never to blog again.

Fast forward.  It is 2009. LGBT leaders on the national front are sick and tired of the inaction by the DNC on LGBT civil rights The GayTM is shut down in terms of party donation.

Back here in Allegheny County, it seems doubtful that LGBT money is pouring into the party coffers, but focusing instead on individual candidates. 

Fast forward to 2010.  It is the year we elect committeefolks.  There are vacant seats as well as the opportunity run against incumbent party peeps, most of whom seem to be entrenching themselves behind ... silence.

Local advocate Gloria Fourezan has been working over the past two weeks to obtain a list of the current committe representatives with no luck.  This information is supposed to be available on the ACDC website (click here to see what happens if you attempt to access it). As I outlined above, this has been the state of affairs since 2007 and, I'm guessing, since the dawn of time. 

Why is the list unavailable to members of the Democrat Party who live in Allegheny County?  Gloria postulates ..

[ACDC Chair Jim] Burn said that he?s asking Ward Chairs for vacant seat reports & for suggestions on who to appoint.  Burn will be appointing Dem. Committee members to empty seats on Feb. 5 & will release updated committee info at that time...

Keep in mind the ACDC endorsement meeting is on March 7.  Feb. 5 - March 7 is a short window for candidates to contact committee members in their district, especially as this year there aren't local races, but there are state rep races (with tons of cmte. members to contact), not to mention senate & governor races...

This  info. should be regularly updated, throughout the year.  Committee members represent all Democratic voters in their districts, so these voters should have year round access to their contact information.

Mind you this is a member of the same County Council not providing domestic partner benefits to his employees. Hey, I wonder if the ACDC provides domestic partner benefits?  I'd ask my rep but she unfriended me on Facebook and I've never actually seen her at the polls. Outreach isn't her strong suit. 

Anyway, back to the status quo. If I understand correctly, Burn needs to fill the vacant seats by February 5, leaving 30 days for them to get up to speed and participate in the endorsement process in an informed manner.  That's naive at best and suspicious to someone grumpy like me.

Then there's the matter of the election of the committepersons themselves.  Without a list, how would anyone know that they are represented or not?  How can they know to toss their hat into the ring (take "ownership" of their party)?  How can they seek out their committeeperson to even talk about the endorsement? 

It is perplexing, but not surprising.  As I've been tweeting, the RCAC attention on statewide and national elections results in groundbreaking usage of social media to share information.

RCAC is on Twitter @Allegheny GOP.  They are on Facebook. They have a functional website.  They also have Karl Rove addressing their annual meeting in March. 

The ACDC?  Nope on Twitter.  Nope on Facebook.  Website that does not provide email address for staff or leadership.

This is why Scott Brown gained on Martha Coakley.  This is why conventional wisdom says we have to elect a socially conservative Democrat.  This is why the LGBTQ community has to fight back marriage amendments. 

Complacency.  Laziness. Disregard for the voters outside of the machine.

Come on, folks. It is 2010 and I'm betting there are dozens if not hundreds of techie, social media savvy folks in the party who could make these changes happen in a matter of hours.  It is simply unacceptable that the ACDC continues to remain inaccessible to voters.  It is actually shameful and completely disengenuous of Jim Burn to claim:

?We think as you do that having the names and information of committee members available on the web page allows voters to know the names of their committee representatives in order to share their opinions and preferences with the committee regarding candidates.  We are going to fix this problem and will advise once it is corrected.?

#Fail. 

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