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I am plucking the Blogroll to reflect the blogs I actually read, not just those I want you to think I read. :-)
View Article  Endorsement, Schmendorsement

Hmmm ....

My State House Representative Chelsa Wagner and her husband and longtime progressive activist, Khari Mosely, invited me to meet Gubernatorial candidate Jack Wagner this week. 

Meet PA Auditor General Jack Wagner, Candidate for Governor
Friday, January 22  5-7PM
Hosts: Chelsa Wagner & Khari Mosley
Ava
- 126 S. Highland Ave, East Liberty

RSVP to chelsaforhouse@gmail.com

 

Now I think I'm not gonna want to support Wagner who is known to be anti-choice and mum on LGBT issues.  However, I am going to toodle out to the Ava Lounge and find out for myself.  Chelsa's email sums up the argument most people give me in terms of supporting Wagner or Onorato -- they can win. 

I cannot say enough good things about my uncle - of course I'm biased - but I could tell you countless stories that are all summed up by Jack's steady political advise to me - to "follow [my] conscience," "make the right decision" and "if it is for the purpose of good government, don't be afraid to stand up for it."  Jack's role as a mentor to me throughout my short political career has been invaluable.  Jack has really dedicated his entire career, very simply, to good government.  He is someone who plainly walks the walk.  I know that if you have the opportunity to talk to him, you'll understand why I so passionately believe we need him as our next governor.

The other side of this story is the importance of the Democrats nominating a candidate who can win in the general election.  Tom Corbett, who will almost surely be the Republican nominee, has extremely high name recognition and will be a very tough candidate for the Democrats to beat.  Jack is the ONLY Democratic candidate who will be able to beat Corbett in the general.  You don't have to take my word on that point - the numbers demonstrate it. 

It would be nice if we could at least have until mid-January to court the candidate who we *want* .... I mean the primary is four months away.  I need more details on any gay votes Wagner has cast.  Anyone? 

A fun aside.  Facebook.  I noted a friend (real life and FB) became a fan of a particular candidate so I sent him a little email to see if he was behind anyone in particular.  It was pretty funny that OTHER people actually gave him grief about it.  He just joined a group for God's sake. 

For the record, I am a fan of all the candidate's FB pages so I can monitor their activities.  I suspect others are doing the same.  For what its worth. 

It will be interesting to see where the opinion leaders in the LGBT community fall in terms of endorsements! 

View Article  Snapshot of PA Gov and Sen races and Social Media: Repubs are ahead

Found this on Twitter last night. It is a spreadsheet snapshot of how the candidates in these two races are using Twitter and Facebook AND how effectively they are using it.

Corbett is kicking ass.

He has the second highest number of Tweeps (400) and the second highest number of Facebook fans (1,565).  The leading contends split those categories, so Corbett comes out the winner. 

 Whataattttt? 

Progressives, wherefore art thou?  How can the wingnuts be taking over Twitter and Facebook?  Is social media becoming the new AM radio?  Gulp.

(I did a quick peek at the numbers. They have changed in the past 24 hours, but the point is still valid). 

Let's take a closer look at this.

HOEFFEL is updating Twitter and Facebook a few times each week, leaving room for improvement.  These media sources are prime opportunities for Hoeffel to pick up huge numbers of followers with an affinity for the media and the message. He gets points for interactions.  Still, I'm fairly socially connected and I'm not seeing the Hoeffelians work their social media magic for their guy.  <rolls up sleeves>

ONORATO updates Twitter about once a month and Facebook at about the same rate.  Very little interaction with the exception of people pleading with him to pay attention to their nooks of the state.  I'm a little astounded that Onorato is basically ignoring these forms of media.  Even my Dad is on Facebook and he's probably a Republican that Onorato could pick off if he reached out to him with his socially conservative message.  Ah, I wonder if that's the rub ...  I'm also perplexed that with all the $$ he seems to be raising, he doesn't have someone focused on social media. 

WAGNER updates twitter at least daily and Facebook almost as often, but has very few followers relative to the other candidates.  There's also quite a bit of comments on his FB wall. So he gets bonus points for using the media, but leaves me wondering if his base is a bit past the social media median age?  Plus, here's a good example of how politics as usual is at play:

I'd personally find it more comfortable if Janice Snyder pledged her personal vote, rather than bringing her office into it.  I don't want the Clerk of Courts in Fayette County to support a candidate.  Maybe its just me?

KNOX is using Twitter several times a week.  He's bungling Facebook. He has a personal page, but his fan page has 19 followers. There's one post.  I can't take someone seriously who does this. 

CORBETT is doing a good job. He is one of the few campaigns connecting FB to Twitter and back which accounts for consistent numbers in both categories.  His tweets are consistent and interesting. His FB features photos, comments and interactions.  Such as this.

You have the links to look up the others. 

So, progressives and the people following Onorato and Wagner ... your charge is clear.  The beauty of both Facebook and Twitter is that we the people can do some of the heavy lifting.  We can "share" the Facebook pages with our friends and invite them to become fans.  We can use Twitter's #FollowFriday and plain old shout outs to encourage our Tweeps to follow our candidate. 

We can also drive content.  Post our links and stories on Facebook.  Use the @ function on Twitter to draw people's attention to the candidates Twitter accounts.  Post links from the MSM to both.  There's a lot you, dear reader, can do if you want to make an impact. 

Now if you click to the Senate race, you'll see a different situation.  The old white straight guy, Specter, is the new social media frontrunner.  It isn't even close.

So what accounts for the difference?  Both are statewide races so I don't think we can blame the Philadephia elite progressives for this one. Your thoughts? 

sdf

View Article  Haiti

UPDATE: There is conflicting information emerging regarding the #Bresma orphanage.  I would suggest monitoring the situation until an official spokesperson issues instructions.  Donations are being accepted, but the best course of action might be to send immediate financial donations to a reputable group such as Rainbow World Fund, Yele, or the Red Cross and keep in mind the needs of refugees who immigrate to the US, adult and child further down the road.  I'm not saying anything untoward is going on, but the information is impossible to verify at this time. It remains a compelling, if complicated, situation. 

I hope with all my heart that the hundreds of people offering to foster these children will contact a Pgh based foster care agency to begin the certification process.  There are 20,000+ children in Pennsylvania's foster care system, including any children who might come from Haiti.  The need is real. 

********************************************************************************************************************

I was in the monthly board meeting of the Steel City Stonewall Democrats when I learned about the earthquakes which devastated Haiti. I spent about 30 minutes with my attention divided between a discussion on social media as an advocacy tool and surreptitiously checking Uber-Twitter and FB vis a vis my Blackberry.  It was quite difficult to stay engaged while your sense of social justice priorities goes spinning in circles. 

All I had were words, no images.  But the power of those words ... 140 characters at a time ... is indescribable.  Retweets from loved ones here in the US.  Almost instantaneous fundraising advice from Wyclef Jean who was on his way home to help.  Tweet after tweet with links to stories, excerpts and cries.

I admit that I was a little disappointed that so many of my Pgh tweeps were continuing to tweet about American Idol with nary a shout out for Haiti.  Kudos to @BlogDiva for retweeting and retweeting to keep #haiti moving up the trending topics so people would notice. 

My disappointment was premature.  That night Lynn Cullen tweeted out asking if anyone knew what had happened to local women of whom I had never heard.

I wondered who Jamie and Ali were, but then turned my attention to national coverage.  It was hard to process so much intensity.  It just seemed surreal and foreign and disconnected from my own reality.

Then I learned who Jamie and Ali are.  From the amazing Ginny Montanez who has been investing all of her energy and influence to help these women and the children they serve.  Here's the skinny.

The latest update from Jonathan Wander is an email he received from Jamie ? it?s not good, friends.  Things are deteriorating quickly for Jamie and Ali and the children.

This isn?t going to be an easy email to read:

?Our hous? is falling b two also. Adoptions stopp?d five yrs at least. We are living in yard no food water bank stores phone mostly. Only id?a is if u no anyon? important who can give r?fugee status to all th? bresma u.s. kids. We tr?ly cant keep babys alive water contaminated. This is our only hope -
only private planes allowed. We know its cr?zy but can ?vryone come togeth?r and find a person to help us like obama? Th? kids r almost am?rican and will have homes. We try to call all day and cant. Sending this from a strangers blackberry.?

Do you understand that?  These two young U.S. citizens and their children are living in the yard of the orphanage. The house is falling.  The babies will not live if something isn?t done.  The children that could be evacuated are practically U.S. citizens, they are that far along in the adoption process.  They have ready homes here in the U.S.

We need help.

We need people who can get these U.S. adopted kids into America and we need a plane for Jamie and Ali to bring them home.

Jamie and Ali work in an orphanage with about 150 children who are in various stages of being adopted by American families.  The utter destruction of the entire Hatian government virtually ensures that years could pass before adoption proceedings resume on the Haitian end.  The orphanage is called BRESMA and right now, the adults and children are sitting in a courtyard with tainted water, no food and at the complete mercy of the elements and the inevitable looting as conditions across Port-Au-Prince deteriorate.

I'm not a big fan of transnational adoptions, but it seems that Pittsburgh has the ability to help 150 specific children who need their immigation status as adoptees fast tracked, an airlift out of Haiti and relocation to their waiting families.  Congressman Altmire has joined forces with Doyle, Specter and Casey to tackle the federal issues. Local politicals are mobilizing their resources. 

These children have homes and families awaiting them.Evacuating 150 children in the next day or two clears the way to get on the ground resources to other children and their families remaining in Haiti.  It makes sense from a moral and a practical point of view.  Let's get these kids to their new homes and the sucor of their American citizenship and THEN let's keep going.  It is a very powerful story and a humbling opportunity to do something real and concrete in response to unimaginable horror. 

My advice?  Read That's Church every day.  Stay abreast of the latest developments and the multitude of ways in which you can make this happen.  Read to witness the wonderful heart and soul of Pittsburgh swoosh together to contribute $5, blankets and corporate jets to save 150 children.  Plus, the women who love them and refuse to abandon their kids.  We need to bring them all home so Ali and Jamie can continue to spread their love.

Ginny has the details on how you can help.

I donated using my cell phone to Yele Haiti.  I vetted them using multiple NPO resources.  You can donate $5 which is added to your cell phone bill and takes about 2 minutes.  You can donate up to 6 times.  It is fast, efficient and gets the most valuable commodity ... cash ... into the hands of folks who can transform it into life saving goods and materials.   You text "Yele" to 501501.  Simple. 

Don't feel powerless.  Add $5 to your phone bill and text your friends to do the same.  That's less than one lunch.  Pack a sandwich and an apple, then donate. 

There's way more you can do.  Just follow the trends on Twitter and Facebook.  Fundraisers are popping up. Pgh charitable organizations are gearing up for the phase two and three stages of recovery and rebuilding.  Read the blogs.  Find our what becomes of Jamie and Ali and their kids. 

There's more.  Learn about Haiti.  Yes, learn about the poverty and the economic conditions and the political regimes.  But learn about the culture, the community and the people.  Listen to the music. Read how Haiti shaped American history. 

Now, Haiti is no friend to the gay community. But if channeling your donation to illustrate the compassion of our community is important (which it is), consider the Rainbow World Fund which is already on the ground throughout the world providing relief.  No need to recreate the wheel.

I'd like to see Pittsburgh's LGBTQ community step forward and sponsor a fundraising event.  Human beings are suffering and they are our brothers & sisters, gay or straight.  They are our children.  And the suffering of human beings living in the two-thirds world is not so disconnected from the lives of Americans living in poverty. 

View Article  Do "ex-gays" need workplace protections?

OK, this is a little devious.  Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (pfox) has won a minor victory by forcing Disney to include a measure providing employment protections for ex-gays in an upcoming stockholder vote. 

Burbank, CA -- The Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) has directed the Walt Disney Company to accept a shareholder resolution requesting the inclusion of ex-gays in Disney?s sexual orientation policies and corporate diversity programs.  Disney had opposed the ex-gay resolution and asked the SEC for permission to exclude it from stockholder consideration.

?Like many corporations, Disney implements mandatory diversity training for employees that emphasizes gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders, but fails to include ex-gays,? said Regina Griggs, executive director of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX).  ?It is a serious omission both for the ex-gay community and their supporters.?

?Employees who support the ex-gay community are not welcomed to express their views and fear they would be forced to undergo sensitivity training because they support former homosexuals,? said Griggs.  ?Ex-gays are forced to remain closeted because they are not protected by diversity policies and are subjected to open disapproval by others in the workplace.  The inclusion of ex-gays will cost Disney nothing to implement and would provide true diversity and respect in the workplace.? 

The resolution cites a recent judicial decision issued by the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.  In that case, brought by PFOX, the Court ruled that former homosexuals are a protected class that must be recognized under DC?s sexual orientation non-discrimination laws.  The Court held that sexual orientation does not require immutable characteristics.

OK, so aren't ex-gays typically defined as straight? Wouldn't they already be protected because heterosexuality is included in sexual orientation as a protected class? 

This is a sneaky way to allow "supporters" of ex-gays to get around diversity and inclusion policies in the workplace.  I don't think a respectful workplace means you can't support someone who identifies as ex-gay.  It just means you can't try to recruit more folks to the ex-gay lifestyle (ha!). 

I haven't look at the ruling itself, but I'm curious if its creating another kind of sexual orientation by defining ex-gay as a protected class under that definition ... which would suggest that there is more than one in the first place.  I think.  Hmmm.

View Article  Onorato favors "civil unions" but denies his gay employees health insurance for their families

Yeah, I'm that impressed with the tip I received last night that Onorato had publicly stated his support for civil union at a rally in York, PA yesterday afternoon.  I confirmed with a campaign source, but I don't have any further details. 

This is a long way from the candidate who simply refused to answer the question of marriage equality on the Steel-City Stonewall questionnaire during his last bid for County Chief Executive. (h/t 2 Political Junkies).  The original questionnaire is not available online. 

Discuss your thoughts on marriage equality for same-sex couples; while the position you seek may not directly affect this issue, it is important for us to understand your perspective.

CANDIDATE DID NOT ANSWER QUESTION

Over the past decade, government money has been used to promote ?abstinence-only-until marriage? programs in schools. Even though same-sex couples still cannot legally marry in Pennsylvania, to qualify for government support, schools must teach that any sexual relationships outside of marriage is ?likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects.? Do you support or oppose abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula?

CANDIDATE DID NOT ANSWER QUESTION

Discuss your thoughts on government's role in shaping school curricula for sex education. Do you have any thoughts on the formation of gay-straight student alliances within the public school systems?

CANDIDATE DID NOT ANSWER QUESTION

Another equality issue confronting our country is the issue of abortion. Please discuss your position on abortion and any thoughts you have on the current abortion debate.

CANDIDATE DID NOT ANSWER QUESTION

So, yes, progress.  I understand the campaign will be releasing a LGBT position paper on Friday which again is some progress, as they could default to the upcoming Steel-City questionnaire. 

But ... come on, people.  Still no domestic partner benefits?  I am being told behind the scenes to be patient, just wait and it will happen.  I assume it will happen in time for the primary, especially with the potential for Cyril Wecht tossing his hat into the ring.  Not that I know Cyril Wecht's position on gay issues, simply that Onorato will need to capture as many of us D's as possible. 

But ... come on, people. Stating your support for civil unions does not offset failure to take action on an LGBT issue within your current realm of influence. 

The fascination of the emegence of a homo-tolerant version of Onorato from the cocoon of the "good Catholic boy" breeding ground of Pittsburgh is not nearly as significant as the number of LGBT partners who continue to lack health insurance because their boss doesn't think they are worth the effort. 

Civil unions are great campaign promises, but Allegheny County's LGBT community deserves action. 

View Article  Facebook Friends

I love that Forever Home Beagle Rescue has four times the Facebook fans as Pgh Lesbian Correspondents.  I'm biased because I'm working on a pet food drive to help the hungry four footed friends.  One thing I love about Forever Home is their stated dedication to prevent homeless pettedness by working with families before they relinquish their companions. 

So much awesome. 

Speaking of which, January 23 is our Coco-versary.  Hard to believe that one year ago she was a kitten sequestered in our bathroom while wrecking havoc on anything that moved.  Fast forward 365 days and she's a big girl cat roaming the house in search of even more things that move.  Happy beearlied "gotcha day" you little bundle of demon cuteness. 

View Article  Round Up

So here's what you might want to check out

The trial challening California's Proposition 8 is underway.  While the video is on hold pending a Supreme Court review, you can follow it pretty well on Twitter using hashtag #Prop8. 

Potter has the latest take on the Prevailing Wage legislation.  My new City Councilperson, Daniel Lavelle, is the latest cosponsor. From a queer perspective, very important local discussion to watch ... remember, economic issues are often at the top of the list for our families.  Hand in hand is my attempt to discern the "gay friendliness" of local unions.  I'm not making much headway in that regard, BUT I am trying.  I'm especially intrigued by the County employee unions ... where do they stand?  Kevin McCarthy, what say you? 

In other local news, one of our strongest allies (and still relevant) City Councilman Bill Peduto has brought Pittsburgh City Council into the 21st Century.  Meanwhile, one of our strongest (and still relevant) leaders, City Councilman Bruce Kraus, is tackling the nuisance that is the Southside strip o'bars AND endorsing Congressman Joe Sestak for Congress. The progressive goodness does my heart good.  Plus, I'd love to stroll the Southside post-Cambodican dinner without tripping over drunken Duquesne University honor roll students (aka future "good Catholic" community leaders). 

A good read (what isn't, really?) from Pittsblog 2.0 on the future of Pittsburgh's leadership.  Note the hopeful note for diversity.

Cyril Wecht for Governor?  What?  KDKA just said it.  Did she just go there again?

Paul McKrell, State House Rep hopeful - again, has moved - again.  Yes, he's left Facebook in the largest Burgh "unfriending" in recent history, but the ever popular McKrell's social media savy move may pay off.

Local gay news?  The Mayor's LGBT Advisory Committee is having a sit down with their "LGBT Leadership" designees (including yours truly - must be the Xena video) sometime in February.  I'm sure looking forward to seeing City Councilman Bruce Kraus there. They wouldn't dare not invite him, would they?  I mean ... we are moving forward in the spirit of cooperation, right?  Left? 

I'm off to the Steel City Stonewall meeting tonight at Panera Bread in Oakland.  Hope to see you there. 

 

View Article  Belated Congratulations on 4 Excellent Years by Bram Reichbaum


A few of you probably know that I'm wrapping up the Comet after a mere three years -- so the idea that Sue has been blogging for four and is still working with a full head of steam is just mind-blowing to me.  Mind-blowing and impressive.  One thing I can salute Sue for is that the quality here has stayed remarkably consistent -- consistently high and thoughtful.

The Burghosphere would get along okay without most any of the individual blogs, but I honestly don't think it could without this one.  It just adds so much more in the way of meaning and purpose.  I would not have had the courage to write about GLBT issues to the extent that I have without taking advantage of this blog as a reference, and for that I am grateful.

For example -- did you know that there are political subdivisions in our gay community?  IT'S TRUE!  I know that seems like a banal observation -- for how could it be otherwise -- but it's something I never would have fully appreciated without this window.  In fact the political and socioeconomic divides perfectly mirror the ones in the broader community -- and without getting into too much detail, observing how they play out on these issues has been a very illuminating way to notice what's going on everywhere else.

I also subscribe to Sue's twitter feed, and we exchange e-mails and what have you.  Once in a while I do feel like groaning ... "Jeez, Sue, not everything is a gay emergency!"  Then before too long I step back and remember -- you all are not in possession of your full compliment of civil rights, are you?  Not exactly fully and equally protected under the law?  Then I am reminded -- yes, these are not boutique issues, this is not just another ornament on the tree of pet causes.  This is my brothers' and sisters' very lives.  This is the struggle we are due to see won in our lifetimes.  This deserves all the energy and attention a talented volunteer can give it and more.  I honestly feel sorry for cities and regions that don't have somebody like Sue.

I don't want to take up too much more space here, but one thing I want to add is that one of my favorite memories of blogging was Blog for Equality Day.  That was Sue's idea, and it was the only time the Burghosphere got together around a cause and pulled off a little stunt.  We should do more of it.  Behind the scenes, Sue has always been a voice of organization in the wider blogging community and I'm grateful for her contributions and for her friendship.  More than anything, I look forward to another four years of reading her, and to continued victories for freedom and love in Pittsburgh.


**********************************************************************************

I honestly think Blog for Equality (2008) was Bram's idea, but it *was* fun and I'd love to see something like that happen again.  Bram is author of The Pittsburgh Comet which came into existence a few weeks before the Burghosphere gave birth to our blog. He's an important ally and a voice that will be missed.  I think his very humbling praise reflects the importance of local blogs, LGBTQ and otherwise --- we translate the national issues down to the local community and then project local issues onto the national radar.  We aren't the only ones, but we do tend to be a big dogged.  Along the way, we are fortunate enough to attract the attention of allies like Bram, Maria, and others who take the "gay emergency" ball and run back to the straight community with it. 

Looks like we need to bring back Blog for Equality 2010.  Trademark Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents (ha). 

ps:  Xena + Gabrielle + Holding Out For a Hero = best (and most likely to cause eye rolling) compliment evah

sdf

View Article  Lesbian elected official serves as surrogate mother

I must say that Utah and the Mormons are a very interesting lot.  This from the Post-Gazette:

Now, that's an interesting public stance for an elected official ... pretty gutsy to take on what might be perceived as a controversial step in your personal life while serving in office.  According to the story, however, her colleagues aren't responding with the xtian outrage one might expect.

Interesting.  Does this mean state law, which essentially forbids LGBT persons from adopting, is the "optimum" standard? I'm not sure that is the role of law -- to set the bar high, especially when it denies children families that meet all the criteria for health, welfare, safety and love with the exception of marriage. 

While I'm glad her colleagues across the aisle are respectful, it is actually sad that a couple who wished to provide a home for an existing child, must instead bring a new life into the world because of state adoption laws.  I think Speaker Clark's sentiments might ring a little more true if "the gift of life" extended to children who are waiting to be adopted as well as the uborn fetus. 

However, Representative Johnson appears to be unabashed about her belief that her gay male friends will be good parents and willing to put her own life on hold (and risk her career) to support them.  That's quite laudable.  Perhaps her access to the lawmaking realm with educate her colleagues and help them address the legal ban on adoptions.

For the record, second parent adoptions are legal in Pennsylvania. 

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