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View Article  Update from press conference
I am lurking around picking up juicy tidbits. Caught Doug Shields on his way in to meet with Public Safety Director, Michael Huss. So he stopped to give KDKA an interview. He assures civil rights will be balanced with public safety. He also claims police are there to protect the G20 folks not crack down on the dissenters.

I think that is a bit rosy. They are there to keep most of us out. IMHO
of course.

I just got a press kit. More later after I look at it.
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Sue Kerr
Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents
www.pghlesbian.com

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
View Article  Untitled
Al Hart from the UE comments that losing two days pay is a hardship. They are asking City Council to speak up for the average people.
*******************************
Sue Kerr
Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents
www.pghlesbian.com

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
View Article  Live from Merton Ctr Conference
I am downtown at City County Bldg for the Thomas Merton Ctr press conference. I am blogging on blsckberry so I hope this comes thru. If u could send me a tweet or text telling me you can read this, that would be awesome.

So far, WPXI and WTAE are here and a handful of folks gathered. I am early thanks to traffic gods. More later.
*******************************
Sue Kerr
Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents
www.pghlesbian.com

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
View Article  Lutherans and Letters

Ann Rodgers talks with a few local Lutherans about their reaction to the recent decision to accept partnered gay clergy.  The language of acceptance was carefully tailored to allow those who object to equality on the basis of their religious beliefs to be free to continue to associate their bigotry with the Lutheran denomination.

Wow.  That's not a very reconciling sentence is it?  Still, I'm tired of being tiptoed around by frightened Christians, so whatever.  The trends in Christianity as a system are less and less relevant to my day to day life.  The behaviors of Christian-identified individuals is much more relevant.  Most people that I know who identify as Christian are relatively cool people who can compartmentalize their regular attendance at Mass with their true social justice beliefs. That's fine with me.  Let's have dinner. 

I mean who has time for this.

It's our job to continue to reach out in love to those who feel alienated," she said.

Among them is the Rev. David Gleason, pastor of First Lutheran Church, Downtown.

"I'm sort of in a state of disbelief," he said. "It was almost mind-numbing to see your church ripped apart right in front of you. I think there is more depression than there is anger on the part of people who opposed this change."

He has parishioners on both sides. Some were thrilled, while others are asking how the congregation can stay in the denomination. He is counseling patience and holding meetings to help people work through their reactions. He has always told them that First Lutheran doesn't have to be affected by what the national church does, he said.

Still, he expects a variety of groups to try to lead his people out of the denomination. He was among several pastors in the synod to receive a lunch invitation from a local pastor in the 2.3 million-member Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, which is far more conservative than the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Lutheran CORE, a national movement of theological conservatives within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, isn't calling for a split. The Rev. Paull Spring, chairman of CORE, a State College, Centre County resident and retired bishop of Erie, warned against comparisons to the split in the Episcopal Church.

"We are not forming a new church. Our structure and polity are quite different from the Episcopal Church. We are asking people to stay as members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America," he said.

Nevertheless, he said, his group will be reorganizing as an alternative support system for congregations that can no longer trust denominational leadership, he said.

They didn't win, is how I read it, so now they are voting themselves off the island.  More battles over properties and endowments will ensue.  Mainstream Christianity will continue to breakdown as millions of Americans are led along by warring factions.  Reverend Gleason doesn't say what he did to educate his parishioners on the fact that gay persons are human beings to or to prepare them to embrace differences with open arms and hearts, rather than gathering their toys to take them home. 

One serious issue the LGBT community faces is that too many people within the mainstream congregations remain silent.  Someone at Reverend Gleason's church has a queer kid or sibling.  Was their a dialogue?  Do heterosexual Christians strive to put human faces on "the issue"?  That's what Janet Edwards keeps calling folks to do.  Are you up for the challenge?

Ann Rodgers is a good writer on religious issues, but I don't see how she has the patience to do it. 

On a related note, Geoff Mackey of Mt. Lebanon writes in to the Post-Gazette, taking Diane Gramley and the American Family Association of PA to task for co-opting the term family.

I'm also curious why right-wing conservative groups hijack the name "family" in their names? Gay and lesbian Americans are products of families; most gays I know still have great relationships with their families of origin. Gays and lesbians adopt children and create their own families. When did the word "family" elevate someone to a higher moral ground? Are heterosexual men and women who choose to remain single and not create a family "less than"? Please stop co-opting the word "family" as uniquely yours.

He also wonderfully takes the bull by the horns when it comes to her "poor Boy Scouts" argument

If the Boy Scouts are negatively impacted by the ordinance, so be it. They have taken the concept of being "morally straight" to literally mean "heterosexual," which is an affront to respectable gay men who could contribute much to their organization.

Yes, finally someone is acknowleding that the Boy Scouts are making a conscious choice that makes them ineligible for public funding.  We've spent so much time here downplaying the issue of Boy Scounts being denied public land for their camping trips, that many queers have lost sight of the fact that the Boy Scounts DISCRIMINATE against kids and adults who are gay, not to mention damage the heterosexual kids who are taught that being gay is a bad thing (too bad if that includes your older brother).  I refuse to support them. I don't buy their junk.  I don't toss money in the collection box.  I would battle professionally against allowing them to use space that is dedicated to nondiscrimination against the LGBTQ community.  It isn't just a theory way above the kids' heads. It sends a clear message to the 12 year old trying to figure out what's going on inside his heart that he better keep his mouth shut if he wants to enjoy the perks of Scouting. 

Great job, Geoff.

Here's some hilarious feedback from PG readers who clearly don't have enough work on their desks in response to a letter affirming the LGBT community.  I'd almost prefer someone to tell me they hate me for being gay, rather than hide behind "I don't approve of your lifestyle choices, but I tolerate you.  And by the way you can't be a Christian or have any rights until you embrace the truth and the light." 

A recent post about recycling even drew out the homophobia, including this:

Ok, you really have my attention now. The status quo? A bunch of women with alternative sexual orientation is the status quo? I don't remember anything about that in the old or new testaments. That would be status quo. You ladies really have it twisted. You have absolutely no idea what your talking about. It appears you just want to be angry about something and at someone rather than have intelligent conversation to discuss what is best and plan a course of action that is suitable for your educated beliefs.

I bet this guy would deny being a homophobe.  He would point out that he has gay friends; he's just labeling a specific bunch of women with whom he disagrees and that's not homophobic.  There's a big assumption on his part that any one of the other commenters are lesbians, but also the handy label of being "angry." 

Yep.

View Article  Newsflash: I'll be working with Pridecast

Good news this Monday morning, especially for those of you wishing OUT in Pittsburgh media had more lesbian content and coverage.  I've been invited to be a recurring guest on their biweekly podcast, PRIDEcast with Jason Lucarelli.

This will be a great chance to talk about important issues such as HB 300, the formation of the County Human Relations Commission, the March on Washington planned for October and other important social/political issues as well as some of the everycday things happening in Pittsburgh. 

While this will be separate and distinct from Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents so I'll have to save some of my opinions for the blog (ahem), it does bring at least one new lesbian perspective to the new social media realm and the OUT family.  (Jane Muder does a great job in the print version).

OUTonline is forging some new territory in this regard, including a mini-social network with a gay twist - somewhere to hang out online and get to meet other LGBTQ persons.

Check it out and tune in Sunday, September 6 for my second appearance.  We are planning on a great discussion about getting more members of the community involved in advocacy - promise it won' tbe all preachy and boring. 

More issues to cover, but this is my first day back at work after my grandmother's funeral and my bout with bronchitis so I must roll off to the office. 

I'm quite excited. 

View Article  Finally, Pgh Media Discusses G-20 Issues Rather Than Tactics

I am thrilled with today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  I don't agree with all the content (the gushing over Stanley Lowe made me choke), but the fact that we have content on a Sunday rather than New York Time reprints is wonderful.

My delight was tripled when I read the piece on the G-20 by arguably the best writer in the region, Dennis Roddy.  To put this topic in his hands lends credibility and sensibility to what could otherwise be lost in the ongoing hysterical media coverage of the baby-eating anarchists. 

The issues, my friends, are quite varied as are the groups lumped together under the banner of "protesters."  You should understand that the G-20 dissent is not an attempt to influence a particular decision, but an opportunity to highlight significant social justice and related issues that fly in the face of democracy and human rights, allegedly represented by the democratically elected members of the G-19 nations (plus the EU).

Objections to the G-20 and its policies are best captured in that dash of capital across international borders, in search of cheap labor and wider profit margins.

"When we have creativity, we ship it elsewhere because it can be produced or made cheaper in another country," said state Sen. Jim Ferlo, one of a dozen or so prominent leaders who says he is both welcoming the G-20 and planning to take to the streets to protest its policies.

Groups objecting to the G-20 range from environmentalists who want to press governments to drastically curtail greenhouse gases to a range of anti-authoritarian anarchists who see the institution as undemocratic and the free-market theories it promotes as flawed beyond redemption.

"It's hopelessly undemocratic," says Noam Chomsky, a renowned linguist and a guiding light to much of the anti-authoritarian left.

Mr. Chomsky is among those who see the G-20 as a body that largely reflects concentrated private economic power and the small circle of people that possess that power.


I think many folks in Pittsburgh lose site of the strong connection their personal stories of job loss and economic challenges share with the "agenda" of those planning to protest the G-20.  Roddy does a nice job of linking the world economy to the personal story of a local man who lost his job because assembly makers in other nations are paid $3.00 per hour. 

That's a real concrete connection.  Does it mean you should don a mask and charge the barricades at the Convention Center?  Of course not, but it hopefully makes you take a step back to realize that many, if not most, of the folks making time to take a stand against injustice are just like you and I.  Just like my steelworking father who can't retire because of the health insurance mess.  Just like half the folks shopping at Wal-Mart in spite of the irony that the low wages make it affordable to the masses who likely also live at poverty level. 

Read Roddy for a coherent explanation of American's love-hate relationship with world economies. 

There's a sidebar in the print edition which summarizes some of the major issue-clusters. 

One which I believe you really need to consider is the environmental agenda.  We here in Western Pennsylvania had a humbling dose of the international realities with the EarthEcycle debacle.  Hundreds of local residents were duped into donating electronic goods for recycling only to have the toxic elements dumped in South Africa and caught en route to Asia.  We were fooled by our willingness to accept the free lunch and EarthEcycle's mad-genius idea to affiliate with reputable non-profits. 

We were also fooled by our ignorance on the issue, in spite of major media attention and powerful images of children playing in toxic dumps.  We trusted the non-profits, who failed to do their homework.  They trusted the company who promised to help them help others.  We turned a collective blind eye and children in the two-thirds world suffer, children whose parents probably don't even have access to the $3.00/hour jobs. 

By definition, we need to include Homewood in this two-thirds world analogy.  EarthEcycle took advantage of our blind eye to dump computers in Homewood.

EarthEcycle, which is also storing collected electronics equipment in the yard surrounding an old auto repair shop in Homewood, collects and exports used electronics equipment and parts, including color computer monitors that contain cathode ray tubes. The CRTs may contain toxic phosphors within the glass envelopes, which could contain heavily leaded glass and represent an environmental hazard. The average color computer monitor contains 4 pounds of lead in addition to mercury, cadmium and arsenic.


Maybe we need to rethink a few things.  It isn't just those damn <insert country> treating their own residents like disposable creatures.  It is happening in the East End of Pittsburgh and I have yet to hear a public leader, including those representing Homewood, decry this injustice.  Seriously, don't the children in Homewood have enough on their plates without the potential leakage of mercury, lead and arsenic thanks to the good folks trying to help dogs and cats?  I've been asking around about what happened to those items as well as the storage unit filled in Monroeville.  No response.

Perhaps it makes sense that environmental activists team up other groups to draw attention to the fact that not everyone is fooled, as well as their faith that we can be educated about the myriad of issues.  Their faith that we can take control of our economic destinies, on the personal level of where we choose to spend our hard-earned dollars and on the systemic level of demanding fairness and justice in labor policies.  Their stubborn willingness to sleep in tents in order to pass out pamphlets and carry signs in hopes of reaching some of us, in spite of our disdain for the ensuing traffic jams and access to Starbucks. 

Yes, the G-20 will be a pain in the ass for a lot of us, but that's mostly due to the actual summit rather than the protestors.  I'm just saying that perhaps we can be part of the dialogue by getting ourselves informed on the issues instead of bemoaning the tactics. 

Let's not turn a blind eye this time folks. 

View Article  What exactly is going on in Maine?

You may have heard some rumblings that there's a ballot battle up in Maine.  Perhaps you wonder what its all about and what it means for Pittsburgh.

Maine affords marriage equality to all residents.  This means same sex couples can marry and enjoy the privileges and rights associated with that institution, both legally and personally.

There's a movement, Proposition 1, to repeal that law and strip citizens of their rights. 

There's a countermovement to protect and preserve marriage equality.  Maine Freedom to Marry.

The battle will be fierce and the first since Prop 8 successfully repealed marriage equality in California.

The rally was the latest development in a campaign that is expected to be highly emotional and very expensive. By mid-July, the coalition of opponents of gay marriage, the Stand for Maine Marriage political action committee, had raised more than $343,000, while those fighting the repeal had taken in $138,640 in contributions.

The Legislature legalized gay marriage in May, making Maine the fifth state in the country to do so. An April poll concluded that Maine voters were closely divided on gay marriage, with slightly more opposed.

Gay-marriage proponents at the rally said they had collected the pledge cards during the past year. Jesse Connolly, campaign manager, said volunteers will collect even more this summer.

"We are the local grassroots campaign," said Connolly.

Stand for Maine Marriage, which includes the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and other groups, says it has collected way more than the required 55,000 signatures to allow Maine voters to decide whether to reject the new law in a people's veto.

This is the epicenter of the battle for equality.  You can cheer them on from afar or you can make a modest donation of $10.00 to prevent the injustice of our brothers and sisters having their equality determined by public opinion. 

This battle sets the tone for our own battle here in Pennsylvania where we have HB 300 struggling in the PA House and two opposing marriage equality bills duking it out in the Senate.  The marriage battle, IMHO, is pointless and won't get any traction other than sorting out who among the Pennsylvania Senators has the courage to stand up for our equality.  The real battle is HB 300.  More on that later.

Our great victory from November, 2008 is losing ground.  Health care reform has been politicized to the point that it may actually hurt us in the long run.  We are the generation that won't retire with the guarantee of pensions and health insurance from our employers. 

Back to Maine.  Please take some time to educate yourself about this political battle. 

View Article  Pgh Queer Round Up

The Post-Gazette has a little blurb about Obama's flip-flop on DOMA, making the excellent point that toning down the support requires action on the promise to repeal. 

Never mind his conservative critics. Mr. Obama, who hasn't fulfilled his pledge to end "the don't ask, don't tell policy" on gays in the military, has a lot to do to reassure his liberal friends.

There's a Michael Vick dog chew toy and dog jersey.  Like it or not, he's part of Pennsylvania now and we have to suck it up.  But unless those proceeds are donated to the Humane Society, the Eagles are idiots. (If Big Ben can use his power to intimidate an alleged rape victim, I'm sure the Eagles can handle this.)  I bring it up because so many of you are dog lovers and sports fanatics, not to mention women (or friends of women) who've been victims of sexual assualt who also probably wouldn't be believed.  Yeah, keep that last point in mind.  Go Steelers.

August 29, 2009 is moving day for the GLCC.  I tried to line up a sneak peek of the new digs, but that didn't work out.  If you can help that day, it is a great way to "help the community," something I hear many people wishing to do.

GLCC MOVING DAY

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!

August 29, 2009

Location: 5808 forward avenue then 210 grant street downtown Come join
in history/herstory!

We will be starting at 9 AM loading the truck at the current location
5808 Forward Avenue
(corner of Forward/ Murray in Squirrel Hill)

Pizza and Pop lunch at 210 grant street before unloading into our new
community center!

To RSVP or more information contact Kat 412-304-8181

P.S.  Tonight is OUTrageous Bingo at Rodef Shalom.

Another opportunity to get involved - Pittsburgh's Gay & Lesbian Professional Networking Group is meeting at the Firehouse Lounge on August 28, 2009.

GLENDA has moved their annual fundraising event, Dining 4 Diversity, to April because of the GLCC move (GLENDA rents space). 

The Lambda Ball is coming up in November.  You can get involved in the planning committee (a way to channel all those "they should ..." thoughts) and help make Pittsburgh's premiere social event a huge success.  To get involved, contace Anne at ambgpb1@comcast.net.

I understand that the County Executive is working to create the County Human Relations Committee.  I know of two nominees, Hugh McGough and La'Tasha Mayes, both of whom would represent us well.  No word on the timeframe.  No word from Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's Administration on the GLBT Advisory Committee.  (I'm so used to my inquiries being ignored by Joanna Doven that I'm starting to feel we are engaged in a dance.)  BTW, G-20 is no excuse for delay when you've had the nominations since January 15, 2009.  Pick some people and move on.  I'm fairly certain they won't wear masks to the meetings.  Or bring eggs. 

 

View Article  Prove your gender. With photos. Philly?

I'm not sure Allegheny County Council should brag about adopting the "Philadelphia" model of non-discrimination legislation.  First, there was the private swim club that refused to honor a contract to let children swim there because it (let me make sure I have the quote right) ... "changed the complexion" of the pool. 

Now comes another Philadelphia story courtesy of Pam's House Blend.

Trans woman Kate Lynn Blatt says her former employer requested a photograph of her genitalia as a condition of continued employment, after questions arose about her use of a worksite female locker room.

...

Irene Kudziela, branch manager of Manpower's Pottsville office, allegedly told Blatt that a letter from her surgeon documenting her gender-reassignment surgery - along with a photograph of her genital area - would be necessary before she could return to Sapa.

Blatt, 28, said she found the request "repugnant" and "disgusting," and declined to comply. She viewed the request as a form of sexual harassment, she added.

"I was shocked and disgusted," Blatt said. "It felt like I was being reduced to a mere sex object. I was trying to work there in a dignified and private manner, but my dignity and privacy were constantly being violated."

Kudziela declined to comment for this story.

Frank Koller, human-resources manager at Sapa, also declined to comment.

Wow.  That pretty much sums up why HB 300 is important.  If Sapa/Manpower can get away with this, what else can happen?  It is exactly the sort of hysteria Diane Gramley dredges up when she terrorizes good Christians with the sphecter of men-in-skirts creeping into the bathroom to peep under the stalls.  It is also illegal. 

It should be illegal across the state to demand anyone produce a photo of their genitalia in order to hold a job.

Just sayin. 

View Article  Health

It has been a hell of a week.  On top of everything else, my "little cold" escalated into bronchitis, a throat infection and an ear infection.  I'm on antibiotics and couch rest for a few more days.  This is a busy time at work so I'm pretty frustrated.

I tried blogging but IE kept closing so I think my topics were not appeasing the blogging goddess.  I'll try again tomorrow. 

A few random thoughts

* Acklin and Harris have done a good job incorporating new social media into their websites.  Acklin's is especially shiny. 

* The inability to figure out a space for lawful dissent is mind boggling, both for the locals and the Obama Administration.  I guess if he sells us out on healthcare, what's a few civil rights, huh?

* A woman in Philadelphia filed suit alleging discrimination because her employer fired her for being a transwoman, insisting she provide photographs of her genitalia to be reinstated.  More on that tomorrow.

* PittGirl has come out.  I like her now that she's a real person. 

 

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