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View Article  Random-ness

Busy day.  We stopped by the Mall to discover that I have a "proprietory" watch (Fossil) which translates into driving to Grove City to buy a watch band.  Not cool, Fossil.  Not cool.  I'm planning on wearing my pocketless culottes tomorrow so I can't even carry around my Blackberry as I galivant between offices.  Not cool, Fossil.  But I do love the watch.

Then we headed up to goose-killing country er, North Park for the Lambda/GLCC Family picnic.  It was really nice.  Tom Michalow (County Council candidate - District 1) stopped by.  I finally had my photo taken by OUT.  Buzz manned the grill most excellently AND made cupcakes for the party.  Someone caught a 3 inch fish.  All in all, a good way to spend a few hours on a lazy August Sunday.

Tonight, we took a walk around the block with Amadeus who was sooo good meeting new people.  He was rather indignant that I would not allow him to eat a chicken bone, but otherwise a good time was had by all.  He only "rested" one time. 

A few links of interest

Julia Childs was known as a homophobe who repented in late life.  h/t http://www.365gay.com

How far do you tolerate another person?s intolerance? When is it important to swear off an artist or a public figure and when is it just silly? And why will my brain let me enjoy some of them and not others?

Questions I ponder all of the time. People tell me I am too PC for anyone's good.  It irritates me quite a bit when people use the term Chinese Auction, but try being the girl that explains how the term is offensive.  People are very taken aback and think that I'm way over the top. 

The issue of homophobic support popped up in a conversation I had about gay friendly candidates accepting campaign donations from homophobes.  Not organizations, but general people.  You can see how quickly this could get out of hand?

We saw Julie & Julia on Friday.  It was entertaining.  Meryl Streep was her usual delightful self and owned the movie.  No mention of anything gay related.

From PageOneQ, comes a story about the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck.  I kid you not.

Pam's House Blend has an Open Thread on the quagmire that is the California marriage equality lawsuit.  Very complicated stuff.

Courtesy of Feministing, Will Arnett's dramatic reading from Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

Just caught the fireworks courtesy of the new casino.  Very impressive. 

View Article  Sometimes you feel like a blogger ...

you know where I was going with this one, right?

It isn't a lack of queer news to report.  HB 300 is still alive and kicking in committee, but the lack of a budget puts that squarely on the back burner.  An inclusive-ENDA has been introduced in the House and Senate.  Doyle, Specter and Casey are all co-sponsors so Altmire is the rogue guy.  His "blue dog" status on health care reform is the bigger issue.

Locally, the County is asking for nomination for the Human Relations Commission.  My understanding is that complaints and investigations will be conducted by the County Personnel Department.  What's interesting is that the only thing they really need to investigate will be complaints, outside of the City, based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender discrimination as every other claim could be bumped to either the City or State Human Relations Commission which have paid staff investigators.  I'm impressed with how quickly things are moving ... I got wind of the progress from someone's FB status indicating that they had been asked to apply.  The ordinance was approved on July 1, 2009.

Meanwhile, the Mayor's LGBT Advisory Committee is still in its formative stages.  The conversation started in May 2008. The first meeting was December 2008.  Hmmm.

This week, NetRoots Nation (#NN09) comes to town and former President Bill Clinton will give the Thursday Keynote.  Wouldn't it be cool if he stopped by the LGBT Welcome Reception at the Warhol that evening?  I mean I know President Clinton doesn't just stop by anywhere obviously.  Still.  Cool.

The GLCC is moving next month.  Right now, they are focused on a $150,000 capital campaign to renovate their new space.  Look for more on that soon. OUTrageous Bingo begins on August 22.  Get your tickets early.

Ledcat and I are headed to the Lambda/GLCC Family picnic at North Park today. 

View Article  Have you heard? The protestors are coming to eat your young.

When I caught the Post-Gazette's latest attempt to generate G-20 buzz, I almost choked on my coffee.  Leaders for whom I hold a great deal of respect sound like hysterical school-girls who missed the activity bus. 

We have an opportunity for public dialogue around our region's role in significant global issues and we end up with a ban on PVC pipes as a public safety measure?  What if there's a plumbing/contracting emergency?  Will they use duct tape?  My God.

What's next?  Banning women wearing pink hats?  Or eggs?  Why can't the LAW be enough?  This isn't an episode of Jericho. 

Please keep things in perspective.  Downtown is being shut down because of the G-20 Summit, not the handful of anarchists coming to town.  I will be driving through Overbrook on my way from the Northside to Oakland because of the Summit detours.  Not the anarchists.  You will miss your Saturday morning trip to the Strip because of the Summit.  Not the anarchists.  The ambassadors, presidents, chief cooks and bottle washers.  Not the anarchists. 

If you give the anarchists the power to shut down Pittsburgh, they certainly have won quite a victory.

Do you know what the G-20 is and why people are protesting it?  I'm going to spend some time trying to find those answers. 

The G-20 (more formally, the Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors) is a group of finance ministers and central bank governors from 20 economies: 19 of the world's largest national economies, plus the European Union (EU). It also met twice at heads-of-government level, in November 2008 and again in April 2009. Collectively, the G-20 economies comprise 85%[3] of global gross national product, 80% of world trade (including EU intra-trade) and two-thirds of the world population.[2]

The G-20 is a forum for cooperation and consultation on matters pertaining to the international financial system. It studies, reviews, and promotes discussion among key industrial and emerging market countries of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability, and seeks to address issues that go beyond the responsibilities of any one organization.

It doesn't take a lot of imagination to think of a few things people might want to protest related to world economies.  It wasn't a few months ago that local non-profit groups were duped (along with the media and the County) into supporting the dumping of e-waste in foreign lands. Oh, and don't forget that they dumped in Homewood, too.  Hmmm.  I wonder if there is any connection between the disregard for the people living in Homewood and the people living in the two-thirds world? 

My point is that policy issues sometimes come home to roost. Maybe some of the folks who care passionately enough about this issue to join themselves together with PVC pipes and handcuffs, knowing they will end up in jail anyway, are on to something folks.  Maybe they see something, feel something about what should be our connection to people around the world.  Or in Homewood.

View Article  NetRoots Nation Conference and Pittsburgh

Looking for a few local folks interested in volunteering with the NetRoots Nation conference on Wednesday, August 12 to help prepare welcome packets.  If you can help welcome 2,000+ progressive bloggers to Pittsburgh, please let me know. 

View Article  Candlelight Vigil for Shooting Victims

The Women and Girls Foundation is sponsoring a candlelight vigil tomorrow (Thursday).

The Women and Girls Foundation is organizing a candlelight vigil to be held in the portico of the City-County Building in Downtown, Pittsburgh, Thursday August 6th at 5:30pm to offer support and non-denominational prayers to the victims and families of the Collier Shooting.

?We are organizing this vigil so that we can join together as a community to send collective prayers to the families of the women who were killed and the women who are still in critical condition, as a result of this horrific and violent act against women,? said Executive Director Heather Arnet. ?From the murderer?s own blog and note, it is more than evident that the focus of his rage and violence was women. This vigil is intended to send strength and prayers to the families who are grieving and for those women and their families who are hoping to heal from this horrific event.?

All members of the community are encouraged and welcome to attend. Participating in the vigil will be representatives from the Women and Girls Foundation, local elected officials, the National Organization of Women, National Council of Jewish Women, Pittsburghers Against Domestic Violence, local victims service agencies, and many other community organizations. All are welcome.

Also participating in the vigil will be members of Women and Girls Foundation?s Regional Change Agents, a diverse group of 15 teen girls and 15 adult women from Allegheny, Fayette, Greene and Washington counties, who have come together to engage in civic advocacy in their communities to support women. The tragic events of Tuesday night have moved the Allegheny County team of Regional Change Agents to call attention to the inexcusable acts of violence against women within our community and beyond it.

Please help support WGF's efforts by passing this information to your friends and networks! For questions or more information, please contact WGF at 412.434.4883 or info@wgfpa.org .


View Article  ENDA Introduced in Senate with Casey and Specter's Co-Sponsorship

Well, here's some good news on what's been a sad day in Pittsburgh.  The Employment Non-Discrimination Act has been introduced in the Senate (already introduced in the House.) 

Bettter news? Both PA Senators are co-sponsors of the legislation.

Even better?  The bill is trans-inclusive.

An Oregon lawmaker made history Wednesday by introducing a version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the U.S. Senate, marking the first time ever that a trans-inclusive bill has been considered in that chamber of Congress.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, a first-term Democratic senator, told the Blade he?s sponsoring the legislation because ?it stems from core conviction? about his belief in fairness and equality.

?For me, one of the huge issues that I?ve cared a lot about is equality under the law and fairness to all Americans, and this was just a core part of the way I view the world,? he said.

Merkley said he was designated as the lead sponsor of ENDA because he championed a similar non-discrimination bill in Oregon as a lawmaker in the state House, as well as legislation enacting domestic partnerships in Oregon.

Progress, my friends.  Pennsylvania's Mike Doyle is cosponsoring the House version, but Jason Altmire's vote is uncertain.  Your continued calls to press for fairness and equality in the workplace are critical. 

View Article  Kevin Acklin chats with the lesbians

He brought it up first.

I'll admit it was the elephant in the room and I was debating how to bring it up without going into accusatory mode.  Everyone talks about it.  His Steel City Stonewall Questionnaire is pretty darn good, but "it" lurks like the tell tale heart.  Or so it seems.

But Independent Mayoral candidate Kevin Acklin brought up his donation to then Senator Rick Santorum's war chest.  I listened somewhat skeptically to his tale, but found myself drawn in to the story of a working class kid who found the party he loyally supported moving inexorably to the right on positions where he could not bend.

Like gay rights. I've been curious why Acklin has showed up at so many gay events, especially when he was still a Republican.  He told he received a lot of backlash from inside the party for testifying in favor of the anti-discrimination ordinance before County Council.  So why do it?

Acklin has gay people in his life that he loves and cherishes.  His college roommate came out while they lived together so Acklin witnessed the ups and downs of that process, eventually serving as a witness at his wedding in Canada.  He's close with a young man also coming out under completely different circumstances and has been amazed as the transformation in his life when he connected with supports that affirmed his identity.  The political really is personal on this issue. Or issues.

Acklin supports marriage equality.  He believes in domestic partner benefits. He wants an LGBT Advisory Committee that is "not just my top ten gay donors."  He sees hiring an openly gay person in his Administration as integral to having a real culture of tolerance and understands that policy doesn't quickly translate into practice when it comes to equal treatment.  When I explained that City employees lost rights when the 911 jobs collapsed into the County which does not offer domestic partner benefits, he agreed that it shouldn't happen again. 

He sees Pittsburgh as a City in the process of becoming gay friendly, due mainly to the "hard work" of community leaders or from the bottom up.  Now is the time for a top down approach to promote Pittsburgh as a diverse, welcoming community.

Still.  The donation. 

I forgot about it. 

We talked about other things.  His plans to streamline the small business process at City Hall  He's appalled that the Mayor declared the Hill District CBA a one time deal when development should be leveraging private dollars for the public benefit.  That negotiation is what he defines as "the hard work of government."  He wants to push for a dedicated source of funding for transit  The restaurant closed so we didn't get far on that path, but he did tell me that he favors a spineline of public transit to Oakland, preferably through the Hill District 

Acklin and I had an interesting side conversation about the use of new social media.  He uses Twitter and strives for what he terms the 3 P's - a little Pittsburgh, a little personal and a little politics.  The story about his usage of Facebook is definitely offbeat  As a Harvard alum, his information was actually hacked by the Facebook founders and he set up an account back in 2000, long before it became the trendy media of today. 

I like Kevin Acklin.  We disagree on some issues, but I believe he's a friend to our community. 

His Steel City Questionnaire is attached.

And he did bring it up first. 


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View Article  Steel City Stonewall August Mtg. Deciding on a slate

Here's another fine opportunity to be part of the decision making.

Steel City Stonewall Democrats open up their board meetings to the general memberships and the interested public.  You can learn a lot of how the "behind the scenes" stuff works and people really do listen to you (even if they disagree with your point of view).  The meeting is very open to political newbies. 
Board meeting: Tuesday, August 11, 7-9
UCP building, 4638 Centre Ave,  (Oakland area)  15213
On lots of bus lines and free parking right in front. If front lot is full pull around back of building for more parking
Room 215...second floor (Building is accessible)
They've been trying to have the meeting at a local coffeehouse, but there just doesn't seem to be a coffee house that is 1) accessible 2) has a private meeting space and 3) is open that late.  If you have any suggestions, please post in the comments section.  I, for one, enjoy a good cup of coffee when I'm engaged in vigorous conversation.
At this particular meeting, the group is going to discuss endorsements for the November election.  The membership voted on the slate for the primary (www.steel-city.org), but as some of those endorsed candidates did not make it there comes the issue of what to do for the general election. 

The Board has several choices:  endorse the ACDC slate, revisit the available slots and pick a new endorsement one by one, or just do nothing.  This is particularly interesting in the Mayoral race.  The organization's bylaws do permit endorsing a Republican or an Independent candidate.  Both Acklin and Harris are seeking the group's endorsement and my sources tell me they will both be at the meeting on August 11. 
It can be a delicate situation.  How do you endorse a Mayor who has yet to accomplish the one very small thing he promised to do - set up an Advisory Committee?  Even if he technically gets it together by August 11, it is just patently ridiculous to expect him to honor any future promises with any real follow through. 
Acklin and Harris both look good in terms of the surveys.  I've met with both and need some time to get my interview with Acklin posted so I'll withhold commentary, but will say that they deserve a second glance by the organization in terms of actual follow through. 
Then there's the issue that getting too focused on the Mayoral race will detract from the one campaign where we can do something really significant - elect Tom Michalow.  Just think how great it will be to wake up on November 4 and know that our community was instrumental in defeating one of the County Councilman who voted against the non-discrimination ordinance.  That would put Steel City Stonewall on the ACDC radar in a whole different way.
Exciting stuff, huh?  And that's just two days before NetRoots Nation rolls into town searching for progressive fodder for their 2000+ blogs. 
Hope you can make the meeting on August 11.  It is not as sexy as a public hearing or a protest, but it is damn sure as important.
View Article  News, Notes and a Picnic

The news for LGBT youth in Tel Aviv is atrocious. During a gathering of LGBT youth, a shooting has killed three people. Be thankful for the work of the GLCC, Persad and GLSEN to create safe spaces for our youth.  Just imagine discovering your child identifies as queer in the midst of this carnage. So sad.  I'd like the folks in West Mifflin to keep that in mind when negotiating with GLSEN to do some training.

Another tragedy closer to home is the apparent suicide of a member of the military accused in the murder of a gay soldier. 

Something disappointing in today's Post-Gazette.  Big Ben isn't talking and Casey Hampton shouldn't be.

Nose tackle Casey Hampton did not think Roethlisberger needed to apologize.

"I don think he had to say nothing because everybody knows what it is," Hampton said. "That's crazy, man. He didn't have to say that to me. I know how the world is, I know how females are. ... In today's society, man, if anybody says something, you're guilty until proven innocent anyway, you know what I mean?

"He handled it good, but it's BS, everybody knows that."

Sigh.  "I know how females are."  What more do you need to know?  I'd like to see the NFL do something incredibly proactive like donate a portion of the proceeds from their women's wear to domestic violence programs.  Or programs to promote girl's self-esteem.  Anything to mitigate the flow of stupid from Hampton's thoughts on his female fans.  Keep that in mind ladies when you slap down your $80 for this year's Steeler's gear.  Is this the guy you want your sons to emulate?  Or your daughters to date?


Have you checked out Ning?  I don't really understand it, but it seems to be a network defined by groups.  I joined Pittsburgh's Out

I'm sitting down with Kevin Acklin today so look for that posting in the next few days. 

Coming on August 9 (next Sunday) is the GLCC and Lambda Foundation Family picnic.

North Park Gold Star Grove

Sunday, August 9, 2009 12:00 to 6:00pm

Fishing contest and games for the kids
Prizes and plenty of food
Pets welcome
Tickets:$20 per family
$10 singles

Please call:412-521-5444 for tickets.


View Article  G-20 -- random thoughts

The Post-Gazette has the details on the, well, lack of details on how disruptive the G-20 will be to Downtown Pittsburgh and nearby neighborhoods.  For security purposes, we won't find out the extent of the traffic detours and the bus reroutes and the closed streets until a week beforehand. 

First, I get the need for security.  I live on the Northside and work in Oakland which is currently a ten minute commute.  I suspect that's not going to be the case around the G-20.  However, I am the boss so I can't just not show up at work for a week or so.  We are working out contingency plans and I'm very glad I have some staff that live very nearby for our 24 hour coverage needs, but not enough to last a weekend.  So plan, plan, plan we must.  (Ledcat works in the Strip so she might be have to go to work via Oakmont).

The other thought I have is that the major inconveniences will be the summit, not the protests even though the protestors are getting all the bad PR.  I'm not 100% convinced that the prestige of the Summit will offset the potential harm to the little guys, but I doubt there is any accurate measure of damage versus inconvenience aside from the vandalism damage and the number of letters to the editor complaining about handbills being thrust into their unwilling hands. 

What about the sales lost by businesses to which people cannot get?  Or the impact on homeless people swept away and out of sight?  or the unplanned use of PTO (or unpaid time off) by folks who simply cannot get to work?  I know there's an offset by the increase in money spent by the visitors, but does it really even out?  There's not exactly trickle down, is there? 

It is just frustating to cope with real impact on my life and the ongoing assault on my values by the media-frenzy over the sexy protestor stories.  I've barely had time to contemplate the G20 itself.  The message is in my face every day and still I just don't hear it.  That's probably the worst frustration of all.

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