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View Article  Don't forget! Outrage is opening!

Friday night is opening night for the must-see movie of the spring ... Outrage.  It is playing at the Harris  If you find yourself angry about recent political events ---- the Obama legal brief on DOMA that references incest, Harry Reid's pronouncement that not a single Senator will introduce legislation repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the sad numbers on an inclusive ENDA, etc. 

The movie may just give you the jolt you need to get involved.  Or channel your frustration. 

View Article  Steel City Stonewall Democrats: Public Meeting on Thursday, June 18, 7 PM at Crazy Mocha

Update:  The meeting has been relocated to the Crazy Mocha on Butler Street in Lawrenceville. I've confimed with the President of Steel City Stonewall, Dana Elmendorf.  Tough call between the Film Society's "Pedro" and this meeting.  Either way, you are doing good. 

My understanding is that the upcoming Board meeting of the Steel City Stonewall Democrats will be a public meeting, as will all board meetings from this point forward.  The board has committed to meeting in public spaces to allow member participation and leadership opportunities.

Excellent news.  Transparency is a hallmark of democratic activity.  I applaud the board for stepping out of the living rooms and into a coffeehouse for a public connection.  It will take months for word to spread so please be patient if turnout is low.  Hopefully, the organization will send out an announcement to inform the members.

Your Inner Vagabond 7 PM on Thursday.  4130 Butler Street in Lawrenceville.  I encourage you to come.  Listen to the dialogue.  Inform yourself. 

View Article  Updates on the wusses

Obama's administration plans to offer domestic partner benefits to federal employees, minus health insurance and retirement which will require legislative action.  More here.

Note to Dan Onorato:  you have the power to extend domestic partner benefits to Allegheny County employees without legislative action.  The City does it.  The State will be doing it.  What's the real hold up? 

People are still pretty pissed at Obama for the horrendous beat down he gave our community with the recent DOMA legal brief.  Pissed.  Dan Savage is calling for a year round civil disobedience action.

But I have suggestion for an ongoing, smaller-scale action that would have a larger impact than a one-off "march" through an empty city. My idea would need fewer than a 1000 people to succeed?730 to be exact?and it wouldn't be over in a day. It would go on, day-in, day-out, every day, for a year. Hell, it could go on indefinitely. It involves civil disobedience and the 730 volunteers would have to be willing to get arrested. People who are unable to participate could make donations to help cover the expenses?legal expenses and travel expenses?of those who can.

Here's the idea: one gay or lesbian couple?a couple currently denied their rights under DOMA?shows up at the entrance to the White House grounds. A different couple every day. They ask to speak to the president about DOMA. They're refused. They sit down. They refuse to leave. They're arrested, carried away by the police. Couples would be recruited from all over the country, demonstrating that gay marriage isn't just an issue in liberal California or godless New England, and the media in each couple's home city and state would be notified in advance of their arrest.

Would you be willing to do this? 

DNC dinner is coming up and the homos aren't taking Obama's betrayal laying down.  Protests for the June 26 dinner are planned, both inside and outside of the event (hence the weak dp bennies offer above).  If I could figure a way to go, I would do so. 

Should you give money to the DNC?  Steel City Stonewall is holding a public meeting on Thursday at Your Inner Vagabond at 7 PM.  Might be a great question.  Where are the Stonewall Democrats on these issues?  Should we contribute money to the party machine that is not advancing our rights?  Do we contribute money to a President who compares our relationships to incest?  We have a watershed moment coming up with the July 1, 2009 vote on the County Non-Discrimination Ordinance.  If the ordinance doesn't pass, we really need to have a serious talk amongst ourselves about what isn't working.  Then you need to pony up some money to get a real LGBT advocacy infrastructure in place. 

Why support candidates who aren't making it happen?  If Onorato can't lead his own County on such simple matters as non-discrimination and domestic partner benefits, what the hell kind of effectiveness do you expect to see at the state level?  Hell, Rendell came out in favor of marriage equality at Pgh Pride several years ago but is mum on HB 300.  How much more wishywashy leadership will you tolerate, folks?  Something needs to be strategically different and that it simply going to involve each of you reading this blog to cough up some bucks.  Dan Frankel cannot save the day over and over again. 

Hey, the US Senate appears to be full of weak-willed folks, too.  Not a single sponsor for the repeat of Don't Ask, Don't Tell according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  Ha.  Not - a - single - sponsor.

How many more smack downs are you going to take people?  I get that you can't just hop to DC and get yourself arrested a la Dan Savage, but you can give up a night at Applebees and send $30 to the Women's Law Project to help make a systemic difference.  Stay tuned for more on that.

By all means continue forging the relationships that turn the tide, but realize that pressures much mightier than constituent meetings are at play.  If our "fierce advocate" compared us to child molesters, where do you think we really stand?


View Article  PrideFest 2009

We are finally home from another Pride Festival.  All the Sunday evening chores are finished and we are both sort of vegging on the sofa with cool beverages and the Sunday paper. 

I truly intended to try and live blog direct from Pride, using my email blogging capabilities but things happened so quickly I could barely keep up.  I posted a ton of photos from the march and the speakers stage.  They are up on Facebook along with a video of the Renaissance City Choir drum corp.

The PG estimated 5,000 people attended. Organizers told me 8,000.  I'm not the best at these things, but I'd probably say 3,000 is more likely.  It was never crowded to the point of overwhelming.  But these things are always points for debate.

The weather was lovely.  The organizers improved things quite a bit ... much more seating, cleaner grounds and a nicer flow of traffic.  The march timing is still being refined, but it is still very nice.  Most noticeable differences are the increasing contingents from communities of faith and affinity groups at local employers (Highmark, Bank of New York Mellon, Google) while some of the community group contingents are shrinking -- probably as people switch.   It shows that the power centers may be moving away from the gay democrats to the gay health insurance employees.  Something to consider. 

The festival was nice.  We ran into a ton of people and had a nice time.  

The big news is that Allegheny County Council will be voting on the County-wide non discrimination ordinance on Wednesday, July 1, 2009. 

Our community made history by turning out a record setting crowd for the ordinance hearing back in January (more than 150 people).  This is another chance to bring Allegheny County into the 21st century and you can make a difference by attending this meeting.  Sign up to speak if you like.  Bring a friend.  More importantly, call your Councilperson between now and then to encourage them/thank them for their vote. 


View Article  The Road is Queer!
Standing on the Boulevard of the Allies and Wood. About 50 folks scattered about in the shady spots. A woman just stopped to ask what we are waiting for!

Beautiful day for Pride. The streets are closed. A few cops here and there. Someone undercover just drove by in a dark SUV.

I am enjoying the parade watchers speculate on the gay friendliness of the cops on duty. Also enjoying people not familiar with downtown give directions. I didn't know Lawn Street intersected Liberty.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
View Article  Untitled
This is my first Pride test modblog. No format. No fancy. Just me and my blackberry reporting from the living room. First decision ... What shoes will I wear to Pride?
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
View Article  IMG00178.jpg
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
View Article  Dyke March 2009

Another fine event from the Dyke March organizers.  The crowd gathered on the CMU Lawn for some socializing and networking.  The luminescent La'Tasha Mayes from New Voices Pittsburgh spoke very artfully and got the march rolling.

I posted tons of photos and tweets at Facebook.

The mood was festive, the marchers were cheerful and the weather was pretty good  - a little rainy, a little humid, but overall pretty good.  We winded through Oakland.  Traffic was pretty well behaved and the passersby were most often perplexed rather than hostile.  My friend Susan came trotting out from her store to wave hello, apron and all. 

It was a festive start to Pride.  Oakland is a much  more comfortable place to march than Downtown, but frankly Downtown is probably more impactful.  That's hard to call.  Either way, I like the event and I appreciate how hard the organizers and their sponsors (Pink Party Productions) work to make it happen. 

The frustrating thing for me is that, once again, the Dyke March was disregarded by the Department of Public Safety and people's lives could have been in danger.  They filed for a permit, but the permit officer told them to work it out with the zone commander.  Apparently, there was some issue because the police had to dedicate their resources to the Pen's fan celebrations which didn't leave anyone to provide security for the march.

Good to know we can spend money to protect chair-ignition and public urination, but not women marching for their civil rights.  Way to prepare for the G20, Chief Harper. 

That's bullshit. This is constitutionally protected speech and there is absolutely no reason the combined police forces of the City, CMU and the University of Pittsburgh could not figure this out in a reasonable way.  As it is, a group of citizen bicyclists and two dykes on bikes made it work with little incident.  The point is that they shouldn't have had to do that. 

The whole point of protected speech is that we don't prioritize drunken sports revelry over dyke marches.  In both cases, it is the responsibility of law enforcement to protect the public safety AND the civil rights of the participants.  This is especially revolting given that the Office of Mayor Ravenstahl is being lauded as a $10,000 "in-kind" sponsor of Pride for, among other things, street closings and police presence. 

Premium Sponsors:

City of Pittsburgh

Yes, the Office of the Mayor put their official stamp on the Pride festivities.  I would think preventing dykes from being run over by motorists would be on the list of "to do" activities.  I know, I know.  The Dyke March is not an official Delta Foundation Pride Activity, but still .. doesn't it behoove everyone to avoid traffic fatalities during Pride Week?  Really?

It has been four years folks.  The Dyke March organizers are doing their part.  Someone at the City end needs to step up and get this fixed before it becomes an entrenched pattern of discrimination.


View Article  UPDATE: Indigo Girls Meet 'n Greet Tickets ONLY still available

If you have tickets to the upcoming Indigo Girls concert in Pittsburgh, there are a handful of meet 'n greet passes still available.  You must have tickets though.  To order passes, stop by the Lambda Foundation booth at Pridefest or call 412-277-2294. 

The Girls were on the weekend Today show performing "Closer to Fine."   Very nice teaser for the concert next weekend. 

Thanks to Lambda, Pittsburgh's oldest LGBT Foundation, for adding this excellent opportunity to Pride Month!

View Article  Reg Henry "Revolted" by Democracy? No wonder newspaper are dying

You know Reg, the old white guy who writes for the Post-Gazette?  No not, him.  Not him either - that's the editor.  And, no, Brian O'Neil is the liberal guy.  The one who isn't old.  No the liberal guy isn't that black guy.  Well, yeah Tony is liberal, too, but never mind. I don't know why the women were all laid off.  Just try to pay attention.

Yesterday, Reg Henry jumped the shark into "why don't we bring back Ruth Ann Dailey FT" territory? 

Like most men of a certain era, Reg doesn't like a fuss.  He prefers the quiet kind of "pull my finger, no really" liberal analysis as a form of democratic action.  What he definitely doesn't like is the prospect of crossing Penn Avenue in the midst of a political protest.  He might be late for his Starbucks.  Or have to <gasp> read a handbill. 

The G-20 has come to be regarded by some as a grand excuse for a riot, a jackass-a-rama, a Woodstock of ratbags. A decade ago, when Seattle hosted a World Trade Organization meeting, thousands of protesters turned out to cause trouble and the police overreacted. Recently, London had its own troubles with a meeting of the G-20.

Of course, these protests change nothing. They never have a chance of changing anything. How could they? They are all about the protest, not the result. While the demonstrators say they are seeking to protest (you name it) globalization, climate change, environmental ruin or economic recession, street theater is really about disaffected people acting out at everyone else's expense.

Or so I reckon by the evidence of my own eyes. Little kids scream and stamp their feet. Some of them grow up and scream, stamp their feet and throw something at any convenient symbol of authority. If you were a world leader, would you be influenced by jackasses indulging their revolutionary fantasies? Me neither.

Huh.  I guess suffrage, the bus boycotts, Stonewall ... all a sham.  Nothing changed. Someone better inform the 5,000 homosexuals descending on Downtown this weekend to celebrate 40 years of nothing.  Oh, except without Stonewall, 5,000 homosexuals wouldn't be doing anything.  Together.  Right?

You may have gathered that I am not much for street demonstrations. You may be surprised by this, given my reputation as a liberal. However, I do recognize that the Constitution's First Amendment establishes "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

So peaceably assemble already. Petition away with my blessing. Just don't make the average Pittsburgher's life miserable because you can't make your point successfully at the ballot box. The moment you stop being peaceable is the moment you lose me and the crowd.

Your reputation is a bit misguided at best, dear Reg.  Armchair moderate is a bit more apt.

By peaceful, you mean don't block traffic.  Don't distribute literature that yinzer's throw on the ground because they can't be bothered with pesky world issues (see recycling post below).  Don't interfere with day to day life.  Most of all, please don't make us think about the connection between our Wal-Mart Penguin jersey purchases and that kid in Bangladesh.  Or the woman in Florida. 

Reg makes an artful aside to the havoc and mayhem the yinzers bring to town with any athletic event.  They block traffic (remember when Luke has his parade for winning the Superbowl?). They toss around plastic doo dads.  They commit acts of violence (burning couches is probably the least of them).  They drive under the influence.  They waste police resources (and then complain for being manhandled). 

I don't see "right to serve alcohol to stupid people" embodied in the Constitution, but no one proposes shutting down Carson Street bars to keep order.  No one sets up a "free yinzer" zone to make it safe for me to venture out of my house Friday night. 

Why not?  Oh, that's right, there's no thinking involved. Who cares?  We are the champions of something, anything.  We've got Mama's borscht so everything is all right.

But why bother?  Protests never change anything.  So can I really expect blogging to change rambling columns from the old white male liberal establishment?  Hmmmmmm

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