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View Article  Happy Ana-versary!

One year ago, we adopted our little Ana from Starfish to the Sea Rescue.  Technically, it was May 26, 2008 but since it was a holiday we've decided to celebrate Ana's anniversary (get it?) on Memorial Day each year. 

It was quite a day.  We drove up to Indiana County, spent a few hours, plopped her in the car and promptly ran down a deer.  Deer was dead, car was fine.  Ana was like "what the heck is up with these ladies?" We drove 700 hours on Route 22 and finally made it home. Awesome rescuer Julie came to help us acquaint Ana with the boys at 9:30 PM. 

Fast forward one year.  Ana is either glued to our side or the boys' sides.  She has recently begun running furiously around the backyard and actually barking.  She chases after tennis balls (even though she's afraid of them up close).  She takes her pick of the dog beds and will actually prod the 110 lb dogs to move out of her 10 lb way.  She lives to surrpetitiously snack on cat food.  She's finally gotten the hang of the stuffed Kong.  She ignores the cats.  She dressed up like a dinosaur for Halloween.  She's the perfect hostess when guests come over. 

Happy Ana-versary!

 

 

 

 

View Article  Letter to the Editor: Massachusetts + Marriage Equality

Joseph Kowalksi of North Huntington has had a letter to the editor about LGBT equality published each year at this time.  Today's letter reminds Post-Gazette readers that marriage equality in Massachusetts has wrought no harm.  In fact, as we've pointed out before, it has generated a heck of a lot of revenue for the state ... around $100 million according to the Williams Institute of UCLA.  No reports of heterosexual marriages going "poof"  (ha ha ha) when same sex couples signed on the dotted line. 

UCLA's Williams Institute released a study that shows Massachusetts has gained clear economic advantages from the educated professionals drawn to the state by marriage equality and from the influx of money spent on same-sex marriages.

The commonwealth of Pennsylvania could do the same thing if we stop listening to the fear-mongering of some Republican politicians and the right-wing religious groups that support them.


Joseph understands that there are plenty of folks in Post-Gazette land who support Pennsylvania's resurrected attempts to amend discrimination into our state Constitution.  Those people will be galvanized into fear based action by Diane Gramley of the AFA of PA and her hate-mongering whipping boys.  They will find some sort of comfort from the distraction of this battle when Darryl Metcalfe (R-Cranberry Township) wants them to pay a little less attention to the economy, health care, job losses, education funding cuts, lack of summer activities for their kids, potholes, and oh, corruption! 

Speaking of Diane, she's fired off another press release urging Pennsylvania's to defend marriage and giving a little shout out to Allegheny County's looming self-destruction.  She hits her usual despicable low notes of Boy Scouts being refused use of a park (please!) and sexually deviant child predators stalking public pools in opposite gender clothing. 

Additionally for Allegheny County residents, the AFA of PA has up on our website a petition opposing Ordinance 4201-08.  Remember this ordinance is like H.B. 300, the statewide effort to get ?sexual orientation and gender identity or expression? added to the PA Human Relations Act.  Ordinance 4201-08 will add that terminology to a county wide ordinance which would affect all businesses with four or more employees and could prohibit the Boy Scouts from using government parks and facilities.  It also would permit men who think they are women to use restrooms or showers of their choice in a workplace situation or in any ?public accommodation? like city/county pools.   The ordinance would also create a county wide Human Relations Commission.

This is untrue. Lots of groups that self-select are permitted to use public parks.  No one tells the Clark Family Reunion they have to let certain groups attend their event to use a pavillion. Philadelphia told the Boy Scouts that the taxpayers aren't picking up their rent anymore because they don't comply with non-discrimination ordinance.  I'm not aware of too many sweet deals where the municipality pay to house the Boy Scouts (or the Girl Scouts) anyway.  We grew up attending Scouting meetings at the Presbyterian Church. Stupid fear mongering rhetoric. Period. 

But it is the rhetoric that fuels intolerance and turns people out around the issue of marriage equality.  It would be nice if Diane could just state the truth:  the law means that if you dislike gay people, you can't let that interfere with your public responsibilities.  You can hold the hate close to your heart, but you don't get to benefit from it.  Instead, she's going to convince a few folks that LGBTQ people are the predators circling their family stability. 

Once again, Diane does ask for money but does not ask people to pray.  I still don't get how that is "In His Service."

View Article  Letter to the Editor on LGBTQ Foster Parenting/Adoption

Sarah Springer MD uses a lovely PG article on foster parenting to point out that many different types of families can provide loving supportive homes for children in need.

Here's the whole letter.

Parental love

What a wonderful story on Mother's Day; Benedictine Sisters Audrey Quinn and Susan Fazzini deserve the thanks and admiration of all of us for the outstanding care that they have provided for so many children over the years. The positive impacts that they have had on so many lives will make a difference for many years and generations to come. The children cared for in their home were lucky to be on the receiving end of their love and dedication. I would venture to guess that nobody reading this story would disagree.

Let us all remember their example when we think about public policies for children and teens in foster care. These two dedicated sisters show us very clearly that it is not the gender of the adults involved, or the "traditional" nature of the family, that matter to children -- it's the love and dedication of caring adults.

There are many individuals, and many state governments, that argue that children can be properly cared for only in "traditional" families, by married heterosexual adults. Many aim to restrict gay and lesbian adults from becoming foster or adoptive parents, even while we have shortages nationwide of adults willing to make such sacrifices. "It's not homophobia," they explain, "it's just that children need two married heterosexual parents." If these arguments were true, then how do they explain the success stories coming from the home of Sisters Audrey and Susan?

Thank you, Sisters Audrey and Susan, for all that you do for children, and for showing us again that real parental love can, indeed, come in many varieties.

SARAH SPRINGER, M.D.
Brighton Heights
The writer, a pediatrician with Pediatric Alliance, is chairperson of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Task Force on Foster


If you want to consider becoming a foster parent and would like information on working with a LGBTQ friendly agency, contact me.

View Article  LGBTQ Candidate Victories in PA

From The Philly Gay News I learned that two openly gay candidates were successful in their bid for office.

Common Pleas Court Judge Dan Anders, who became the first openly gay male on the bench in Pennsylvania when Gov. Rendell appointed him to fill a vacancy in 2007, captured about 7 percent of the vote ? the fifth-highest among the nearly two-dozen candidates who were vying for one of the seven 10-year terms.

Open lesbian Dawn Segal also came out on top in the Municipal Court race, receiving the third-highest number of votes out of the 10 contenders seeking one of the four open seats, with about 14 percent of the vote.

Also good news from Harrisburg (please stop with the "Alabama in between" metaphors -- Hburg is as much or more progressive as Pittsburgh):

In Harrisburg, openly gay City Councilman Dan Miller was nominated for City Controller. Miller ran unopposed after incumbent James McCarthy was disqualified for missing a filing deadline.

Something interesting to note.  If you Google openly gay politicians in Pennsylvania, you will find several lists compiled by the wingnuts for "action" efforts at the top of the search results.  For a complete list of the 46 current  officials who are openly gay, go to the Victory Fund page.  I learned that Philadelphia's Mayor has a Director for LGBT Affairs.  Hmmm.  Anyway, note that list of 46 includes appointees to boards and commissions which is where most of the openly gay women are included.

I want to be on the State Board for Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors.  As a non-clinical social worker, I'm not part of that side of the profession, but still ... :-)

 

View Article  The Dallas Principles

From Pam's House Blend comes interesting news of what could be a momentous turning point in the struggle for equality.  This document is referred to as the Dallas Principles (drafted in Dallas this past weekend).  Here's some of the language:

PRINCIPLES

The following eight guiding principles underlie our call to action.  In order to achieve full civil rights now, we avow:

  1. Full civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals must be enacted now.  Delay and excuses are no longer acceptable.
  2. We will not leave any part of our community behind.
  3. Separate is never equal.
  4. Religious beliefs are not a basis upon which to affirm or deny civil rights.
  5. The establishment and guardianship of full civil rights is a non-partisan issue.
  6. Individual involvement and grassroots action are paramount to success and must be encouraged.
  7. Success is measured by the civil rights we all achieve, not by words, access or money raised.
  8. Those who seek our support are expected to commit to these principles.

FULL CIVIL RIGHTS GOALS

Being united by common principles and engaging in united action, we will achieve the following goals:

  1. DIGNITY AND EQUALITY. Every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender person has inherent dignity and worth, and has the right to live free of discrimination and harassment.
  2. FAMILY.  Every LGBT person has the right to a family without legal barriers to immigration, civil marriage or raising children.
  3. ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY.  Every LGBT person has the right to economic opportunity free from discrimination in employment, public housing, accommodation, public facilities, credit, and federally funded programs and activities.
  4. EDUCATION. Every LGBT child and youth has the right to an education that is affirming, inclusive and free from bullying.
  5. NATIONAL SECURITY.  Every LGBT person should have the opportunity to serve our country openly and equally in our military and foreign service.
  6. CRIME.  Every LGBT person should enjoy life protected against bias crimes.
  7. HEALTH CARE.  Every person should have access to affordable, high quality, and culturally competent health care without discrimination.

CALL TO ACTION

  1. We demand that government officials act now to achieve full civil rights without delay.

  2. Our organizations and individuals need to develop a collaborative and revolutionary new organizing model that mobilizes millions of supporters through emerging web and phone technologies.

  3. All LGBT individuals must accept personal responsibility to do everything within their power for equality and should get involved in the movement by volunteering, giving and being out.

  4. We will hold elected officials and our organizations accountable for being transparent and achieving full civil rights by active participation when possible and active opposition when necessary.

  5. Our allies need to be proactive in public support for full civil rights.

  6. Every government measure that quantifies the US citizenry must permit LGBT individuals to self-identify and be counted in every way citizens are counted.

  7. We demand that the media present LGBT lives in fair, accurate and objective ways that neither include nor give credence to unsubstantiated, discriminatory claims and opinions.

I need to do some more reading on this, but my gut tells me that people in our community are fed up with the "not right now" approach of too many of so-called allies in elected offices and other leadership roles. 

The national scope is impressive and I believe this is the sort of call to action that will generate the rise of national leaders we need. 

On a local level, we need to pay attention to this as well.  Our progress has been duly noted, but the plain truth is that we do not have full civil rights, that we do leave people behind, that our grassroots has not been mobilized and that success has been defined by access to power rather than empowerment of the whole community.  We shouldn't have people comparing leaders to has been movie actors; we should have leaders on the forefront earning respect and loyalty with their accomplishments as well as their rhetoric.  We should DEMAND that of our leaders.  We should DEMAND something of which we can be proud, proud to share with our children and the larger community.  We should DEMAND more of ourselves - that we step in to fill power vacuums rather than hand it over to the highest bidder. 

We are about to enter the month commemorating the Stonewall Riots.  Not the Stonewall street party.  Not the official Stonewall drink.  Not the Stonewall meeting or picnic or church service.  Riots.  Action.  Resistance.  Demands for accountability.  Defiance.

The rest have their place, but I would charge that a "Visibility March" should not be the defining political moment of June.  We are missing something and that absent spark paves the way for more apathy and lethargy.  We cannot cajole, beg or shame people into action.  We must MUST find a way to make these principles real and personal for our community.  We must ask our leaders from the 80s and 90s to step forward and proactively cultivate that kind of leadership today.  We must realize that people need to be energized.

We need leadership that unites the gays and the lesbians and the bisexual men and women and the transmen and transwomen and the dykes and the queers and the questioning and so forth.  I contend that no one person in recent memory has been able or willing to tackle this.  I contend that all of you who read this little blog should take ownership of whatever draws you here and hold the current leaders accountable.  Yes, we should acknowledge what they are doing, but we must be clear as to what we expect. 

"Not right now" is no longer acceptable.  A new generation of leaders are rising to elected positions.  Take this opportunity to educate them.  Make sure they understand that the LGBTQ community is not solely defined by white privilege or socio-economic affluence.  Make sure they understand the real faces of our bisexual, transgender and queer-identified brothers and sisters.  Make sure they realize that we aren't interested in proclamations or gestures of support.

We demand they roll up their sleeve and get down to the task of building a more equitable community in Pittsburgh. Domestic partner benefits for County employees, appointments of openly LGBTQ individuals to boards and commissions -- these should be done deals.  We shouldn't be engaged in backroom negotiations to get what we deserve, what we have earned with our blood, sweat, tears and millions of tax dollars. 

I encourage you to enjoy Pridefest and the other activities.  Revel in the company of your community.  Celebrate your identity and enjoy the festivities.  Just remember that when June 15 rolls around, you go back to being a second-class citizens in this City, this County and this Commonwealth.

Yes, right now.  Yes, right here. 

View Article  Tales from a lesbian friday night

How utterly relaxing was today.  Breakfast at the Square Cafe -- we haven't been there since Thanksgiving!  Wow.  The decor has changed a bit, but the food remains awesome as does the service.  I'm happy to report that I resisted bacon, even when Ledcat ordered it.  I gritted my teeth and ate fruit plus the veggiest omelet in the world.  Did I mention that the Square has some of the best coffee in Pittsburgh?  Mmmm.

Then we decided to do one of those things we always discuss and never actually do.  A visit to Allegheny Cemetary made the cut so off we went.  We took a quick tour of the main building which is quite impressive and then took a long stroll through the hills and hollers exploring the headstones.  The mausoleums are quite breathtaking.  The oldest headstones we found dated back to 1780 something.  One mausoleum for the Winter family is Egyptian themed! 

We stayed long enough for me to get some sunburn, then headed back to the Northside for my first trip ever to Rita's Italian Ice.  We browsed the Farmer's Market, then stopped at home to tend to the woofers.  Dinner took us out to Taj Mahal on McKnight Road -- the food is great, but the service is usually lackluster.  The servers themselves hustle, hustle, hustle while the owner sits behind the counter and surveys.  But there simply aren't enough folks on the floor and you can wait as long as 15 minutes for someone to service you. 

We rounded off the evening with some shopping.  I got a giant Rubbermaid container, plus throw rugs.  I mean if that doesn't make for an exciting Friday night, I don't know what does!

From the LGBTQ world comes news that the Prop 8 decision should be handed down on Tuesday.  Stay tuned. 

 

 

View Article  Sneak peak

All is not as it seems with the City's Domestic Registry.  Stay tuned.

Congrats to the victors in the election.  I look forward to seeing Daniel Lavelle and Theresa Smith at Pridefest. I'm sure Natalia will be there.

Marriage amendment is drawing some of the old "Alabama in the middle" analysis of Pennsylvania.  Of the 14 municipalities with anti-discrimination ordinances, only two are in Western Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh is the only one in Southwestern Pennsylvania.  Methinks that analogy has been put out to pasture when it comes to the social conservatism flourishing in this region.

Others are positing Pennsylvania as a critical battleground for the advancement of equality.  The forward momentum of HB 300 is garnering national attention. 

Stay tuned.

I've been asked to speak at the Dyke March this year along with La 'Tasha Mayes from New Voices Pittsburgh.  I'm very flattered.  You may not always agree with what I have to say (or even often agree) but I hope you'll agree that it is important to have LGBTQ women's voices in cyberspace.  I'd love to see more queer women getting into the fray. 

View Article  Its baaaaack: Pennsylvania "Marriage Amendment" pokes its head up from the ground

From the Post-Gazette comes word that a Blair County State Senator, John Eichelberger, plans to hold a press conference Tuesday afternoon to announce the introduction of legislation which would amend the Pennsylvania constitution to protect heterosexual marriage from the gay agenda.

The bill needs to be approved in two successive legislative sessions and then put on the ballot as a referendum. Recent similar attempts have been increasingly unsuccessful.  While the 2006 legislation was defeated with a tricky "yes means no" maneuver, a 2008 bill never made it out of committee.

The bad news?  Well, this will suck much needed resources away from the battle to expand anti-discrimination protections on a statewide level and possibly derail the expansion of hate crimes legislation.  It is mad genius really because it rallies the Pat Toomey zealots around the battle cry of marriage and rustles up the latent social conservatism of many Democrats we've sent to Harrisburg.  It also gives Diane Gramley the chance to dust off her tired old arguments and hit the christo-bigots for donations to fill her coffers. 

What to do?  Be proactive.  First, join the Steel City Stonewall Democrats to add some muscle to the fight for the party.  Second, consider donations however modest to organizations such as the Women's Law Project which will be in the trenches on this issue. Third, make calls and ask your heterosexual network to do the same -- remind your legislators that passing the anti-discrimination bill is imperative for the social and economic future of Pennsylvania. 

Be attentive folks.  We are approaching the benchmark of six states providing marriage equality for our families.  That translates into stronger and healthier families as well as a stronger and healthier community.  Marriage equality is not about stripping faith communities of their right to bless what they choose.  It is about economic, legal and social justice for our community. 

Still, that is not our battle in Pennsylvania.  Our battle is to get HB 300 passed (I'm assuming Amanda and Dan have got our backs on the County level) without letting this derail us.

So step up, please.  Call your parents, your best friend, your cousin.  Ask them to contact their elected officials with the simple message:  We care about HB 300.  No need to mention marriage.  No need to discuss the amendment.  Simply let them know that voters of all orientations are paying attention and expect them to do the right thing.

I'm taking bets on how long it takes Gramley to issue a press release after the conference tomorrow.  Anyone?

View Article  Letter to the editor: Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Robert Perloff of Shadyside believes in Barack Obama as the "Do Ask, Do Tell" President:

President Barack Obama differs with the "don't ask, don't tell" homosexual policy of earlier presidencies. He seeks to remove homosexuality as a forbidden species and to respect and pay tribute to gays and lesbians who wish to serve in the nation's armed forces without denying or concealing their same-sex preference.

He proposes a "live-and-let-live" inclination toward homosexuality, accepting gays and lesbians as first-class citizens entitled to lead their private lives in ways that suit their beliefs and needs. The president is right to remove the stigma of homosexuality from gays and lesbians who, patriotically and courageously, don a military uniform on behalf of us all.

It is lovely sentiment this Monday morning.  It is also incorrect.

Obama is backsliding on rescinding DADT.  Recent comments by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs have slid from "repealing the policy" language to "change the policy" which does not bode well.  The President is also on the record switching from being pro-marriage equality, to the Jesus rhetoric and now hiding behind states' rights even as a tremendous case for "separate but equal" status is gaining momentum. 

Sadly, the President is not living up to Perloff's estimation. This may be a political reality, but it isn't fun being the football (anymore so than being a lifestyle).

 

View Article  Veggie Chronicles: Day 1

So, yesterday was my first meat free day leading up to the CHS Vegetarian Dinner on Tuesday, June 16, 2009. 

Since it was Saturday, it was pretty easy.  I often stop for a bite at Hoi Polloi which is a vegetarian restaurant so there wasn't much temptation.  We also went to Azul last night which has awesome meat free choices. We were celebrating Ledcat's birthday.

I wound up Friday with a meat frenzy bang, but it was unintentional.  Our cafe had turkey for lunch and I had a hotdog at the baseball game that night.  That was a lot of meat for me in one day (plus a few wings at the pre-game function). 

Yesterday, I essentially consumed cereal, black bean soup, a grilled cheese and a shrimp burrito for dinner.  A little light on the actual veggies, but no meat (yes, I'm continuing to eat seafood). 

I also bought a big bag of chicken for the freezer.  Sigh.  Does that use up my blackbean points?

 

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