Along with having one of the most lovely voices in popular music, lang's is also an outspoken one. She's come out against eating meat, and has taken stances on Tibetan and gay/lesbian rights.
"My political stances really stem from my natural lifestyle choices," she says. "It's not that I've gone out and looked for causes. They sort of came in style and I became a spokesperson for them. I don't really consider myself a political person. I consider myself someone who gravitates toward an alternative lifestyle, and they've become political topics."
While they may have turned off some fans and turned on others, what's important to lang is that she's honest with her audience.
"I think what it does in the long run, I think people know that they're getting the truth from me," she says. "In terms of longevity, people know where I'm coming from, and that in a way is more valuable to me."
Pittsburgh has a new high-end glossy media resource, CUE Pittsburgh. This is the third edition. I didn't write sooner because I was mistakenly informed it has gone under, but surprisingly that is not the truth. I say surprisingly because launching a new magazine in this economy seems risky, but what do I now? It is nice to read something that is not filled with bar ads and porno reviews.
One local gay owned business informed me that they had repeatedly tried to be listed in the OUT business guide to no avail, even after advertising. So they are happily committed to all future issue of CUE Pittsburgh.
If Pittsburgh can support another LGBT oriented media source, good for us. The content is a little male centric, but I have to admit that I was asked to contribute some lesbian material and I declined so I cannot be too critical.
I'm trying to find out where it is available. A Pleasant Present of course.
Ah, Diane Gramley is a wee bit upset that our midWestern cousins have determined that equality means true equality. At least in terms of state approved marriage. She's plays her strongest card to push for a marriage amendment in PA --- Iowa overturning a DOMA law. What she doesn't tell you is that, to my knowledge, no couples are contemplating suing the Commonwealth on DOMA, precisely because it would trigger a constitutional Amendment. We aren't stupid. Iowa doesn't allow for citizens initiated ballot initiatives. Diane is not happy.
Iowa Supreme Court?s Decision Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage Shows Need for PA Marriage Amendment (Harrisburg) ? Today?s unanimous decision by the Iowa Supreme Court to throw out that state?s Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) proves the warnings of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania (AFA of PA) and others have been valid. Those who hold that one man one woman marriage is the only true definition of marriage have been ridiculed when trying to push for the right of Pennsylvanians to vote on a Marriage Protect Amendment (MPA).
?One of the reasons thrown at us during the two attempts to get a ballot initiative before the people has been that ?we have a Defense of Marriage Act.? As we said during those times and reiterate today ? a DOMA is not enough,? Diane Gramley, president of the statewide organization, said in response to the news out of Iowa.
Increasingly traditional marriage is under attack in surrounding states . . . New Jersey homosexuals are seeking to expand the civil union law to legalized same-sex marriage; New York recognizes same-sex marriages from other states and countries. Additionally, homosexual activist groups have their eye on all of New England in their 2012 Project.
Iowa?s Supreme Court?s decision is yet further evidence of judicial tyranny. These justices are not just interpreting law, but rewriting that state?s marriage laws.
?Pennsylvania legislators can no longer hide behind the ?but we have a Defense of Marriage Act? line because that law is no longer safe. Iowa?s Supreme Court?s activism can be replicated in Pennsylvania ? all it will take is one PA Supreme Court decision to place us in the same situation as Iowa. Today?s Iowa decision shows our concerns are valid. Pennsylvanians need to be given the opportunity to vote on marriage,? further commented Gramley.
Especially now, the true colors of legislators will be revealed if they do not support a Marriage Protection Amendment. It will reveal that they simply do not have the best interest of Pennsylvania and her children in mind. Through all this great social experiment of so-called same-sex marriage, it will be the children who suffer the most.
In Gramley's world, "gay marriage" is why the Boy Scouts lost their publicly funded building in Philadelphia. She's also sure that men "who think they are women" will lurk in restrooms and dressing rooms to traumatize innocent children. My experience in most restrooms and dressing rooms is that children are much more fascinated by things to play with -- hanger battles, repeatedly starting the automatic hand dryers and other such mischief of unruly children whose good Christian parents don't supervise find to amuse themselves.
I also continue to marvel how Gramley can speak for Jesus, but rarely asks anyone to pray. Isn't that their most powerful weapon?
Kathi Boyle, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, wrote in to the Post-Gazette to underscore the importance of a comprehensive, realistic approach to sex ed.
I agree completely with Stacie Murphy's March 29 Forum piece, "Quit Clowning Around," regarding sex education for teens. Abstinence is a wonderful goal, but the reality of how most young people experience the world is very different. If we send our young citizens out into the dating world without knowledge, we risk tremendous costs to their future, to the futures of all those who must care for them if they come home with a sexually transmitted disease and/or a pregnancy, and to the health-care system that must try to cure/treat them.
The one thing that always irks me about the right-wing abstinence talks is how girls save themselves for their future husbands "for marriage," not to save themselves for themselves. They should grow up knowing that their bodies belong to them, not to be bartered in as an offering to the man who will value them for being pure. It is just a ridiculous standard and completely dehumanizing to girls. Save yourselves from STDs, pregnancy and the emotional trauma of becoming sexually active before you are mature enough to do so, but do it for youself -- not some faceless suitor. Or your Dad for Christ's sake. Those Purity Balls are just creepy beyond belief.
Anyway, Kathi's letter is practical and reminds how relevant PATF remains in our community. Plus, she puts her money where her pen is.
Of you as a parent would like our agency to meet with you, and/or your teenager, to explain STDs and risk reduction we would be happy to do so. A teen's future can be determined by one mistake. Please make sure your teen is prepared for the grown-up world he or she will sometimes cross into.
Just in case you are wondering what Pennsylvan's Christian-flavored bigots (haters, not the lovers) have been up to:
On HB 300 (yawn). More ignorant appeals to religious discrimination. I certainly don't expect Catholic Charities to hire homosexuals. I do expect them to comply with the law if they accept public funding. This is about GREED, not religious freedom. It is about POWER and CONTROL by enforcing their view of the way things should be on the rest of us. Also note, that Ms. Gramley asks for donations, but not prayers. Hmmm. So which do you think is more important to them?
This article notes that Representative Dan Frankel, the prime sponsor of this bill (H.B. 300), is working on an amendment to offer an exemption to religious organizations. This will not fix this bill. The effort behind the bill is to validate ? through force of law ? the homosexual lifestyle. A ?religious exemption? will not 1.) protect Christian business owners and landlords from being forced to comply with this law; 2.) protect the Boy Scouts from being banned from using government buildings and parks; 3.) protect department stores from being forced to allow men who think they are women to use the women?s fitting room to try on clothing; 4.) protect county/city pools from being required to permit sexually confused men from using the women?s locker/shower facilities; 5.) prevent a judge from using this so-called anti-discrimination law from striking our state Defense of Marriage Act and legalizing same-sex marriage. Again, a ?religious exemption? will not fix this bill; but will only pave the way for passage of a very bad bill because some lawmakers concerns over religious organizations will be addressed. Once something like this is passed, the religious exemption can easily be dropped in a year or two. H.B. 300 is still in the House Appropriations Committee, but no action is scheduled for this week. Please contact your State Representative again and ask him or her to oppose any ?religious exemption? amendment because that will not make H.B. 300 a good bill. Use the five reasons listed above. Also, ask your State Representative to oppose the bill as a whole. Click here for contact information. If you do not know who your State Rep is, please key in your nine-digit zip code in the upper right hand corner of the above linked page. Thanks, Diane Gramley Opponents include the American Family Association of Pennsylvania, which says the bill would pave the way for the legalization of same-sex marriage and force religious organizations to change policies regarding homosexuals. Many Republican lawmakers from central Pennsylvania are among the opponents.
On abortion. I include the whole release so you can pick up the phone and do the exact opposite.
AFA of PA ACTION ALERT
April 2, 2009
1.) Public Comment Period for HHS Conscience Rules Ends April 9th n Ask Senators to Support Coburn Amendment 2.) Have You Sent Your Red Envelope Yet? 1.) President Obama is expected to rescind the collection of new regulations the Bush administration put on the books to provide better enforcement of three federal laws making sure medical staff and facilities are not forced to participate in abortions. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is taking public comment through April 9th. Planned Parenthood is directing thousands of comments supporting the rescission of the Provider Conscience Clause. Several steps have been taken to counter this and you can help too. a.) In anticipation of the President?s rescission of the conscience clause, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) is sponsoring an amendment that would protect the right of conscience for health care workers. His budget amendment "ensures that the funds made available through the budget?s health care reserve fund will not be used to violate the conscience of health care providers." b.) Additionally, Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Pennsylvania?s Senator Bob Casey sent President Obama a letter last week telling him the Provider Conscience Clause should remain. These are the only Democratic members of the Senate who are not strong abortion advocates. c.) You can send a public comment to HHS, see below for instruction. 2.) There has been an ongoing campaign to send a message to President Barack Obama. The message? Abortion kills! Have you sent your red envelope yet? Here?s what to do: a.) Get a red envelope b.) Address the empty envelope as follows: President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington, DC 20500 c.) Place this message on the outside: This envelope represents one child who died in abortion. It is empty because that life was not allowed to offer anything to the world. Life begins with conception. d.) Stamp it, mail it, and invite others to do the same. If concerned, these are additional steps you can take:
2.)Contact Senator Casey at (202) 224-6324 or toll free: (866) 802-2833 or use the webform at casey.senate.gov/contact/ Thank him for the letter sent to President Obama last week telling him the Provider Conscience Clause should remain. Also, ask him to support the Coburn Amendment to the budget bill.
---- Click here for contact information to district offices and fax numbers.
3.) Here?s how you submit public comment to HHS. Click here to read the actual rescission order. Click here to read some talking points from the Christian Medical Association that can be used. For more information on this issue, you can read Newt Gingrich and Rick Tyler?s article ?Obama?s Attack on Medical Civil Liberties.?
n Comments could include postcards, emails and letters highlighting the importance of protecting the choices of healthcare providers who oppose abortion and the need for regulations to implement laws that protect the freedom of conscience. If conscience laws are not implemented and enforced, health care providers may be driven out of the practice of medicine thereby only adding to healthcare shortages, and reducing or eliminating women?s options to choose pro-life medical care. (see the rescission order linked above for contact information.) n However, the best and fastest way to submit comments is via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org (Include specific examples in your comments, if possible.) NOTE: Comments must be submitted by April 9th.
4.) Don?t forget you can now listen to Diane Gramley?s weekly radio program ?American Family Focus on PA Issues? on our website. Click here. This week?s guest is Dr. Alan Keyes and we are talking about the Tea Parties taking place around the nation. We also talk a little about his lawsuit questioning Barack Obama?s eligibility to be President.
5.) Feel free to forward this alert to other concerned Pennsylvanians. If this alert is being forwarded to you by a friend, please feel free to sign up by clicking here.
6.) Please consider supporting the ongoing work of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania. Make an online donation.
In His service,
Diane Gramley President American Family Association of PA
The American Family Association of PA is a pathetic representation of Christianity. The organizations is fueled by pompous self-righteous bigots who believe that theirs is the only way and foster a continued sense of fear and loathing for that which is different. They have no interest in understanding the world around them, only in controlling it to fit their worldview.
The ER finale was pretty good. I think the opening of Dr. Carter's medical center was a bit over the top, but bringing in Mark Green's daughter was mad genius. I also thought it was weird that Dr. Carter practiced medicine at County because I thought you need privileges and insurance to practice. There a touching plotline that reminds us that we carry the legacy of the AIDS epidemic twenty years after the 80s and yet another example of a gay character that just blends in with the others.
Q: But most people do know you from "Will and Grace". Do you think the success of that show helped promote understanding of the gay community?
A: I don't think we saw the series as having that kind of social relevance at the time. We didn't even push the gay side of it that much in that first season thanks to some pressure from the network. I think the thing that people didn't see coming was the popularity it would have in syndication which means that 12-year-olds are watching it. That's the real effect that show is going to have. Kids are going to grow up watching a show where Jack and Will are just part of their daily lives.
Q: Were you surprised by the passage of the Proposition 8 in California, which eliminated same-sex couples' right to marry?
A: I think our kids will find the whole thing as strange and embarrassing as racism. But I think the prejudice is going away even though we're a country that twice elected somebody based on a very right wing ideal. Suddenly, we're lightening up. I think Prop 8 is the last gasp of a dying way of thinking. I do believe, without sounding too pompous, that "Will and Grace" is a part of changing it all.
Another event from Pittsburgh's Newest queer group, the Dykes on Bikes. This is their third benefit in less than six months. And you thought they were just a PrideFest contingent. Ha! Check out this event with gay comedy, free drinks and the chance to make meaningful impact.
Oh do those Biker Dykes ever stop? Not in April!! The Pittsburgh Dykes on Bikes? are planning a night of laughter and seriousness with the Stonewall Democrats. Dykes on Bikes? past fundraisers have been parties filled with wet tee shirts or butch/femme goodness; this next event will focus on supporting Pennsylvania House Bill 300 for important protections for our community.
Friday April 17th, the Pittsburgh Chapter of Dykes on Bikes? will be giving a free jello shot to people who provide a personal letter of support to their state representative for HB 300. If you also sign up to join Steel City Stonewall Democrats, we'll give you another jello shot. If jello shots are not the right motivation for supporting HB 300, we'll have other fun non-alcoholic consumables. This offer is while supplies last.
If you are not sure how to find your state representative or what to say in a letter to them, the Steel City Stonewall Democrats will help you out during the evening. We'll have pens, paper, and we'll take care of the postage also. All are welcome to bring a letter or prepare one that night with us.
Letters of support for HB 300 are serious business, so to keep everyone in good spirits; Cattivo has a night of laughter planned. The Dykes of Hazzard comedy tour will be performing their comedy, music and burlesque. So when the fight for equality brings you down, the Dykes of Hazard will be there to pick you up.
Finally, let's not forget those DOB shooter girls will be selling the remaining jello shots for a charity of their choice. Come on out and party with the Pittsburgh Dykes on Bikes? and support HB 300.
Where: Cattivo When: Friday April 17th Cover: $5 for the Dykes of Hazard
Today's Post-Gazette examines the lack of momentum on plans for a City-County merger, mainly due to a failure to act on the part of the state Legislature. You can read all those exciting details about debt reduction and political machinations here.
I live in the City and my partner works for the City. I also own a house in the suburbs which I rent out so I have multiple investments in how this plays out, especially in terms of how I pay taxes.
However, my biggest concern is another dialogue that isn't happening -- the disparity between benefits and protections for City employees versus those of the County employees, Specifically, City employees have access to Domestic Partner benefits and civil protections in terms of their job. County employees enjoy neither benefit.
The merger of the 911 call centers is proof positive of a group of City employees LOSING benefits and legal protection to further political ambition of Dan Onorato and Luke Ravenstahl. Sorry, but let's call it what it is. Onorato could offer those dp benefits with the stroke of a pen. It is not controversial. It IS cost effective in terms of recruiting the best and the brightest to any level position -- there are plenty of unmarried heterosexual couples who might take advantage of these benefits, too. According to the City Personnel Department, there are more heterosexual couples signed up than LGBT couples. It was 60:5 last time I checked.
If Onorato would offer the benefits and work with Council to pass the anti-discrimination legislation, he would win a lot of good will among City employees (and their councilpersons) for the merger. And he might just overcome the perception that we more backward than 13 other Pennsylvania municipalities.
Or he could continue to ignore the questions as he has done with the cyber town hall meeting questions related to LGBT issues. He's clearly the most powerful man in Southwestern Pennsylvania because none of our champions can persuade him to move one iota on these issues. None of our media outlets seem inclined to cover this aspect. I guess once the rallies are over and the sound bytes from passionate people on both sides of the issue are over, it just isn't interested. I can see that. There isn't much a headline in "Dan Onorato Won't Answer Questions."
City Council President Doug Shields and City Controller Mike Lamb have publicly pledged to block any further mergers until this is addressed. Still,
On the drawing board is a merger of the city's financial management system into the county's -- a move that would immediately save the city the hundreds of thousands of dollars it spends yearly on a payroll service.
Any employees impacted by this? I'll find out and let you know.
I encourage you to contact your City and County Councilpersons and remind them that stripping City employees of benefits is not progress. Mr. Onorato can't be so unreasonable and invincible, can he?
This is not random. Iraq is set to execute more than 100 people beginning next week. Among them are individuals convicted of homosexuality. Groups from the UN to Amnesty International are intervening on the basis that the trials may not have been carried out appropriately.
In a compromise, according to Newsday, legislators will allow churches and church-controlled properties to deny use of their facilities for same-sex marriage ceremonies if they oppose the practice on religious grounds. Individual clergy members may also refuse to perform same-sex marriages, but state actors, such as justices of the peace, must comply with the law.
I think faith communities should have this right everywhere. They shouldn't be forced to marry anyone. That's not helping the cause. This seems like an obvious aspect of the law rather than a negotiated compromise. Now I do not think someone representing the state should be able to duck the law on the grounds of their personal beliefs.
Over in Vermont, the Governor was promised to veto a marriage bill, prompting an onslaught of mail. According to the AP, letters to the Governor are running 60% in favor of the bill, 40% opposed. The Governor believes the existant civil unions legislation is enough.
I was facebooking with a nameless colleague about finding interesting people to follow on twitter. I'm following Ashton Kutcher based on the recommendations of Television Without Pity. I also follow Ellen but she's pretty quiet. Ashton is fairly active.
Locally, I follow my friends and a few politicians. I have to admit a lot of it is ho hum. I don't care about the fact that you are heading out the door. I want the juicy details from the conversations you have. The ones that you have to stop to capture before trudging on down the block.