Jen missed her daughter’s 8th grade graduation to advocate for all families, including yours. Those are the sacrifices advocates and activists make every day – and their families make, too – to create a more equal society.
Save the date! Monday, June 3, will be the 8th Annual Blogging for LGBT Families Day, hosted right here at Mombian—but powered by your blogs! Anyone who wants to post in support of LGBT families is welcome. The event is a time for us to share stories and make connections both within and outside the LGBT community, rejoicing in both our similarities and our diversity.
All bloggers are welcome so please consider lending your voice to support LGBT families. For more information, visit host site Mombian.
PROBLEMS AT THE POLLS What if I’m not on the voter list? First, ask the poll worker to check the list again or to look at the supplemental list, which is a list of recent changes to the voting rolls. Offer to spell your name. If a poll worker tells you that you are at the wrong polling place, ask for help finding the right polling place. You can also call your county board of elections or look up your polling place at votespa.com. If you believe you’re at the right polling place but your name isn’t on the voter list, ask for a provisional ballot.
What is a provisional ballot? A provisional ballot is used to record your vote when there’s a question about your eligibility. It will only be counted if election officials determine after the election that you were eligible to vote. You should use a provisional ballot only if there is no other way for you to vote. A very high percentage of provisional ballots in Pennsylvania are rejected on technical grounds.
What if the voting machine is broken? Report all broken equipment to 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) and to your county board of elections. If half or more of the voting equipment is not working, poll workers must allow you to vote with a paper ballot known as an emergency paper ballot.
What if someone tries to intimidate or harass me?
Tell a poll worker right away. If the poll worker is the problem, tell a poll watcher, call your county board of elections, or call the Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683).
And finally – here are the rules about “poll watchers” – that’s the folks with the campaign literature at the polling places. They are with the campaigns NOT the board of elections.
People canNOT hand out literature (this includes wearing tee shirts, buttons or hats) INSIDE the polling place. You can take whatever you want with you for your personal use, but you cannot hand it to someone else once you are inside.
If you see someone inside distributing literature, just use common sense – what message does that send to you?
I was recently asked to contribute to a compendium piece in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on “big ideas” for the next Mayor of Pittsburgh. Other contributors include economist Chris Briem, Cheryl Hall-Russell from Hill House Assocation, Jon Rubin from CMU and Leah Lizarondo of “The Brazen Kitchen” blog and more!
Image: Daniel Marsula, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Here’s what I submitted:
Sue Kerr,editor, Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents
Address LGBTQ equality with standout reforms that protect everyone and create an inclusive workplace culture to attract new business development — reforms similar to those in Philadelphia and those found in the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index. These would include:
1) A tax credit to companies that provide domestic partner health insurance coverage. 2) A tax offset on city employees’ domestic partner health insurance which is currently counted as pre-tax income, unlike family coverage for married employees. 3) Reduced barriers for low-income LGBTQ families to join the domestic partner registry. 4) Gender-neutral bathrooms required for new construction or renovation of city facilities. 5) A new office of LGBTQ or diversity affairs. 6) LGBTQ community members recruited for public safety roles as well as board and council appointments.
The focus is on creating opportunity, not solely preventing discrimination or responding to discriminatory treatment.
These are not new-to-me ideas. I’ve come across a few in various articles, reports and white papers on municipal policy. While it is good to have local support for issues such as marriage equality, it is equally important to educate our municipal electeds about the many ways in which they can actually create a more equal society, not just support one.
In November 2013, the Human Rights Campaign will issue a follow-up “Municipal Equality Index” report which will not only include the three more densel LGBTQ populated regions in the state, but also the largest cities. So while Pittsburgh is *not* among the former, it should be part of the equation in 2013. That’s clearly too soon for the new Mayor to have an impact (he won’t even be the Mayor!) but it will set a clear benchmark for him – a chance to look critically at our equality issues as they are defined in 2013, not 1999.
We’ve reached a point where measuring a candidate’s stance on domestic partner benefits, non-discrimination laws and marriage equality are not sufficient for the local level. I was a little shocked to realize that Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ population was not large enough to include us in the 2012 edition of the index – we’ve lost LGBTQ residents. Nonetheless, we’ll now have something to start from and November allows both Steel City Stonewall and the Gertrude Stein Club ample time to revisit their candidate questionnaires for the primary in 2014.