Last night, it was a real thrill to be standing in the crowd at the Federation of Teachers and watch as Bill Peduto was confirmed as the Democratic nominee for office of Mayor of Pittsburgh. We arrived early and I couldn’t stop smiling. It was a very unique mix of people watching the numbers on a screen, phones, laptops, tablets and some simply asking.
Why is this LGBTQ history?
First, on the podium among the New Pittsburgh coalition are openly LGBTQ folks.
Second, I took this photo of Ledcat with longtime activisit, Billy Hileman. Billy helped to organize the March on Washington in the early 1990′s. He organized ACT! Up and PrideFest and a newspaper (Planet Q). He was at the table negotiating non-discrimination ordinances and domestic partner benefits in the 1990s (and the 2000′s.) Billy has worked a long time to elect a true ally to this office. An ally with LGBTQ advisors and friends and supporters. (Ledcat worked with Billy on some of these things in the 1990′s.)
I saw many more folks at the event who knew that for us LGBTQA (allies!), this means we will stop resting on the laurels of what took place in 1996 and start focusing on municipal equality work that creates a truly vibrant and strong and diverse community. We know we ALL have a friend in the Mayor’s office (or we will in January), not those of us with access and cash to donate.
The General Election is in November and Bill won’t take office until January 2014. I choose to look at that as six months of anticipation!
To those who say – wow, we elected another ally, big deal – I say that YES it is a big deal. Bill hasn’t had to explain his “evolution” on LGBTQ issues, he hasn’t suddenly shown up at PrideFest, or sought the support the LGBTQ endorsements. Bill believes in equality and he’s walked that walk for a long, long time. His team taught me about some of the latest municipal best practices, especially with regard to fiscal matters — he understands that a $40k investment in domestic benefit tax offsets is less than the replacement cost of losing one LGBTQ employee who leaves the City. And he understands why the tax structure on dp benefits is unfair and unjust.
Yesterday, we made history. And I’m guessing we’ll continue to do so – I’m guessing that one of those folks on stage (ahem, Ed Gainey) may be our first black Mayor and another (ahem, Natalia Rudiak) might be the next female Mayor or Chief Executive.
We said Peduto!