PG Saturday Diary: A Proud Father, Gay African-American and future minister speaks

Be sure to read this piece from the Post-Gazette Saturday diary:

In this miracle we call America, my own life is a testament to promises made, and kept.

I studied and worked hard. I have a good job. I worked in Congress for a well-known senator as the Reagan revolution began, one of only a handful of black Senate staffers at the time.

None of the blessings I've enjoyed would have been possible had it not been for those whose blood was spilled in Alabama in that summer of 1963.

Now, as a gay African American, a proud father and, I hope, a minister some day, I stand second to none when it comes to having pride in my country and what it has achieved. Mr. Obama's election reminded me of that.

The promise that now lives in me has been passed on to my children — my beautiful “rainbow” sons — two of them African American, one Puerto Rican and one Irish.

This week has been filled with much turmoil in the LGBTQ community as we struggle to reconcile the hope of an Obama presidency with the voter support of four anti-gay constitutional amendments.  Bigotry has reared its ugly head along with ignorance, good intentions and enough blame to go around and around.  At one point, I had to stop reading my email because the finger-pointing is just too much. 

Sadly, there has been no online discussion on the local level.  The local LGBTQ advocates have issued no statements or email messages or anything of that sort.  There has been no calls to action or invitations to reflect on how we — the collective we — can move forward. I haven't really seen this level of analysis in the other local blogs.  

Which is better?  To remain mum or to expose the ugly face of racism in the queer community?  It is great that Melissa Etheridge isn't going to pay California State taxes.  That'll show 'em.  And people are boycotting Rosie's family cruises b/c she didn't ante up.  Wow.  I shouldn't be so dismissive of people working through their anger and frustration, but the lack of self-awareness on the collision of race, ethnicity and sexual orientation is sad.

We are fortunate that men like Don step foward to proudly claim all of their cultural identity and remind us that our community is diverse.  Period.  We have to come to terms with that and find a way to build bridges with constituencies that might support a statewide marriage amendment.  We have to make sure the Don Hammonds of the region are sitting at the table when we talk with the Ricky Burgesses of the region.  Not that Reverend Burgess is a bigot, but he is opposed to gay marriage and we have to be willing as a community to enter that uncomfortable territory to dialogue around these issues and find our common ground. 

Do we have what it takes? 

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  • Because of technical glitches this e-mail notice did not go through to local people on the MarriageEqualityPA member list. I am therefore posting it here………
    The national news regarding the outcome of Proposition 8 in California, the passage of marriage amendments to the constitutions in Florida and Arizona and the roll back of adoption and foster care rights in Arkansas may have left you discouraged and angry. There has been and is, however, alot going on in Pennsylvania and many ways you can mobilize your energy to stay involved in the fight for full equality under the law. Here is a breakdown of what you need to know about Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh:
    1) First off, take a moment to once again realize and celebrate the fact that we blocked a marriage amendment being on the ballot during this 2008 election here in Pennsylvania. Our efforts over the past four years really paid off as you can be sure if an amendment had been on our own ballot, that would have been used to pull out conservative votes and the outcome of the national election may have been different.
    2) Secondly, as I have said before, here in Pennsylvania I use the metaphor of building a house. Right now we are putting in the foundation. States that even begin to realistically think about marriage equality all have created one thing first…..non-discrimination protections on a statewide level. Here in Pennsylvania we don't have that yet….it's still legal in many parts of the state to refuse to rent to someone if you think they are glbt, to refuse to offer service in a restaurant and in many companies to fire them, again just because they are or you think they are glbt. The Value All Families coalition has been and will continue to work to pass non-discrimination protections here in Pennsylvania. Go to http://www.equalitypa.org and sign up for action alerts if you haven't yet done so. That is the best way to stay informed and to find out what you can do to help build the foundation for equality here in PA. There are also efforts to create such an ordinance on an Allegheny County level so do stay tuned.
    3) Thirdly, your stories and presence in the everday lives of people really do make a difference. We are creating change through education here in PA. The seemingly small ways you let people know of the reality of your life truly does make a difference. I just finished reviewing the preliminary results of the deliberative poll which occured here in PA on marriage equality issues. Go to http://www.caae.phil.cmu.edu/caae/dp and click through to the results on the “Marriage in Pennsylvania” poll. There is fascinating information on what moves those “middle ground” people to change their minds.
    4) We will continue to work for equality here in PA through legislative efforts and education as listed above. It's a relay race and we are simply starting the next lap. They can take away our legal rights for a time but they can never take away our dignity and the reality of our lives and ability to love. Hold your head high even if your heart aches.
    6) Do remember I have notified membership that due to my work schedule and other factors I am needing other people to take on a leadership role in our efforts. Please contact me if you are available and interested.
    -Dana Elmendorf
    e-mail: pa-southwest@marriageequality.org

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