Specter’s Switch

There's so much LGBTQ analysis of this news that my head is spinning.  People are celebrating, people are leery, people don't know what's going to happen. 

Specter switched parties.  If Al Franken is seated, it gives the Democrats a filibuster proof majority (60).  Good stuff can happen.  Good stuff for LGBTQ persons might happen. 

Specter isn't going to necessarily be a champion of LGBTQ legislation.  Here's his record per the HRC.  He rates a 67 on the HRC Congressional Scorecard.  In 2004, his rating was 50. His vote played a part in getting the Federal Marriage Amendment to the floor.  His stance on the Employee Free Choice Act is deplorable (he's opposed and reiterated that yesterday in his announcement).

So it is a mixed bag at best.  Still, those of us in this region of Pennsylvania aren't unfamiliar with the need to work with socially conservative Democrats to advance the gay agenda.  Specter's helps with the balance of power, but it signifies a need to redouble the LGBTQ influence in the Democrat party.  I think this is going to be a real challenge for the Steel City Stonewall Democrats and the Liberty City Stonewall Democrats — keeping open channels with the mainstream party, but holding true to full equality. 

I attended a Democratic event this weekend, sponsored by the Vice-President of Steel City.  Those in attendance were Patrick Dowd, Kevin McCarthy, Hugh McGough, Joe Williams and Barbara Ernsberger.  Check out the Steel City slate of endorsed Democrats

The story that struck me the most?  Joe Williams' story about his meeting for the ACDC endorsement.  Rather than question him on issues or his record, they asked him how to improve relations with the African-American community.  Clearly racism is alive and well in the ACDC, even if it is embedded in a cloak of concern about diversity. 

Joe Williams has been at every Steel City event I've attended in recent memory.  He has earned our support.

The other story is the tale of Barbara Ernsberger who is running for the Commonwealth Court.  She's an attorney that has taken on multiple corporations in court.  She had to seek the endorsement before a group of lawyers she's opposed in court.  I may be naive, but that seems highly unfair.  I'm sure it is part of the local Democratic Machine, but it seems there should be some modicum of impartiality.  Anyone who challenges Wal-Mart has a lot of cred in my opinion. 

So what happens after the primary when the ACDC puts pressure on Steel City to fall in line with the party endorsement?  True, Luke did announce the impending formation of the LGBT Advisory Council.  Does that warrant an endorsement?  IMHO, it depends on the composition of the council.  I know of one incredibly qualified and respected by County leaders person who was not invited.  So I guess I'll just wait and see if its business as usual in terms of Mayoral advisors or a real change we can believe in.  Steel City may feel otherwise, but I'm curious how much power the membership has over the endorsement for the General Election. 

Getting back to Specter, I think the debate over meaning for the LGBTQ community reflects the general debate in the Democrat Party here in SW Pennsylvania.  The answer is always going to be personal contact with real, live LGBTQ persons and families.  Understanding our issues in the context of our lives is critical to achieve action.  This news simply adds another person to that list. 


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  • I don't understand what you are saying about Ernsberger. She received an unqualified by the Allegheny County Bar Association. That seems reason enough not to endorse her. And one of her opponents, Dan Bricmont, who was Highly Recommended has “taken on multiple corporations” in court. His entire history, for 20 years, has been to fight for workers rights against corporations. And Linda Judson, who got a Not Recommended by the ACBA has spent her career defending corporations, including it appears from her firms website, AIG. So I don't think Ernsberger's history of who she has gone against in court has anything to do with why anyone would or wouldn't support her. Also, Ernsberger has only appeared before the Commonwealth court once, where as Dan Bricmont has been before them SCORES of times. Its not even an indictment on her character or competency over all to say she isn't qualified for THIS position, its a comment on what her experience is.
    So while I agree the machine often can be blamed for mucking things up, sometimes they also actually endorse a competent candidate (Michael Lamb anyone?) And to be clear, I am supporting Dan, I am biased, but aren't we all? I am supporting him because he is the most qualified, the most competent and the most progressive candidate on the ballot.

  • I always find it interesting when Anonymous people pony up the facts. How much can you support Dan Bricmont if you don't sign your comment? I don't recall Bricmont seeking the Stonewall Democrat endorsement, but I could be wrong. If you correct me, please provide your name and email or a link so I can verify that fact.
    I had an opportunity to talk with Ernsberger's campaign staff at length during the recent Dessert for Democrats event. I'm convinced. Perhaps if you or your guy had attended this event (or others) to talk with me in person, I might be unconvinced, but I'm not going to debate candidate qualifications with an anonymous person.
    Feel free to email me sue at sitnscoop dot com with this information.

  • Sue, I wasn't actually referring the the Stonewall Endorsements. I don't know why Dan didn't attend your event but he did turn in a questionnaire to a board member, just very late. Anyway what I was really commenting on wasn't Stonewall's endorsement of anyone, but the claim that Ernsberger wasn't endorsed by the ACBA because she went against corporations in court. THAT is just not a logical argument. Here are the ACBA endorsements: http://www.acba.org/ACBAsite/media/PressReleases051909.asp.
    As you can see Dan Bricmont received a rating of Highly Recommended and has spent TWENTY YEARS going against corporations. And Linda Judson, who represents primarily Corporations as I understand from her firm's website, was not recommended. If you'd like proof that Bricmont has appeared before the Commonwealth Court on behalf of workers against corporations scores of times, that information exists but I'd have to get it from his campaign manager, I'm not sure whether its a link or a document. That was really my quibble.
    You are also correct about posting anonymously. I don't generally do that, and it wasn't really intentional. I just ran out of time and thought I had to create a user name and password, though I see now that isn't the case. Since I am not making up things or stating anything that can't be verified I wasn't overly concerned about taking the extra time to create an account to verify my identity. But I am Jennifer England and I am helping the campaign. If you would like to talk to Dan, or conduct an email chat, I can arrange that. Even just for your own personal use, not on behalf of Stonewall. I'll also email you Dan's press kit. For the record, I am being paid, its at a very very discounted rate, and I'm doing it because I think Dan is a qualified, principled, and progressive candidate and would be a strong asset to the PA Judiciary.

  • Thanks for sharing this information. The Stonewall endorsement is important to me. Your candidate turning in the questionnaire late and not turning out for the endorsement shows a disregard for the endorsement. Period. I understand campaigns are tough, etc. But each candidate establishes priorities and clearly the LGBTQ community's support is not a priority for your man.
    I'm certainly not saying that the endorsement is the only factor to consider b/c a lot of qualified candidates don't get it. But they seek it. And, frankly, since this is a statewide election I will now go look at the endorsements from the Liberty City Stonewall Democrats and the candidates who submitted questionnaires.
    Dan Onorato and Luke Ravenstahl are learning that the LGBTQ community has a little muscle to flex. Other candidates should absorb that lesson. I have never even heard of Dan Bricmont until you posted. Now that I know he didn't put real effort into our endorsement, I'll seek other candidates to support. Maybe I'll come back to him, maybe not.
    Thanks for commenting. I'll check out the links.

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