Onorato favors "civil unions" but denies his gay employees health insurance for their families

Yeah, I'm that impressed with the tip I received last night that Onorato had publicly stated his support for civil union at a rally in York, PA yesterday afternoon.  I confirmed with a campaign source, but I don't have any further details. 

This is a long way from the candidate who simply refused to answer the question of marriage equality on the Steel-City Stonewall questionnaire during his last bid for County Chief Executive. (h/t 2 Political Junkies).  The original questionnaire is not available online. 

Discuss your thoughts on marriage equality for same-sex couples; while the position you seek may not directly affect this issue, it is important for us to understand your perspective.


Over the past decade, government money has been used to promote “abstinence-only-until marriage” programs in schools. Even though same-sex couples still cannot legally marry in Pennsylvania, to qualify for government support, schools must teach that any sexual relationships outside of marriage is “likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects.” Do you support or oppose abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula?


Discuss your thoughts on government's role in shaping school curricula for sex education. Do you have any thoughts on the formation of gay-straight student alliances within the public school systems?


Another equality issue confronting our country is the issue of abortion. Please discuss your position on abortion and any thoughts you have on the current abortion debate.


So, yes, progress.  I understand the campaign will be releasing a LGBT position paper on Friday which again is some progress, as they could default to the upcoming Steel-City questionnaire. 

But … come on, people.  Still no domestic partner benefits?  I am being told behind the scenes to be patient, just wait and it will happen.  I assume it will happen in time for the primary, especially with the potential for Cyril Wecht tossing his hat into the ring.  Not that I know Cyril Wecht's position on gay issues, simply that Onorato will need to capture as many of us D's as possible. 

But … come on, people. Stating your support for civil unions does not offset failure to take action on an LGBT issue within your current realm of influence. 

The fascination of the emegence of a homo-tolerant version of Onorato from the cocoon of the “good Catholic boy” breeding ground of Pittsburgh is not nearly as significant as the number of LGBT partners who continue to lack health insurance because their boss doesn't think they are worth the effort. 

Civil unions are great campaign promises, but Allegheny County's LGBT community deserves action. 


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  • Again, I think the LGBT community needs to make sure that this newfound support for civil unions–and not equal marriage–is not some attempt to market himself to the queers in Philadelphia he knows he needs to win the governorship. We have to look at his past and present moves and see if he is truly sincere. And there a lot of factors out there that make me suspicous.

  • Onorato's campaign is counting on the communication gap between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia's gay communities.
    Hoeffel's team is doing a terrible job of connecting him with the gay community in Pittsburgh. Kraus supports Wagner. The bar owners and the bathhouse boys are endorsing Onorato. Even Sue seems to be more anti-Onorato than pro-Hoeffel.
    Let's vote Wecht and see what happens.

  • Take a look at this post on Pittsburgh Progress. http://progresspittsburgh.net/2010/01/11/hoeffel-onorato-battling-for-progressive-vote/
    Onorato knows he needs to win progressive votes, but he doesn't have a progressive “track record” as someone said above and that extends beyond gay rights.
    Hoeffel is the progressive is in the race. Onorato is caught between a hugely popular, conservative Democrat (Wagner) and his own quasi-conservative record so he's spinning himself as some sort of pragmatic progressive.
    I'm not sure if his gay supporters swallowed the kool-aid or are just backing the horse they believe will win so they have an inside track in the next Administration (bad metaphors, huh?).
    Either way, Hoeffel's Western PA team really do need to mobilize the queer base or they will be trampled by those with power and influence. I take the comment about my being anti-Onorato into consideration. I mean I am anti-Governor Onorato, but clearly I can do better promoting the candidate I support. Thanks for the reminder.
    So now let's see if Team Hoeffel is paying attention.

  • What's wrong with backing the winning horse? Why do you hold gay business owners to a higher standard than you hold your beloved Bruce Kraus? He supports Wagner.

  • The counter is a nice touch. I bet GVH is spitting mad that you won't fall in lockstep. You better be careful that the gay boys don't beat you with the bone Onorato is tossing.

  • Assume Onorato is sincere, that he has grown through his contact with LGBT advisors and supporters or whatever.
    He's been in public office for nearly 20 years. That's a very long time to represent LGBT and unmarried heterosexual families without making the leap to offering domestic partner benefits. It isn't even a very controversial position in 2010.
    Can we afford to elect a Governor who is inching along this slowly on equality issues? Of course, it is worse if he is playing word games to win elections, but just giving him the benefit of the doubt — we are not in a good place when THIS is one of the progressive guys.
    I would have been more impressed if Onorato had made public comments on HB 300 and the hate crimes legislation. That would show he's paying attention to the status quo of LGBT issues, not just the trendy topics.
    Where will Onorato be in another 20 years? Can your family wait that long?

  • Onorato on countless occasions has been in support of HB 300. He recently in Philadelphia said he wants HB 300 passed to protect all PA Residents from discrimination.

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