I have done you all a great disservice on this topic. Someone I trusted told me that Pittsburgh City Council never took a vote on domestic partner benefits and I took that person at their word. I went with the assumption that Onorato has never cast a vote on LGBT issues. I should have done my own research. Bad enough, I thought.
I was wrong. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette May 1999 (I apologize that it is broken into two images, but you can click the link to see the original).
He voted against domestic partner benefits in 1999 as a City Councilman and then spent six years not taking action on them as the County Chief Executive. When he runs for Governor, as I reported earlier, he forms a commission the week before both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia's Stonewall clubs hold their endorsement votes.
That's a pretty brazen maneuver. I was trying to be open-minded and pleased for County employees until I realized that I was played or just lazy.
There's more. While we know that the City Council vote on adding sexual orientation to the human relations ordinance took place in 1990 before Onorato joined the Council, I have a 1998 Beaver County Times article filed from the Associated Press that describes the vote to add gender identity and expression to the same ordinance.
Guess who voted against it? Yes, the sole “nay” vote was Onorato.
Onorato voted no on including protections for gender identity and gender expression. In 1998, he didn't think persons were experiencing discrimination — there wasn't proof. Do you think that was a reasonable perspective in 1998 Pittsburgh?
Well. I just had a piece published statewide stating that Onorato has no voting history on LGBT issues and I was completely wrong. His voting record on LGBT issues has been 100% against us. Yikes.
But he's a changed man and, oh yeah, he wants to be Governor. To prove he's sincere, he waits until one week before the gay endorsement … oh, I already said that.
I mean I owe a big apology to the Pennsylvania Progressive and the Philly Young Politics readers. I was a chump and I can admit it.
I'm going to take a few hours to rethink all that has transpired over the past 72 hours here at Lesbian Central. I think people are trying to hoodwink you into thinking Onorato has been benign. The articles show that has not been the case. They are also trying to get you to believe that he's changed, but the domestic partner issue flies in the face of that argument.
To be fair, there are Onorato supporters who seem to truly believe he's changed. They didn't obscure anything. But the best I can say is that it is far too little, too late. I'm done with the meaningful conversations with my frenemies. Get me to the nearest Hoeffel phone bank.
Sure, you can go with the inevitability argument and vote for Onorato. He needs our votes and with his alleged speech tonight to Liberty City Democrats, he's indicating he'll tell us what we want to hear. He may even extend domestic partner benefits.
But you have a choice. You aren't bound to the laws of war chests and political family dynasties and loyalties and all of that. You can vote for the candidate who believes in full equality for all persons – Joe Hoeffel.
Turn out Sunday for the endorsement. Don't let the gay community settle for the candidate who is a lukewarm version of an ally when we can have the real thing. You are the only one who can make that happen. You need to show up on Sunday, you need to join Steel City Stonewall and you need to cast your endorsement vote. Plus, there's food. What's not to love?
Joe will be there. He's traveling across Pennsylvania to be there because he believes you deserve equality. Can you give up a few hours of your Sunday to believe in yourself?
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The protections are watered down if given away too easily.
There aren't really many ways to interpret that. And while it could be that Onorato's had a growth in perspective since 1998, there's no evidence to support that idea. There's just no rationale there that isn't stomach-churning.
That is a good point. His gay advisors should have had him offer the benefits in 2008 as a stepping stone for his bid for Governor. That was poor planning and a wasted opportunity. Now he only has 1 thing to counter the votes in the nineties. Doesn't seem like much progress even for Pittsburgh.
So in 1999 he thought benefits would be financially ruinous? It took him 11 years to see that wasn't true? I guess it also took 11 years to believe that transsexuals experience discrimination. That is a huge learning curve. This all suggests it will take him another 11 years to make protections statewide. Not ok with me.
Why does he announce this in Philadelphia instead of here in Allegheny County? These are our benefits, but we don't know anything about this commission.