Quick update on Onorato …

Today, I was unsuccessful in getting the Onorato campaign or executive office to provide follow up information to the reports of a commission to provide domestic partner benefits to Allegheny County.  One gay supporter confirmed the existance of the commission, but could not name its members.  So I’ve tried another round of contacts with the blessing of other advisors.

I’m speculating that they are saving the reveal for Sunday to achieve maximum impact for the LGBT endorsement.  I’m looking forward to the details because I sincerely do not understand how this works. As I’ve shared, I’ve been researching the domestic partner benefit process through County Council and the Executive branch. County Council has been very helpful with information from the Home Rule Charter. I can’t say the same for the Chief Executive’s office. I sort of got the brush off (read I was ignored), but I also really want my friends who work for the County to have domestic partner benefits.  They deserve health insurance for their families, just like all of the married heterosexual employees.

The process is very important. Our next Governor will need to expand statewide domestic partner benefits to the state workforce because while the benefits exist, not all of the unions are playing ball.  We need a Governor committed to equality to ensure that everyone on his team has access to these benefits and that requires a significant culture shift in the workforce as well as going out on a limb politically.

I guess the next four days will show us if Mr. Onorato is the kind of Governor we need.  Yes, I might be somewhat arrogant to assume I deserve an answer in four days.  But I’ve been asking for two years.  And never once in that entire period has Mr. Onorato’s team even acknowledged me. No matter how politely I’ve asked. No matter how many proper channels I’ve followed.  No matter how many allies I’ve approached. No matter that I’m a resident and a voter.  They’ve just ignored the question and all that it represents.

I’ve been accused of bashing Onorato.  The truth is that I’m the one who has been on the beat down side of this entire discussion. I have no money, no power, no particular influence. No one has even paid attention to this issue until the past few months. Where have you all been these past years?  I’ve been responding to every inch of newsprint even hinting of a City-County merged function (ask Michael Lamb how often I’ve emailed him).

So condemn me for being negative on this issue, but I think years of good faith efforts to get to the truth when I didn’t have campaign contributions to help me — I think that gives me a little room to be skeptical.  I can show you the email from the County HR Director saying she’d be in touch … then show you how she didn’t, even when her colleagues at County Council urged her to do so.

Something changed Monday evening. The question was acknowledged by Onorato himself. So now we wait to see if this is more than another promise to be in touch.  And we keep hoping that our families get what they deserve.

After four + years of covering the LGBT community in this region, I was depressed that Onorato was the best we could get for our next Governor.  Then I met Joe Hoeffel last September and was immediately struck by his intelligence, his broad grasp of issues and his willingness to learn (even from me!).  I began reading about is position on the environment, especially Marcellus Shale drilling. I learned about the way he treated his campain staff when health insurance for campaign staff wasn’t sexy.  Taxes, education, PennDOT funding, issue after issue.  So much that makes me hopeful, so pleased to find someone who stands behind his convictions.

But mostly, I’m still struck by how intelligent he is.  I want the smartest person possible to be at the helm of our Commonwealth. I want someone who can govern Pennsylvania, not just someone who can be elected.

My hope is that Joe Hoeffel’s candidacy shines a light on what an equal society can look like.  Let’s elect a Governor who has more to offer us than more promises to be in touch.  Let’s elect the Governor who *is* in touch.


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