AP piece on Pennsylvania LGBT ordinances/legislation

Hmm … I missed this yesterday in the Post-Gazette.

HARRISBURG — Although his years-long crusade to enact a statewide ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity again died at the end of the most recent legislative session, state Rep. Dan Frankel sees reason for optimism.

Frankel's optimism stems from the long-term view (useful in politics, eh) that our cultural view toward LGBTQ people, families and issues has shifted.  Not IS. Not WILL.  It has shifted and the polling data shows that.  See my little riend's pronouncement that Ledcat and I cannot marry “stupid”   She'll be voting in four Presidential cycles.  That my friends is the long-term view.

The piece goes on to explore how state level inaction has generated much hubbub at the local level.  18 locals.  It has also fed into the hatefest such as in Lancaster which disbanded the Human Relations Commission to save money.  Really?  I'm sure the African-American residents feel real good that their experiences with housing discrimination got axed to save money.  Nice.

I can't resist posting this quote.

“It creates a policy, a public policy, and it puts those who disagree with that policy in the same footing as those who are, say, racial bigots,” said Randall Wenger, lawyer for the Harrisburg-based Pennsylvania Family Institute, which lobbied against Mr. Frankel's bill.

“We call certain choices discrimination because we, collectively, as a people, determine that certain choices are downright bad, they're downright evil,” Mr. Wenger said. “I think recently, with the additional of sexual orientation and gender identity, they are choices people make precisely because they are the moral choices they want to make.”

Umm. I think there was a time when “certain choices” like owning people was Biblically sanctioned, not evil.  What would Mr. Wenger have argued if that point were brought up?  Is it the “calling” of choices discrimination that make them evil because that sounds a lot like moral relativism, not so much grounded in moral certainties.  He uses the term CHOICE four times in this quote which must simply be to downplay that people don't HATE gays, they just choose not to hire them.  It is a lifestyle choice not to associate with gay people, but it is just a matter of housing patterns that mean no black people live in your cul-de-sac.  Hmmm.

It hasn't taken long for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell to galvanize advocates and increase pressure (probably on both ends to be fair)

Stephen A. Glassman, chairman of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, said cost concerns can be overblown and have to be balanced against the cost of not actively dealing with discrimination complaints.

“If you can repeal 'don't ask, don't tell' at the federal level, you ought to at least be able to protect people's jobs and housing in the state of Pennsylvania,” Mr. Glassman said.

I wonder if Tom Corbett will keep Stephen Glassman as chair?  That will be telling. 

I'm glad the discussion isn't around marriage.  We have to use building blocks.  We need to look inward at Western PA and focus on elections as well as hold our current electeds to some standard of doing something.  It is not 2009. We need to move on and see something happening. 

I'm going to go watch some lady slather honey on a ham. 


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  • I agree that it is good the discussion is not around marriage. Discrimination against LGBTQ people is not just around marriage, it is a broader issue, and in fact I think the demand for protection against discrimination is broader in its implications than is the demand for marriage equality — not to minimize the importance of either, by the way.
    It's worth noting that Lancaster is Ground Zero for these struggles precisely because local LGBTQ activists made it that way. The City of Lancaster has a more progressive local government, elected by a multiracial progressive coalition, and there are city protections against discrimination. When LGBTQ activists sought to extend those protections county-wide — by expanding the mandate of the county Human Relations Commission to cover sexual orientation — they provoked a backlash by the reactionary County Commissioners, which led to them disbanding the Human Relations Commission altogether. It is telling — in fact, I think it's proof of Frankel's observations about a seachange in cultural attitudes — that even in a conservative place like Lancaster County, the commissioners couldn't openly state that they were disbanding the commission for anti-gay reasons; instead they hid behind budgetary concerns.
    I think that there are lessons to be learned from this, but the idea that people should let up on demands for equality because they might provoke a backlash is not one of those lessons.
    One lesson that is worth noting is that LGBTQ people make the greatest progress as part of broad, multi-racial progressive coalitions. The City of Lancaster is more progressive than the surrounding county because of its “majority-minority” electorate that is a built-in base for overall progressive politics. This point may seem obvious, but it isn't; the attempts to put the blame for California's Proposition 8 on black voters, as a way to fracture the progressive coalition, illustrate that it is a lesson worth reiterating. (It turns out, by the way, that early analysis of the Proposition 8 exit polls was misleading.)
    Incidentally, the enemy seems to recognize that Lancaster is Ground Zero for this fight statewide; probably it's no accident that they chose an attorney with a well-known Mennonite surname.

  • This post has generated dozens of visits from Harrisburg. Hmmm.
    Don't back down for fear of backlash – agreed.
    A multi-racial progressive coalition is the best offense – agreed
    Seems obvious, but it isn't – agreed. Not only Prop 8, but even the relentless spat over the term civil rights to include LGBTQ rights. There's a long way to go and the attention needs to turn away from blaming and build on the common ground that is already there. On all sides. Pittsburgh's LGBTQ advocacy community with the highest profile is white and well-heeled. But they aren't the only groups, just the only ones at the table.
    Thanks for commenting.

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