Bruce Kraus: why the reelection of a gay City Councilman is good for all of us

A few days ago, someone posted a comment in another post questioning my claim that Bruce Kraus, City Councilman for District 3, is a “champion” for the LGBTQ community, simply asking “What has he done for us?”

Rather than respond in a buried comment, I thought this question was worth an entire post.

With regard to what he's done for the LGBTQ community, I would put forth the following:

·        Bruce spearheaded the passage of the Domestic Partner Registry which has created a mechanism for LGBTQ families to achieve some level of recognition on a City level.  While it has its restrictions, Bruce has shown a willingness to discuss these, at least with me, and brainstorm solutions to make it more useful to all families. 

 

·       His presence on council seems to make a difference in how his colleagues act, vote, and perceive LGBT issues. It has historically been considered a step toward equality to elect an openly LGBT individual.

 

·        It is important for LGBT people to see someone like us in a leadership role, especially youth (think bullying)

 

·        It sends a signal around the nation for a gay man to have the courage to be out as a public servant (think Sally Kern)

 

·        He holds his fellow Council members to walk the walk when it comes to equality and insists the gay community be included (think Ricky Burgess)

 

·        He brokered a meeting between PA State Senator Daylin Leech and community leaders to discuss Senator Leech's legislation to legalize same sex marriage in Pennsylvania.  We (I attended) would not have that access without Bruce's credibility as an elected official and status in the LGBT community.  Bruce made sure Southwestern PA was part of the dialogue around this issue. 

 

·        The fact that he’s more well known for quality of life issues on the Southside shows that an openly gay elected official doesn’t come with a gay agenda, but can be effective in addressing a range of issues just like any other elected official from a minority group (see below)

 

·       He is paving the way for electing an out lesbian or an out transgender man or women to achieve political office throughout the region (think we have to start somewhere)

 

·        Bruce serves the community as a board member of the Gay & Lesbian Community Center and the Shepherd Wellness Center (think community institutions)

 

·        Openly gay elected officials are considered indicators of how LGBT friendly a community can be (Advocate recent City rankings)

The crux of the matter is that Bruce is not the gay City Councilman, he's a Councilman who is gay.  I have enumerated some of his “gay” credentials, but it is important to note that Bruce is a qualified, engaged Councilman who sincerely works to improve the quality of life for his District, particularly the Southside.  Agree with him or not, you cannot deny he is active and that he strives to connect with the residents and the business owners.  His volunteer staffed satellite office in Arlington is further proof of a creative solution to engage his District. He also is embracing social media to share information.  (Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and more)

As a City resident who does not live in District 3 (I'm in District 6), I appreciate the contributions Bruce has made to the City and to the LGBT community.  I might go as far as to say that it is imperative we all stand behind Bruce and do our part to support his bid for a second term. 

I hope this answers the question of “what has he done for us?”  Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh's LGBTQ community are better off with Bruce serving us on our City Council. 

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  • Bruce Kraus did not “spearhead the passage of the Domestic Partner Registry”; he had nothing to do with it. And while visibility is certainly important and impactful, that doesn't make him our “champion.” He doesn't even go to Pride…

  • According to multiple media reports, Bruce co-wrote the legislation with Doug Shields. How is that anything less than spearheading?
    http://www.wtae.com/news/16679607/detail.html
    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/cityregion/s_574070.html
    Even our opponents at the PA Family Institute credit Bruce for his role in this legislation. http://www.pafamily.org/links/blogs/pittsburgh-councilman-proposes-domestic-partner-registry-for-gay-unmarried-partners.html
    If you need further evidence, call your Councilperson and ask for a copy of the ordinance.
    While we are on that topic, I do not believe Doug Shields would disagree with me. He wrote a heartfelt letter to Utah State Representative Sally Kern when she verbally assaulted gay elected officials and specifically referenced Bruce. Doug is a strong ally and exerts leadership for us, but he would not claim to be a leader of a community to which he does not belong.
    Pridefest is one indicator of visibility among many. I didn't go to Pride, either. I'm pretty sure he was there in 2009 and prior years. The Mayor doesn't attend.
    The anonymous attempts to undermine Bruce's role as the leader in our community prove my point that we NEED his leadership. Have the courage to speak up using your real name and with facts to back up your claims. Otherwise, get out of the way.

  • If attendance at Pride is now the arbiter of “cred” in the LGBT community, then there are an awful lot of us who don't pass muster (and don't want to) but I guess we don't count. Not LGBT enough.
    Other than attendance at Pride, what exactly in his role as a city councilman is Bruce supposed to do/have done to prove his worth to our community?
    Like certain “progressive” criticisms of President Obama, seems Bruce is doomed. No matter what he does, for some people, it's never quite enough and never quite right.
    For the rest of us, who appreciate what he's done, appreciate the importance of his presence on council and, most importantly, live in his district and know how vital his independent (i.e. not Ravenstahl-directed) voice is for the improvement and growth of our communities, we'll be focusing our energies on his re-election rather than denigrations based on inaccuracies and arbitrary determinations of sufficient gay visibility.

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