Pgh LGBTQ Vigil – The Wrong Straight Man?

More than 100 people turned out Wednesday for a vigil following the final day of argument on marriage equality before the Supreme Court. It was freezing and rainy/snowy and basically not a fun time – but it was still great. The crowd was diverse, the signs were fun and I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.


The disappointing moment(s) of the evening were spurred – somewhat ironically – by allies, three white straight men who used their status as City officials to “occupy” some microphone time at the expense of their opponents in the crowd. This is the abuse of privilege when it most hurts – wielded by those who profess to be strong allies.

Equality is equality. It doesn’t mean you get to be on the podium and silence other candidates – also freezing their tushies off in the bitter cold – because your day-job makes you more equal. It means you play fair and not abuse the entire concept of the event – equality – because you have white straight male privilege and an election to win. It means you WALK THE WALK. Sadly, they took advantage of a powerful piece of LGBTQ history and used it to their own advantage.

This was not about 501c3 status – because where were the female candidates? What about people of color? What about bi and trans speakers weighing in on marriage equality? Is the City only employing straight white men these days?  Or electing them?

Frankly, the only straight white man who should have been speaking to the crowd was attorney Sam Hens-Greco (candidate for City Council District 8) because of his extensive experience and training in LGBTQ family law. He was easily the person most likely to provide solid, practical insight – not rhetoric. Thanks for being there, Sam, both at the rally and in the courtroom with so many LGBTQ families.

And thanks to everyone who took time to come down on a wintry March evening to speak out for equality and justice and love.


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  • It should be pointed out that the author of this blog works for a candidate running against one of the speakers. Perhaps that’s why she is upset. Jeanne Clark was there but not invited to speak because it wasn’t a political event. The two speakers you are taking issue with have city positions so they were invited to speak.

    • Thanks for commenting, “Truth.” Let me clarify – I am not and never have been employed by Jeanne Clark and I am not currently working or volunteering for any of the campaigns. Period.

      Please note that I specifically pointed out Sam Hens-Greco as the only ally at the rally qualified to speak to the matter of marriage equality. Sam is Jeanne’s opponent. My interest was in providing accurate information to the crowd and fairness.

      But my quibble is not with who was invited to speak – no, no. My quibble is with the speakers (and one absentee speaker) – their decisions as allies, as privileged heterosexual white men. I heard all of the explanations and gave the matter serious consideration while I held the post. But in the end, your point that the speakers held city positions doesn’t hold water “Truth” – the City has nothing to do with marriage.

      Perhaps if the Councilor from Downtown were invited to speak or a representative from the County which issues marriage licenses or the state which regulates marriage – that’s nearly a dozen potential speakers who would have a direct and immediate connection to the issue. The City was represented by a gay man. How much representing does the City need?

      I’m not upset, “Truth” – I’m disappointed. All three men have a grasp of the fundamentals of privilege as part of their progressive identities – they know quite well that the world is not safe, fair or just for women, for queers, for people of color. They know this and they made a choice to disregard their obligations as allies at an event completely focused on that imbalance. We have every reason to expect more from them.

      “Truth” – the event was great, the people were happy and it was quite a turnout for a cold evening. But it is perfectly reasonable to expect our best allies to bring their a-game to a rally about equality. And they didn’t do that.

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