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View Article  Some good news from Virginia regarding lesbian custody

Hallelujah!  A higher court ruling in Virginia bodes well for a Vermont lesbian whose former partner fled to Virginia rather than allow the former partner to visit their daughter.  Its been a long tangled case, but essentially the Virginia courts recognize that Vermont has jurisdiction in the case.  Vermont has ordered shared custody.  Here's more from Lambda Legal:

?The Virginia Court of Appeals rightly recognized that federal law protects parents against the very thing Lisa Miller did ? parents can ?t shop around looking for a court to give them sole custody.?

(Richmond, VA, November 28, 2006) ? Today, the Virginia Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the Commonwealth of Virginia has no say in a custody dispute that began in Vermont between Janet Jenkins and her former partner Lisa Miller.

?This has been a long road for Janet and now she?s that much closer to seeing her daughter again,? said Greg Nevins, Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal?s Southern Regional Office in Atlanta. ?The Virginia Court of Appeals rightly recognized that federal law protects parents against the very thing Lisa Miller did?parents cannot shop around looking for a court to give them sole custody.?

Janet Jenkins (formerly Janet Miller-Jenkins) filed an appeal with the Virginia Court of Appeals seeking to enforce a Vermont court order saying she must have regular visitation with the now four-year-old daughter she and her former partner, Lisa Miller (formerly Miller-Jenkins), had when the two women were joined in a Vermont civil union. After the women ended their relationship, Miller moved to Virginia with the women?s daughter, and she asked a Vermont court to dissolve the couple?s civil union and sort out custody of the child. When the Vermont court ordered visitation for Jenkins, Miller filed a new lawsuit in Virginia court, successfully using that state?s antigay marriage law to have herself declared the child?s sole legal parent. The conflicting court orders - one from Vermont ordering regular visitation for Jenkins, and the other from a lower court in Virginia naming Miller the sole parent - led to today?s decision from Virginia?s intermediate court. Earlier this month the Vermont court found Miller in contempt for violation of its order for shared custody.

The 14-page decision by Senior Judges Willis and Annunziata and Judge Clements says, ?We hold that the trial court erred in failing to recognize that the PKPA [Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act] barred its exercise of jurisdiction. Accordingly we vacate the orders of the trial court and remand this case with instruction to grant full faith and credit to the custody and visitation orders of the Vermont court.?

Today?s decision was the result of Jenkins? appeal, which argued that the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act and Virginia?s Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act make it clear that the Vermont court alone has jurisdiction in the matter and cannot be interfered with. Furthermore, the federal kidnapping law (PKPA) requires that the Vermont order be enforced in Virginia.

View Article  ABC Soap Opera Introduces Transgender Character

The soap which turned Erica Kane's daughter into a lesbian has done it again.  All My Children, a long running soap opera on ABC, has plans to introduce daytime television's first transgender character (365gay.com).

The characer is Zarf, a flamboyant rock star who will kiss aforementioned lesbian Bianca Montgomery and then eventually begin transitioning from male to female.  How far the storylinen will go depends on fan reaction.  Fans have ardently embraced Bianca's story over the past several years, particularly her romance with former love Maggie.  However, along the way, AMC had to have Bianca raped and impregnated, murder her rapist and have her child kidnapped for multiple months.  Just your typical lesbian stuff.  Imagine what they'll do with a transgendered woman?

AMC is working with GLAAD and transgender advisers.  Let's see what happens.  Unfortunately, Ledcat and I don't get ABC so I may have to rely on internet summaries.

View Article  Crushin' on Kristy McNichol

This week a long time dream finally came true.  When I was a wee lass, I caught an occasional glimpse of a cool television show called "Family" featuring this tight-knit family that seemed incredibly wonderful.  My own family didn't watch the show so its always sort of been this nagging memory, scraps of scenes most of which featured the oh-so-delicious Kristy McNichol.  I sort of remembered the mother and the older brother, Willie, but that was about it.

Wait for it ....this past weekend, I bought seasons 1 and 2 of Family on DVD.  It is my first DVD purchase, financed in part with a gift card my excellent friends Brenda and Michelle gave me for my birthday.  But enough of that ...

So I have watched the first three episodes.  Its magical!  Kristy is 12 in the show so its a crush of her being the girl I wish I could have been at that age -- she's so cool. Yes, at the ripe old age of 36 I can still say that with total aplomb. Plus, she grows up to be Kristy McNichol.  Rumored to be a lesbian and manic-depressive.  I have been unable to confirm either since she dropped out of public life to become a hairdresser, teach acting and run a tennis camp.

I have found countless websites listing Kristy encounters.  The closest I came to a Kristy encounter was singer-songwriter Autumn Ayers. If Kristy is half as delightful as Autumn, that would be an encounter worth having.

So what's the big deal about a 1970's television show?  Everything.  It is the best way to revisit your childhood, especially since I have a lingering fear of 1970's teenagers especially those wearing multi-striped shirts and fringed pants.  Don't ask me why. 

Watching Family reminds me of my fantasy childhood the one where I had a really cool older brother (his name was John in my head) and my  mother prepared gourmet meals and cookies (my actual mother rotated 10 recipes most involving some sort of gray item - who eats gray food?).  Plus, there was a soundrack and I had my own bathroom.  Who wouldn't want to revisit that?

So Kristy McNichol skyrockets back to the top of my list. 

View Article  From the PG: Woman Asks Why the Fuss About Michael Richards? and a Liberal Arts Professor

Jo Ellen Hovis of Harrisville asks a good question. 

Hearing the uproar about actor Michael Richards' angry outburst at a comedy club really upset me. I have to ask, though, what's the big deal?

Jo Ellen points out that its hard to muster up sympathy for two reverse-heckling victims when men, black and white, make huge profits publicly disrespecting women through their "art." 

All this talk about people hiding their hatreds and prejudices is noteworthy, but why don't men have to hide their hatred of women? They make money off of it. They get laughs with it. They let kids sing it.

I presume Jo Ellen is asking for the dialogue about hatespeech be expanded beyond using the "N" word and she's certainly right.  Disrespect is a cornerstone of contemporary pop culture.  From Justin Timberlake playing the choir-boy "I was duped" card to the horrific lyrics in woman-hating music, it pervades our lives 24/7.  When thinking people (especially women) strip these individual artists/performers of responsibility for achieving fame (or infamy) on the backs of our sisters, they are part of the problem.  Michael Richards behaved like an ass and deserves the public scorn and shame. 

But my own take on Michael Richards is that we are focusing far too much on the individual when we should be talking about why white people with power and privilege (such as Seinfeld residuals will get ya) feel free to cross these boundaries.  They know all the backstory on the word, but use it anyway b/c they feel untouchable.  I hear that word far too often in my own little circle of white people. Richards is getting some backlash just like Mel Gibson.  Both will survive the incidents.  Richards appears to have some deeper issues that prevent him from smoothly handling heckling.  Gibson appears to have a problem holding his booze.  Those things might fell them, but in a land of mighty white men they will both endure their racism, anti-Semitism and misogyny.  Fear not, intrepid upward looking, middle-class white boys -- your heroes won't let you down. 

On another note .... take a look at an article from Sunday's PG exploring the liberal classroom leanings of Penn State Professor Michael Berube.  Good stuff about academic freedom and the organized attempt of the far right to take control of liberal arts classrooms. 

View Article  Escaping Thanksgiving Unscathed But With A Lot of Dirty Dishes

That's right ... I served Stove Top stuffing for our Thanksgiving dinner and I make no apologies.  :-)   I bought an organic free-range turkey, mashed potatoes like there was no tomorrow, and baked the ancient-family recipe Date Nut Pudding from scratch.  So I took a few shortcuts in other areas.  I think all the organic goodness cancels out the stuffing slur.  I should have bought organic stuffing, but I didn't think that quickly on my feet.  I'll put my early morning slicing of dates against your onion and celery dicing any day of the week....

Gay turkey celebrations are always interesting.  At best, you have the usual two family balance to master.  We spent actual Turkey Day with Ledcat's family which was vastly entertaining due to the adorable antics of the 11 month old niece.  Especially when she was staring entranced at 97 year old great-grandpa as he napped in his chair.  Plus, there was homemade pecan pie.  Now that's Thanksgiving.   Friday my family came to our abode for dinner.  No baby, but I did get to watch my 110 lb dogs act like total fools over my 100 lb grandma -- she's like the Pied Piper of dogs. Today, I want a cheeseburger ....

No matter how crazy and hectic and stuffing-challenged the holiday, I am thankful that between Ledcast and I we have three 90something grandparents still celebrating with us. 






View Article  Shop for Equality

I'm too tired to be very verbose tonight.  Here's a good resource from the Human Rights Campaign ....

Buying a cup of coffee? Filling up your gas tank?

Booking a flight for that dream vacation?

Every day, you make decisions about whom to support in corporate America. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation?s Buying for Equality can help you easily support companies that support equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans.

Ratings in Buying for Equality are based on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation?s annual report card, the Corporate Equality Index. A record 138 companies scored 100 percent on this year?s report, which is a significant increase from the 101 companies that earned a perfect score last year. Every day, from enhanced domestic partner benefits to transgender inclusion in non-discrimination policies, we are seeing a revolution in the American workplace.

Last year, more than 250,000 people used Buying for Equality to make informed choices about their purchases. This year, you can do your part to support fair-minded businesses by requesting or downloading Buying for Equality 2007.

View Article  I'll be Joining Johnny Mac for Turkey Day Chat

Tune in Thursday evening to KDKA AM 1020 when I join Flip Side host John McIntire for a holiday chat.  We'll be talking about opportunities for you to help less fortunate people during the holidays.  I've got heartbreaking stories.  If anyone can see the glimmer of good humor in foster care, its MacYapper. 

View Article  Trib's Mike Seats Opens the Closet Door

Long-time gay admirer (nothing wrong with that) and Tribune-Review columnist Mike Seate outed his Aunt Mary in his newspaper column.  And her "housemate" Ms. Lillian.  They along with long-suffering Uncle Bernie live in Harlem which presumably is not part of the Trib's distribution area.  Hopefully, Ms. Lillian doesn't suft the net on her Blackberry.

Like Florida's disgraced Republican congressman Mark Foley and evangelical Christian leader Ted Haggard, Aunt Mary and Ms. Lillian were sharing space in society's largest walk-in closet.

Lately, it seems, they have an awful lot of company.

Let's see a show of hands from folks who spent Election Night wondering how bans against gay marriage could succeed as a ballot issue in seven states when so many of our public figures and elected officials seem to be in the life themselves.

Paging Robert Traynham!  Mike, the homos have been screaming about the hypocricy for years.  Check out Mike Roger's blog www.blogactive.com for a long list of "openly gay" Republicans who want to have their cake and eat it too (there is something wrong with that.).  I'm glad the heteros are waking up to this. 

Without naming names, I can think of a half-dozen local politicians who are well-known in gay and lesbian circles, though the lifestyle they present to voters is more hetero than the crowd at a Ted Nugent bow-hunting seminar.

And for each of those closeted gay power-brokers, I can think of twice that many local notables I've unexpectedly run into at local gay bars and parties. Yeah, I know -- you're wondering what I was doing there myself, but I swear I favor gay bars for the ambience.

Yep, they get forced out of the closet by scandal and intrigue.  No one political is walking out voluntarily or proudly.  And yet there's subtle pressure in the LGBT community to support our "family" who still cling to the love that dares not speak its name mentality.  Maybe we should spend a little less time speculating about Melissa Hart's sexual orientation and a little more time talking honestly with our known gay comrades about their reluctance to come out.  However, this being Western Pennsylvania where you can't swing a duck without hitting a "pro-life" Democrat, I suspect our good friends will keep their beards firmly in place.

I'd like to nominate Pennsylvania as the first state in the union to honor a Coming Out Day. We could lead the country with an observance when all closeted gay, lesbian and transgender Pennsylvanians can openly, freely admit who they are without fear of recriminations, judgments or any more of those sideways glances that say, "Isn't it about time you stopped with the 'my special friend and roommate' business?"

It's a simple concept. Straight people could mind their own business. Gay people wouldn't have to hide, lie or resign their political posts.

I was going to laugh uproariously at this suggestion from a Trib writer until I realized that Mike's columns are plucking away at the homo-contempt so rampant in this part of the state.  Most people have an Aunt Mary and Ms. Lillian in their family.  I just happen to be the Aunt Mary with my own Ms. Ledcat.  Minus the oblivious husband and Tanqueray gin. 

Pennsylvania recognizing National Coming Out Day would be a welcome event.  I'm sure the AFA of PA would have a field day with that one and issue at least 13 poorly worded press releases asking people for money and to pray (in that order).  That I would enjoy.  But it would be more a celebration of being out for those of us who are rather than an opportunity for real dialogue with those in the closet.  The perceived risk is too great.

So they'll continue to take advantage of the private parties and social events AND campaign contributions while we continue to take the risks of living out and proud in a less than fully tolerant society.  Sounds fair, right?

FYI, National Coming Out Day is October 11.

View Article  School Board Official Refers to GSA members as fags

Put Ambridge on the list of places you don't want to raise your children. 

School Board member William Scherfel described the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) at Ambridge Area High School as a "sex club" and then refused to apologize, referring ot the members as fags.

The Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) has been involved in the dispute, noting concern about the disturbing shift in attitudes toward GSA's across the state.

Good grief ... he called GSA members fags.  What the hell is wrong with him?  He's elected to a position of trust and authority over students and he blatantly violates every iota of both. 

As of Wednesday night, Scherfel allegedly apologized.  Here's an excerpt from WPXI's report

Channel 11 News reporter Gordon Loesch spoke with Scherfel. Scherfel said he's not even sure he said the word.

Loesch asked, ?You're not even admitting that you said it? You don't know if you said it??
William Scherfel said, ?No, no. It would not be beyond me to use that word. It?s a word I heard growing up. I might have used the word."

Student Adam Smith said, ?It wasn't heartfelt at all.?
Loesch asked, ?So you don't believe he's really sorry for saying it??
Smith said, ?No, and I'm sure if he had the chance he'd say it again."

Scherfel said he will take full responsibility for his comments.

So he admits he has the capacity to refer to students as fags, but isn't sure that he actually did it.  Oh it gets better.  Scherfel claims the furor is politically motivated by those who don't appreciate his outspokenness.  The school superintendent has opted not to get involved b/c he has no jurisdiction --- apparently he has been robbed of his ability to critique the school board.  And the school board itself?  Here's their position:

Board president Bernard Logan defended Scherfel, saying no one is perfect, and at least one board member, Kevin Blanarik admitted he heard the remark but didn't think it should have become an issue.

"I didn't appreciate the comment because I don't speak like that, but he didn't say it as if he was trying to be mean," Blanarik said.

Mean? Is Logan out of his friggin' mind?  These are students, kids we are talking about and Scherfel is a grown man.  Would he be excused for using a racial slur and have it written off as not meant to be mean?  How about referring to female students as cunts?  Or disabled students as crippleds or gimps?  Would that be okay? 

It is a great day for Pennsylvania when local politicians sexualize students, use a slur to describe those students, claim they don't remember using it, and get off scott free b/c they weren't trying to be mean. 

I'm sure Darryl Metcale is very proud.

View Article  Pittsburgh Transgender Day of Remembrance

Sunday, November 19, 2006

7 PM

St. Andrew Lutheran Church

304 Morewood Street  Shadyside

From the organizers:  

The Transgender Day of Remembrance began in San Francisco in 1999 and has grown to be an event held in many locations around the world. The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. Its purpose is to educate others about trans people and to provide support and to the trans people living and working in the area. The ceremony will allow those to come together to remember those who have died, to provide support to each other, and to state that trans related violence and discrimination is unacceptable and must stop. 

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