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View Article  Washington State Says No to Marriage Equality

We are heading out the door this morning early so I only have time to post a few links. 

Apparently, you have the right to get married if you can squirt out babies.  So watch out non-breeding heterosexuals ... if you don't start generating some new cannon fodder for the war machine and/or the allegiance of right-wing-bigots, your marriages could be next ...

Check out Page One Q

Here's what Pam's House Blend has to say ....

And even more from Pam  including reaction from the fundie wingnuts who are frothing at the mouth and writhing in ecstasy over this slapdown of marriage equality.  Here she reiterates the point the our Democratic leadership is FAILING us on these issues.  Voting against a marriage amendment is not enough --- they need to actually LEAD.

When you don't take a strong position on this issue (one way or another), people in the middle who may be considering voting Dem notice and speculate anyway. It's easy to be against a federal amendment, but what is a candidate's position on all these state marriage amendments and now, the future legislative efforts to gain marriage equality as these cases in WA and NY have resulted in punts?

Excellent question.  No answer forthcoming as there are probably too many 700 Club appearances to plan and fundie wingnut asses to lick ...

View Article  Is the PA Dept of Edu underreporting LGBTQ school violence?

According to the Post-Gazette, the Pennsylvania Department of Education has released their annual safety report claiming that less than 3% of students were involved in violence in the schools.

The School Safety Report for 2004-05 shows a decline in school violence for the second year in a row and significant decreases in fights, assaults on students, burglaries, racial and ethnic intimidation and incidents involving firearms.

The report also suggests violent incidents have decreased across the board:

It shows incidents involving firearms dropped by 38 percent; burglaries are down by 43 percent; incidents of intimidation fell by 25 percent and other types of harassment declined by 23 percent.

A leading safety organization disputes these findings.  National School Safety and Security Services out of Cleveland questions the decrease when school violence is on the rise across the state.

And what about the gay kids?  According to the Gay Lesbian Straight  Education Network's National School Climate Survey released in April, four out of five LGBTQ students report incidents of violence. 

The Scope of the Problem:

  • 75. 4% of students heard derogatory remarks such as "faggot" or "dyke" frequently or often at school, and nearly nine out of ten (89.2%) reported hearing "that's so gay" or "you're so gay" - meaning stupid or worthless- frequently or often.
  • Over a third (37.8%) of students experienced physical harassment at school on the basis of sexual orientation and more than a quarter (26.1%) on the basis of their gender expression. Nearly one-fifth (17.6%) of students had been physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation and over a tenth (11.8%) because of their gender expression.
  • Now I find it incredibly hard to believe that incidents of violence are decreasing that significantly without a serious statewide intervention plan which I am sure does not exist.  Back in the day when I was in school, life was nasty, brutish and short if you were on the wrong end of the pummeling.  There were plenty of bullies and even more people egging them on as they spit on, beat up, mauled, assaulted, pushed, shoved, grabbed, pinched, twisted, kicked, restrained and generally violated other kids.  School was a survival course in violence avoidance with few instructions and little effective intervention from the faculty. 

    And let's not forget rising rates of cyber harassment which the school districts have decried but denied reponsibility for if the behavior originates from a non-campus computer. 

    I think the PA Department of Education is being disengenuous at best. 


    View Article  Philadelphia Boy Scouts May Lose Space b/c of Anti-Gay Stance

    The Mayor of Philadelphia is giving the regional  Boy Scout council two choices.: Either they stop discriminating against gays or they begin paying fair market rent on their city owned headquarters. 

    The City of Liberty Council is the third largest in the nation, serving 87,000 boys in Philadelphia, Montgomery and Delaware counties.  They have been using a city owned building since 1928, paying only for building upkeep.

    The City is playing hard ball because the Scouts refuse to comply with the fair-practices ordinance which forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation among other protected classes. 

    Cradle of Liberty Council spokesman Jeff Jubelirer had more pointed views.

    "With an epidemic of gun violence taking the lives of Philadelphia's children every day," Jubelirer said, "it is ironic the administration chose this time to destroy programming that services 40,000 children in the city."

    That's an interesting perspective which completely ignores the fact that the City has tries to negotiate with the Boy Scouts for the past three years.  There's no room for negotiation.  The Boy Scout organization wants to be free to discriminate against homosexuals while receiving all the governmental funding it can swallow.  Never mind the thousands of young men whose lives are impacted by their homo-bigot stance -- the young gay men, the boys with gay parents or siblings or grandparents or other loved ones, the heterosexual scouts who are taught by example to discriminate.  Never mind those kids.  Or their families.  Or their dreams. 

    There's no room for negotiation.  The Boy Scouts won't revise their creed of hate and the City isn't making an exception.  Are political nuances at play?  Sure.  They always are, but that doesn't take away from the larger issue.

    Our good friends at the American Family Association of Pennsylvania have chimed right in with their Christian-flavored bigotry:

    ?The boys involved in the Scouts are caught in a tug-of-war with those who seek to change society through homosexual activism and choose to be blind to the facts of the dangers of this lifestyle,?  [AFA Chair Diane] Gramley concluded

    Ah, yes, the homosexual activist card.  Wouldn't be a hatefest if no one played it!

    I find the Boy Scout's stance offensive, moronic and divisive.  I don't buy their little snacks or donate to their causes because I think they really hurt boys and young men.  I get some grief from my friends about my actions only hurting the boys.  I'm sorry but that's an utterly spineless position.  The Boy Scouts are *hurting* children, gay and straight.  They should lose their funding sources because reason, common decency or genuine concern for all children doesn't seem to play a part in their decision making process. 

    View Article  ACLU will defend Fred Phelps' church on funeral protests

    I just knew it would come to this.  The insistence of state (and federal) government on restricting free speech and assembly has inevitably led to the ACLU hooking up with the Phelpsians. (h/t PageOneQ)

    Missouri, like other states and the federal government, has passed a law restricting protests and pickets at funerals in response to community outrage over the Phelpsians presence at military funerals.  Fred and co. believe that God is killing soldiers because America has embraced homosexuality.  So he totes his "God Hates Fags" signs to military funerals.  Shock and awe ensue.  Never mind that he's been doing this for years to at the funerals of homosexuals and those who have died from AIDS.  No one was upset enough to pass a law curtailing civil rights then.  I guess faggots brought it on themselves.

    The ACLU argues that the law restricts speech on content and is seeking an injunction so the protests can resume while the court considers the constitutionality issue.

    Here's Phelpsian whackjob and daughter Shirley ...

    "I told the nation, as each state went after these laws, that if the day came that they got in our way, that we would sue them," said Phelps's daughter Shirley L. Phelps-Roper, a spokeswoman for the church in Topeka, Kan. "At this hour, the wrath of God is pouring out on this country."

    You aren't suing them, Shirley honey.  The ACLU is suing them on your behalf.  Because the ACLU respects your civil liberties.  The wrath of God sure does pick some interesting vehicles ....

    I, too, think the law is unconstitutional.  Don't get me wrong -- its abhorrent that anyone would intrude on the grief of a family at the funeral of their loved one.  But as the Correspondents have said before, these laws are unconstitutional and passed in a grandstanding furor by legislators responsible for the deaths of these soldiers.  Rather than make the funeral a civil liberty free zone, how about reducing the number of funerals?  You know, ending the war.  Or improving health care access.  Investing in AIDS research. Mitigating poverty.  That sort of thing.

    Why, oh why, do I hate freedom?



    View Article  Pgh Republican Consultant Guilty of Assault, Holding Young Men Captive

    I missed this last week, but its worth a look. 

    Last week, a jury found Leon Abramovitz guilty of several charges involving luring two male Pitt students to his apartment, forcing them to stay for weeks, coercing one to steal power tools and the other to perform sexual acts.  Abramovitz, 59, has previously worked for City Council and (AND) the constituent affairs department of the Reagan White House. 

    It gets better.

    Abramovitz is currently serving probation for two earlier charges of the same thing. 

    Huh. Here's the better part.  The lawyer of this perv is trying to make this out to be gay persecution!  This from the guy who worked for Reagan!

    "Homosexual acts are not crimes," said Mr. Houck. "They are only anathemas in many people's minds, but not everybody's."

    Mr. Houck is right.  Homosexual "acts" are not crimes.  However, the actual crimes this perv committed - holding people against their will, forcing them to perform sexual acts and steal, and threatening them with mafia retaliation - are not homosexual acts.

    I do have to pick a bone with the PG on this story.  In the article, writer Moustafa Ayad paints a comparison of the somewhat hulky young men and the frail pervert inviting the question of how he held them captive.  Other than the reference to mafia threats, there is no context for the captivity.  Obviously the jury was convinced so there has to be more content to the story.

    I think Ayad's coverage was a little soft in this regard.  Women are held hostage all the time as any domestic violence worker will tell you and frequently it has nothing to do with size differentials.  Power does not translate into size.  It is hard to believe that a 59 year old man with a walker could legitimately threaten someone with a mob hit.  But obviously he DID on at least four separate occasions.  At least.

    Kudos to the students for testifying.  Get this perv off the streets, walker or not. 

    Family values indeed.

    View Article  A Gay Day in Pittsburgh

    Yesterday, our chum James drove in from West Virginia to see the Dixie Chicks with us.  We dragged him around town with us for a little quasi-gay adventure ...

    We stopped at Eat 'n Park for lunch.  And discovered that they now have Dreamsicle milkshakes and yes, they are EXACTLY like you would imagine. 

    Then we headed down to local LGBT gift shoppe, A Pleasant Present to have their fabulous owner Michael help us put together a gift basket for our hosts during our upcoming trip to Chicago.  He was like a whirlwind zipping around that store and had a lovely basket with a Pittsburgh theme compiled in about 10 minutes.  We discovered that they are closing their second floor and everything is on sale.  Its sad that they are closing, but we did pick up a few novelty items ... I got a cute gay dog mug and James did some risque birthday shopping for his friend back in WV. 

    This is where I need to add that people in the LGBT community should be actively supporting queer small business owners.  Don't buy your tee shirts, videos and gift items online --- those online stores don't donate to local charities, sell tickets for everything queer under the sun or promote your events.  Show them some love ...

    We also stopped by for the grand reopening of Kharisma Vintage Fashions and Daisy Mae, a fun new business that has relocated to our own Western Avenue here in the North Side.  We stopped in to be supportive and because we were curious.  Its a cool little venture, the space was comfortable and its exciting to realize that they can tailor vintage clothing to fit both petite Laura and plus sized Sue.  We may just rock the Lamdba Ball this year. The only thing to complain about was the lady smoking in the corner of the store.  Not only is that obnoxious in a small space, but it makes me wonder if the clothing will smell like smoke ...you know how much I hate rude smokers ...but maybe I'm out of the hipster vintage loop and people smoke when they have private clothing shows.  It still seems kind of gross.  But toddle on down there to check out the clothing and the cool vision of the owners.  Its just  block from Roxolana's Garden where you can refresh yourself with a cup of java and delicious homemade pastries. 

    Dinner was at one of our favorite local restaurants, Legends of the North Shore on North Avenue by Allegheny General Hospital.  Delishus food, superb service and always a really good time.  Check out what the City Paper had to say about them .... our favorite server/host Chris always shows us a good time.    Rather than wait in line at the Olive Garden for 45 minutes on a Friday night, shoot down to the North Side (really its right off the parkway), find plenty of free parking and enjoy a fresh made meal for just a few dollars more.  What's not to love about that?

    We wrapped up the day at the Dixie Chicks concert which was awesome. I haven't seen so many cowboy hats since I lived in Kentucky.  We were surrounded by yinzers, but I have to say that they all hootered and hollered when Natalie made her very few Bush jokes and cheered loudly during Not Ready to Back Down.   So perhaps liberal yinzers?  That warms my heart.  :-)

    All in all, a good day ....

    View Article  Religion, Fascism and PrideFest: Latvian Fascists Surround PrideLeaders; World Pride Cancelled in Jerusalem

    A celebration of gay pride in Riga, Latvia erupted in total chaos when homophobic fascists and anti-gay right wing extremists disrupted the parade, assaulted an openly gay pastor and surrounded a hotel trapping a dozen pride leaders for hours until being "rescued" by the government. (PageOneQ)

    Reports from the Pride organizers indicate that police protection was nonexistant with little attempt to control the swelling crowds or protect the victims of the attacks.  As in Russia, the fascists were joined in their hateful violence by a multitude of religious people.  And as in Poland and Russia, the government banned the parade in open defiance of the human rights requirements of the European Union.

    Eastern Europe is headed for a meltdown on gay civil rights.

    In another story, the Gay WorldPride festival parade scheduled to be held in Jerusalem has been cancelled due to the looming all out war between Israel and Hezbollah.  The organizers had to cancel because there aren't enough soldiers available to protect the marchers. 

    WorldPride proved to be the one thing in the universe capable of drawing together regional Jewish, Muslim and Christian flavored homo-bigots who insisted the parade be cancelled and threatened violence if it was not.  What a nice display of ecumenism!

    Other WorldPride activities will go on as scheduled including a film festival and interfaith worship service.

    These are the kind of stories that should make every queer in Pittsburgh rethink our attitudes about our own Pride Parade. While we worry about parking, sun screen and grabbing the swag, our brothers and sisters throughout the world are pelted with rocks and physically assaulted.  Our police officers protect us from crazy drivers and idiots who bring beer into the festival.  Eastern European police seem to protect the fascists and women using their Bibles to smack down homosexuals.  We are pursuing full civil rights while our counterparts in Nigeria struggle for the right to even exist. 

    We must be on to something if we are drawing such wrath around the world from our avowed enemies.  And we here in Pittsburgh should take our existing civil liberties a bit more seriously rather than be lulled into a sense of complacency by the seeming peacefulness of our celebrations.  We owe that to queers in Russian, Poland, Nigeria, Israel and Latvia ... we owe it to ourselves. 

    But, you say, PrideFest isn't until June.  True, but the most important election of 2006 and absolutely the biggest electoral battle for gay civil rights takes place right here in Pennsylvania. 

    View Article  PG reader reminds us of the role of gay African-American, ex-Communist in civil rights movement

    In a strategic aside, PG letter to the editor writer Arlene Weitz Weiner of Squirrel Hill notes the contribution - significant contribution - of Bayard Rustin, a gay African-American and former member of the Community Party, to the hallowed 1963 March on Washington.  Rustin was a primary organizer of the event.

    Weitz Weiner's letter was in response to a PG article critiquing the waning impact of "mainstream" religion on the American socio-political landscape.  I'll be honest that I'm not 100% sure what argument she is making  - other than acknowleding that the church should be at the forefront of social justice movements such as the civil rights and anti-war movements.  (Apparently, I haven't had enough coffee yet for critical analysis).

    But a shout out to Arlene for putting out a gay-affirming nugget of history.  And, as always, for taking the time to write her letter.

    View Article  Does the GOP prefer to keep women poor?

    I don't like when people put down individuals who receive welfare.  I don't like the term "welfare people" or the jokes about welfare queens or the condescending sneers.  I don't like the way the term itself is used to convey a litany of classist, racist, and sexist stereotypes which, unfortunately, now have the legislative muscle to keep poor women down and out. 

    Feministing sent me to a great article on new welfare regulations at TomPaine.com written by Maureen Lane, co-director of the Welfare Rights Initiative at Hunter College City of University of New York.

    For these families, the rules represent a narrowing of the best opportunity many have of moving, not just from welfare, but permanently out of poverty. Study after study has shown that when people receiving welfare have the chance to get an education?whether it?s earning a college degree, securing a GED or mastering the English language?their family incomes and long-term prospects improve far more than those families who remain trapped in low-wage jobs. Yet dead-end low-wage positions without benefits or security are frequently the only jobs people pushed off the rolls without education and training are able to secure in this economy.

    Welfare is supposed to be a safety net for the most vulnerable people in our society.  Reform should include resources and programs that enable people to become self-sufficient, a standard that $5.50 per hour with no benefits does not accomplish.  That only accomplishes a vicious cycle of poverty with its full array of ancillary problems.

    For details on local welfare rights inititiatives, go to Just Harvest.

    View Article  Teach the children well .... how to hate

    The youngest members of the Fred Phelps clan ...  h/t Good as You

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