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View Article  The Gay Chat: Here's How It Went

This is really long, but read to the end for the outcomes.  First, here are the Steel-City endorsements and here are those of the Gertrude Stein Club.

Tonight Ledcat and I scurried home to let the dogs out and head over to Shadyside for an historic meeting -- the first ever LGBT forum sponsored by the Allegheny County Democratic Committee which gave the community an opportunity to speak with endorsed candidates about our issues.

About a dozen endorsed and a few not-so-endorsed candidates turned out and created an interesting mix of mostly white, middle aged heterosexual candidates seeking the LGBT vote.  To be fair, the audience was mostly white, middle aged homosexual voters. 

I personally want to applaud the candidates who turned out tonight.  Being there made a statement about their recognition of the LGBT community even if their responses were not always what we wanted to hear.  My biggest criticism is for those who didn't turn out and those who didn't send a surrogate.  I don't have to bother asking where you are on LGBT issues if you don't even show up for the conversation. 

My second biggest criticism is for the LGBT community.  The crowd was about 40 deep including several heterosexuals.  I was probably the 2nd or 3rd youngest person there and I'm 36.  Where are all the young queer activists -- how on earth could they pass up this chance to ask the questions that are so relevant to their futures?  Kudos to Tom Sokolowski for speaking out loud and proud (and in a fabu pair of eyeglasses) but how long can those who forged their activist street cred during the 80s continue to carry us on their backs?  This was a missed opportunity for anyone who deems themselves a gay activist and shame on them.

My third biggest criticism goes back to the candidates who did attend.  Most of them didn't do their homework.  As Tom point out, they would NEVER have shown up at an event for other minority communities without knowing the issues and the data.  This was disrespectful to our community.  Better to be honest about your lack of awareness than to try and fool us, but there's no excuse for not being prepared.  You accepted the invitation to attend a forum; get on the Internet and at least familiarize yourself with our concerns.  To walk in not being aware of domestic partnership benefits is inexcusable. 

That being said .... here are my impressions of those who attended.

First the moderator.  Hugh McGough from the City Solicitor's office did a nice job and was very well prepared on a range of issues. 

Michael Lamb, City Controller:  Wow. I had no idea how freakin good this guy is and has been for many years.  I admit that I just knew him as the progressive guy who wasn't Bill Peduto.  I should have made it my business to know more and for that I am sorry.  He has a solid history of work on AIDS funding, the legislation to extend civil rights protections to the LGBT community and clearly knows the issues.  Wouldn't it be awesome one day to have Lamb as Chief Executive and Peduto as Mayor?  Sigh.  A girl can dream.

Bill Mullen, County Sheriff: Lives in a land of delusion where there are no problems between law enforcement and the rights of the LGBT community.  He served on the Pittsburgh Police Force for a gazillion years and ended up as Deputy Chief but was never aware of issues.  No comments on the need for sensitivity training for the sheriffs.  Actually no comments at all about LGBT issues, just responses to direct questions.  He did say he wouldn't oppose negotiating with the Sheriff's union about domestic partner benefits.  He seemed distinctly uncomfortable and had no actual LGBT platform other than a need to secure votes for a tight race.  But at least he showed up.

Matt Arena, County Council District 13:  Spoke a lot about diversity and not discriminating against people on the basis of religion, ethnicity or "other things."  I'm not sure he actually said the word gay out loud.  At first, said he would consider extending civil protections and non-discrimination language countywide, but couldn't make a promise.  Later Jon Robison from the Gertrude Stein Club asked him to make the pledge to support and he publicly said he would support it.

Rich Fitzgerald, County Council District 11:  One of the most thoughtful candidates present, he directly answered each and every question from the crowd relating even tangentially to the county.  He stated he has no problems extending civil protections countywide, but acknowledged that winning the necessary votes from other council members would be a challenge.  In response to Tony Silvestre's question about issues of human service delivery and health disparities, Fitzgerald offered to set up a meeting with LGBT leaders, himself and Marc Cherna, Director of the Department of Human Services to discuss those concerns. 

Arnie Klein, Court of Common Pleas:  I liked his sincerity.  He made a good case for the importance of experience on the bench and his commitment to be fair.  I noticed that he really seemed to be paying attention to the questions, the dialogue and the issues.  That impressed me.  He's good on gay adoption (and seemingly foster care).

Mike McCarthy, Court of Common Pleas:  Best quote of the evening "If I weren't here, I wouldn't deserve your vote."  Very down to earth and seemingly good on LGBT issues.  Again, very good on gay adoption and gay parenting.  Something about this guy really struck me and he's a white middle class heterosexual man.  So I guess I can be open minded :-)

Jack McVay, Court of Common Pleas:  This guy must be impressive because he's snagged just about every endorsement possible.  He talked being fair, supportive of gay adoption and looked for opportunities as a judge to be proactive.

Len Bodack, City Council District 7:  I have to give this guy props for having cohones.  He showed up at an LGBT forum and admitted he's not in favor of gay marriage because of his religion (Catholic).  I think it was Tom that made the comment that Len did everything but show us his baptismal certificate to demonstrate how Catholic he was.  Then he left early. 

Sherry Hazuda, School Board District 6:  She spoke about GLSEN as a "wonderful organization" and said she's in favor of using GLSEN to help kids get through school mentally healthy.  She is in favor of domestic partnership benefits for school employees.  Seemed very enthusiastic and interested in learning.

Stephanie Tecza, School Board District 12:  She was direct with regard to LGBT issues "It is all new to me."  Has no problem with domestic partner benefits. 

Doug Shields, City Council District 5:  After a very awkward interlude with the moderator about speaking for his endorsed office versus the other office for which he was not endorsed (Controller), Doug made a nice speech about his long history of civil rights work.  What I didn't hear were any new proposals to move the city forward with regard to LGBT civil rights and that disappoints coming from someone who is a strong ally. 

Then there were the surrogates.  Again, at least the campaigns sent some folks.

Dan Onorato:  Said Dan favors extending nondiscrimination protections.  In his Steel-City questionnaire, Onorato said he's in favor of domestic partnership benefits if the budget allows.  When he was called on that, the surrogate got a bit snotty and defensive.  Did he really expect a crowd filled with domestic partners and tax payers were going to just let that fly?  I asked a follow up question and he looked none too pleased. 

Luke Ravenstahl:  Ok, this was weird.  The guy he sent was nice enough, but showed up in jeans and a half tucked shirt -- and not in a good way.  He commented that Luke courts the bar owners vote.  He had no new policies or ideas to speak of.  I went up to the guy later and asked if Luke would be at PrideFest -- according to the organizers, he is supposed to be.  The surrogate had no idea but said he would pass the suggestion along.  Why would you send a surrogate who wouldn't know your plans to attend the largest LGBT gathering in the region?  Who was this guy? I have to admit I advised him that Yarone should tone down the gay panic comments if he wants real support from anyone who doesn't own a bar. 

Judge Debra Todd, Supreme Court:  This is the woman who wrote an opinion on the Superior Court dissenting from the decision against same sex adoption.  Her dissent paved the way for the Supreme Court to overturn that decision and rule in favor of same sex adoption.  That's good for me.

Wrenna Watson , Common Pleas:  The strangest surrogate testimony "She's very sweet." especially coming from someone who took pride in being the first woman in her position.  No man running for office would ever want to be described as sweet.  She also praised her for being orderly.  It was more like an endorsement for Miss Congeniality than anything else.  Very strange. 

Outcomes to note:

Rich Fitzgerald:  committed to schedule a sit down with Marc Cherna to discuss LGBT issues.  committed to work on extending civil rights protections to the county and working with progressive Republicans to make it happen.

Michael Lamb:  committed to training school principles on LGBT student issues. committed to keeping domestic partner benefits for city employees impacted by any further mergers of city and county offices.

Matt Arena:  committed to support extending civil rights protections to the county if the legislation is introduced.


Here's who didn't show up or send a surrogate:

Darlene Harris - City Council District 1

Jeffrey Koch - City Council District 3

Ricky Burgess - City Council District 9

William Isler - School Board District 4

Mark Brentley - School Board District 8

Oscar Petite - District Judge

Seamus McCaffery - Supreme Court

John Milton Younge - Superior Court

Ron Folino - Superior Court

Mark Flaherty - County Controller

Stephen Zappala - District Attorney

John Weinstein - County Treasurer

John DeFazio - County Council at Large

John Palmiere - County Council District 6

Nick Futules - County Council District 7

Bob Macey - County Council District 9

Bill Robinson - County Council District 10

Jim Ellenboren - County Council District 12

Susan Evashavik - District Judge

Eugene Riazzi - District Judge

Richard Olasz Jr - District Judge

Pat Capolupo - District Judge

Beth Scagline-Mills - District Judge

Anthony Saveikis - District Judge

Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.

View Article  Gay Endorsement Party -- TODAy 3-6 PM

From the Steel-City Stonewall Democrats ...

Questionnaires detailing candidate positions on GLBT issues from: 

Dan Onorato, Rick Swartz, Mike Dawida, Michael Lamb, Tony Pekora, Doug Shields, Willis Berry, C. Darnell Jones II, Seamus McCaffery, Debra Todd, Christine Donohue, Ann E. Lazarus, James Murray Lynn, Cathleen Bubash, Arnie Klien, Mike McCarthy, Jack McVay, Wrenna Watson, Bruce Kraus, Len Bodack, Patrick Dowd, Ricky Burgess, Leah Kirkland, Eric Smith, Matt Arena & Brenda Frasier

ARE NOW POSTED ON www.steel-city.org

The Steel-City Stonewall Democrats Endorsement Party will be this Sunday, April 29, from 3 to 6 PM at the home of Tara Reynolds in ShadySide (732 Summerlea St)

Most of the candidates will be at the Endorsment Party to discuss their positions with members and non-members alike.

At anytime during the meeting members in good standing can cast a vote for the candidates they want the chapter to endorse...

Please review the completed questionnaires that have been posted so far... more may be added as they come in...  Printed copies will be available at the party.

The party is free for members in goodstanding...  $50.00 is requested from non-member which can be credited towards future membership.

Food, Beer, and Wine will be served to mellow the afternoon

We all hope to see all of you there...  To RSVP email lance@steel-city.org  or call 412-728-5262

View Article  Gay news from across the land ...

The absurd ...a father is suing an Arkansas library because his sons "stumbled across" the Whole Lesbian Sex Book which disturbed them greatly.  I believe the quote is that they had two sleepless nights at his house.  Hmm ...

The ridiculous ...Rudy Guiliani does a big and very public flipflop on civil unions.  In case you weren't keeping track, he was for them before he was against them.  Pam's House Blend has the audiotape of Rudy discussing his "for them" stance back in 2003.  When he wasn't running for President and courting the fundies.

The good ...New York's Governor has filed a bill to legalize gay marriage.

The joyful ...

CONCORD, N.H. -- The Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, says he and his partner of 18 years will be among the couples taking advantage of New Hampshire's soon-to-be-signed civil unions law.

I'm not even going to spoil the joy of their announcement by contemplating how Bishop Duncan and Archbishop Akinola must be spinning in their sanctuaries ...

Speaking of Nigeria ...a lesbian who married four women (as in took them as her wives, not performed the ceremony) has gone in hiding because she's facing imprisonment. 

The ugly ...Poland.  Censured by the EU for promoting homophobia, the Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski is speaking out in favor of repressive school based legislation that would make homosexual propaganda illegal.  Here's the best part courtesy of Europe's gay news service:

"Nobody is limiting gay rights in Poland," Mr Kaczynski said.

"However, if we're talking about not having homosexual propaganda in Polish schools, I fully agree with those who feel this way.

"Such propaganda should not be in schools; it definitely doesn't serve youth well.

"It's not in the interests of any society to increase the number of homosexuals, that's obvious."

Not limiting gay rights indeed. I'm planning my trip to Poland right now.

View Article  PG Reader: Loud and Proud Homophobe

This morning the PG published a letter from Mark Santucci of Ross who objects to the bias of the PG on gay marriage.

The Post-Gazette needs to be more balanced in its story selections. The vast majority of people in Pennsylvania feel that marriage is only between one man and one woman. Traditional marriage, as understood for thousands of years and all societies, is the way to bring up the next generation (children). Many studies have found that the best way to raise children is in a traditional marriage with a committed father and mother.

So many inaccuracies, so little time.  Here's a link showing that while the majority of Americans are not yet in favor of gay marriage, those who are have been steadily increasing over the years.  Not to mention that the majority of Americans are in favor of civil unions or a similiar arrangement.  I highly doubt that Pennsylvania is that different.

The 2000 Census showed that there are 237,622 unmarried heterosexual couples in Pennsylvania, many raising children.  Obviously "traditional marriage" isn't the be all, end all for everyone. 

I'm going to leave the debunking schtick to 2 Political Junkies.  Mr. Santucci's sweeping statements as evidenced by the phrase "thousands of years" "all societies" and "many studies" are proof that he simply does not know what he is talking about and must fall back on overarching generalities in lieu of a fact-laden arguement.

I'm actually glad to read these little missives.  The true believers won't be swayed by the facts anyway.  The middle of the roaders, however, probably know at least one single parent or gay couple or grandparent raising a grandchild and would hesitate to say that their families are lesser than a "traditional" family.  But, of course, widows and abandoned women raising children, as well as extended family members, have been with us since the dawn of time.  Hmmm.

Not feeling well today here in Lesbian Central so I guess I don't have the oomph to delve any further. 


View Article  Luke to distance himself from rich old white guys? Not likely

Does this mean Luke and Yarone have to take down the "No Gurls Allowed" signs from their wing of the City-County Building?

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, speaking to the crowd, said he had not made many female appointments since taking office, citing two additions, but pledged to "diversifying" city government wherever possible.

"I want you to know we will work for equal pay," said the mayor, clutching one of the cardboard "Will Work for Equality" signs.

Well, we can all pack up and go home because Luke made a promise and we all know how good he is on ... well, telling the truth. 

Good lord, the boy-mayor has absolutely no intention of appointing anyone who isn't part of the good old boys network on his watch.  He might maybe perhaps appoint a socially conservative white woman who knows her place and can keep her mouth shut.  Maybe. 

This is the adminstration that fired BJ Leber.  Sure there's a handsome new puppet instead of an incapacitated old one, but the fact is that the power mongerers have not changed.

Do you think the Will Work for Equality sign burned in his sweaty clutch or left a Harry Potter scar on his palm? 


View Article  Funny Man

New York based comedian Victor Varnado is hysterical.  Check out this Village Voice article to see for yourselves.  He occasionally rolls into town courtesy of local comedian Gab Bonesso


Disclosure and update:  Ledcat told me I wasn't being completely honest about this post.  We saw Victor a few weeks ago when he came to town for the anniversary tour we had caught the year before.  I introduced myself to him.  He gave me the limp, damp handshake and barely mouthed "nice to meet you" before sighing deeply and turning away to talk with his friends.  I was pissed.  Ledcat was more compassionate and assumed that he has an on-stage and off-stage switch.  I still say if someone shows up to see you perform, pays for it and learns that because of a screw-up on your end they have to wait an entire hour ... you could at least PRETEND to interact with them.  Acting.  Its called acting.  I fake being interested in people all the time.  At work.  At family gatherings.  Its called acting. 

Thus, Victor is funny but not very well-mannered.  It does matter.


View Article  Butchin' Up Jesus

Courtesy of Pam's House Blend, this is hysterical:


 Fishermen, Inc. makes figurines of Jesus participating in very butch activities like playing football, riding bulls, and engaging in the rawest, most manly, and sacred capitalist endeavor, working for food. These little statues are exactly what Our Lord needs to convince us that he's as heterosexual as the Pope or your average mega-church pastor--I mean who ever heard of a homosexual cowboy or football player?).

I'm picturing a petition-carrying Jesus figurine to cover the former and Our Savior fitting a ball gag on a sailor to take care of the latter. I suppose a shout out to the Illinois Family Institute's Peter LaBarbera would also be useful, maybe a leather-and-nipple-chain-clad Jesus going undercover to document the atrocities at a pride event. I don't think there's anything that gives a man more hetero cred than being a secret agent in the war against sodomy. It sure works for Mr. LaBarbera.

I'm not sure football Jesus is wearing the appropriate head gear and might in fact be a poor role model for small children.  Unless repeated concussions make you more malleable?  Hmmm.

View Article  Gay Quote of the Day ...

"The world is a much happier place when you figure out if you are the pin or the cushion."

Berta, Two and a Half Men

View Article  Pittsburgh Gay Fest 2007: Pride in the Street

View Article  A Little Gay Round Up Makes Everyone Happy

New York Governor Elliot Spitzer plans to introduce legislation to legalize same sex marriage in New York.  What can we say other than -- yeah!

Here in Pittsburgh, Beverly Heights Presbyterian Church voted themselves off the island of mainstream Presbyterianity and into the conservative boat known as the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. But its not about the gays.

Although debates over gay ordination and gay marriage get the most attention in the divided denomination, the Rev. Wolling said those were not what spurred the decision to leave. He said he believes the denomination has turned from classical Trinitarian theology and from belief that Jesus is the divine son of God and sole savior of humanity.


Penn State has hired a new coach for the women's basketball team ... with the lyrical name of Coquese Washington.  I love her already.  And I'm not a basketball fan ...

Then there's the latest from the Vatican's halls of intolerance ...

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican's second-highest ranking doctrinal official on Monday forcefully branded homosexual marriage an evil and denounced abortion and euthanasia as forms of "terrorism with a human face."

Pam talks about the impending legalization of gay couples to adopt in Colorado.

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