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View Article  City Paper On The Pittsburgh Primary

I'm getting ready for my journey to NYC, so I'm going to throw out a few first impressions of the City Paper's cover story ananlyzing the election outcomes, the potential for the three new City Councilpeople-elect, and, of course, where blogs fit into it all. 

* Interesting that Patrick Dowd and Bruce Kraus were interviewed together, but Ricky Burgess was interviewed separately.  Was that a timing issue? 

They also acknowledged knowing next to nothing about Burgess, the third challenger to win his primary race.

"I don't know much about his work," confesses Dowd, though he notes that he was "moved" by Burgess' yard signs, which promised "The Power of Hope."

"I really don't know [Burgess]," seconds Kraus, though he adds, "we've met a couple of times."

This comes as little surprise to Burgess. District 9 is predominantly black and poor, and it "is not the focus of a lot of people," Burgess says. "It's not surprising people don't know a lot about me."

Taking things one step further, didn't any of the progressives working so hard for Dowd and Kraus make the time to get to know Burgess?  The election has been over for more than two weeks folks.  I read about Burgess on the Steel City Stonewall site and noted that he was good on some issues (DP bennnies, needle exchange, history of workign with PATF) and not good at all on others (gay marriage, right to choose).  But he's here and he's now and it just strikes me as odd that no one is taking the time to get to know him.  Reading yard signs and the City Paper article isn't the same thing as saying "Hey, Ricky, let's you, Bruce/Patrick, and I grab some coffee at Ritter's Diner and get to know each other."    To be fair, I have to wonder if Burgess' people took the time, then or now, to get to know Dowd or Kraus -- these things matter to me because I work in District 9 and a lot of my families live there.

* Blogs get a rap on the knuckles in this piece.  We feasted on the setbacks of the old timers.  Burgess thinks we don't pay enough attention to issues outside of our own purveuy, like the perspective in Homewood.

"The issues of some people, like those in the blogs, are not my issues," Burgess says. "What's holding our district back is the education for our kids, the violence and lack of economic development in our communities." Such issues, he notes, get very little attention from bloggers, who are much more likely to be set abuzz by the news that Ravenstahl was detained by police at a Steelers game in 2005.

Burgess admires the blogs for being an "unfiltered perception of some segment of the community." But, he adds, "The authors of the blogs are talking about the perspective they live" -- and "mostly, they aren't living in Homewood."

Ouch!  <Surveying the landscape for political bloggers who aren't white or anonymously racially unknown -- Hello Three Rivers Online .....Khari --- why no updates?.>.  To be fair to myself, I live in Manchester which isn't a haven of white upper class sensibilities and I do blog about local issues, but my perspective on local issues is definitely colored by the privileges of being white and middle class.  I've most notably blogged about urban dumping, police indifference, political indifference and so forth, but I do think I've tried to consider the big picture. 

Please note that I do have a constructive plan on this particular issue, a plan I've been hatching with Maria and Agent Ska.  It will be anounced, hopefully, next week.  You will all, including Chris Potter, be invited to lavish us with phrases like "Pure Genius,"  "Revolutionizing the Burghosphere," and "Damn, Those Chicks Are F***ing Brilliant."

* It is easy to romanticize the "progressive bloc" backing Peduto, but the CP reminds that in politics, things are never romantic.  Dowd and Kraus are not clones and have philosophical differences <thank goodness they have philosophical anything>.  Burgess is keenly aware of the historical isolation of his district and staking territory as his own man.  It is not Peduto the progressive leader or Peduto the king-maker who is going to surge ahead with these gentleman in tow. It is Peduto's ideas -- solid, smart and good governance policies -- that stand a chance of winning the support of these gentleman.  And, to be fair, these gentleman stand a chance of winning Peduto with their own good ideas. 

* There's a really cute picture of Doug Shields in the story.  Not really relevant to anything, but I did honestly think,"That's a cute picture."  He looks like a man who wouldn't light up in a public building.  Let's hope.

Alrighty then, I must go finish packing my carryon bag.  Ledcat and the woofers will hold down the fort.  The kitties will carry on as usual.  I will probably log back on tonight and look forward to the usual hundreds of comments. 

View Article  Hello, Is this the Allegheny County Democratic Committee?

Where oh where have my little reps gone, oh where oh where can they be?

During a recent heated discussion on the Run, Baby, Run listserv, I realized that I am not sure who my Allegheny County Democratic Committee representatives are.  I moved to this here neck of the woods (Manchester) in 2005 and have never been contacted, approached or sought after by anyone connected with the Democratic Party.  I am not a supervoter (to my chagrin), but I have attended a lot of community meetings and events and never once have I seen anyone, male or female, identify themselves as a committee people or a ward chair or ward cleaver for that matter.

I did happen to learn by quirk that a neighbor down the street may or may not be the female committee person.  She's a very nice lady, but when I saw her at the post-endorsement Bill Peduto (sigh) rah-rah meeting she was more interested in playing with the hosts' children than doing any networking or socializing.  In fact, most of the old school long-time muckety muck white people there pretty much talked with their friends and ate blue cookies.  She also tends to brag that she's been a committeewoman for like 25+ years or some ungodly amount of time and that "they won't let me retire."  I'm hopeful she's talking about her employer, but I doubt it.

So I was encouraged by ACDC guru herself Dianna Wentz to call the office and get the scoop.  The number is 412-321-2995. 

Being an intrepid blogger, I tried their website first.  No dice.  Lots of pretty red, white and blue fonts to convince me how patriotic I am for being a Democrat (something you never reinforce often enough I suppose), but not a lot of actual information to be had. 

Today, I called and left a detailed message.  Dianna cautioned me that they have a lot of calls and an overworked staff, so I'm willing to wait a few days and see what happens. 

Anyone else know their committeepersons?  Do they go to meetings?  Contact people?  Identify themselves?  Show up period? 

View Article  Scenes from Moscows Crackdown on Gay Pride: Pay Attention Pittsburgh
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View Article  Purse Totin' Tinky Winky Gay - Again?

Oh those wacky Polish children's rights watchers .... always a day behind and a dollar short.  Remeber back in 1999 when Jerry Falwell deemed Teletubbie Tinky Winky a homo because he carried a purse (TW is the purple one)?  Now Ewa Sowinski is on the same bandwagon.  Well, she way until apparently someone reminder her of 1999 so she's off again.

"I noticed that he has a purse, but I didn't realize he's a boy. At first I thought that must be a bother for him," Sowinska told the magazine in an interview her office approved before publication. "Later I learned that there could be some hidden homosexual undertones."

Sowinska is a member of the League of Polish Families party, which is militantly anti-gay rights and anti-abortion. The party is a junior member in the coalition government led by Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

Spokespeople from Sowinska's office have confirmed that they will not ask psychologists to examine the character.

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

I have a recurring dream that my father and I are on a long highway and we see a bridge that says "This way to Poland" and another exit that says "This way to France."  For some reason, I always want to go to Poland.  My father goes to France anyway.  For the record, as a lesbian and a woman, I'd much rather go to France.  Thank goodness for my Dad.

View Article  Pgh on Hate Crimes

 I completely missed this.  The Post-Gazette ran an editorial on May 21 opposing extending federal hate crimes legislation to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

At the end of the day, we are troubled by making distinctions that implicitly give a greater importance to one crime over a similar one simply because of the motivation of the perpetrators (a determination that has a Thought Police aspect to it) or because of how one victim can be categorized demographically.

The same desire that moves us to support equal treatment of all -- men and women, black and white, gay and straight -- also propels us to think that an assault is an assault, a murder is a murder and that crimes should be prosecuted without making invidious distinctions in the eyes of the law, before whom all should stand equal.

In an ideal world, that's nice.  Was Tony Norman off on this day?  Because no one claims that the murder of a heterosexual white Catholic male is less devastating and horrific than the murder of a person who is African-American, Jewish or gay.  But very rarely is that individual murdered with the intent of creating a chilling effect on the larger minority community. 

Expanding federal jurisdiction is necessary to ensure fair and equal treatment of crimes motivated by hate, especially when state and local authorities can't or won't investigate or prosecute.  How an editorial board so in touch with the modern trend of states abridging basic civil protections of the LGBTQ community can fail to see the need for this protection is beyond me.  Remember when states refused to investigate voting discrimination against African-American citizens?  Remember when states wouldn't let black students in public schools?  Why was federal intervention okay in those instances, but not when it comes to queers and trannies?

I sure as hell don't trust Pennsyvania to do a good job investigating hate crimes against LGBTQ citizens.  At least not all of Pennsylvania.  Most of our so-called Democratic legislators from Western Pennsylvania voted for amending the constitution to protect marriage from the queers before they voted against it.  Politically expedient for their careers, but a clear message to us here in da' burgh that we cannot count on anyone to respect and value us as full and equal citizens in the Commonwealth. 

Or how about the now and future Sheriff of Allegheny County telling a crowd of gay people that there really aren't any problems around gay issues for local law enforcement, even after 20+ years on the Pittsburgh police force.  Do you think he's going to be receptive to a hate crime investigation when a transexual prostitute is beaten to a bloody pulp in South Park?  Hmmm ....I know that would be the County Police, not the Sheriff but the point is about his attitude, not his jurisdiction.  He's a law enforcment leader and should be setting the bar high for protecting all residents of the County.

For a clear analysis on the revision of the federal hate crimes legislation, check out what the YWCA has to say here.  The Southern Poverty Law Center has some other interesting stuff. 

Back here in Pittsburgh, two letters to the editor about Hate Crimes legislation moving through the federal level.

Robert Timm of Mt. Lebanon agrees with the Post-Gazette.

I can't seem to find the difference between murder. Why is there a difference between the murder of a white, a minority or a homosexual person? If they were all murdered by the same person, why should one be treated any differently than the other two?

In my opinion they are all the same. Hate is hate, and should be handled according.

Timm doesn't seem to get that it is not the crime, but the motivation for the crime that's at stake.  No one is suggesting going easier on crimes against the majority population.  If a serial murdered kills a random group of people, the death of the homo is not greater than the death of the hetero.  But when a group of frat boys target and beat up a young man because he is gay, they are trying to send a message to gay people.  Why is that so hard to understand?

Ian S. Thompson of Baden seems to get it.  It is about the crime, not the value of the victim. 

While all Americans -- men and women, black and white, gay and straight -- should be treated equally under the law, the same cannot be said for crimes. While it would certainly be easy to simply say that one murder is as awful and should be treated the same as any other murder, the facts do not bear this out.

When a young man is viciously beaten and left to die in the cold and isolation of an October night in Wyoming simply because he is gay, that crime has ramifications far beyond its own awful brutality.

Hate crimes by their very nature aim to instill terror within an entire community. While one person may be left with the physical wounds and scars of an attack, similar people from across a community, state or even country are left to wonder if they could be next.

Hate crimes are about isolating, silencing and making people cower in the corners. The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act is a good bill and should be signed into law.

Amen, brother.

View Article  Miss Mona holds her own and other stuff of note from Lesbian Central

It has been a roller coaster around Lesbian Central.  Overall, things are good, but Ledcat and I are exhausted (and it is only Monday).

As you may recall, Miss Mona began her chemo treatments last week.  She has done remarkably well with only a few minor side effects making an appearance.  Today, she stood in the kitchen barking her heart out when we left the house, so I know she's feeling better (and peeved about being left behind with the cats).  She has four more rounds of chemo to go over the next four months.  We also switched her to this no-grain/high protein diet called Evo, The Ancestral Diet which she loves, as well as some no/low grain treats.  Apparently, carbs feed cancer and a diet high in protein and fat fights back.  Who knew? 

The very day she began her chemo, I found a lump on Deus' jaw.  My heart sank and I was pretty upset.  Off we went to Allegheny Veterinary Associates only to discover, to my great relief, that is was a fatty tumor.  Deus enjoyed the car ride.  He has gained 10 pounds and now weighs 120 which makes him almost equal in size to Ledcat.  Wrestling him to the ground to trim his nails was great fun.  I should bring my grandmother to the vet with me -- she's nearly 91, weighs 110 and he is gentle as a lamb when he's around her.  She has absolutely no fear of the boys and they pick up on it.  I think it is because she collects crumbs in her lap and doesn't mind if they sniff her.  :-)   Anyway, Deus is fine albeit chubby.  Ledcat thinks we tie a hot dog over his head and get him to run around the yard chasing it.  :-)

Next week is Grandma's 91st birthday.  As a surprise, I am taking her for her absolute favorite thing -- ice cream.  We'll go to Klavons in the Strip District because I think she'll get a kick out of the retro soda fountain.  Plus, I know they will fuss over her which is her second most favorite thing.  Third is seeing Miss Mona.  Mona goes for ice cream all the time and enjoys munching on a cone and all the pets she receives from other ice cream aficionados.  I'm not sure I can swing Mona and Grandma at the ice cream parlor at the same time -- they are both rather feisty grand dames. 

I'm off this week to attend the wedding of my college roomie and long-time friend, BJ.  I haven't seen her family in over a decade so I am very excited.  They live in New York City.  Ledcat is staying home with the critters to keep an eye on Miss Mona.  I promised my therapist I would leave my laptop at home, but I just cannot do it ... four days without email is more than I can bear.  Plus, I have designated downtime when I'm trapped at the hotel with only out of town guests and in-laws, so I can use that for blogging time.  (Yes, I'm taking work with me, too.  There's no such thing as a real vacation in the wonderful world of social work.)

Other items of interest (at least to me):

*  We tried out the new restaurant in Allegheny West ... Muriel's Garden and it rocks.  The food is reasonably priced and awesome.  The staff was great.  We enjoyed dining al fresco in a quaint garden space.  Their salad dressing is really delicious and I had a great pasta dish with tomatoes and mushrooms.  Plus, bread pudding with whiskey sauce.  Try it.  And.... they are uber gay friendly.  Several homos on staff (this I confirmed through MySpace) and a real gay sensibility to the place. 

*  We also hit our absolute favorite Indian restaurant, Taj Mahal on McKnight Road.  That place is simply always delish.  We get into a bit of a rut with regard to entrees, but it's a wondrous rut.  There seems to have been a recent turnover in staff which has only improved the service.  I used to shy away because I would wait in vain for a water refill, but now I am amply hydrated.

*  I had this giant vase filled with change that I've accumulated for the past five years.  So off to Giant Eagle we went to take advantage of their coin counting machine.  I learned that I could redeem my change for a gift card and pay no fee so I opted to get a Borders gift card and a Starbucks card.  $80 later ...Ledcat and I splurged at Borders, her with two cds and me with two books.  I never buy books, preferring the library.  So this was huge for me, but I couldn't very well get a $57 Starbucks gift card.  Well, I could have but it wouldn't have been pretty ... I found it a bit odd that you couldn't get a Giant Eagle gift card from the machine.  However, I am happy to have reading material for the airplane trip. 

So there you have it. Feed your dogs ancestrally.  Feed yourselves at two great local restaurants.  Save your pennies.  And be nice to your grandma because you don't know how long you'll have her around.  Or your dog. 

View Article  Gay man with local roots named associate helm of Three Rivers Arts Festival

From today's Post-Gazette, I learned that the Three Rivers Arts Festival has recruited a talented young gay man as the associated director.  His name is Chris Taylor, he's from Penn Hills and he describes himself as "single and looking for a domestic partner."  Love that.

Taylor recently earned an M.A. in administration and policy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Since his last year of graduate school, he'd been director of community and cultural programs for the Center on Halsted, a Chicago gay and lesbian community organization.

Always nice when there is a bit of good gay news in the paper.  Welcome back to Pittsburgh, Chris.

View Article  John Edwards Answers "Gay Issues" Questionnaire from the HRC

Courtesy of Pam's House Blend

I think these answers are consistent with what we've heard so far from John Edwards, along with an clear statement that he supports the repeal of DOMA, which is what stands in the way of marriage equality on paper. Every single candidate who is in favor of civil unions cannot realistically expect to earn a gay vote without crossing this bridge.

That said, there is a follow-up question that needs to be asked, with companies denying benefits to couples in civil unions, how will Edwards or any other candidate will ensure that gay and lesbian couples will be treated equally under the law in a separate-but-equal on paper legal arrangement that cannot be called "marriage?" Civil unions, domestic partnerships and any other half measures are going to fail because they are not culturally equal.  The word, even when referring only to civil marriage, is universally understood and accepted.

Pam has the original .pdf file of the HRC questionnaire.

My understanding is that Edwards has been the first Dem presidential candidate to get his answers out there.  I'm personally not impressed with Hillary and Barack at this point -- I have significant suspicion that they would sell out the LGBTQ community to curry favor among socially conservative Democrats, especially people whose faith pronounces us immoral. 

However, I'm not convinced Edwards wouldn't do that same.  Saying that he's "not there yet" on gay marriage is a bunch of hooey.  Denying Ledcat and I 1,000+ federal benefits because of his personal morality is just wrong.  Especially since I suspect his personal morality is about political expediency and the "faith" vote. 

However, I agree with Pam that Edwards is worth a second or third look.  I've been saying all along that its going to be Edwards for Pres and Obama for VP.  That's still my call. 

View Article  PG Reader: Don't Impose Christo Morality Code on Others

I love letters to the editor, almost as much as I enjoy the comics.  I truly admire folks who take the time to pen a letter, even when I do not admire their perspective or beliefs.  From the perspective of a lesbian blogger, it is valuable for intolerant people to put their prejudice, bigotry and rational out there for everyone to read. It is like a blueprint of hate. It is just as valuable when gay people and our allies take the time to put another perspective out there, affirming the value and dignity of people in the gay community.

Today's letter is one of the latter.  Joseph Kowalski of North Huntington responds to a recent epistle from Matt Muffmyer who, like so many of his christo-comrades, believes it is necessary to beat us over the head with his verion of WWJD.  Matt thinks Jesus was anti-homosexual and anti-pornography, and admonishs us to avoid the Jesus buffet aka pick and choose Christianity.

Unlike me, Joseph took the high road and did not mock Matt (who appears to be a frattesque boy from Grove City College - are you surprised?).  Instead, Joseph offers a succint response .... well, read it for yourselves:

I'm not here to debate what is and isn't included in the Bible because in a free society that enjoys freedom of religion, equality isn't based on the Bible. As a gay man living in the United States, I should have all the rights and privileges afforded to heterosexual citizens.

In the United States, Christians are free to be repelled by any and all sins mentioned in the Bible, and they can practice their moral code as it applies to them. However, Christians are not free to impose their moral code on others.

That's the piece that some Christians don't want to acknowledge -- no one is forcing churches in Vermont to perform gay marriages.  The state cannot compel a church to change their religious activities; it just doesn't get to cross that line into imposing on other people. This is an important point because the Christian zealots very much want to impose their morality on the rest of us -- conversion to their way of thinking is the only real option. 

Kudos to Mr. Kowalski for reminding of that very fact. 

View Article  MacLesbians

Two big McIntire lesbian items of note ...

First, I'll be around 2:20 this afternoon to chat about Mary Cheney and Heather Poe's baby son. 

Second, I got a nice shout out as a "sometimes political" blogger who confirmed Bruce Kraus' gayness.  If you want to know who else is gay, but not open about it and usually voting against our community, check aht www.blogactive.com   If you want to read what John McIntire thinks about it all (Kraus, not closeted self-loathing Republican homos), click on "nice shout out" and check aht his City Paper column. 

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