Wednesday, January 30
by Sue on Wed 30 Jan 2008 10:41 PM EST
As you recall from Tuesday, City Council voted 7-0 to support state legislation including "sexual orientation" and "gender identity/gender expression" into the classes protected under the PA Human Relations Act. Motznik and Payne were out of the room during the vote, hence the 7.
My sources tell me that both Motznik and Payne co-sponsored this resolution, as did all of the other members of Council except Ricky Burgess. Burgess did vote in favor of the legislation. So, I am told, it is practically the same thing as a unanimous endorsement.
I guess. What do you think?
I'm still waiting to hear what happened in Harrisburg with the marriage amendment. You know that's one thing that really frustrates me -- we get these "hurry, hurry, hurry" messages from the lobbying groups with very concrete deadlines by which we must take action. Then, days and days go by with no follow-up, not even a simple acknowledgement. In the information age, that's unacceptable. We need better infrastructure. There's no weekly, much less daily, gay media source in Western Pennsylvania. Websites aren't being updated and voice mail boxes are full. Email messages go unacknowledged.
Here's what I would have liked on Wednesday. A blast email:
That's long been a downside to local LGBT everything -- communication does not filter from the top decision makers on down to the everyday homo.
The good news is that Diane Gramley hasn't updated me, either.
Tuesday, January 29
by Sue on Tue 29 Jan 2008 04:59 PM EST
3:15 PM Leave office and drop promotional literature off at several local businesses. Buy King Cake to share with office on Wednesday.
4:00 PM Arrive at Hoi Polloi. Artfully distribute promotional literature. Meet Jessica's other brother. Realize lack of eating since dinner on Monday so order curried pumpkin soup and grilled cheese sandwich.
4:15 PM Finish eating. Soup is OMG.
4:30 PM Read text of HB 1400 that was helpfully sent to me by Dan Frankel's staff. Try to find exactly how religious organizations get exempted from discriminating against queer people. Get confused.
4:45 PM Order a coffee beverage to kick start analytical skills. Delicious. Still confused.
4:50 PM Email contacts in gay politics to ask for help. Email Frankel's people for explanation. Email high school buddy to set up coffee date.
4:54 PM Support local business and local agricultural industry by ordering muffin.
4:55 PM No response from contacts in gay politics. Still confused. Coffee beverage still very hot.
by Sue on Tue 29 Jan 2008 12:02 PM EST
From my ace source comes word that the legislation endorsing the statewide effort to include sexual orientation and gender identity/expression in the Human Relations Act passed 7-0. Motznik and Payne weren't in the room and didn't vote.
Deasy asked to be added as a cosponsor, offering that he was behind on his email as a reason for his delay in doing so. Huh.
Now here's the interesting part. Reverend Burgess voted in favor of the legislation because he's against discrimination AND because the bills have exemptions for religious entities. Its awesome when the law meant to protect people from discrimination lays out who gets the freedom "to" discriminate. Awesome.
I have a call into Dan Frankel's office for clarification on what those exemptions mean. More on that later.
Monday, January 28
by Sue on Mon 28 Jan 2008 08:30 PM EST
From our friends at Steel City Stonewall Democrats comes word that 7 out of 9 members of City Council have agreed to support the proposed "Will of Council" which essentially gives a big thumbs up to state legislation that would include "sexual orientation" and gender identity and expression" as protected classes under the Human Relations Act. These protections already exist within the City; this action underscores that those protections have strengthened the City
Two aren't supporting it. That would be Councilman Dan Deasy of District 2 (which includes the neighborhoods of Banksville, Chartiers City, Crafton Heights, Duquene Heights, East Carnegie, Eliott, Esplen, Fairywood, Mount Washington, Oakwood, Ridgemont, and Sheraden). That would also be Councilman Ricky Burgess of District 9 (includes the neighborhoods of East Hills, East Liberty, Homewood, Larimer, Lincoln/Lemingon/Belmar, And Point Breeze North).
I can only speculate as to why either man would choose to stand silently by while this opportunity passes. Reverend Burgess is a former board member of the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force so it is inconceivable that he not be aware of the discrimination so many members of our community have faced in the housing market and on the job. Surely, he must have absorbed that the stigma of AIDS is deeply intertwined with the stigma of being gay and that a just society does not allow vulnerable individuals to go without a place to live or the means to feed their family simply because they don't fit in.
I believe unanimity is important on this issue. I have oft stated that Pittsburgh is a good place to be gay and that Pittsburgh's gay community strengthens the entire region. A hallmark of my belief rests on the legacy of this local piece of legislation that could. We have inherited a Mayor who does not believe in civil unions, but we do have the fortune to stand upon the shoulders of many activists who worked tirelessly to achieve this reform.
I'll be at work tomorrow when Council votes on this. Maybe someone can email me the outcome?
Friday, January 25
by Sue on Fri 25 Jan 2008 04:19 PM EST
Diane Gramley might be a bit worried about how awesome you guys have been about calling your State Senators to oppose the so-called protection of marriage amendment.
Here's what she shared with me today:
OK, so she shared it with her entire email distribution list. Having been part of that list for over two years, I sense a shift in tone. Gramley knows that people who might feel a little so-so on gay marriage are likely to be more sympathetic to extending civil protections in employment, housing and so forth to LGBT individuals and families.
So keep up the good work. If you haven't done so, call your Senator and ask s/he to oppose the Marriage Amendment. Ask them about the PA Human Relations Act.
Diane thinks you mean business. Prove her right.
by Sue on Fri 25 Jan 2008 01:56 PM EST
In today's Tribune Review, I found ample evidence of the need for our entire community and our allies to remain vigilant. It is a simple letter to the editor and I'm sure no one is surprised to read a pro-Catholic/anti-gay marriage letter there. Nonetheless, this letter isn't guised as some hysterical screed invoking horrific images of a thunderous God striking down the homo sinners.
For every such letter published, we must have multiple contacts with our elected officials and the general public. We need people to understand our issues and our lives and our stories.
Contact you senator today. You have to do it before Monday. It will take just a few moments of your time.
Now I'm going to enjoy a few chuckles at the expense of Mr. Merkovsky's oblivion with regard to marriage as an economic pact.
Thursday, January 24
by Sue on Thu 24 Jan 2008 03:29 PM EST
Just got word that City Council President Doug Shields will introduce a "Will of the Council" on Tuesday that will express the Council's support of HB 1400 which, along with SB 761, will amend the PA Human Relations Act to include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression" as protected classes.
From Council President Shields' statement:
This is an important gesture and one that deserves a unanimous vote. Please pick up your phone and ask your City Council Representative to support this Will of Council.
I am very pleased that my State Rep (Chelsa Wagner) and State Senator (Wayne Fontana) are sponsoring the state legislation. I hope my City Councilwoman, Tonya Payne, votes in support of this legislation.
People shouldn't be denied employment or housing because they are gay or they don't conform to gender normative behavior. This is pretty basic stuff and Pittsburgh's been ahead of the curve for over a decade.
Here's the resolution:
A shout out to Shields' Chief of Staff, Selena Schmidt, for her wonkish skills in helping me find the "gender identity and gender expression" phrasing in the City Code.
by Sue on Thu 24 Jan 2008 12:44 PM EST
by Sue on Thu 24 Jan 2008 11:15 AM EST
This week's City Paper advises readers on recent changes in local PrideFest activities, including new management, a new location and the expansion to a week-long event. As we reported earlier, the Delta Foundation is sponsoring a community meeting to unveil the proposed changes and generate community investment in the larger effort (Tuesday, February 5, 7-9 pm - follow the link for more details).
The CP article is a nice update, especially for straight allies who may not be aware of the changes.
I'm looking forward to the meeting.