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View Article  Pittsburgh Blog for Equality Day 2008 - a lesbian perspective

I've been wracking my brains all weekend for an approach to this day. You've read all the facts about the legislation attempting to amend the PA constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.  It has the potential to hurt a lot of people, gay and straight alike. 

You've read all the arguments from those who want to impose their Christian-interpretation of marriage on the rest of us.  And those who believe gay rights are not a civil rights issue (check out today's Post-Gazette for more on that).  You've also heard from thoughtful Christian leaders who do affirm individuals who are LGBTQ.  There was also civil rights luminary Coretta Scott King's affirmation.  We can trump card each other until the end of the day.

What you may not know, particularly if you are heterosexual, is the impact that all of this has on day to day life.  All of what?  All of the constant negative discussion about the gay community -- of course, there is a connection between the rhetoric that people hear in the pulpit and the way they treat gay people, or teach their children to treat gay people.  Love the sinner, hate the sin is not the American way.  Treat people poorly who get between you and what you believe is yours is a bit more accurate, particularly when there is a relentless drum beat about their being "one" way and "one" truth in a land of religious freedom. 

I live in Pittsburgh, a fairly gay-positive place considering how socially conservative most Catholics can be.  Still, there are probably three public places in the entire region where I would be comfortable holding the hand of my partner, Ledcat.  We spend entire weeks where we only touch each other inside our home or our vehicle.  I'm talking the most simple gestures -- and believe me, I'm very aware of those right now.  We lost our beloved pet this week and I've been inconsolable. You know that feeling of grief that sweeps over you unexpectedly ... imagine that the person you love is right next to you, but has to be careful about the things she says or the way she touches you when consoling you about a deep loss. 

It is horrible.  We have been fortunate to only have experienced a few frightening incidents -- mostly kids and mostly being stupid.  But it is still frightening to have anyone try to menace you because they think you are gay.  They get that message from their parents, their preachers and their peers -- gay people are fair game.  So they use whatever power they have -- intimidation, verbal harassment, even constitutional amendments -- to keep you down.  It happens at all levels -- I once had a supervisor send me an email with an embedded photoshopped image that degraded lesbians.  He thought it was funny.  It might have been funny coming from my friend Bob, but not someone with power and authority over my career. 

We have to pick our battles.  I fought back against the supervisor because I had protections in place.  I walked away from the menacing kids and found a public space because I had no protection from their ignorance other than the brightness of public opinion.  I'm fighting back against this amendment because I think we have to draw a line in the sand on this one.  Let the bigots stew in their own hatred and fear if they so choose.  That's why they have their own churches.  But just as they are free to practice their religions, I am free *from* their religions. 

Change is on the horizon.  Children grow up surrounded by cultural gay images -- television, music, movies, video games, etc.  They have gay friends in school and know gay neighbors.  This chips away at the mantra of fear emanating from those who seem to have the most to lose if we are granted our due equal rights.  OK, so I  still don't understand who that is, but I'm trying to allow bigots their due.

I want to hold Ledcat's hand.  Ultimately, I want to hold her hand in mine forever.  But I'm content to start with holding it at Target. 

Just this morning, I read my favorite comic strip, For Better or For Worse, and there is a reference to gay marriage (Michael's friend Lawrence is gay and has a partner, Nicholas). It is a casual reference, but I thought it an auspicious omen for this first ever Pgh Blogging for Equality Day. 

For B4E posts from my fellow bloggers, click on the logo at the top and follow the links ...

View Article  Letting the People Decide on Civil Rights .. Well, That's Worked Out Well Hasn't It?

Michael Geer, President of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, is an ignorant pea brained jerk.  And that's me in a mellow mood.  The PG published his letter to the editor (and NOT mine).  He makes two points in response to the PG's editorial that the "marriage protection" amendment is unnecessary (and redundant)

First, [t]he PG editors seem unwilling to look beyond Pennsylvania's borders when it comes to understanding the debate over the proposed Pennsylvania Marriage Protection Amendment, SB 1250

Ahem.  Mr. Geer.  You didn't do your homework on this one.  Please consider Ohio where the amendment you propose allows men who batter their partners to avoid conviction of domestic abuse because they aren't married.  Or Michigan where a similar amendment deprives state and municipal entities (including colleges) from offering domestic partner benefits, hampering their recruitment efforts.  Or Florida, where a proposed amendment, will impact approximately 17,000 children with same-sex parents. 

So, yes indeed, let every Pennsylvania voter -- every resident, adult and child alike -- look outside our state to see what havoc this legislative hatred brings into the lives of thousands of people, heterosexuals included.  I suppose you could say that those Ohio women shouldn't be shacking up with men outside of marriage.  Or that Michigan should send more recruiters to Oral Roberts University anyway.  And, shucks, Florida loses children in the child welfare system so often, that what's another 17,000 anyway?

How does any of this protect your marriage?  Because none of you have made that clear.  You just hide behind the next argument.

Without a Marriage Protection Amendment, Pennsylvania's marriage law is at risk from a legal challenge that could arise at any moment. It's time for lawmakers to let the people decide and pass SB 1250. To the Post-Gazette, it may be bigotry, but to most Pennsylvanians, it's simply fair.

Let the people decide.  That worked out well during Reconstruction and the following ... well, forever years.   It took the people nearly 140 years to decide that women should vote (maybe someone should remind the Christian Women's Groups of that).  If only that pesky Supreme Court would stop interfering, the people could just keep on deciding who deserves civil rights and who doesn't. 

Wrong, Geer.  The CONSTITUTION decides.  Check out the comments from City Council Pres. (and honorary lesbian) Doug Shields in a previous post.  The people don't get to decide to create a second-class group of citizens because our very existence offends you.  Life isn't fair, Geer.  A lot of things offend me --- people who kill animals, parents who abuse their children, the entire system of senior support services in our nation -- but what especially offends me is when religious bigots like you want to impose your moral belief system on the rest of us, especially when you play some sort of quasi-democracy shell game. 

You can't cry "freedom of religion" in the name of Constitutional law and then turn around to strike out the parts of that document that you don't like.  That's just wrong.  There's nothing fair about it. 

I just hope some more people decide to call their Senators.  You can bet your Bill of Rights that Geer has mobilized a full flotilla of Christians to make those calls.  Are we gonna let him get away with this?

View Article  Same sex ceremony in Happy Valley

Rene Portland must be rolling over ... wherever she is.

Penn State is holding a same sex ceremony for two couples to kick off PrideWeek on campus.  Diane Gramley and her wingnuts are up in arms, but most of the feedback from people who actually live in State College has been positive. 

More in the Post-Gazette.

Yes, another reason why you should call you State Senator.  "Pro" voices need to be heard from, too.

View Article  Pittsburgh Blog for Equality

****UPDATE ****

A big thanks to all the wonderful members of the Burghosphere who participated in this first ever Pgh Blog for Equality.  We had a few folks join in at the last minute.  Here are the links to the participating posts in no particular order.  Thanks also to those who promoted the event. 

this terrestial ball

eleventh stack

Pleasantly Furious

Progress Pittsburgh

toaster strumpet

2 Political Junkies - David

2 Political Junkies - Maria

Gab Bonesso


The Pittsburgh Comet

Teacher. Wordsmith. Madman.

Pittsburgh Pist-Gazette

Ms. Adventures on the Mon

Slag Heap


March 31, 2008 is the day that the Burghosphere speaks out about attempts to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

For all the details on the legislation, the co-sponsors, and the talking points, visit Equality Advocates.  Equality Advocates is not officially connected to Pittsburgh Blog for Equality.

Join the conversation. 

Wanna post our button on your blog?  Code is below:

<p><a href="http://www.pghlesbian.com/blog/_archives/2008/3/27/3606171.html"><img src="http://www.pghlesbian.com/PghBlogButton" /></a><p>

As we get 'em, we'll post a list of participating blogs.

2 Political Junkies

Pittsburgh Comet

The Burgh Report

after the bridge

Ms. Adventures on the Mon

Teacher. Wordsmith. Madman.

Mark Rauterkus


Gab Bonesso.  This is her blog.

Pittsburgh Pist-Gazette


"Web logging" for equality will be

Slag Heap

View Article  RIP Miss Mona

Yesterday, I thought, was a tremendously sad day.  Our beloved Mona who had fought cancer for 10 months and three days reached her final day.  All the way to the vet, I kept hoping there was some alternate explanation, but no.  We put her to sleep and I have all the usual comforting thoughts about her being "across the Rainbow Bridge" with her best friend Jack and her beloved veterinarian, John.  She only had one bad day out of 10 months and three days and that wasn't painful, just her way of telling me it was time to let her go. 

Today is a tremendously more sad day.  There are reminders everywhere, in the most unexpected ways.  The thump of her jumping off the bed.  I didn't hear it today.  Playing "Our Lady of the Bedcovers" (she made a cute Madonna) when I make the bed.  The 300 minutes in the backyard deciding exactly which spot needed a spot-o-Mona.  Her unparalled excitement, just quivering with anticipation, at the leftover canned catfood -- even if the cats were still eating the pre-leftover portion. 

She fought a really good fight.  She kept her weight up (even gaining a few pounds) through the whole chemotherapy.  She was her usual self 99% of the time.  She visited with her goof friends, Brenda and Michelle, last Friday and snagged some salmon. 

Mona was a stray dog that had been hit by a car and taken to the vet clinic where John worked.  Her hip was broken, but not her spirit.  She came to be a foster with my family while I was in grad school and living with my parents.  She "moaned and groaned" a lot because she was crated -- hence, Mona.  She was a very vocal dog.  I came home from class one day to find our family dogs locked in the backyard and Mona laying on my Dad as they ate some Saltines and watched the Cooking Channel.  She was there to stay.  And she never got over her fetish for saltines.  Thanks, Dad. 

Miss Mona had a brief career as an advice columnist and then became a blogger http://pghmona.blogspot.com.  My dog behavior friend urged me to keep blogging about the adjustments of the other pets.  So I'll try to do that.  Amadeus and Alexander are confused.  I let them sniff her collar and my clothes that I wore during the procedure.  I know that gives them information, but they really are quite lost.  Mona was definitely top dog.  Debby (behavior friend) doesn't think either one will want to assume leadership so we are hoping that Simon Le Bon, the cat, is up to the challenge.

Considering he stretched out on the dog bed and wouldn't share with Deus, we might be on to something.  Simon has now taken over Mona's bed in the corner of the room.

I had Miss Mona for nearly 10 years.  She was the brightest, bestest dog ever.  I hope everyone experiences that type of love and loyalty.  I gotta go now. 

Miss Mona   1997 - 2008

View Article  Rock on, Joe Brandtner of Beechview

I called my State Senator's office yesterday (Fontana) and discovered that I was the first person to thank him for voting against SB 1250, the Anti-Gay Family Amendment.  The first person.  What the heck is up with that?  Why aren't people calling?  Actually, plenty of people, just people from the christo-bigot flavored variety, are calling. 

I just wrote everyone in my address book and asked them to call.  It seems so easy to brush off making that call ... the threat of the legislation passing seems ridiculous.  But it isn't.  The threat is very real.  And if you are or love someone who is in an unmarried heterosexual relationship, the threat is real for you, too. 

Joe Brandtner of Beechview took a stance.  I hope he made a phone call, too.

I am a gay man, 59 years of age. My partner and I have been together for 40 years. We are and have been taxpaying citizens. We deserve the same rights as our heterosexual counterparts. Yet we remain second-class citizens, unable to enjoy the same legal rights of marriage in this commonwealth.

I am old enough to remember the Stonewall riots where gays and lesbians fought back against the New York Police Department and their campaign of harassment. And, they won!

I remember the gay and lesbian boycott of anything associated with Anita Bryant, who so vehemently campaigned against gays.

Now Pennsylvania senators have moved to enact a constitutional amendment to restrict the rights of gays and lesbians to have equal protection under the law in marriage. ("Panel OKs Constitutional Ban on Gay Marriage," March 19). This is an outrage to any gay or lesbian taxpaying citizen. Lawmakers who support this obvious religiously backed amendment do not understand the constitutional right of the citizens to have freedom from religion.

These lawmakers seem to be traitors to the constitution of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Therefore it is time for a gay liberation army to rise up, to defend the constitutional rights of lesbian and gay citizens in Pennsylvania and to take the rights that are being denied! We are second-class citizens who are obligated to pay first-class taxes! Therefore we endure taxation without representation!

Rise up, gay Pennsylvanians! Call for national boycotts on anything Pennsylvanian! Do what is necessary to gain fully equal rights in this supposed commonwealth!

I like it.  He sound angry and fed up, as well he should be.  Our legislators are trying to distract voters from real issues by tapping into fear based bigotry about sexual orientation and many, many religious leaders are going along for the ride.  It is a clear agenda of discrimination AND AND AND AND ... a DISTRACTION from what is really important to your family ... schools, taxes, health care, infrastructure, violence. Oh, and the economy. 

How can it be that no one has called Senator Fontana's office? 

View Article  Zen Buddhist Priest Opposes SB 1250

Short, but sweet.  Have you written your letter to the editor, yet?

Senate Bill 1250, the Pennsylvania Marriage Protection Amendment, is in direct violation of my religious beliefs as a Zen Buddhist priest ("Panel OKs Constitutional Ban on Gay Marriage," March 19).

I am a strong advocate of marriage and live under a strict ethical code (which predates Christianity). That code of ethics guides my actions toward kindness, compassion and generosity and not toward anger, hatred and bigotry.

Our commonwealth was organized for the benefit of all its citizens. It is time we take down (not put up) the signs saying "No gays allowed."

Head Priest
Zen Center of Pittsburgh


View Article  Iraq and Shield: City Papers Homos It Up This Week

I love when there's good gay stuff in the City Paper.  It reminds me that journalists with actual journalistic street cred pay attention to our community and find us interesting and informative.

I fully expected the paper to cover Doug Shields' showdown with Sally Kerns. I was kinda disappointed they gave Diane Gramley so many inches to spew her bigotry and that they didn't talk to any of us gay people about the whole situation, but this isn't the first time I've disagreed with editorial decisions about content.  And, on the plus side, Gramley's own words pretty much prove my point that she's an idiot, without any homosexual accents.

To my intrigue, the CP's Melissa Meinzer wrote a really informative piece about Pitt's Rainbow Alliance providing support for Iraqui individuals who are LGBTQ.

So Hili formed Iraqi LGBT, a group dedicated to providing safe houses for LGBT people living in the war-torn nation. And the University of Pittsburgh's LGBT group, the Rainbow Alliance, is hoping to help.

The group, which recently had to close three of its five houses because of financial constraints, provides safe group housing, food and medical care for LGBT people living in Iraq. Many of the residents it serves need medical treatment for HIV or gender transitioning.

Sometimes it takes such a smack in the face to make us appreciate that dealing with Gramley and Kerns is the worst I've contended with recently.  And underscore the imperative for us to step up and demand leadership on LGBTQ issues, both local and international. 

I'm hoping all of you are taking a page from the Rainbow Alliance's book and making some calls to your elected officials about marriage amendments. 



View Article  PA Senate Judiciary Committee Votes OK on Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

Well, we lost this round.  Our local allies, Jay Costa and Wayne Fontana, voted no, but even with Republican Jane Earll they couldn't prevent the "marriage protection" amendment from being voted out of committee.  The legislation heads for the Appropriations Committee and then to the floor of the full Senate.

Here's how the vote went down.  Note that Jane Orie went with the bigots, even though she didn't cosponsor the amendment.

yes -- lisa boscola, john gordner, jane orie, jeff piccola, john rafferty, mike stack, barry stout, M.J. white, stewart greenleaf, joe scarnati
no -- patrick browne, jay costa, jane earll, wayne fontana

I have had a really tough day at work so coherent commentary may be out of reach for this lesbian.  When I think of the outrage over the Sally Kern hate-spew, I can't help but wonder if each of those people calling for her resignation took the time to weigh in on this particular issue right here in Pittsburgh.  Right here.

Cause guess what?  Last time around, our Senators played political footsie to have their homo-friendly appeal and keep their traditional Catholic values voters happy.  I'm guessing not much has changed.  This amendment calls for a ban on civil unions which may have repercussions for heterosexual couples as well as reach far beyond marriage to impact health care decisions and estate decisions and so forth.  This apparently is the deal breaker for the Republi-bigots.  Strip out the civil union language and they take their toys and go home. 

It disgusts me that we have so few people willing to just say  "hey its wrong."  Instead, we have to play games and engage in the same old, same old.  I am so tired of being a political football. 

I'm just really tired.

View Article  Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh Announces Endorsements

The Gertrude Stein Club of Greater Pittsburgh is a non-partisan political club.

Pennsylvania House of Representatives
      district 19    Jake Wheatley
                 21    Brenda Frazier
                 23    Dan Frankel
                 24    Joseph Preston
                 27    John Paul Jones
  U.S. Congress
    district  14     Mike Doyle
                18     Beth Hafer
  Pa. State Treasurer
                Rob McCord
  Delegates to the Democratic Convention committed to Hillary Clinton
        Sylvia C.Wilson
        Colleen Cooke
        Dan Frankel
  President of the U.S.A.
            Hillary Clinton

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