Friday, January 30
Thursday, January 29
by Sue on Thu 29 Jan 2009 07:05 PM EST
It is important that you stay in the loop to keep the pressure on our County Council to pass a good version of this ordinance. You know the turnout for the hearing was good. You know that the ordinance was referred back to committee for further consideration and no date has been set for a Council vote.
Yesterday, Sue Frietsche of the Women's Law Project was invited to give expert testimony and to clarify why the language should include "gender expression." Sue and her team are preparing a one-page fact sheet that I will share with you so that you understand the nuance of this argument.
The point right now is to keep the calls coming in support of this ordinance. It is especially important to call:
Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato 412-350-6500 firstname.lastname@example.org
You can look up your County Council District by following this link:
Sponsors you should call to thank and remind them that we need the language to remain inclusive
Jim Burn, Dist. 3
Joan Cleary, Dist. 6
Nick Futules, Dist. 7
Chuck Martoni, Dist. 8
William Russell Robinson, Dist. 10
Rich Fitzgerald, Dist. 11
Amanda Green (lead sponsor), Dist. 13
John DeFazio, Council At-Large
Co-sponsors who withdrew their sponsorship and need to hear from you. I have more specifics on their districts and coverage of their decision to cave to pressure from the right-wing here.
Matt Drozd, Dist. 1
Michael Finnerty, Dist. 4
Bob Macey, Dist. 9
Jim Ellenbogen, Dist. 12
In case you wish to encourage the non-sponsors to become co-sponsors or express your thoughts on their vote, here is their contact information. NOTE: Jane Rea stayed for the entire hearing so you can thank her for listening. Vince Gastged made some very interesting comments that you can read here. I don't think he understands how discrminination hurts people and the community, I really don't. This is especially sad as he is the parent of a special needs child (his words).
Chuck McCollough, Council At-Large
Jan Rea, District 2
Vince Gastgeb, District 5
Folks, there is no time to take a breather. Minds are being made up now and it is important that your voice be heard. A version that does not include gender identity and gender expression is not acceptable. We must insist on an inclusive ordinance that is adequately funded to provide for the necessary resources to educate the public, landlords and employers about these issues (an ounce of prevention) as well as enforcement procedures (pound of cure).
This would be a great time for you to write a letter to the editor of the Post-Gazette about their coverage of this issue, the op/ed from a member of the faith community or the general issue. A great time to share an experience of discrimination that might help people understand why this is so important. Click here to send a letter to the editor. Not many have been published so you probably have a good shot to get something printed.
Keep it up, good people of Pittsburgh. Don't let those Venango County hatefest folks hold back our community's progress.
by Sue on Thu 29 Jan 2009 08:13 AM EST
Yesterday, Congress refused to extend the deadline to switch over from regular signals that have served us well since the dawn of the 50's to the new digital signals. Do I sound bitter?
Yes, yes I am bitter. Ledcat and I do not have cable. It isn't a noble gesture of anti-consumerism. It is a practical reality based on our priorities. I'd rather pay for high speed (no, we don't watch tv online) and she'd rather go to concerts. We both prefer to enjoy the occasional nice restaurant and pay for gas. And student loans (sigh). It doesn't make us noble or snobby, just a little less up on pop culture.
We ordered those damn rebate coupons and didn't realize they expire. While they are bright and shiny, we figured we had until the deadline to buy the damn boxes. So I tried to order a replacement. No dice. Ledcat's Mom bought us one box for the holidays. Then I had to buy a new power strip. Then we realized we lost channels. Well, we did gain all those sub WPXI channels, including Retro Television Network for which there is no schedule anywhere in the universe, but we lost ABC/WTAE completely. Bye, bye Penn State and Oscars. WQED comes and goes, perhaps related to the pledge drive follow through? CBS/KDKA is in box format and fizzes out, most frequently during the news. WPXI is great so I believe Medium will once again become my favorite show. Sorry, The Mentalist. It was nice, but your leading lady reminds me of a cricket and kind of creeps me out so maybe it wasn't meant to be.
So we have to buy another box for our upstairs television. We already have a power strip so that's a savings. We only get two stations upstairs so that's sort of a crap shoot.
People using get rather defensive when we mention that we don't have cable. It isn't a hair shirt, people. Peek into my debit card receipts and you'd see plenty of ways I blow $$ on my own steam. If I bothered to save those receipts. See? That's not very budget conscious. But I've noticed that half of people who learn about our cable free lives immediately try to convert us to suscribe to Comcast or the Dish Network, even shoving coupons off on us. This is usually followed by some story about the cable/dish going out right in the middle of Grey's Anatomy (did anyone catch Ireland Baldwin diss her Dad by saying she watches Grey's Anatomy instead of his show? Pretty funny retaliation and with a lovely smile, too!). And bemoaning the cost.
The other half openly admit they are addicted, blame it on the kids/spouses/live in parents and stare me down with a defiant look challenging me to cast the first stone. No stones here, honey. I'm not a parent, but I can't imagine forking over $100/month when there is plenty of interesting television on regular network television for children, spouses and live in parents. There's even a $16 cable package available from Comcast that takes the edge off and saves a lot of money.
Still, I can handle a few defensive friends and strangers who question my sanity/self-righteousness when this topic comes up. I'm not pleased that the Government is forcing me to make this switch and spend this money. I'm especially not happy that people most vulnerable are getting screwed by this process since the friggin coupons have run out. I work in the human services sector and no one from the Government ever called me to make sure I am helping my folks get boxes and coupons. Now it is too late. Buying a $50 box (the cheap ones don't work) is a hefty investment on a fixed income. Plus, the potential need for extension cords and/or power strips.
So if you have a coupon and don't need it, please send to me. I have a host of folks (not me!) who don't have a box at all. If you have a box you aren't going to use b/c you succumbed and got cable, send it to me please.
And please stop trying to convert me to cable.
Wednesday, January 28
by Sue on Wed 28 Jan 2009 09:43 PM EST
Courtesy of PageOneQ comes word that schools might be able to kick out students (CHILDREN) who seem gay. Should be some comfort to Diane Gramley. Also a wake up call to those who don't associated youth gay issues with grown up gay issues.
Courtesy of our living room, Coco has decided upon a new perch ... Laura's placemat. She has allowed all of the critters to sniff her and no fights have erupted.
Maria from 2 Political Junkies has some ..ahem .. strong words on the Democratic cave in on contraception. Contraception for poor women, mind you.
Facebook went down for like five minutes and my entire world stopped. I need to really not have any more snow days this year. However, it is now back up.
I do not like this style of blogging.
Did anyone else see Katie Couric's special edition of her news show? Did anyone else wonder why? I mean it didn't bump anything I really wanted to see, but the Eye on America story about the overly optimistic survivor of the Hudson Plane landing was just sort of random weirdness. I kind of expect that someone who survived a plane crash would be thankful and so forth. It wasn't really very interesting and definitely not news. In fact, it just came off as a cynical set up for the much ballyhooed 60 Minutes interview Katie landed. Irony, anyone?
I'm off to read my book on Descartes. He's dead at this point and his bones are being hauled all over Europe. Someone stole his skull. It is sort of like a History of Philosophy merged with The Da Vinci code dipped in more than I ever wanted to know about Queen Christina of Stockholm. But in a good way.
by Sue on Wed 28 Jan 2009 09:51 AM EST
Angelle Guyette lives out the faith she believes by laying out an impassioned argument against those within her Christian community who hide behind hate, intolerance and fear toward the gay community.
This lady pulls no punches. She trotted out into the cold to attend the Allegheny County Council hearing on the Human Rights Commission (apparently, the reporter didn't talk with Christians wearing the pro-ordinance stickers) and came away with utter disappointment in the hypocrisy of her Christian comrades.
But Angelle picked up a pen and did something with those feelings. She affirmed that the Christian faith requires tolerance of all and acknowledged the perversions that drove opponents to twist fairness issues into religious oppression.
"I don't want them sinning on my properties"? Wow. Them's some pretty high standards and one has to wonder if this good Christian has other morality clauses build into his lease (or if he takes action to prevent current tenants from homosexual sinning)?
Has anyone stopped to consider the effect that so much hatred and fear might have on their families? Seriously, do the children of these good Christians see their papas and mamas braving the cold to speak out for legislation/policy on the Top Ten list ... killing, stealing, coveting, etc. Or policy issues related to the Beatitudes? Do they turn out en masse to support legislation to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless? Maybe, but never en masse enough to draw the attention of the Post-Gazette.
Angelle has an interesting final point.
Actually, there are a few points to tease out from this ending.
First, the assumption of gayness which is pretty ridiculous on the part of being able to tell and the part of gay being such a bad thing that even an assumption of association is considered tantamount to deep offense. This is something the ordinance addresses -- protecting people who don't conform to gender normative behavior. I''m talking about a woman who is perceived to be a lesbian because of her hair cut, her clothing style and her mannerisms. She can be fired even if she straight. There's many a good Christian woman who might fit right into these stereotypes and should perhaps be a little mindful that the girdle of faith doesn't make her immune to the barbs of her contemporaries.
There's also a key point about laws protecting everyone. James Madison aka Publius argued against the negative consequences of factions in the Federalist Papers. Religious leaders are trying to set up a false dichotomy of gay rights versus religious rights, counting on the sheer number of Christian identified Americans to carry the day. But that is not what the law intends. The law says that where your personal beliefs intersect the general public, you have to give a little ground to respect the rights of others. Christian wingnuts cannot refuse to rent an apartment to Orthodox Jews no matter how abhorrent they find their faith. It is the exact same thing. If you want to enter the public sphere as a business owner, you clearly leave some of your personal rights at the front door.
No one is forcing Christian people to give up their faith or compromise their values. Playing the Jesus card is misleading and unfortunate.
Thanks for writing, Angelle.
Sunday, January 25
by Sue on Sun 25 Jan 2009 04:45 PM EST
Womanist Musings has some data on the issue priorities of LGBT folks, and writes, "just like any other social grouping in the GLBT community, whiteness seeks to lead and make its issues primarily the focus for organizing." (courtesy of Feministing).
This is an issue we just tend to shy away from here in Pittsburgh. The plain ugly truth is that we just don't dialogue on these issues much to our shame. There is hope for more inclusivity with younger generations, but intersectional analysis isn't on the agenda.
On another note, something from Secretary Clinton.
This is also courtesy of Feministing and The Onion
Bratz Dolls May Give Young Girls Unrealistic Expectations Of Head Size
Saturday, January 24
by Sue on Sat 24 Jan 2009 03:13 PM EST
This looks like big fun. I've always wanted to learn how to ballroom dance. Getting dressed up and attending the Lambda Ball was a big thrill for me. I love when people design these things for same sex couples so that folks can be comfortable. I'd posit that a mixed-couple session should be the way to go, but it can be hard enough to learn a new skill and be self-conscious about that without adding in the "why are those two women dancing together?" vibe. Plus, it really gets old explaining who is the man in the relationship.
However, the fact that this company recognizes a niche market promises well for the future of mixed orientation ballroom dancing events in Pittsburgh. And that, my friends, is a good sign.
by Sue on Sat 24 Jan 2009 11:37 AM EST
Check out the Post Gazette's new community forum. There are some bugs in the program, but it does make the paper more interactive. More reading to fit into my day. Sigh.
Check it out: http://community.post-gazette.com/
by Sue on Sat 24 Jan 2009 10:04 AM EST
Ray McGogney of Shaler sees right through the culture wars. His letter to the editor in the Post-Gazette shatters the right-wing argument that the County Anti-Discrimination legislation is going to limit the religious freedom of anyone.
This bill is about regulating (and preventing) discrimination, not personal beliefs. Amen, Ray. Thank you for writing.
Meanwhile, Paula Martinac of Park Place (near Regent Square) takes issue with the Post-Gazette coverage of the hearing for this ordinance.
Harsh words, but the PG really did drop the ball on this article. There was no balance, although Paula is mistaken in that Reverend Janet Edwards does count as a LGBTQ activist; she identifies as an openly bisexual woman which is pretty awesome considering the entrenched biphobia in our community. No one could reasonably challenge Janet's lesbian street cred even though she is married to a man. What a great role model she is for all of us.
I was glad to see someone commenting on the ordiance and someone else picking up on the media coverage. Media coverage feeds public perception. It is one thing for the editor's to support the legislation, but when their reporter leaves the impression that most people attending the meeting (or the one's who "sacrificed" to be there) oppose the ordinance, they misrepresent public opinion. That's unacceptable. Kudos to Paula for picking up on that nuance.