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View Article  Steel City Stonewall Endorsements for November 3, 2009
Attached below, there is a copy you can print out and take with you to the polls on Tuesday.

VOTE NOVEMBER 3rd 2009!!!

It is critical that progressive people get out and vote this year!!!

Statewide Judicial races dominate this year's elections.

We all have seen in California, Massachusetts, & Vermont state courts play a critical role in upholding the constitutional rights of LGBT to receive equal treatment under the law.

The candidates who ultimately win on November 3rd 2009 will shape Pennsylvania for the next decade!


Steel-City Stonewall Democrats Endorsements for the November 3rd 2009 General Election.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court:
  
Pennsylvania Superior Court:
Robert Colville www.judgecolville.com

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court:
Barbara Behrend Ernsberger www.ernsbergerforjudge.com
 
(ALL of the above judicial candidates will face HARD-RIGHT social conservatives in this year?s General Election.)

Allegheny Court of Common Pleas:
Susan DiLucente
Arnie Klein
Don Walko
Joe Williams

Allegheny County Sherriff:
Bill Mullen

Allegheny County Council District 1:
Thomas R. Michalow
 
(Thomas Michalow is challenging incumbent Matt Drozd.  Matt Drozd is one of the Allegheny County Council Members who voted against the Allegheny County Non-Discrimination Ordinance.  Thomas Michalow supports the Ordinance & has taken outstanding positions on LGBT issues.   You can find more info athttp://tommichalow.com)

Allegheny County Council District 3:
Jim Burn

Allegheny County Council District 13:
Amanda Green

Pittsburgh City Council District 4:
Natalia Rudiak

Pittsburgh City Council District 8:
Bill Peduto
 
 
ALL of the above candidates have filled out & signed questionnaires detailing their beliefs & support for LGBT equality.   You can read their completed questionnaires in the news archive of our web page: www.steel-city.org. 

Steel-City Stonewall Democrats recommends Retention for Kate Ford Elliot on the Pennsylvania Superior Court & we also recommend Retention for Dante Robert Pellegrini on the Pennsylvnia Commonwealth Court 


 

SPECIAL NOTE on the 2009 Pittsburgh Mayoral Race:  Because the Steel-City endorsement process is member driven and new Independent candidates came forward for the Pittsburgh Mayoral race after we had completed our member endorsement vote, the board is not endorsing a specific candidate for the race.  We are, however, endorsing an informed electorate and encourage all to review the responses to key questions which the board received from candidates Kevin Acklin, Doc Harris and Luke Ravenstahl.   The questionnaires are posted on our website and can be easily located by clicking here: http://stonewalldemocrats.org/steel-city/node/922   We hope you find the information the responses provide both interesting and helpful to your decision about the Mayor's race.


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View Article  Breaking: Pegasus to Close
Wow, this is incredible news.  The remaining fixture of Pittsburgh's gay nightclub scene is closing on December 6, 2009.

"Back when the Pegasus Lounge first opened, it was a safe haven for gay people to be themselves and meet others with like-minded interests without the worry of being hassled," said Noxon, 49, who has owned the Downtown nightclub for five years.

"But now there is much greater acceptance of the (gay and lesbian) lifestyle. People can pretty much go where they want and be who they want to be without worry. So, in a sense, we're victims of the progress that has occurred," said Noxon of McKees Rocks, who owns two other clubs in the city.

On Friday, Noxon announced that the Liberty Avenue club will close on Dec. 6 after 29 years in business.

The article in the Trib goes on to describe the nearly 30 years Pegasus has been serving the community with regard to everything from safe haven to HIV testing.  In recent years, the club has become a popular scene for young men and women, but they don't purchase the alcohol necessary to keep the bills paid.

Noxon makes good points.  Conversations with my friends about their nighttime activities centers more around LGBT-friendly activities.  Inclusivity is reducing demand for exclusive spaces.  Mayoral candidate, Dok Harris, hangs out at 5801 and did so far before he launched his campaign.  The "queer events" list and calendar have a multitude of events that are identified as "not specifically queer" or driven by queer groups/organizers, but open to the larger community as well. 

Pittsburgh has been known, even lauded, for preserving cultural heritages.  As a child, I remember Slovak and German and Italian clubs, parades and Kennywood days.  That certainly continues, but my Dad was able to join many of those clubs and he's not a bit Slovakian.  LOL.  We've also never successfully sustained a lesbian nightlight scene.  Rather than a lesbian bar, we have one floor of a gay owned club and one floor of a straight owned club that has a thriving neighborhood pizza scene. 

What I am noticing are groups of reconfigured community members gathering around common interests.  Dykes on Bikes.  The Dyke March.  The Queer Women's Dinner and Book Club.  Even the terminology of "dyke" and "queer" changes the traditional L/G/B/T divide and creates new opportunities to interact and engage within and beyond our community.

Still, it is sad to see Pegasus close.  There are other gay bars and I'm sure they will evolve and continue to survive.  But not flourish.  And, as Noxon points out, that's how progress works.
View Article  ROTC and Don't Ask, Don't Tell
"The way to resolve these inconsistencies," she said, "is to permit gays and lesbians to serve in the military."
Today's Post-Gazette reprints a New York Times article on the banning of ROTC from campuses such as Harvard in response to the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy which in effect bans openly gay men and women from serving in the military. 

President Faust of Harvard, a historian, says that as much as she admires the military ?-- and during her June commissioning speech, she went out of her way to mention an interest she and General Petraeus shared in Ulysses S. Grant -- she cannot have a student group on campus that is closed to one part of the student body. The student handbook says that the federal law is "inconsistent with Harvard's values as stated in its policy on discrimination."

"Harvard commits itself to training leaders of all kinds, and we should be training leaders for the military," Dr. Faust said in an interview. "We want to have students in R.O.T.C. I am the president of Harvard and I am their president and Harvard is their university. But we also have gay and lesbian students and I am their president and Harvard is their university."

The article goes on to explore contradictions in the University policy such as fundraising from military graduates, special education programs set up for military leaders and so forth.  President Faust admits it is contradictory, but as the opening sentence of the post states ... the solution likes with POTUS and the Congress to repeal the ban.

My college roommate, Amy Besterfeldt,  was in ROTC.  I remember early risings, early bedtimes and lots of boot polish.  She went on to a military career, met her husband and became a recruiter.  We lost touch after that.  Still, I remember that it was very important to her development into the career she wanted. I'd like to talk with her to determine where she stands on DADT.

My impression is that active duty members are in favor of repealing the ban because they are quite aware they are serving alongside gay men and women who are competent, as well as aware that they boogeyman arguments about the predatory nature of LGBT men and women are ridiculous.  My experience with veterans is the opposite --- they still talk about sharing sleeping quarters and showers.  I guess the rhetoric from the early 90's was successfully pounded in.

Nonetheless, the dilly dallying on repealing DADT is tiresome.  It discriminates against American citizens and it denies our entire country the service of talented men and women who meet every other enlistment criteria.  It hurts America and not just because a few Harvard students are inconvenienced.  It hurts America because we are a little bit less safe without the very best and brightest at the helm of our national defense.  It continues to hurt America to legally impose "separate, but equal" rules on our society.
View Article  Christo-Bigotry
Pat Downey of Squirrel Hill calls a bigot power move like she sees it. 

It has even created a new church structure to receive disaffected Anglicans -- read, those who cannot tolerate their church's ordination of women and the election of openly gay bishops.

That the Vatican is bending "sacred rules" to welcome these bigots is more evidence of the stubborn ignorance of church leaders.

The good news is that change is happening regardless of a hierarchy that is too rigid, too divisive and too contentious.

Eighty percent of the laity, who largely ignore papal dictates, have come to understand that they are the church.

I'm kind of bored with the hair splitting analysis of mainstream Christian denominations.  I know we are supposed to reclaim our churches, but it just seems like a bunch of wasted energy tonight as I reread the original story in the PG. 

On the one hand, it is important to see the impact the bigotry "light" has on the community.  They do a lot of damage.  But doesn't the PG get tired of the Luthern-Episcopal-Catholic round robin?  I do. 

Thanks for writing, Pat.
View Article  Blog Block

I downloaed IE 8.0 and highly suggest you do NOT do the same.  Arrrgggg.  I cannot cut and paste.  How is a blogger supposed to maintain without cut and pasteability? 

The intensity of this week is off the charts.  Ledcat is imposing a mandatory stay home and watch television rule tonight to slow things down a bit, but I suspect Halloween episodes of Ghost Whisperer and Medium aren't going to be soothing.  LOL. 

My former supervisor is leaving his job.  I contemplate the question of whether I would return for about 30 seconds and laugh.  I may be exhausted and overwhelmed that I'll let someone down, but there are so many bright spots to lighten the intense moments ... someone gave me a Christmas card today and there's something really timely about the message of "Peace to You" that seems appropriate for this Halloween. I need some peace. 

I read online that The Advocate is being gutted and may cease as an independent publication.  Great.  I'm sending my subscription $$ as a donation to Bitch. 

Sunday's SisterShout promises to be interesting.  Are you a fan of the amusing graphic on 2 Political Junkies?  Their very own graphic designer Maria will be giving away a poster size version of your favorite graphic, with autograph, to one of our lucky Facebook/Twitter fans and followers.  Next week, two tickets to the Lambda Bash dance portion will be up for grabs.  The good stuff keeps coming from Lesbian Central. 

Ah well ... I gotta try to figure out this cut-n-paste thing. 

View Article  Update from Lesbian Central

What a busy, busy week.  Ledcat and I taped a segment for the Post-Gazette's "Omnivore" podcast with Mackenzie Carpenter on Tuesday.  It is up on the PG+ site now.  Being in the PG newsroom was quite heady for a geek like me.  Dennis Roddy recognized my name.  That's like Mr. Spock knowing a Trekkie's actual name.  In Vulcan.  Maybe in Klingon, too.  I felt faint, but I held it together for the sake of the lesbian nation's rep.  I did say something stupid and fawning like "I'm a big fan" which he probably hears all the time.  He was so gracious.  We also saw Brian O'Neill across the way but I refrained from blurting out "HI BRIAN" and embarrassing myself any further. 

MSM or not, that newsroom is pretty damn cool.  There's just a vibe.  I have no desire to be a reporter or columnist, but I would really like to just hang out there and type stuff. 

Yes, I scanned for Tony Norman but he wasn't in my line of site.  I think seeing Tony Norman's cubicle would have ruined me for any other reporter. 

I've also been very busy getting ready for our 90 minute election episode of SisterShOUT this Sunday. We'll be doing phone interviews with Kevin Acklin, Dok Harris and Tom Michalow.  Our studio guest will be Maria Lupinacci from 2 Political Junkies.  We've got some good stuff lined up, including a look at some of Maria's more awesome 2PJs graphics.  Only in the Interwebs can we put the word "douchebag" on the show.  In reference to Darryl Metcalfe.  Awesome.  And so true!

I just wrapped an interview with the City Paper about the whole branding/marketing hypocrisy of the Urban Spoon and Peace, Love & Little Donuts.  I'm trying to sort out why Joan Orie Melvin's Princeton University connections are defending her so ardently on my little blog. And more.

This will merit a separate post when I have some time, but please take a moment to acknowledge the first piece of federal legislation that affirms the civil rights of the LGBTQ community -- the Matthew Shephard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Act.  Yep, it is signed sealed and delivered -- we have our first set of national protections.  How does it feel? 

The Kelly-Strayhorn Theater is launching a series in November, featuring films about LGBT persons of color.  It is called My People.  Yours truly is a sponsor of the film series.  Our interest grew directly out of a SisterShout conversation with La'Tasha Mayes of New Voices Pittsburgh about the contrast in awarenesss of hate crimes against white young men like Matthew Shephard and other pretty much nameless victims.  The film schedule is attached.  Check it out. 

More later. 

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View Article  "Homosexual": Sometimes you just have to have a conversation

During Monday's evening newscast on KDKA, sports reporter Jory Rand covered the story about Larry Johnson's use of homophobic slurs. Johnson plays foortball for the Kansas City Chiefs.

The episode began Sunday night, when Johnson questioned Coach Todd Haley's football credentials on his Twitter account.

He used the slur during an exchange with one of his Twitter followers. A day later, he used it again as he brushed off reporters and told them he would not comment, according to the Kansas City Star, which recorded the comment.

Rand presented the story and referred to the "homosexual slur" which made my head spin around a few times.  I was stunned that KDKA doesn't have a better grasp on the media basics of covering LGBTQ issues.  I can't recall ever hearing a reporter describe something as "heterosexual" unless they were contrasting it with homosexuality. 

My objection is primarily is that this slur was about homophobia.  Johnson dropped the bombs because it is socially acceptable to use that language in a derogatory way.  Derogatory is also what has happened to the term homosexual which has been coopted by the wingnuts to marginalize and reduce our community to our sexuality, rather than integrate us based on our humanity.  We talk about anti-Semitic slurs, racist slurs, sexist slurs, etc.  In doing so, we recognize that that slur itself is rooted in intolerance, oppression and fear, not the identity of the target.  Its the beliefs of the one who slurs.  It is Mr. Johnson's lack of respect for homosexuals (and the rest of us in the LGBTQ community) that motivated/permitted the f-bomb, not the fact that we exist. 

Yes, I use it all the time - in a manner meant to convey mockery and as part of the subjected class.  Mr. Rand was reporting the facts in a story and he made a poor choice of language.  First, I tweeted (and had a little exchange about being PC .... ah, yes).  Then I looked up the GLAAD media kit and decided to email Mr. Rand.

He responded and explained that he simply didn't know that homosexual wasn't an appropriate term.  He said he would share my email with the KDKA news team.  I hope a few of them click through to read the GLAAD information. 

Homosexual lesson?  :-)    Twitter maybe the best way to immediately vent/confirm something, but 'tis far more productive to channel the energy into a constructive teachable moment.  It is sad that KDKA's management hasn't incorporated these issues into their leadership of the station, but it was good that Jory responded to my email.  I'm willing to believe he didn't know, but I also wonder whose responsibility it is at KDKA to educate their news team on diversity issues? 

As I said to Jory, this is going to continue as an issue.  Homophobia is deeply embedded in American sports culture, but the light is shining as former athletes come out (some current ones) and the size of the LGBTQ fan base continues to make its presence known.  The sports reporting community is going to have to get up to speed on the appropriate language or risk 1) being unprofessional (and thus, not doing their job) and 2) alienating viewers and fans.  GLAAD is a great resource and I hope folks like Jory Rand browse their site. 

So, I'm putting the ball squarely in KDKA management's court.  They need to ensure their news team understands the issues around homophobia and the appropriate way to cover stories related to our community.  Kudos to Jory for responding to me so quickly.

(I have to chuckle when I think of how Scott Mervis is going to cover the Pgh spin on the "no homo" phenom in hip-hop music....)

View Article  Don't vote for Joan Orie Melvin ... here's why

This is somewhat breathtaking ...

Judge Orie Melvin dissented from an en banc Superior Court decision in Thierfelder v. Wolfert, 978 A.2d 361 (Pa. Super. May 19, 2009), which held that when a physician is providing specific treatment for psychological problems, and has a sexual relationship with the patient, if that sexual relationship directly causes the patient?s psychological/emotional symptoms to worsen, that patient has potentially stated a cognizable cause of action for malpractice.  Judge Orie Melvin joined a dissenting opinion authored by Judge Lally-Green stating that a consensual, non-medical sexual affair between doctor and patient does not constitute the rendering of a medical skill associated with specialized training.

Judge Orie Melvin joined the dissenters in saying that the majority was mistaken in holding that a physician, whether a specialist or not, has a duty to refrain from a sexual affair with his patient even in the circumstances where the physician is treating the patient for an emotional condition or psychological problems and the patient alleges that the affair worsened the psychological problem. 

This is a breathtaking position for Judge Orie Melvin and the other two dissenters to take given that the doctor in question allegedly had a consensual sexual relationship with his patient for one year while she was his patient and being treated by him for anxiety and depression. 

Is this the kind of Judge that women of Pennsylvania want on the court?

Physicians have no duty to refrain from sexual affairs even when they will have a detrimental impact?  Huh?  WTF?  Oh my God?  All of those things to the nth degree! 

And this woman is running for the Highest Court in the Commonwealth? 

Case is attached below.

More?

AFA of PA questionairre.  Jack Panella refrains from pandering as is fitting for an impartial judge.  Joan spews it all out.

 

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View Article  It iS saTurDAY

So much to review and comment upon ... the weeks just fly by these days. 

I have become a devote of The Today Show.  I used to be an avid morning NPR listener, but one day I clicked on the television and Harry n Maggie won my heart.  I don't know why. Is it middle age?  The proximity of the television to my laptop and morning coffee?  I don't know.  But I like it.

The PG profiles a gay couple with Pgh connections in a heartbreakding description of how unfair immigration laws devastate our families. 

Immigration reform is clearly a hot topic and adding the issue of LGBT relationships is bound to stir the pot, the pot that isn't even on the stove.  A national LGBT email list to which I subscribe brings this legislative topic every once in awhile, but it lacks traction.  The PG piece does a heartbreaking job of showing how the lack of legal federal relationship recognition is patently unAmerican. 

Darryl Metcalfe is his ridiculous self, labeling veterans as traitors for embracing the leftist agenda.  Classy.  He finally has a challenger, but enjoys 60%+approval ratings so it is going to take a lot of effort to address that situation.

Laura and I will be joining Mackenzie Carpenter for her Post-Gazette Ominvore podcast this week.  We'll be talking about SisterShout and other LGBT news.  That's a bit of exciting news. 

Pam's House Blend has the story on Maine's battle to maintain marriage equality crossing the $4million threshold, monies mostly raised from individual donors.  The anti-marriage equality opponents have been mostly funded by the looming shadow of NOM which is based in New Jersey.  So New Jersey corporation funding a Maine ballot initiative.  Hmmm. 

Pittsburgh's feminist and female football fan community continue to remain ominously silent on the allegations that Big Ben raped a woman.  They are equally silent on some of his more egregious attempts to quash the case ... well, let me be specific, the feminists have been silent.  Women who believe Big Ben is not a rapist and spew the same 'she didn't come forward quickly enough to have credibility' are pretty vocal.  Shame on all of us.

Let me leave you with this touching video, a reminder that we should never assume who allies themselves with our community.

View Article  Tom Michalow events

Tom got the Post-Gazette endorsement.

Also ..


Hi Everyone,

Tomorrow night the Bellvue Chamber of Commerce is holding a Meet the Candidates night at Bellvue Elementary School this is going to be an important night in this highly contested race because this is a bi-partisan event and we want to have a good showing to give Tom the support he needs to win this race.  For those of you who do not know Tom Michalow (
http://tommichalow.com/), Tom is extremely qualified individual and will bring a fresh view to County Council and a strong and determined work-ethic that will benefit the County as a whole and the residents in his district.  Tom is a dedicated teacher and also a graduate of North Allegheny, Duquesne University, and of VMI.  Myself being a teacher, I know that Tom has the patience and skills to work with a diverse group of individuals and that he has the management skills to encourage collaboration and to get the job done.  So please come out tomorrow and support Tom!!

When:   Tomorrow, October 22nd, 7 PM

Where:  Bellvue Elementary, 435 Lincoln Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15202

Why:     To Support Tom Michalow for County Council District 1

Contact:  Justin Lewis, YDAC Membership Director at
[email protected] or 412-638-8280 for more details

If you cannot attend tomorrow night, please join us next Wednesday for a Rally for Tom (see info below):

Event:    Tom Michalow, Democrat for Allegheny County Council, District 1
What:    Rally
Start Time:  Wednesday, October 28 at 5:30pm
End Time:   Wednesday, October 28 at 7:30pm
Where:        Evergreen Community Park House - 3430 Evergreen Road  - Ross Township, PA  15237

To see more details and RSVP, follow the link below:http://www.facebook.com/n/?event.php&eid=157223074422&mid=148861aG3db3f9aG839fc0G7&bcode=tkrO1

Thanks for your support of our Young Democratic Candidates!

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