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View Article  How gay-friendly is AAA?

Four years ago, I added Laura to my AAA membership.  I called, shared her information - including our relationship status - and paid the additional fee (same process as my Dad adding my Mom to his account).  We've used repeatedly over the years; she's used it more oftenn than I for travel purposes. 

So I was surprised to learn that AAA South just recently added Family memberships to married LGBT couples (not domestic partners - yet).  Apparently, the regional AAA's make their own policies with this regard.  Here's the statement from Equality Florida which is served by this branch of AAA.

Icon of America's Roadways Recognizes Marriage Equality
In Meeting with Equality Florida, AAA South Pledges Family Memberships to Same-Gender Spouses
During a face-to-face meeting yesterday between Equality Florida and AAA South, top management at the 4th largest AAA affiliate in the country committed to recognizing all spouses, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The policy allows gay married couples to receive spousal discounts under AAA's Associate Membership program.
Equality Florida launched conversations with AAA several months back after receiving calls from gay couples who had been denied family memberships.
?We had not talked about this issue very much at all until you reached out to us, and that has caused us to talk about it quite a bit,? said Tom O?Brien, President and Chief Executive Officer, AAA Auto Club South. ?Our policy does include gay and lesbian spouses, wherever they were married. Whether in other states or countries, they qualify."
AAA South management says it will take about 2 weeks to train 3,000 staff members to implement the policy uniformly.
Same-sex couples applying for a membership need only state that they are married to receive the family benefit.  Management also left the door open to expand the policy to include domestic partners - gay and straight.
AAA South has more than 4 million members in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Puerto Rico.

So, you can see where this is going.  Southern states + support for gay families = fundies spilling out of their pulpits.

A sample advocacy letter:

My family and I were appalled to learn that AAA South has bowed to the demands of a homosexual extremist group by offering Family Memberships to same-gender spouses.
81 percent of Tennessee voters, 76 percent of Georgia voters and 62 percent of Florida voters approved constitutional amendments that define marriage in their state constitutions as only between one man and one woman.  The AAA South policy contradicts the law and public policy of the states in which the company operates.  
Furthermore, a policy allowing same-sex couples to only need to state that they are married in order to receive Family Membership further tramples on the institution of marriage.

I was fascinated to learn that if Laura and I relocated to these states, we would lose our family benefits and have to purchase individual policies.  We went to AAA to have our City domestic partner affidavit notarized when we applied for domestic partner benefits.

Which brings me to one final point.  When it comes to domestic registries for the City or to receive State benefits, why not count other official acknowledgements as one type of proof of the relationship?  For example, if I want to sign up for the City registry, why not accept our AAA domestic partnership acknowledgement as one of my forms of proofs?  Wouldn't that be a way of legitimizing corporate domestic partner efforts? 


View Article  Dok Harris - the lesbian interview

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I sat down to chat with Dok Harris in his DIY-themed campaign office in Oakland, hipply located under the former home of Phantom in the Attic comic store, but it sure wasn't a gentle reproof that I was slurping a Starbucks frappucino in lieu of a home-brewed beverage from a nearby locally-owned, neighborhood coffee shop.


It was a fitting beginning to a conversation I wanted to have about the LGBTQ community's contributions to Pittsburgh economic revitalization.  I'm no Mike Madison so I hope I get this right -- Dok's economic vision is about balancing the strengthening of the small business sector of Pittsburgh with increasing the intellectual capital.  That's pretty apt for gays concerned about economics because we have this inner balance between our small businesses, such as A Pleasant Present and The Square Cafe, and the emerging pink within corporate America.  Our community needs the VPs and the high-powered execs to come out and contribute as much as we do the owners of the businesses to display their rainbow merchandise.  Visibility in the economy isn't just about being a market sector; it is about measuring our contributions, defining how we create as much as how we consume. 

Dok envisions small business liaison to create dialogues with his Administration and acknowledged that an LGBT small business owner should be at the table.  Why not?

Why not? seems to be a recurrent theme when it comes to Harris and equality.  A social progressive, he approaches equal rights from an (very well) informed historical perspective, noting that America has a pattern of finding ways to exclude someone - anyone - from "us," be it because of how many drops of blood in their racial identity or their gender or their sexual orientation. 

"Respect is a better term" than tolerance or acceptance, according to Harris who openly acknowledges that his parents' interracial marriage (and his birth) should be compared to current battles over equality.  Harris isn't interested in merely being tolerated himself and holds those around him to the same high standard.  With regard to marriage equality, he believes that society and government should extend "full faith & credit" to citizens' choice of partnerships.  Yes "choice" is a bit troubling, but here's his answer to Steel City on marriage equality:

I believe that in the eyes of the state that every partnership between two consenting adults should have equal rights and full protection of the law.  I will fight to guarantee those rights and that protection while in office. 

Focusing locally, Harris is adamant. "Get rid of pay to play politics and everyone benefits."  The current Administration plays up their youthful mentality, but plays the same old games.  Transparency is the solution.

Given how opaque the current Administration has been with regard to LGBTQ issues, that's a refreshing perspective.  I agree that the politics of exclusion are not putting the best & brightest that the LGBTQ community has to offer at the forefront of our community.  The best way for that to happen is to create a fair playing ground where City of Pittsburgh residents who are LGBTQ are at the table and not in the closet. 

So how would Harris create a culture of inclusion specific to the LGBTQ community within the City?  He sees that the City overall has a lot of respect for the gay community, but acknowledges that changing the internal culture has to start with the Mayor sending a clear message that disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated.  It was invigorating to talk with someone who understands that "institutional knowledge" translates into "it can change, but it takes effort" rather than "that's just Pittsburgh" particularly when it comes to institutional discrimination. 

Many conservative groups believe that this issue should not be legislated, but should remain a matter for the private sphere to resolve on their own.  I disagree - where law has created disparate treatments of people, the law must then work to solve that discrepancy.  Equal protection under our laws means equal protection no matter who you are. 

Interesting again to note that discrimination is not just about individual personal beliefs, but is rooted in the systemic, intentional opppression and exclusiong of certain groups of individuals and that the institutional, state-sanctioned oppression contributes to the ongoing "personal beliefs."

Clearly, this is not a man who would bring a body guard to a gay Democrats meeting.

We talked about the Mayor's plans for a LGBT Advisory Committee.  Harris would keep that in place and ensure that multiple perspectives from the community had a voice.  When it come to the Domestic Partner Registry as a tool to encourage more companies to provides domestic partner benefits, he acknowledges that he doesn't want to meddle in company policies but model leadership.  As a business owner, he understands that domestic partner benefits are good business and that is a leadership message he can promote. 

I also asked about preserving the rights and benefits of City employees in any talks of City-County mergers, reminding him that it is the clerical worker making $27,000 in the back office who is most vulnerable, he agreed that people should not lose rights and benefits.  However, he believes that the current talks are complex, but poorly thought out even while acknowleding that it is the future. 

Harris peppers his enthusiastic responses with terms such as "thought leader" and "best & brightest" and it is clear to me that he absolutely sees our community as part of that dynamic. 

His Steel City Stonewall survey is attached as a Word document.  He's good on the issues.  Read it for yourself. 

Any last thoughts?  Dok brought up Richard Caliguri more often than he did Franco Harris.  :-)   

I had to miss the Campaign Kick Off party tonight, but I hope to be at the next event later in the week. 

With a refreshing beverage from a locally owned company in hand. 

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View Article  Update on ENDA/Episcopals

Here's the status of where Pennsylvania's House delegation stands on an Inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

UPDATED AS OF 7-23-09 6:30pm; In this column:  Definite Yes Probable Yes Total Yes Unconfirmed Probable No Definite No Notes
Robert A. Brady  x           CS 2009; co-sponsor in 2007
Chaka Fattah  x           CS 2009; co-sponsor in 2007
Kathleen A. Dahlkemper        x     voted yes on hate crimes bill; Sabrina Schnur: undecided as of 6-15-09
Jason Altmire        x     voted yes on hate crimes bill; voted yes on 07 ENDA
Glenn Thompson        x     voted no on hate crimes bill
Jim Gerlach        x     voted yes on hate crimes bill; voted yes on 07 ENDA
Joe Sestak  x           CS 2009; co-sponsor in 2007
Patrick J. Murphy  x           CS 2009; co-sponsor in 2007
Bill Shuster          x   voted against in 2007
Christopher P. Carney    x         voted no on hate crimes bill; voted yes on 07 ENDA; constituent mtg requested 7-8-09; office reports leaning towards yes vote
Paul E. Kanjorski        x     voted yes on hate crimes bill; voted yes on 07 ENDA; Rachel Miller: still undecided as of 6-30-09; constituent mtg requested 7-8-09
John P. Murtha        x     abstained on hate crimes bill, but voted yes on 2007 hate crimes bill; voted yes on 07 ENDA
Allyson Y. Schwartz  x           CS 2009; co-sponsor in 2007
Michael F. Doyle  x           CS 2009; co-sponsor in 2007; Sue Kerr: definite yes
Charles W. Dent        x     voted yes on hate crimes bill; voted yes on 07 ENDA
Joseph R. Pitts          x   voted against in 2007
Tim Holden        x     voted yes on hate crimes bill; voted yes on 07 ENDA; Lane Dempsey 6-25-09: no position (co-sponsor in 2007)
Tim Murphy          x   voted against in 2007
Todd Russell Platts  x           CS 2009

As you can see, Mike Doyle is in good shape as a co-sponsor of the legislation.  Tim Murphy is a probable no.  That leaves Jason Altmire and Kathleen Dahlkemper to work on here in Western Pennsylvania.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2009, HR 3017, is pending in the House of Representatives, and has the public support of 164 Members of Congress. Another 40 are likely to vote yes, but have not yet made their support of the bill public, as far as we know. This makes a total of 204 in the yes column. 218 are needed for a majority in the House. Passage is likely, but we're not yet clearly there as of today.

The answer is very simple, folks. Pick up the phone and call 202-224-3121 using your free cell phone long distance.  Give your zip or ask for your rep by name.  You'll be connected and can ask about their position (in case you don't have this spreadsheet).  Then encourage them to support it.  Tell them why freedom from discrimination in the workplace is important to your family.  You don't know that your phone call couldn't be the one that tips Altmire toward the "yes" column.  He's a good guy and has been supportive of LGBT issues and events. 

On another note, Ann Rodgers had a nice piece on the status of the post-break up Episcopal churches here in Pittsburgh.  Another fine piece of reporting on an important issue for our community.

View Article  Gagging a local blogger: Homophobic attacks threaten Pgh blogger's employment

Back in May, local blogger Kira knew he would be stirring up controversy when he began a local blog compiling the media coverage of West Mifflin School District Superintendent, Patrick Risha.  Risha has been front and center in a controversy over renewing the contract of the girl's basketball coach which brought to light allegations that Risha administers the district from home, just the latest in a long series of political scandals from the borough that has too often seen elected officials removed from meetings by the police. 

Kira, a former School District employee, began his blog to bring to light the already public information that he felt wasn't reaching the parents, tax payers and residents of West Mifflin.

"I knew about his past," said Kira. "I wondered why he was hired." 

Risha, a former superintendent of the McKeesport and South Allegheny School Districts, has an array of supporters who sprang to his defense in the comments section. The debate took an unpleasant turn when Kira accidentallly revealed his identity when posting a document. 

That's when things turned away from the facts and focused on personal attacks on Kira, an openly gay man.  Comments ranged from accusing him of pedophilia, to being a scorned suitor of Risha's adult son to downloading pornography to school equipment while he was employed there.  Other comments about his competency and questioning the circumstances of his departure also circulated. 

Things escalated when an individual claiming to be a WM parent and teacher sent a vicious email to Kira and various Administrators in West Mifflin.  "Vinn Dogg" wrote:

Children's safety is not a priority to him as his type can never have kids unless they come up with a way you can do it by mixing semen and feces.  Let me go on the record to say that I for one am glad that there are no more deviant [staffers] trying to corrupt the minds of the WM students.  It is comforting as a parent and teacher to know that someone with [Kira]s mental illness is no longer anywhere near our children. 

It is nice to know that there is no longer a reign of deviant terror in the district.  Where there once was ball gags, KY Jelly, and Village People CDs is now cutting edge hardware, the latest software and fiber optics.  Yes we know that [Kira] is unfairly taking out his frustrations on you that Mr. Risha's son did not take to his sexual advances. 

A second letter soon followed, after Kira posted this rant to show people exactly the extent to which Risha's defenders are willing to use completely unsubstantiated homophobic slurs to defame him.  He also questioned if the inclusion of the Administrators in the email was meant to send a message that they tacitly or, perhaps explicitly, endorsed these tactics. 

Looks like someone is enjoying the "wiener"  Looks like this tub of crap probably spent too much time when he was at West Mifflin stuffing pizza and donuts down his pie hole while using district resources to search gay porn.  Fat boy's daddy issues are pretty obvious in this picture.  Maybe that is why is likes the wieners better than tacos.  The power bottom in him is attributed to his daddy not loving him enough.  His daddy is so disappointed in him.  Daddy's little girl couldn't be a man so he looks for other guy's pee pees.  Good thing you guys dumped Megan's Law [Kira] before he could pull a "[name deleted]" and sleep with a student. 

Well. I must say that you typically don't see a homophobe reference a ball gag and the Village People in the same slur, but that's the only thing remotely humorous about this.  Kira has also posted this email message, but I'm not optimistic that any of the Administrators included in the distribution will publicly denounce this vile attack.

The question, of course, is how gay bashing Kira supports Mr. Risha?  Is it possible that the extreme tact makes the others look more reasonable and plausible?  Perhaps they don't have a real defense so they use a homophobic offense?

It gets worse. 

Last week, anonymous letters were sent via US Postal Service to Kira's employers (the principals in his company) and to their top clients with a litany of accusations, including his use of company resources for his blog and accusations that he was engaging in homosexual sexual online activity.  His company is standing behind him at this point after investigating and determining that Kira had not jeopardized the company with his blogging.  Still, how much could they tolerate?  There is no right to free speech in the private workplace.  He could be fired at will at any time.

What on earth motivates someone to go to this extreme?  Who could be this invested in shutting down a critic of Mr. Risha?  The man still has his job and the support of the School Board.  He was able to leverage out the girl's basketball coach and hire his chosen replacement.  He continues to have the accommodation of working from home and has pretty much withstood attacks from all sides.  So why is someone hurling such venomous homophobia at Kira whose crime is simply compiling materials published by other sources?

Kira has an unfortunate choice:  keep blogging & potentially lose his job or stop blogging & allow himself to be shut down by bigotry. 

He hopes to "find a way to walk away knowing he accomplished something."  One hope is that GLSEN could use this to open a dialogue with the school district as someone who is claiming to be a teacher is drawing the Administration into a homophobic attack. 

Looking back, Kira sighs that he never anticipated this much stress.  If someone could try to have him fired, how far will they go to silence him?  Of course, the unspoken question is why they feel so compelled to silence him when Mr. Risha seems to be in the driver's seat? 

The personal attacks continue on a local discussion forum http://www.topix.com/forum/city/west-mifflin-pa

These homophobic tactics are absolutely reprehensible and should be repudiated by the West Mifflin School District.  I went through West Mifflin schools with openly gay classmates and it was a brutal experience.  It is a good bet that the WM adults posting on these forums and the comments section of the blog are my contemporaries, demonstrating that more than a few haven't grown beyond the adolescent taunting. 

The step of spreading the taunting to Kira's employer is downright chilling.  Who wants their boss to hear their name associated with pedophilia or ball gags?  Can you envision that conversation with your supervisor?

I'm sure I'm not the only blogger in town who worries about these things (ok, I might be one of the few who would ever worry about the ball gag reference, but still ...). Kira shouldn't have to stop expressing himself because homobigots are throwing everything they can at the wall and hoping some sticks to him.  I've known him for decades and none of it does.

But it will.  Because we are gay in a homophobic society and people panic about it.  I've been told to "tone down the gay" in the workplace so it is perfectly reasonable to expect that the clients of his won't want anything to do with the vile accusations, even if they are sympathetic to his persecution.

One also has to wonder about the escalation.  The written letters were allegedly sent to miscellaneous WM residents as well, with information about Kira's identity.  What is the next step?

Frightening moments in the Burghosphere and some we should take heed from.  Patrick Risha is a School Superintendent in a medium sized Mon Valley community.  Many of us tackle much more prominent public figures and issues that strike at the heart of egos significant larger than West Mifflin.  I share Kira's identity as a LGBT person, but peruse the comments at other local blogs for examples of the hatefest done wrong -- 2 Political Junkies is a great example where misogyny is the weapon of choice when Maria's opinions strike the wrong note. 

It can become a little ho-hum after awhile, but Kira's experiences illustrate how quickly the political can become personal. 

View Article  American Apparel defends Gay Identity

Story from the Washington City Paper.  I hear lots of complaints from local folks, especially women, about American Apparel's pretty sexist ads in the local City Paper. 

This week, hooligans targeted a couple of local American Apparel stores over the stores? prominent ?Legalize Gay? T-Shirt displays. On Monday, a window at the Silver Spring location was shattered. Yesterday, an anonymous caller informed the Georgetown location that as long as ?Legalize Gay? is on display, the storefronts can expect more broken glass.

American Apparel isn?t scared.

Following the second threat, Silver Spring American Apparel manager Kassandra Powell told CP that the store had temporarily removed the anti-Prop-8 clothing from its window display. Last night, company spokesperson Ryan Holiday wrote in to say that ?Legalize Gay? was there to stay. ?The store employee misspoke about taking the display down,? wrote Holiday. ?[T]hose decisions get made in Los Angeles and we wouldn?t want to give into something like this.?

In a statement, American Apparel?s Jonny Makeup made clear that the two local incidents would only strengthen its marriage equality efforts in D.C. The company will ?continue to run Legalize Gay advertisements in papers across DC-Metro area,? wrote Makeup. Some Washingtonians may even get some free stuff out of the deal: ?We?ll also send Legalize Gay t-shirts to any group in Washington DC that is fighting for gay rights,?

Things are always complicated, aren't they?  I once bought a shirt that said "Gay?  Okay by me" and had a friend tell me it made me uncomfortable when I wore it around her.  Well, not so much tell me as just panic when I wore it.  The shirt sort of fell apart in the wash so I didn't wear it anymore.  Would I wear a Legalize Gay shirt?  Yes.

American Apparel, you can send mine via the Pittsburgh City Paper. 

View Article  Local coverage of GLSEN youth event

This past weekend, GLSEN hosted a conference for LGBTQ youth.  They received nice coverage from the City Paper  The intriguing part of the article is the resiliancy and determination of the children to improve the quality of life for their fellow LGBTQ classmates.

Chess, a Hickory High School senior from Mercer County's Hermitage School District, says he has a gay relative who didn't come out until his late 20s. 

"I came out when I was 16," Chess reports. "It's getting easier because it's out there now" -- a landscape in which states are approving gay marriage, the president has said he favors ending several discriminatory rules, and top honors can go to a straight film actor portraying San Francisco's first gay elected official. 

"The whole country at large has really come out of the closet and has made their presence known," says Chess. "Right now, if my phone were to ring, you'd hear the monumental words of Harvey Milk, urging people to come out."

And yet as each advance brings a new opportunity, it seems to present a new obstacle as well. As a high school junior this past year, Chess says he failed to win approval from either the school board or administration to start a Gay-Straight Alliance club, although there are more than 3,600 of them across the nation, in all 50 states. 

It was officially submitted to the board as the Hickory High Delta Group ? a more generic name, like a "Tolerance Club" or "Diversity Club," that sometimes has a better chance of succeeding, Chess realizes.

Hermitage Superintendent Karen Ionta says the problem with this and another unrelated but similarly rejected club was that the board simply didn't have enough information about it -- neither constitution nor officers, for one. "I don't like people to think we're not accepting," Ionta says.

The students have a different interpretation of events.

"What they're hoping is we'll graduate without getting it passed and there will be nobody to follow up on our actions," says Kristen Sokac, 17, a straight Hickory student also trying to start the club. (Hermitage's superintendent did not return a call for comment by press time.)

Chess and several dozen other gay kids and their parents, as well as straight allies like Sokac, gathered July 17-19 Downtown for the first statewide gay youth conference held by the Pittsburgh chapter of GLSEN -- the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. The group aims to make schools friendlier and safer for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) students. 


I've been told that my hometown of West Mifflin is resisting permitting a GSA.  I went to school in the mid-80s with a friend who was openly gay and witnessed firsthand the incredible abuse heaped upon him by the educators and administrators.  Survival was his model of operation and he escaped with his sense of self pretty intact in spite of their best efforts.  I have other friends who live their and continue to remain closeted for persona/family reasons as well as a lack of general community support.  Sad.

The Post-Gazette did a nice piece on the documentary which opened during the conference.  Called "Out in the Silence" it is the real life story about an Oil City young man.  Check out the article for a compelling story.

View Article  LGBT Family Friendly Picnic

The GLCC and the Lambda Foundation of Pittsburgh are sponsoring a family friendly picnic at North Park on Sunday, August 9, 2009. 

Hopefully, you are planning to go, especially those of you who have been clammoring for more family friendly activities and events for you and the children in your family.  At $20/family, it is a pretty good deal -- lunch, games, prizes, etc -- even for two people, especially for more. 

While it is great that you are RSVPing "yes" on Facebook, it is important that you actually purchase tickets so the organizers can organize.  Go here to get the details.  Hope to see you there and kick off another great Pittsburgh LGBT tradition.


View Article  Gay Friendliness at PNC Park

Today, Ledcat and I went to PNC Park with a a lesbian couple with whom we've been friends for many years.  I had won the tickets via Twitter courtesy of Pittsburgh Magazine.  We had a nice picnic lunch with plenty of vegetarian options for the Sarahs.  Our seats were sunny and just fine.

PNC Park has this thing where you can text messages to them and some will appear on the scrolling billboard.  I almost passed out when my text "Sue and Laura are celebrating their 6th anniversary" came across.  I had just picked myself up when "Sarh loves Sarah" came next.  Holy smokes.

So that's our gay friendly message of the day.

View Article  NetRoots Nations and local new social media

So this big conference of progressive blogging folk is coming to town in August and I am working with the Lambda Foundation and the LGBT Blogging Initiative to organize a big ole gay welcome reception. Between the Warhol and Pegasus, a good time will be had by 2,000 people or more. 

I helped Lambda set up their Facebook page (not a group) which has the advantage of showing up in people's feeds like any other profile  I also set up a Twitter account for them https://twitter.com/pghlambda (Twitter search is broken so it won't show up that way).

Then I searched for other Pittsburgh groups who are using new social media and came up pretty empty. What I mostly see are individuals who have accounts using them to promote their organizational activities.  I think that misses the opportunity for branding, but it certainly is better than nothing.

City Councilman Bill Peduto uses Twitter and FB very effectively to keep his messages front and center, as well as offering interesting (if intentional) glimpses into his persona life.  Patrick Dowd made an attempt during his campaign. 

The queer organizations aren't there yet.  Several of the dyke oriented activities seem very grounded in MySpace which has a much younger focus, so they miss the opportunity to connect with women in different sectors of the community.  I keep a MySpace account, but I doubt that I would set one up for one event when I am actively using Facebook.  I think it is incumbent upon the orgs to use the media and not expect the users to follow them.

I see quite a few events, but I don't see tweets reminding me of upcoming activities.  So even if I RSVP "yes", I forget about things.  Twitter is pushed to my phone so I am more responsive to it. 

Overall, I'd love if our community could tackle new social media in new inspiring ways.  We have all this technical know-how and so many worthwhile organizations/issues, surely there must be a way to bring them together? 

Stay tuned for the press release for the VIP Welcome Reception at the Warhol.  Fabulous!

View Article  Postings from the coffeehouse

I've been a bit distracted this week so I'll try to recap some of the high (and low) lights for you ...

Spoke with Dok Harris' campaign manager, Michael. Dok is very interested in working with the LGBT community.  He has completed the Steel City Stonewall survey which I hope will be posted on their website very soon.  This should prove to be an interesting race because Dok is miles ahead in terms of name recognition.  I'm going to be sitting down with him soon to talk in more depth about LGBT issues. 

Kevin Acklin also completed the survey and had some good, intense things to say.  I've met Kevin several times in person and find his intensity very appealing.  But I struggle with his previous support for Rick Santorum. 

I anticipate the Mayor getting his LGBT Advisory Committee up and running momentarily.  They are winnowing down the applicants and setting a first meeting for August.  I wonder if the fact that Harris and Acklin are courting the LGBT community will light a fire under the Ravenstahl Administration to be able to say they have accomplished *something* for the community?  That might help him coast through this election.  Then he'll need to actually do something else for the next go around.  That's also when the configuration will come to play -- if he puts his go-to-guys on the committee, game over.  But can we expect him to do otherwise?  Realistically, he is so far in bed with his go to guys that I'd give it a 7% chance that at least one of them will not be on the committee.  That's being generous.  I just don't think he has enough imagination to realize he can form a committee with fresh new voices and still maintain his private go to guys, thus appearing open-minded and willing to associate with other gay people. We'll see. I'd love if Paul McKrell and Yarone Zober could prove me wrong.  Really, I would.  

On the national level, hate crimes legislation has passed both the House and Senate albeit different versions that warrant a conference committee to iron out the differences.  The ACLU is balking over potential restrictions on free speech.  The wingnuts are screaming about it.  I didn't like when the guy downtown yelled a gay slur at me, but I recognize that there is big difference between him expressing his bigotry and him assaulting me.  I'd like to know that if he had assaulted me, it would matter that he targeted me for being a dyke.

The President mentioned the LGBTQ community in his recent speech to the NAACP. Pam's House Blend has the story.

But make no mistake: the pain of discrimination is still felt in America. By African-American women paid less for doing the same work as colleagues of a different color and gender. By Latinos made to feel unwelcome in their own country. By Muslim Americans viewed with suspicion for simply kneeling down to pray. By our gay brothers and sisters, still taunted, still attacked, still denied their rights.

On the 45th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, discrimination must not stand. Not on account of color or gender; how you worship or who you love. Prejudice has no place in the United States of America.

The Steel City Stonewall meeting took place this past Thursday.  Next one is Tuesday August 11, 7 PM at Crazy Mocha in Lawrenceville.  I find the meetings provide a fascinating examination on what is happening behind the scenes.  This is a great chance to get involved, especially if you don't really know a lot about politics.  The group includes people who are pretty conservative in terms of wanting to work within the status quo to people who are much further on the margin. Makes for great discussion. 


I'm a little distracted with the news that my 93 year old grandmother does not have much longer.  One of those could be 3 week or 3 month things.  I'm really lucky to have had her for 38 years.  We are also lucky that she was able to be at home right through the end thanks to some programs we discovered through the Area Agency on Aging and a great in-home staff person who has become like family.  I'm trying to sort through the arrangements end of things which is a pain.  So if my head isn't in the game, that's why.




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