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So much has been happening.  I've been so busy at work that I've hardly had time to keep up with email and Facebook, much less blog. 

Let's do the LGBTQ stuff first.

The bastion of Catholic goodness, Notre Dame, is suffering some backlash after publishing this cartoon in the student newspaper.   (h/t Pam's House Blend)

The paper has apparently apologized for letting this slip through the cracks, but an interesting note is the mounting student led pressure for reform on campus -- a change in attitude.  This story resonates here in Pittsburgh because of the eminence of Duquesne University and the never-ceasing struggles of local Christians over LGBTQ issues.  I believe that Duquesne University has a gay-straight alliance called Lambda.  Local LGBTQ orgs often mention the Pitt and CMU alliances -- perhaps we are called to reach out to the Duquesne group, too?

The cartoon is absolutely despicable.  My reference to reaching out to the Duquesne gay-straight alliance is evidence that I am just as capable of contributing community building suggestions as I am lampooning foolishness. 

Here's the "ManCrunch" ad rejected for the Superbowl.  Amusing stuff.

It is Grammy weekend and notorious homophobic Buju Banton is nominated for a Grammy.  GLAAD is not pleased and has taken out an ad in Variety to remind the entertainment industry that we should not reward "art" that promotes killing faggots. 

Still, we are a nation that gave an Oscar to a white director who raped a child.   

Is there a difference between the actions of the artist (rape) and the art itself (kill the faggots)?  I guess we should ask girls who survive rape and Jamaican LGBT folks.

Anything else?  Oh yes POTUS is going to repeal DADT.  Yawn.  Maybe we can have a contest to see what happens first -- Domestic Partner benefits in Allegheny County or the repeal of DADT? 

 

Meanwhile, around the Burghosphere ...

The Comet closes up shop.

Slag Heap looks at Sestak's actual plan to repeal DADT. 

Roddy on Hait (h/t That's Church)

PopCity on some new local blogs.

 

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View Article  Saturday on the couch with a cup of coffee

The boys decided they really had to visit the backyard at 6:30 AM so up I got.  Now I'm coffee'd up and had the wonderful joy of listening to my neighbor laying on her horn for ten minutes to get her kids out of the door. 

Which brings me to the number one topic of the morning, the Pennsylvania Governors Debate last night at the PA Progress Summit 

I followed last night on Twitter.  The hashtag for upcoming debates is #pagovdebate, btw.  Next debate is Sunday here in Pittsburgh.

Anyway, here's the Morning Call wrap up.

In response to a question from an audience member, Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty and Hoeffel said they would support marriage rights for homosexual couples.

''As the only one here who performs weddings, I don't have a problem with same-sex marriage,'' Doherty said. ''People have a right to be happy. This is America. We should provide everyone with the same equality and respect.''

Onorato stressed his support for anti-discrimination measures in Allegheny County, and would also favor civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.

Auditor General
Jack Wagner said he believes marriage is a union between a man and a woman, but also voiced support for protection from discrimination for the state's gay and lesbian community.

This is what I'm afraid of ... people out East are going to fall for Onorato's "pragmatic progressivism" which in the case of anti-discrimination legislation means jumping on the bandwagon at the last possible moment and then taking credit for the heavy lifting.  He's a liar, but he's feeding them lies they want to hear so how on earth will the truth get out?  I would love to invite a leader from Philly's LGBT political community to talk with some of the LGBT folks who can't necessarily afford to jet out to Philly for the high profile fundraisers and house parties, but have been present at critical junctures. We are at the mercy of political dilettantes who have a hell of a lot more money than we do.  All we have is a voting record and an informed populace of LGBTQ leaders who are being excluded from the Onorato table because they seemingly are more Q than G. 

Even Team Luke invites the Qs for God's sake!

Is that what Philly wants in our next Governor?  Is that what you want?

Three of the four candidates ? Hoeffel, Doherty and Onorato -- all said they would veto legislation criminalizing abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court votes to overturn Roe v. Wade, the decision that legalized abortion in the United States.

Wagner said he would work to improve services for children and
pregnant women.

''I'm for less abortions??but at the same time, I strongly support existing law,'' Wagner said. ''But it's more than that. It's more than simply a law. It's about supporting children. It's about supporting women with good health care choices. It's about supporting existing laws on the books.''

If I were anti-choice, I'd be howling except I know this is codespeak for get the progressive vote and then let the conservative Senate do what the hell it wants so its really all okay for the fetus. 

Wagner's right that we need better services for women and children, period.  Not just pregnant women.  Women who need access to safe, affordable healthcare across the board so they can make informed decisions about their lives, including their reproductive choices.  There's a lot we can do to reduce the number of women who have unwanted pregnancies, but it doesn't start by squelching their Right to Privacy.  It starts much much further back along the line, probably somewhere that led to four white men standing on a stage in 2010 discussing their bid for Governor.  Until they acknowledge that privilege, this "support for existing law" needs to be called out for the ridiculous non-position that it is.

Back to Onorato, from the Post-Gazette coverage of the debate (big emphasis on Liquor Control Board)

Why doesn't the Post-Gazette ever mention that Mr. Onorato has not supported domestic partnerships for the past six years that he has been the boss of County employees?  Why does the Post-Gazette edit out references to gender identity and gender orientation?  Why do they obsess about marriage equality instead of finding out for themselves what the key indicators of LGBTQ quality of life are in the local gay community? 

Because marriage equality is sexy shorthand for the mainstream media too lazy to do their homework on these issues. 

Look, I don't have patience for the plodding along from "gays are okay" to marriage equality continuum, but supporting civil unions doesn't give you a pass on other issues.  It may be smart strategy in Pennsylvania where civil unions or marriage won't see the light of day for a decade so you won't actually have to vote on it.  But smart strategy is probably good enough for the affluent gay men who have the bounce of a thick wallet to take the sting out of being kicked in the ass by a politician who tolerates your campaign contributions. 

Smart strategy doesn't help actual gay people here in Pittsburgh.  We aren't getting married anytime soon, but we do have to feed our families, keep our jobs and figure out healthcare.  Plus, catch a bus to work, prevent our kids from being swept away in Wal-Mart landslides, pay for childcare, take care of our senior family members and find somewhere safe to live.  Whew.  We are busy.

I cannot wait for the Steel City Stonewall Democrat endorsement where I will finally get to ask Onorato to publicly explain a six year (and counting) lag on domestic partner benefits in contrast to Mr. Hoeffel's County providing them for the past nine years. 

There is more to my concern than choice and LGBTQ civil rights.

I'm getting tweets and FB notes from LGBTQ folks also concerned about the environment, job development, health care, public transportation and so forth. 

It is heartening that people are paying attention and, as I've said before, social media is driving more people to this election. 

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View Article  Breaking: Pennsylvania Courts to Offer Domestic Partner Benefits

Another step forward for Pennsylvania's public employees.  From the Philly Gay News:

Employees of Pennsylvania?s court system who are in same-sex relationships will now be entitled to the same benefits as their heterosexual married counterparts.

The domestic-partner policy, announced Jan. 29 to all employees through a memo with their paystubs, will allow the partners of gay and lesbian staffers to be included on the medical, dental, vision and prescription-drug plans currently offered to married heterosexual couples.

Art Heinz, communications coordinator at the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts, said the policy will apply only to same-sex partners of the employees and will not be offered to unmarried heterosexual couples. Support materials for those wishing to enroll in the program will be available shortly, Heinz said, and the program will officially open March 1.

Disappointing that this only applies to LGBT couples, but still a step forward.  This applies to nearly 1,000 elected officials. 

Imagine -- openly gay judges. 

This is the most excellent response to the "if the budget allows" hedging we've heard here in our neck of the woods.

McCaffrey concurred that the cost should be minimal, but said finances did not play a large role in the Supreme Court?s decision.

?There were some numbers thrown back and forth, but we didn?t feel it was going to be a big number,? the justice said. ?We of course don?t know the number of people who are going to use this, but as I said to my colleagues, when the U.S. Supreme Court was deciding ?Brown v. Board of Education,? never once did the issue of money come up. It was about equality, fairness, equal rights. And that?s what we focused on.?

Equality, fairness, equal rights.  So refreshing. 

Expect an announcement from Team Onorato next week.  Sources tell me he will reiterate his support for civil unions, something the Governor cannot actually make happen given the rabidly conservative tenure of the Senate.  No word from Chief Executive Onorato on domestic partner benefits for County employees.

Kudos to the PA Court system for treating their own staff with equality and fairness.

 

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View Article  Pgh Stonewall Dems Search for Social Media Editor

I'm very pleased that Steel-City Stonewall Democrats are on the search for a volunteer to focus solely on social media.  I've been working on this project with other local LGBT social media users and really want to applaud the group for embracing these tools to support their mission.  The job description is also attached to this post as a Word document that you can circulate.

This is a concrete way someone who has social media experience and a desire to be part of the solution can get involved. There are also opportunities for folks to serve as "aggegrators" to help keep the organization's followers, fans and tweeps well informed on issues related to the group's mission.  What an excellent opportunity for Pittsburgh!

Please repost this information. 

Volunteer Description:  Social Media Editor for Steel City Stonewall Democrats

 

Steel-City Stonewall Democrats, a chapter of the national Stonewall Democrats, is looking for an experienced social media user to coordinate social media activities for the organization.  This position will require daily monitoring of political and LGBT information on a local, statewide and national level and the dissemination of this information to the members of the Steel-City Stonewall chapter. Steel-City Stonewall is a regional chapter of a National organization with over 90 chapters and offers a unique opportunity to engage individuals at a grassroots level to be involved with the LGBT movement and the political process.

 

This position will require daily monitoring of political and LGBT information on a local,statewide and national level and the dissemination of this information to the

members of the Steel City Stonewall chapter.  The editor will recruit and oversee

volunteer aggregators who will feed relevant information to the editor to be reviewed and filtered by the editor for dissemination.  Aggregators can include members of the organization as well as allies. Posting to Twitter/Facebook/related feeds twice

daily on weekdays and once daily on weekends. ** Can be shared duty. Monitoring

comments section of blog to ensure compliance with guidelines. 

 

The editor will chair a social media committee and attend board meetings on a

bimonthly basis to coordinate projects with the organization leadership.  S/he will maintain regular contact with the Executive Committee as well as the board liaison to the committee.  The board will make themselves available to provide guidance as needed. 

 

Posting priorities will be coordinated by the board. For example, if the board

identifies a critical race, the status updates should educate followers on relevant

mainstream media and blog coverage of said race. The individual should have experience using social media tools such as Twitter,  Facebook, MySpace and Flicker among others and be able to  commit to 5 hours  per week with primary duties during weekday hours. 

 

The editor will recruit and oversee volunteer aggregators who will feed relevant information to the editor to be filtered for dissemination.  Aggregators can include members of the organization as well as allies. 

 

Responsibilities will include:

  • Reviewing aggregated information as submitted by volunteers.
  • Posting to Twitter/Facebook/related feeds at least twice daily on weekdays and once daily on weekends. ** Can be shared duty.
  • Monitoring comments section of blog to ensure compliance with guidelines.
  • Recruiting social media volunteers to support this project and supervising their delegated projects.
  • Maintaining confidentiality of the SCSD membership list

 

Interested persons should contact Lance Friedman at  [email protected] Please provide links to your twitter feed, blog and/or facebook page for review. 

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View Article  Tuesday

Peduto endorses Joe Hoeffel.

?Joe Hoeffel is a progressive leader who will fight for Pennsylvania,? Peduto said. ?I am supporting Joe, because he understands the challenges facing communities like Pittsburgh, and he isn?t afraid to make the tough decisions to change the direction of our economy for the benefit of working families. He has a record in support of reforming state government to make it more transparent and accountable to the people. He knows how to balance the tough financial issues that Pennsylvania faces with a progressive agenda to build a 21st Century economy.?

It is very sad to hear my fellow queers say things like "We have to be realistic" about a primary. In January.  Did you learn nothing from Natalia Rudiak's election?  Seriously people ... that was a year ago. 

Joe Hoeffel's County has offered domestic partner benefits since 2001.  He offers them to his campaign staff.  His campaign staff, for God's sake. 

Joe Hoeffel likes gay people.  He thinks we deserve jobs, housing, health insurance and marriage equality.  He includes us fully in his vision for Pennsylvania, not just to the extent permitted by the Pope.

Really.  It is January.  Senator-elect Brown has not wiped the progressive slate clean.  Calm down and realize that nothing is inevitable in January. 

The Trib runs a piece on the Prop 8 Trial. 

Too bad for the GOP that its base won't allow that emphasis on individual liberty and the pursuit of equality -- the ultimate crux of the Republican Party of Lincoln and Reagan -- to be a road map for a party looking to gain ground in this year's midterm elections and position itself to retake the White House in 2012.

Olson rightly points out that "society suffers no benefit" from outlawing same-sex marriage. There isn't any "real basis," he says, for the belief that legalizing such relationships would invite the deterioration of heterosexual marriage or encourage polygamy.

Nor does his case compel Christianity -- or any other religion with conflicting tenets -- to recognize gay marriage.

Ah, but Daniel Haggerty of Chippewa begs to disagree (yes, I had to look up where Chippewa falls in PA).

Americans truly do not believe that homosexuality is dignified or decent. We are disgusted at any thought of what it means and pray that our kids will be spared from this very difficult lifestyle. As parents, we will do whatever it takes to avoid any positive presentation of homosexuality, not because of discrimination but because we know instinctively it is wrong and unnatural.

At least he has the cahones to lay it out there.  We are not decent human beings.  We deserve second class status lest we spread our indecency to other people's children.  Daniel Haggerty isn't inching along to thinking we deserve a few rights. He doesn't give a flying fig what conservatism means.  His a faith-based hatred fueled by half-truths and misunderstandings. 

Finally, as religious people, we know that when the federal government gets involved, you either play ball or you go out of business. That's why the Diocese of Boston no longer facilitates adoption; it refused to place children with homosexual couples, as required by Massachusetts law, and its adoption program was shut down. Does anyone really think the church will be given a pass when it comes to marrying gay couples?

Adoption is not a religious process.  The Diocese of Boston Catholic Charities was contracted by the state to provide this service to children in the community.  The law said that those children deserved homes based on certain criteria.  Sexual orientation of the adopters is not a legal reason to deny a child a home. The Diocese opted not to participate in a civil process that violated their religious beliefs. Someone else picked up that contract.  There's no "right to run an adoption program" that I'm aware of. 

But you can't get around it.  If you think LGBTQ folks are indecent, any weapon is fine. 

But, heck, Bill Gates isn't worried that Uganda wants to make homosexuality punishable by death.  Why should I worry about a little indecent slur? 

 

View Article  Florida Gay Adoption and Other Stuff

From the Orlando Sentinel comes a thoughtful story on an impending court ruling regarding the constitutionality of a statewide ban on LGBT adoption.

Florida is the only state that outright bans adoptions by gay people, although it allows gays and lesbians to be foster parents.

In November 2008, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman ruled that the law was unconstitutional after Gill and his partner applied to adopt the two boys who are now 4 and 9. The Florida Attorney General's Office, on behalf of the state Department of Children and Families, appealed the ruling.

"For the first time in the 30 years of the ban, a court had heard all the scientific evidence on how kids do when they are raised in gay families, and came to the conclusion that there's no rational basis to believe that kids do better with straight families than gay people," said Robert Rosenwald, Gill's ACLU attorney. "The appeals court should uphold the Lederman decision because it is based on evidence, scientific evidence that is largely undisputed by the state."

Mathew Staver, whose
Maitland-based Liberty Counsel filed a brief in support of the state, said the appeals court should uphold the adoption ban.

"To permit same-sex adoption is essentially a policy that says children don't need mothers or fathers," said Staver, whose organization opposes gay rights.

This has relevancy here in Pittsburgh where so many folks have stepped forward interested in adopting the Haitian children from the Bresma Orphanage.  From the PG:

Haiti, for example, is one of a few countries that allow a single woman to adopt a child.

On average, an international adoption could take up two years in the processing of paperwork and cost anywhere between $22,000 and $25,000, said Ms. McLaughlin-Butzine.

It is very unclear if LGBTQ families or individuals can adopt from Haiti.  It is highly relevant given the probability of a significant number of children being orphaned by the earthquake and their proximity to the United States, especially Florida.  Bringing children into the US foster care system under orphan visas does not trump the adoption policies of their home countries.

Wikipedia has an interesting chart of how LGBT rules role out in different nations.

As many countries will permit single parent adoption, there is a line of thought that LGBT couples can have one partner complete the adoption process and subvert the law by completing a second parent adoption back in the US.  That's fairly repugnant to me because the entire adoption is based on a lie and could be legally challenged by the child's country of origin.  Bilerico has more on this approach and the pending impact of Haitian orphans.

It is also repugnant to me because of the 125,000 American children needing homes.  Going overseas to lie about your family while children in your own nation are ignored is borderline immoral.  Mind you, it is the lie that bothers me more while the simple pursuit of transnational adoption just bugs me. 

We can help the children of Haiti by investing that $20,000 into relief efforts. 

View Article  Does background as Scout master bias judge in Philly Scouting case?

The Philly Gay News is reporting that the federal judge who recently issued an injuction in a case involving the City of Philadelphia and the Boy Scouts was himself a Scout official. The twist is that his time with the Scouts did overlap his time on Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. 

Philadelphia has been providing a City owned property as Scouting headquarters at below market rent.  In recent years, they decided that the Scout sanctioned discrimination against sexual orientation conflicted with the City's non-discrimination policies.  In other words, while the Scouts as a faith based organization are not required to comply with the law per se, they should not receive public subsidies (aka rent subsidy). 

City officials want to evict the Scouts from the building because the organization won?t permit openly gay participants, nor will it pay fair-market rent of $200,000 annually.

In their attempt to remain in the building, the Scouts filed a federal lawsuit in May 2008, alleging discrimination by city officials for exercising their constitutional right to ban gays.

The lawsuit relies largely on a 2000 Supreme Court decision stating that the Boy Scouts of America aren?t a public accommodation, so they?re not required to comply with local civil-rights laws protecting gays.

The city responded by noting that the Scouts are free to associate with whomever they please, but they aren?t entitled to city subsidies to facilitate discriminatory practices.

The Scout cried foul and off to Court everybody went.

City attorneys objected to the injunction issued by Buckwalter on Nov. 18, 2009. It effectively prevents Common Pleas Judge Mark I. Bernstein from ordering the Cradle of Liberty Council?s eviction from 231-251 N. 22nd St. at this stage of the litigation.

Also at the Jan. 19 proceeding, Buckwalter gave both sides until Jan. 22 to submit a memorandum before deciding whether the Scouts should post a bond for the duration of the injunction.

Buckwalter additionally said there may be a public hearing at a future date to determine the bond amount, if he decides one should be posted.

I'm assuming the bond would be the technical way to ensure the Scouts pay the back rent if the Court decides it must be so?  Regardless, the federal court has now made it possible for the Scouts to continue to reside in Philadelphia tax payer property without paying fair rent.

Can Buckwalter remain objective given his affiliation with the Scouts while serving on the Court of Common Pleas?  The City attorneys have raised no objection.  It was awhile ago, after all, but it does go to show just a lack of common sense.  If you aren't supposed to be affiliated with groups that might come before you, it just seems ridiculous.  At least he disclosed now.

The bigger issue this brings to light is this claim that the Boy Scouts have the right to discriminate against LGBTQ persons AND receive public subsidies.  They claim that paying fair market value on the property is violating the constitution.  It is so utterly ridiculous.

So continue to not support the Boy Scounts.  Not only do they teach intolerance and bigotry, but they want your tax dollars to do it. 

sdf

View Article  Focus on the Family and ther Superbowl: Is CBS biased toward anti-choice social issues?

Major fail on the part of CBS with regard to accepting faith based advertising.

You might recall back 2006, the United Church of Christ wanted to run a series of ads reaching out to the "unchurched" with a bit of pizzaz.  CBS rejected the advertising, deeming them "too controversial" for network television.  Here is one of the ads:

Fast forward (recurring meme this week, eh?) to the 2010 Superbowl set to air on CBS.  Focus on the Family is set to spend $2.8 million on this ad.  Video not available, but here's a description:

The 30-second spot from the international family-help organization will feature college football star Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam. They will share a personal story centered on the theme of "Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life."

Jim Daly, president and CEO of Focus on the Family, said the chance to partner with the Tebows and lift up a meaningful message about family and life comes at the right moment in the culture, because "families need to be inspired."

"Tim and Pam share our respect for life and our passion for helping families thrive," Daly said. "They live what we see every day ? that the desire for family closeness is written on the hearts of every generation. Focus on the Family is about nurturing that desire and strengthening families by empowering them with the tools they need to live lives rooted in morals and values."

Change.org weighs in.

Five years ago, television network CBS rejected as too controversial an advertisement from the United Church of Christ (UCC) that suggested churches should be places free from discrimination, including discrimination based on age, gender, race, and sexual orientation. At the time, CBS told the UCC that the network had "a longstanding policy of not accepting advocacy advertising."

Fast forward five years, and now CBS is prepared to run an advertisement during the Super Bowl -- the largest watched television program in the entire country -- from vehemently anti-LGBT organization Focus on the Family. Focus on the Family has a long history of spouting anti-LGBT beliefs, from calling gay marriage perverted, to saying that homosexuals were a threat to civilization, to telling girls that sex education strips them of their modesty. On top of that, the advertisement that Focus on the Family plans to run during the Super Bowl will take an anti-choice viewpoint.

A history of anti-LGBT actions, coupled with tackling an issue like abortion -- and CBS doesn't think that counts as controversial?

So what to do?  One thing you can do to weigh in locally is call the local CBS affiliate ... yes, that would be KDKA and let them know if you think CBS should be carrying such a controversial ad, especially given their history with UCC.  The number for KDKA is +14125752288.  You can weigh in via email here.

Weigh in with CBS here.

You can also join a national petitions at Change.Org here.

The Facebook page is here.

One point to keep in mind is there is no move from the UCC to run their ads (4 years later).  It is simply a point of reference to hold CBS accountable for consistent decisions with regard to advertising decisions, especially those that promote a social issue agenda. So the message is clear -- don't run the Focus on the Family ad. 

sdf

View Article  Lutherans leaving diocese

I am so tired of reporting on this, but I suppose I must.

An Evangelical Lutheran church in Monroeville will vote this month whether to remain in its denomination, the first Lutheran church in Southwestern Pennsylvania to take such a step.

The Jan. 31 vote at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church comes largely in reaction to a national August vote that will allow noncelibate gay and lesbian pastors to serve as clergy in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

That policy ? expected to take effect in April ? will allow such individuals to lead denomination churches as long as they can show they're in committed, lifelong relationships.

"A number of people have expressed their opposition to what is happening. The ... issues are the authority of Scripture, and many of us feel that we cannot find any support in Scripture for blessing same-sex unions and ordination of gay clergy," said the Rev. Dr. Eric D. Ash, Good Shepherd's pastor.

Another church gone.  This is boring me.  I really wish Pittsburgh's church beat reporters would examine the faith based homophobia with a more critical eye than discerning who gets to keep the marital assets. 

I recognize that these are painful decisions for people who belong to churches, but WHAT DO YOU EXPECT when your faith community endorses bigotry and intolerance? 

Sheesh.  Wake me up when a Catholic parish figures out how to wrest themselves away to join another diocese... now that would be interesting?  Who keeps the bingo chips?

 

 

View Article  Holy Smokes - The ACDC Responsive?

Yesterday, I wrote about the ACDC's failure to put information about committe folks on the website.  Blah, blah, blah ... accountability, transparency, connections.  All that jazz.

Today ... the information is available on their website. Here's the link. It is actually the same link as in my original blog post so I need to fix that reference. 

To be safe, I've attached the actual Excel spreadsheet to this post.

Kudos to the women of Run, Baby, Run who worked hard on this.  They are a determined group who have just shown that things can happen.  (Oh, those women's groups!)

From what I can tell, there are 277 vacancies.  So who is ready to step up and get some good progressive voices bringing change from within?

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