I was discharged under "don't ask, don't tell" in February 2003. Like Ms. Mesko, I was an outstanding performer and was selected as the Fort Sill Soldier of the Year in 2001. Her essay captured what it was like to serve under "don't ask, don't tell" and the additional sacrifice gay, lesbian and bisexual soldiers are forced to make: the freedom to love and build a family.
I'd like to repeat one sentence she wrote, because I cannot say it any better myself: "The person you build a life with is not a hobby or a 'lifestyle' you can just as easily keep private as not. 'Don't ask, don't tell' is not about discretion, but the dehumanization of gay service members simply because of who they love."
Thank you, again, for publishing such an excellent piece.
If you are free Sunday evening, please join us at Hoi Polloi for a "house" party for Joe Hoeffel.
Joe will be joining us via videoconference to take your live questions. So this is a great opportunity to talk informally with the campaign staff AND to ask your specific questions.
We'll have some of Hoi Polloi's signature finger foods (homemade!) and all the coffee you can drink (tea, too even though it isn't one of "those" kind of parties) compliments of your host committee. There will be a cash "coffee bar" if you crave a special drink and you can also order off the menu.
I promise I will post about the Mayor's LGBT Advisory Council meeting. I can't promise to be particularly witty. I've been debriefed by no less than five people about this meeting, including someone from the Mayor's team, so I'm already a little over it.
However, I spent more than 12 months pushing for this Council to take shape and do something so I promise to stick with it for the long haul.
Some good news from the PA Supreme Superior Court ...
In an opinion that at once awarded homosexual parents equal custody rights and criticized a Dauphin County Common Pleas judge for potential gender bias, the state Superior Court overturned a 25-year-old precedent.
The previous precedent, the court wrote in a 7-1 opinion, set a presumption "based upon unsupported preconceptions and prejudices -- including that the sexual orientation of a parent will have an adverse effect on the child."
"Such preconceptions and prejudices have no proper place in child custody cases, where the decision should be based exclusively upon a determination of the best interests of the child."
The PG does a thorough job with this story, explaining how the concept of custody rulings continues to evolve around the best interests of the child. The idea that one type of parent is automatically a better custodial parent because of their identity (mother, white, married, etc) is set aside.
I also like that the higher court slapped down the lower court judge for clear gender bias in his ruling.
In a written slap at Judge Kleinfelter, the court noted that during the hearing, he referred to the father in the case as "Sergeant," though he referred to the mother by only her first name, and not "Lieutenant."
"The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is dedicated to eradicating gender discrimination in our court system," Judge Christine Donahue wrote. " Given all of the hard work in the uphill battle against gender discrimination, we would be remiss if we did not remind the trial court that Mother and Father are entitled to equal deference to their respective ranks when being addressed by the trial court."
Ms. Misturak-Gingrich applauded the court for its rebuke.
"That kind of behavior was very obvious and offensive," she said. "We thought it was indicative of the judge's bias."
Yes. Every female lawyer who was ever forced to wear a skirt or dress in court is giving a high five right now.
My little quibble is that the Post-Gazette (and other Pgh media outlets) continue to use homosexual as a descriptor for the LGBTQ community. If any reporters read this blog, I'd point them to the GLAAD site on media stylebooks.
There's a perception among certain LGBTQ leaders that the media is not sensitive to our isses. I don't agree with that perception, especially with regard to the Post-Gazette. But I do, however, think this sort of dated language contributes to this perception. Homosexual is a clinical term. Use it when necessary, but it wasn't necessary in this article -- in fact, using the term reinforced the very perceptions underlying the original decision. Sort of a Post-Gazette lving in a glass house while casting stones at Dauphin County Common Pleas Court scenario?
Tonight, the Mayor's LGBT Advisory Committee will be holding its first meeting with representatives of the community. I will be live tweeting the meeting so you can be there, too!
The invitation asked us to bring along our top three concerns/issues related to the LGBT community in Pittsburgh. I have one very concrete, easy to address proposal (AND a solution that won't cost money). Do you have any suggestions? You can email or tweet me if you do.
GOP delegates unsuccessfully tried to force a floor vote on a bipartisan resolution (HJR5) called the "Marriage Protection Amendment." The proposal calls for a statewide referendum on whether to amend West Virginia's constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
This week, Republicans launched a push to make the House vote on measures they say Democrats have allowed to die in the legislative process. They want to do that by "discharging" bills from committees, bringing them directly to the floor for a vote.
Except for Delegate Tom Louisos, D-Fayette, the House's Democratic majority on Tuesday voted to postpone consideration of the Republican motion to discharge the marriage amendment.
Later, the committee that controls the flow of bills decided to keep that motion off the House's agenda.
The issue has some life in the WV Senate, but this is definitely good news.
This was posted as a DailyKOS diary yesterday. Thoughtful people are not buying into the idea that we must capitulate on equality to run a viable candidate in the general election.
[T]here's also a need to be bold enough that if you win, you have a mandate to actually pass laws that address the problems the state faces (like the lack of civil rights for LGBT people). Some people think Onorato or Wagner strike the right balance, and I respect their opinion. On the other hand, I remember how electability worked out in Bush vs. Kerry in 2004. In hindsight, a clearer contrast like Howard Dean might have been a better choice to go up against Bush.
I'm not against Onorato, Wagner or Williams. I just think we can do better.
Let's ask the gay employees of Allegheny County if we can do better.