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View Article  North Side man alleges workplace gay bashing

Good for Thomas Hutter for stepping forward and standing up to discrimination and harassment.

It takes courage to file a complaint, much less go public with your story.  Everyone who worked to pass this ordinance should feel good that your work paid off for Mr. Hutter and others. 

This also reinforces the need to keep working for similar protections across Pennsylvania (HB 300) and the nation (ENDA).

I urge you to click through and read the whole story.  Sad experiences.


View Article  Joe Hoeffel in Pittsburgh today to talk about the environment



Joe Hoeffel will discuss drilling in Southwestern PA


Who:       Joe Hoeffel, Democratic Candidate for Governor 

                Terri Davin, Friends of Dunkard Creek


What:          Joe Hoeffel, Democrat for governor, will discuss the economic development           potential and challenges to environment and infrastructure related to natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale.


Where:        Joe Hoeffel 2010 Headquarters, 214 North Highland Ave, Pittsburgh PA 15206


When:         12:00pm, Friday, April 30


* PHOTO OPPORTUNITY - Following the press conference, Joe Hoeffel and volunteers will make calls to voters around the state to discuss the Marcellus Shale issue.  

The press is invited to observe.



The extraction of Marcellus Shale natural gas represents a new economy for Pennsylvania with the potential to create thousands of jobs and build local economies, but it also opens up new environmental concerns and strain to existing infrastructure.  Terri Davin, a resident of Greene County and board member with Friends of Dunkard Creek, will talk about her concerns with drilling in her community, especially as it relates to the safety of our drinking water.  Joe Hoeffel will ask other candidates in the race for governor to join him in supporting a plan for responsible gas drilling with strong environmental regulation.  Hoeffel is calling for a moratorium on issuing drilling permits until enforceable wastewater regulations are in place and on leasing additional state land for drilling.  He is also calling for a severance tax that will meet the costs that the industry places on the state so that we get a fair deal from natural gas companies. 

View Article  Gertrude Stein Club Finds New Leadership

The good word from this week's Pittsburgh City Paper is good for Pittsburgh's Progressive Community ... the Gertrude Stein Political Club of Pittsburgh has found new leaders to keep this legendary institution going strong.

When the Gertrude Stein Political Club of Greater Pittsburgh made its endorsements for the May 18 primary this year, they came with a plea attached: 

"This will be the LAST endorsement by the Gertrude Stein Political Club ... unless new members are willing to take on leadership roles and duties."

Swissvale resident Todd Bryner heard the call after it appeared in the April issue of Pittsburgh's Out, a monthly gay publication. Bryner's partner pasted the note to his medicine cabinet, and Bryner decided to step forward -- "So all the work put in doesn't go to waste," he says.

Gertrude Stein has been THE political voice for the LGBT community for 30 years, a role they now share with the Steel City Stonewall Democrats.  The prospect of losing that rich history, including a significant level of participation by the heterosexual community, would be a travesty. 

You can check the slate cards yourself here, dating back to 1999. 

The Club hasn't been afraid to take hard stances when it comes to their endorsements.  In 2003, the Pittsburgh Tavern Guild barred the Club materials from their businesses and forbid their entry for the traditional "bar crawl" to promote the endorsed candidates.  The Tavern Guild objected to the group's failure to endorse then City Councilman Gene Riccardi.  Riccardi is against a woman's right to choose, thus conflicting with the Club's stated values. 

There is the obvious problem. It is our understanding that you will not consider an endorsement for a candidate who is not supportive of the Right to Choose. While of interest and concern to many of us, we believe that this is a Feminist Issue. To give it weight over the actual Civil Rights of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and the Transgender segments is not only wrong headed, but in conflict with what Our Community has come to expect from you. The Community has looked to you for years to know who our friends are. By failing to endorse Gene Ricciardi, you have left the impression that he is not a friend of the Community.

The bar owners were incensed and did not hesitate to flex their considerate political muscle.

For years, many of us in the bar Community have worked for, contributed to and generally lobbied candidates. Your actions are in direct conflict with ours.  As such, we can no longer welcome you into our businesses. We believe that your actions are harmful to the relationships we have built over the years with our political friends and in the long run to the LGBT Community. By permitting you and your literature into our businesses we would be complicit in this farce that you actually represent the Community or are qualified to endorse candidates. Your actions in this matter have proven that you are neither.

Sad that otherwise educated men fail to recognize the political connection between LGBT equal rights and choice. This disconnect continues to amaze me, but that's another post. 

Gertrude Stein perservered, remaining committed to the member driven priorities.  And here we are ... they are still considered a progressive powerhouse in this region.

Kudos to Todd Bryner for stepping up to maintain the credibility and authority of the Gertrude Stein club to Pittsburgh's LGBT community.  I encourage you to join the organization and help build up the ranks.  I look forward to what the future brings in regard to LGBT politics. 

I also want to give a little shout out to the City Paper's Lauren Daley, a relatively recent addition to the City Paper staff. I was very impressed with the time and energy she's invested in getting to know the LGBT community. Sitting through a two hour political meeting to simply get a feel for the local LGBT political scene speaks volumes about the quality of the City Paper and the increasing significance of our community, politically speaking. 

All in all, a good week

View Article  Post-Gazette: Governor's Race Still Four Way Race

The Post-Gazette has another look at the Governor's race with an emphasis on economic issues.

Here's there take on Hoeffel ...

We don't often talk about progressive economic issues.  We also don't talk about the connections between social issues and economic issues.  HB 300 which would protect our jobs, housing and public accomodation is grounded in strengthening the economy.  It is a jobs bill, for God's sake. The data shows the contributions the LGBT community make to the locals in which they live; improving our access to good jobs, decent housing and opportunities to spend our money in public is good for the economy. 

All of the candidates say they support this, but I trust Joe to see its relevance to turning Pennsylvania around and using his office to get the legislation passed instead of waiting for someone else to bring it to his desk. 

I want a good budget and I believe Joe Hoeffel is the smart candidate who sees the connections between social and economic issues. 

Here is Joe's plan.


View Article  A Letter About Arizona

Tobias has given permission for this to be published.

Please read this ...

Friends and colleagues --

I have just finished reading through the text of the law that has been enacted in Arizona targeting undocumented immigrants. I have been studying the laws of the United States and working on civil rights issues for fifteen years, but I have never seen a more appalling and dehumanizing statute in present-day America than this measure.

It is not merely that this statute declares an entire class of human beings to be inherently criminal -- trespassers on all public and private land in Arizona because of their status. It is not merely that the law requires police and other law enforcement agents in Arizona to treat an entire population as presumptively criminal on the basis of their race and appearance. It is not merely that the statute effectively requires lawful immigrants to carry papers wherever they go in order to avoid arrest and detention, as if we were living in apartheid-era South Africa or half-slave / half-free pre-Civil War America.

What is yet more appalling is this: If, tomorrow, every undocumented immigrant in Arizona simply left or disappeared, the economy of that state would collapse. The purpose of this law is not to get rid of all undocumented immigrants. The purpose of this law is to disempower all brown-skinned immigrants in Arizona, turning them into a third-class group who must live in constant fear of government and are subject to arbitrary abuse and exploitation.

LGBT people know what it means to be declared by statute to be inherent criminals -- to be told that we are illegal people. Transgender people know what it means to be told that their very being, dress or appearance makes them inherently suspicious and subject to arrest and detention.

We must stand up against this law, and we must do so loudly and strongly.

-- T

Tobias Barrington Wolff

Professor of Law

University of Pennsylvania Law School



View Article  Get Equal Targets Senate Armed Forces Commititee

No one from the Pennsylvania delegation serves on this committee.  Would you participate if they did?  Would you risk arrest and/or being cited? 

When I think about this, I have to keep in my mind my career as a social worker.  I have to maintain my criminal history clearances, both in PA and through the FBI.  Given the disparity with which arresting officials and the courts respond to these demonstrations ... it is a tough call. 

Or I am just taking the easy way out?  We don't have a direct action group in Pittsburgh except for Bash Back and that's not quite what I'm looking for.  It would be great to sit down with the old school activists and have that conversation. 

View Article  Random Stuff ... Just Because

What do you think of the new look?  May is Ledcat's birthday and blue is her favorite color.  Don't worry. I have a real gift hidden ... well, I can't tell you because she does read this. I think. At least she fakes it well.  Nonetheless, blue.

Today seemed to be the day of multiple links I won't have a chance to discuss.

The Phelpsians are going to picket the graduation ceremony of Constance McMillen.

Out4Immigration working on legislation you might want to read about, especially given immigration "reform" in Arizona. There's a call for LGBT groups to boycott Arizona. 

Iraq. It ain't pretty.  Be grateful and keep pressing on here in America so have more power to advocate for our sisters and brothers struggling around the world.

The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is coming up on May 17, 2010.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi plans a 2010 vote on repealing DADT. 

The Washington Blade is back.

Locally, Pittsblog 2.0 comments on increasing solicitations of bloggers.  I don't have this problem.  :-)

Ms. Mon is sticking by her Buccos. 

Potter has a little delve into the continuum of anti-choice candidates, including the "recovered" lifers. Prochoicifers is my choice term.

View Article  Update: Protestors stage sit-in at Senator John McCain's office over DADT

Attached is the letter to Senator John McCain from First Class Petty Officer Lonnie Allen.

Update 4:45 PM

The protestors are not from Get Equal or Equality Across America.  They belong to an Arizona organization called HERO (Human and Equal Rights Organizers) based on Phoenix.

The protestors are reported to have been arrested, cited and released. 

Photo from the event courtesy of Luis Garcia.

Meg Sneed, Jimmy Gruender, Lee Walters, (Lonnie) Allen Howard-Stidham and Luisa Valdez

More photos here. (h/t Feast of Fun)

From Towleroad.

Five protestors are staging a sit-in at Senator John McCain's office to demand the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  Staff is threatening to have them arrested. They are demanding to speak with the Senator.

Also, new group - Equal Across the US in the spirit of Get Equal. 

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View Article  What makes us gay? Dispute in Babette Joseph's House of Representative's race

I saw this a few days ago on Facebook, but lost track of time posting.  It was picked up by the Post-Gazette.

We are all confused, meanwhile, about a state legislative race in Philadelphia, where one candidate has "outed" the other as straight.

The incumbent, Rep. Babette Josephs, says her challenger in the Democratic primary, Gregg Kravitz, is falsely touting himself as bisexual in order to gain favor with the many gay voters of the district. She said a woman accompanying Mr. Kravitz to a campaign event introduced herself as -- gasp -- his girlfriend. This after Mr. Kravitz described himself as a "proud member of the LGBT community," which (to inform out-of-it, old-school readers) stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

This question of a candidate's possible straightness, as something to hide, is such a political scandal that The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote about it at some length. The spin-your-head-around nature of it is a welcome sign to Mark Segal, publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News.

"We've hit a new high point when candidates are accused of pretending to be gay to win a seat," he told the Inquirer. "I've been doing this for 40 years, and I never have heard of this kind of charge in any race in the nation. ... It shows how far we've come."

It's the kind of reverse controversy we have difficulty imagining taking place here on the other side of the Alleghenies for some years -- or centuries.

The Philly Inquirer:
"I outed him as a straight person," Josephs said during a fund-raiser at the Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant, as some in the audience gasped or laughed, "and now he goes around telling people, quote, 'I swing both ways.' That's quite a respectful way to talk about sexuality. This guy's a gem."

Kravitz, 29, said that he is sexually attracted to both men and women and called Josephs' comments offensive.

"That kind of taunting is going to make it more difficult for closeted members of the LGBT community to be comfortable with themselves," Kravitz said. "It's damaging."

What a twist. The long-time LGBT ally alleges the self-identified bisexual candidate is fraudulently identifying with the LGBT community. 

Both candidates' positions feed right into ongoing biphobia pervading the LGBT community.  Suggesting someone isn't really part of the gay community because they have an opposite sex relationship is a very common point of view.  Using language such as "swing both ways," on the other hand, feeds right into that same mentality and certainly does not convey any sense of dignity or respect for bisexual men and women who don't have the privilege of wealth.

This is particularly interesting given the fact of three bisexual men suing the Gay Softball World Series for saying they didn't count as gay players.  The team was disqualified for having too many straight players. 

It seems people want some sort of measuring stick to determine if bisexual men and women are "gay enough." The biphobia that pervades Pittsburgh's LGBT community is pretty sad.  Women rail against straight women coming into lesbian spaces to "experiment" with very little thought that they might really be struggling to figure out their identity. I agree they should be upfront about their intentions before dating, but sheesh ... do we only want tolerance for people who earn a gay card?  How would you do that anyway?

Over a year ago, I was at a community leadership meeting where a respected leader actually said something to the effect that no one bisexual was present because they can't make up their minds, followed by a stupid giggle.  It isn't funny and it certainly demonstrates that 1) he thought we'd agree with him and 2) he didn't know much about the folks in the room as there were bisexual persons present.  Offensive and damaging to his causes. 

Since that was a political meeting, it brings me back to the Josephs/Kravitz race.  Babette Josephs is a known quantity who has proven she's qualified and understands the issues.  I suspect she's outraged that someone is so blithe about their identity, knowing the struggles many in her district face.  Kravitz may be bisexual, but that doesn't qualify him for office.  Perhaps this public trial by fire will help him be a little more aware of the discrimination the LGBT community endures. 

View Article  Federal Marshalls Call Transgender Veteran "Shim"

Quick notes this morning.  Read this account from blogger and transgender activist Autumn Sandeen at Pam's House Blend.  It describes her processing by US Federal Marshalls who treated her with disrespect and in direct violation of their own policies for processing transgender men and women.  Autumn is a decorated military veteran who engaged in civil disobedience to protest Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  This is shameful conduct on the part of the arresting officials. 

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