LGBT

Rep. Sims: Same-Sex Marriage 'Inevitable' in PA

Oct 9, 2013

State Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia), the first openly gay member of the General Assembly, said same-sex marriage “will become law” in Pennsylvania, either through legislation or judicial action.

Sims spoke Wednesday with Essential Pittsburgh about his LGBT anti-discrimination legislation and marriage equality bill.

He said most believe gay marriage will someday become legal in Pennsylvania, which is the only state in the Northeast without laws providing for civil unions or same-sex marriage.

Ending LGBT Discrimination in Pennsylvania

Aug 21, 2013
Michael Lokner / Flickr


Although protections exist in Pittsburgh and in Allegheny County, there is currently no comprehensive protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression throughout Pennsylvania. Democratic State Representative Dan Frankel aims to provide that protection to LGBT individuals at the state level. Frankel has authored a bipartisan bill with a record number of cosponsors to amend Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Act.

According to Frankel, there needs to be a uniform statute to provide protections across the commonwealth.

“It’s the last vestige of legalized discrimination that Pennsylvania still embraces,” says Frankel.

The Republican chairman of a key state House committee isn’t planning to schedule a hearing on a bill to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
    
The measure was referred to the State Government Committee, which is made up of 15 Republicans and 10
Democrats, and its ranking Democrat has prodded the chairman for a hearing.

But Representative Daryl Metcalfe of Butler County said he believes the majority of his panel opposes the bill.

UPDATE:  August 15 5:00 am

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)  has a new leader.  Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, Bishop of the Northeast Ohio Synod was elected as Presiding Bishop of the ELCA at the church's national conference in Pittsburgh.   Bishop Eaton was elected on the fifth ballot with 600  votes compared to 287 for Bishop Mark Hanson who has led the ELCA for the last 12 years.

Pittsburgh City Council unanimously passed legislation Tuesday that requires contractors who enter into a contract of $250,000 or more with the city to offer same-sex domestic partnership benefits to its employees.

Expanding Domestic Partner Benefits in Pittsburgh

Jul 16, 2013
City Council District 3 Office

For Pittsburgh city councilman Bruce Kraus, the reason he introduced the Equal Benefits Ordinance to council can be summed up in one word: equality.

“It’s the right thing to do,” says Kraus of the ordinance, which will require private companies contracted with the city for jobs of more than $250,000 to extend benefits to domestic partners, including those of the same sex. “It sends a message of inclusiveness,” he adds.

LGBT Health Concerns

Jul 16, 2013
UPMC

According to Dr. Ron Stall, director of the Center for LGBT Health Research at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health, the dearth of investment in sexual health research, especially for the LGBT community, is something of an American tradition. Primarily due to the hot-button nature of conversations about sexuality and sexual practices, “the US has been slow to invest in sexual health in general.”

This additional roadblock makes the advances that have been made in the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV all the more impressive. According to Stall, thanks to breakthrough drug research, HIV “has now become a chronic manageable disease much like diabetes,” for those who are aware of their illness and have access to drugs.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane said Thursday that she will not defend the state law effectively banning same-sex marriage from a legal challenge in federal court, meaning the task will be left up to Gov. Tom Corbett.

"I cannot ethically defend the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's (law), where I believe it to be wholly unconstitutional," Kathleen Kane announced Thursday at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

As of earlier Tuesday afternoon, more than 300 people on Facebook said they are heading downtown Wednesday morning to catch live coverage of the Supreme Court’s rulings on DOMA and Prop 8 — two cases involving same-sex marriage.

Delta Foundation organizers are expecting an even larger crowd downtown.

“Liberty Avenue will be shut down to vehicle traffic between 9th and 10th because we’re expecting so many people,” said Christine Bryan with the Delta Foundation. “We’ll have a large television set up, and a stage and various speakers.”

Pittsburgh’s gay pride festival continues to grow, with organizers expecting more than 100,000 people to enjoy the celebration on Liberty Avenue.

When the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh took over the festival in 2007, about 3,000 people attended. Six years later, the organization is expecting to break the 100,000 mark.

Gary Van Horn, president of the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, attended his first Pride festival in 1996. He said he never expected Pittsburgh Pride to get as large as it has.

The Cultural Impact of Pittsburgh Pride Fest

Jun 12, 2013
Ginny / Flickr

This weekend the Pittsburgh Pride Festival is expected to generate huge revenue for the city and bring thousands of individuals and families to Liberty Avenue. The parade and concerts at Pride Fest have become mainstream collaborations with city groups like Visit Pittsburgh and major sponsorship.

Pittsburgh Pride's website quotes Richard Florida in his best-selling book on economic growth, The Rise of the Creative Class, “the most successful regions welcome all kinds of people. The presence of an LGBT community in large numbers is an indicator of an underlying culture that is open-minded and diverse. People look for cities with lots of gay people when they are hunting for a place to live and work. The presence of gays signals an exciting place, where people can fit in and be themselves.“

But how representative of Pittsburgh's LGBTQ community is Pride Fest? And how do you go about organizing a large scale festival such as Pride, in a way that's inclusive for all aspects of the LGBTQ community and Pittsburgh as a whole?

We'll have a conversation about Pittsburgh PrideFest and its cultural impact with Gary Van Horn, President of the Delta Foundation, which organizes PrideFest and Sue Kerr, Editor of Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondence, an LGBTQ Blog.

Day of Silence Calls Attention to LGBT Harassment

Apr 18, 2013

Students from southwestern Pennsylvania will join with those around the country to participate in the national Day of Silence on Friday.

Students in middle schools, high schools and colleges will take a vow of silence to draw attention to bullying and harassment of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people.

Nationally, researchers say 160,000 children skip school each day due to fears related to bullying.

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