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Pittsburgh’s mayor has confusing stance on equality issues.

Blogger’s note added 6/6/2012: Mayor Luke has now signed onto the Mayors forFreedom to Marry. A friend who saw him talking about this on TV said they thought he looked very uncomfortable with it, but at least he has signed on, a good step forward.
Blogger’s note added 4/17/2012: I was told by a member of the Mayor’s LGBT Advisory Council that what was reported in the paper was a mistake. I haven’t confirmed that, but wanted to report it. If stating that the mayor doesn’t support same-sex marriage was a mistake, then it seems to me that the way to right the error is to publicly state his support for the right of all couples including same-sex couples to get a marriage license. Then, I’d ask the Mayor to sign on to the Freedom to Marry’s list of Mayors who support same-sex marriage.

The linked article is from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and it is, to the best of my knowledge, the only place Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s stand on Marriage Equality has been publicized. In an open letter I posted on January 22, 2012 and mailed to the mayor via traditional mail, I asked that the mayor explain to his LGBTQ constituents the rationale for his decision- whatever it may be- in regards to the Freedom to Marry’s Mayors for the Freedom to Marry statement. but no real explanation has been given. (emphasis below is mine)

Joanna Doven, a spokeswoman for Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, said he does not support gay marriage and would not sign the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry statement. She noted Mr. Ravenstahl does support civil unions and legislation that gives benefits to same-sex couples.

Mr. Fetterman noted that many things that were once taboo in a variety of religious traditions — including divorce — are now permitted.

“Thus, I shouldn’t have to point out the irony of dissolving a ‘traditional’ marriage — a major ‘sin’ and affront to the religious beliefs of many — while concurrently denying gays institutional access on those same theological grounds,” he said in an email.

Mr. Fetterman said civil unions don’t go far enough, calling them “the ‘colored’ drinking fountains of today.”

“Pittsburgh will never fully realize its rightful place as one of this nation’s premier cities until the leadership supports same-sex marriage,” he said.

City Councilman Bill Peduto, a likely challenger to Mr. Ravenstahl in next year’s election, said he would support Mayors for the Freedom to Marry.

“Fairness and equality are the basis of this country,” he said. “Supporting same-sex marriage is something I’ve supported throughout my career.”

Mr. Forgie said he’s glad Mayors for the Freedom to Marry is forcing a dialogue about the issue.

I stand by what I said in January. It is fine with me either way, but I wish the Mayor would issue a more explicit explanation. The reality is that no matter if he signs or doesn’t sign on at this time, no one’s life is actually affected. My partner and I can not get married in Pennsylvania either way, and the Mayor’s signature won’t change that. I suppose that Mayor Luke will say that his position is simply the same as the President’s, although I’m not sure that is true. The President is at least willing to say that his ideas are evolving. The mayor has simply come down on the side of separate and unequal.

I can accept why Obama won’t yet announce his direct support for same-sex marriage, but that is mostly because I believe he will express that support later on, after he is re-elected. The mayor on the other hand, has a pretty strong Democrat following, and it is silly to think he needs to take cover on the conservative side of things. If Ravenstahl actually thinks that is going to help him get re-elected, I’m surprised.

While the mayor hides within conservative safety, Fetterman expresses a valuable point. Pittsburgh has come a long way, but it still has a very long way to go, and to get the city there, it will take a real leader who sees the city as leading the way. Bil Peduto who is likely to run for mayor against Ravenstahl understand that, and I think many Pittsburgh LGBTQ folks will be able to look at the two and see which one is really supportive of the LGBTQ community.

The mayor’s position simply shows that he is out of touch with the reality of gay and lesbian relationships, the law and equality. Civil Unions don’t provide all of the same protections and benefits are in and of themselves not the whole of the issue. My partner and I have been together for 16 years. We own a house together, but if one of us should die accidentally, the other one would not have the house like if we were married.  The surviving partner would owe inheritance tax on his ow home, and that could mean either of us could lose the house. Perhaps for the Mayor, being able to keep your own home is a benefit?

via State mayoral divide on gay marriage – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.