Today is Blog for Equality Day, a blog swarm sponsored by Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents. Her post for the day, has important links, so check it out. A number of Pittsburgh bloggers are participating, each with their own perspective on the issue of LGBT Equality. For my part, I want to focus on two points:

1) The PA Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

PA is one of a handful off states looking to enact an anti-gay marriage amendment. We defeated a similar attempt last year in the PA Senate, but this new effort has started in the PA House by Western PA Representative Metcalfe. With both the House and the Senate currently controlled by Republicans, this bill has a chance to get somewhere, and we may not be able to stop it like in the past. Equality PA, the state-wide organization is busy doing what it can to fight it, but they need funds and funds alone won’t stop this effort. The push follows the wave created by the Tea Party and Conservative wins of the last election, where candidates promised to focus on fiscal issues, but instead have spent most all of their time dismantling social programs and pushing a far right social agenda.

This amendment is a bad idea for Pennsylvania for a number of reasons. First, it changes nothing since Pennsylvania already defines marriage as between a man and a woman by law. What it does do is set in motion the obstacles that will make it harder to change this definition in the future. Same-sex marriage will eventually come to Pennsylvania, but this effort slows down the inevitable. It also sets the state up for a costly process down the road. As there Prop 8 trial from California and other cases move through the courts, eventually, the US Supreme Court is going to rule that a ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. The State of Pennsylvania will have costly legal bills to fight that or ally he time, resources and energy spent to pass such an unneeded amendment  will have been wasted.  The State will continue to slip further and further behind those states who are actively working to bring new businesses in and allow their state economies to improve.

The single most important thing you can do about this amendment is to go and meet with your state representative and your state senator! The more they hear, first hand from people who do not want to see this passed, the more it helps them stop this bill from moving forward. You can sign petitions or send emails, but in the end, these do little compared to an actual meeting with your legislator. I wrote an instruction guide for how to meet with your legislator, and we will be doing a training here in Pittsburgh on June 8th, at the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh office. More details to follow. Trainings in other sections of Western PA will also be organized over the summer.

2) State Non-Discrimination Bill, HB 300

I don’t mean to diminish the seriousness of the anti-gay marriage amendment, but in reality nothing will essential change if it does pass the House this year. However, there is another bill that must pass this year that will affect the lives of more than 85% of the residents of Pennsylvania. HB 300 would provide basic protections against discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. For most of the state, a person  can be fired, or refused housing simply because they are perceived to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Even a straight person can be fired, if someone thinks they might be gay. Every one deserves to have a job, a place to live and a basic level of comfort in life without fear.

Like the anti-gay amendment, the best thing you can do, is go and talk to your elected officials!

While a blogging for Equality action may be a one day thing, the work of creating Equality must be an every day effort by everyone.

3 Comments

  1. John Gilliam says:

    Hello Thomas, I was wondering if you could help me in that since 2009 Iposted a few post on Homophobicjobs.com, run by Jason Cable, but now I see that the whole site is evidently  just POOF(!),..gone. I wanted to see if i could somehow retieve my posts about shipboard/Merchant Marine discrimination  for my records… I sure hope nothing bad happened to Mr. Cable… Perhaps your site would be a good/viable option to continue my desire to put forth/chronicle such discrimination, and add other seamans’ accounts of their own in the workplace… Thank you!   Sincerely,   John Gilliam     

  2. Cody Dickerson says:

    Could you provide more information/links about the June 8th training?

    • Anonymous says:

      Cody:
      June 8, 7-9PM

      This event is co-sponsored by The Western PA Advocacy Initiative, thomascwaters.com, Pittsburgh PFLAG, Steel City Stonewall Democrats, Women’s Law Project, and the ACLU.
      Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh429 First Avenue, 1st FloorPittsburgh, PA 15219Map to Delta Foundation of PittsburghDemocracy is a participation activity! Learn about the status of pending legislation and the things you can do to assure passage of these critical protections. Leave with step-by-step ideas about how you can make a noticeable difference towards achieving equality.

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