Archive for January, 2011

The Stonewall Democrats invite you to get active during the month of February

January 31, 2011

The Stonewall Democrats invite you to get active during the month of February!

We plan to be visible and look forward to you
joining us at the following events!

February 5, 8:00 a.m.
LGBT Caucus Meeting, Democratic State Committee, Empire B Room, Hershey Lodge, 325 University Drive, Hershey, PA. All Democrats welcomed to join us for networking opportunities and 2011 political strategizing.

Freedom to Marry Week Events
Participate and support simple equality across the board!

February 9 8:00 a.m.
Interfaith Breakfast
MCC of the Spirit, 2973 Jefferson St., Harrisburg, PA 17110
Supporting Marriage Equality and Valuing All Families

February 14 10:00-10:30 a.m.
Press Conference with Senator Daylin Leach
and Representative Mark Cohen
Capitol Lobby, Harrisburg
Senator Daylin Leach will reintroduce his LGBT marriage bill, and Representative Cohen
will reintroduce his civil union bill. Come and support these two elected officials who truly believe we should ALL be represented.

February 14 3:00 p.m.
LGBT Couples Marriage License Application Event, Dauphin County Courthouse, Room 103, Front & Market St., Harrisburg, PA
Join CRSD Vice Chair Kelly McEntee and Angela in their quest to apply for a Dauphin County marriage license.

February 14 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Harrisburg Marriage Equality Rally
Dauphin County Courthouse, Front & Market St., Harrisburg, PA. Organized by Unitarian Universalist Pennsylvania Legislative Advocacy Network Stand with the Capital Region Stonewall Democrats behind our banner
at this important visibility event.

February 14 Schedule Appointments
Meet Your State Legislators
Capitol Building, Harrisburg
Make an appointment to meet with your legislator to advocate for banning discrimination and in support of marriage equality.

For assistance with contacting your legislator email us:
Who We Are
The Capital Region Stonewall Democrats are a Political Action Committee, an organized group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens and straight allies in Pennsylvania’s Capital Region, including Harrisburg, Lancaster, York, and nearby communities.

Our Mission
The mission of the Capital Region Stonewall Democrats is to advocate equal rights for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Our mission is accomplished through: Endorsing and campaigning for qualified pro-LGBT candidates;
Encouraging the LGBT community and the community-at-large to support and vote for Democratic candidates who are committed to advancing equal rights for all citizens;
Influencing the Democratic Party to improve its record on LGBT issues and to nominate candidates who support our goals; and
Educating the LGBT community and the community-at-large about the differences between the two major political parties on advancing equal rights and opportunities.

Capital Region Stonewall Democrats
P. O. Box 173
Harrisburg, PA 17108-0173

Pa State Rep. Josephs: Republicans obstructing reform because of homophobia?

January 28, 2011

Pa State Rep. Babette Josephs, D-Phila., said she thinks she knows why House Republican leaders abruptly ended session this week and set plans into motion to penalize House Democrats: bigotry.

On Wednesday, House members were on the floor, ready to vote on several government reform bills, including several amendments that would address domestic partners of public officials and public employees under the state ethics and lobbyist disclosure laws, when House Majority Leader Mike Turzai abruptly ended session. He then called an impromptu meeting of the Rules Committee to reduce the number of Democrats in House standing committees by 10 percent and allow the majority leader to table any amendment to legislation arbitrarily for the rest of the 2011-12 session.

Josephs said that she believes the Republicans are trying to keep from having to bring up any issues that run counter to their agenda and that is what caused these strong-arm tactics.

“Upon reflection, I believe of all the amendments we put up for consideration only one or two really got stuck in the Republicans’ craw,” Josephs said. “Those had to do with extending prohibitions and disclosure requirements to domestic partners of lobbyists and state elected and appointed officials. Some extreme right-wing Republicans were in a quandary. If they voted against the amendments, they would be saying that a state representative, for example, could use his or her office to direct a contract toward a domestic partner and get away with it. That is hardly reform. If they voted for the domestic partnership amendments they would be legitimizing intimate sexual relationships other than marriage, and might, in words of one extremist, “advance the homosexual agenda.

“In order to protect their right-wing members from having to cast a hard vote, Republican leaders attempted to shut down the entire democratic process.”

“It’s incredible to think that business in the House chamber may have been brought to a halt by a few amendments that related to domestic partners. I never knew that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered citizens had that much power.”

Josephs said the amendment process has been set up in the House so that the rank-and-file members had more input on legislation. In fact, her Republican counterpart in the House State Government Committee, Chairman Daryl Metcalfe, refused to consider amendments to these reform bills when they were reviewed in the committee, and told Josephs that Democrats would have the opportunity to offer them on the floor.

“We were denied that opportunity to amend bills on the floor Wednesday,” she said. “And now, if the Rules change is adopted Monday, representation of our constituents in the legislative process will be limited and our ideas and proposals will be withheld from consideration. And we’re the ones being called obstructionists?”

“Is this how the Republicans see good government? Every legislator elected by the people has a right to participate in the legislative process, even those in the minority party; all of whom represent Republican citizens as well as independents, Libertarians, Greens and Democrats. We have taken steps to improve government accountability and access over the last four years. Our amendments to this package of bills were a sincere effort to continue that progress. And, we have our own package of good government legislation offered to improve trust and accountability. Let’s welcome debate and a vote on these proposals so we can continue moving forward rather than back.”

BREAKING: Will Ugandan Lesbian Be Deported? Is Her Life in Danger?

January 27, 2011

Sent from GetEqual

We hadn’t intended to send this email today, but there are literally just a few hours standing between a woman’s life and her almost-assured death.

We just talked with our friends at AllOut, and they’ve asked us to help Brenda Namigadde, a young Ugandan lesbian, from being deported from the U.K. back to Uganda. She’s scared out of her mind, which is understandable — a prominent LGBT activist in Uganda was just killed yesterday and the country is doing very little to find his killer. [1]

Unless we intervene, Brenda will be heading to the airport to board a plane bound for Uganda. And we know what will happen there.

Help save Brenda — there’s no time to lose:

We know that U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May is open to granting asylum to those facing great risk in their home countries due to their sexual orientation or gender identification. [2] And U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has spoken out clearly about this issue in the past. [3] We’re hoping that, by petitioning Home Secretary May and cc’ing Secretary Clinton, American pressure will have an impact on Brenda’s case.

You’ve likely heard of the “Kill the Gays” bill that will be voted on in the Ugandan Parliament this spring — it’s not an exaggeration. These religious bigots — including elected officials like David Bahati — are actively publicizing the identities of LGBT Ugandans, subsequently setting them up for murder. [4] [5]

And it doesn’t stop there. Initiatives like the “Kill the Gays” bill are being funded by right-wing extremists here in the U.S. Fundamentalist churches and secretive groups like “The Family” are funneling money to Uganda, seeking out a testing ground there for what they can get away with. [6]

We say enough is enough.

Ask U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to intervene, and to save Brenda’s life.

Help save Brenda:

For equality,
Heather Cronk, Managing Director


[1] “Tragedy as Gay Activist David Kato Murdered in Kampala, Uganda – Impact on Ugandan Lesbian Seeking UK Asylum” —

[2] “Two gay men win right to UK asylum” —

[3] “Hillary Clinton Speaks Out Against ‘Oppressive’ Anti-Gay Uganda Bill” —

[4] “Rachel Maddow Interviews David Bahati — Part 1” —

[5] “Rachel Maddow Interviews David Bahati — Part 1” —

[6] “Americans’ Role Seen in Uganda Anti-Gay Push” —

Erik Ransom’s Coming: Hell on Earth is Heaven on Stage

January 27, 2011

by Debra Miller
Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent

Love child of Rocky Horror and Ziggy Stardust, glam-rock anti-Christ, atheist with a scholar’s knowledge of the Bible, heir to Sodom and Gomorrah, a disaster in lipstick: Erik Ransom is all that and more. He is one of the hottest artists in alternative theater in Philadelphia.

After a Halloween-season run as Carrie in Brat Productions’ drag version of the cult classic, and a cabaret fundraiser, Of Love and Sadism: An Evening with Erik Ransom and Friends, for EgoPo Productions, the actor/singer/musician/composer/performance artist has returned to Philadelphia for Traverse Art Project’s production of Coming—Ransom’s musical on Armageddon now, seen through the eyes of his alter-ego Damian Salt.

With the first draft written in five obsessive and sleepless days, Ransom’s creation, which developed out of his glam-rock persona, premiered at the Prince Music Theater as a full-length two-act “rock musical of Biblical proportions.” Ransom penned not only the script, but 21 original songs that keep his audience enraptured.

In Ransom’s version of the Apocalypse, Damian Salt, rock idol and devil incarnate, seduces “American Icon” contestant Josh Crenshaw, a naïve Christian from Bethlehem, PA, who just happens to be the Second Coming of Christ. Witty references to Judeo-Christian iconography abound in the staged promotional photos (one with the cast emulating the poses of Christ and the Apostles in Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper), and throughout this thought-provoking re-evaluation of traditional concepts of virtue and vice, good and evil.

According to Ransom:

In a broader sense . . . it deals with religion and how it interacts with sexuality, fame, and love. I also toy a lot with the idea of Sodom and Gomorrah and the sins we attribute to those cities. Homosexuality as vice, versus normalcy as righteousness.

In the end, all the “good” people are taken up to heaven, so the “sinners” can live their lives in peace, in “hell on earth” (without interference from the bigots, homophobes, misogynists, and other self-righteous zealots of the “moral majority”), and J. C. reaffirms the virtues of love, acceptance, self-expression, and diversity.

A talented young cast of rising stars (Adam Hostler, Cindy Spitko, Paul Del Signore, Ryan Townsend, Colleen Corcoran, Maya Tepler, and Wade Harris) support the stellar Ransom, and the wigs, make-up, and costumes by Bobby Fabulous are nothing short of their namesake designer.

Coming runs through February 7 at the Prince Music Theater’s Independence Black Box Theater, 1412 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. Tickets are $20 in advance (at 1-800-595-4849), $27 at the door (discounted rates for students and seniors are $15/advance, $22/door). Be sure to dress for this one!

LGBT Freedom Week PA – Feb.7 – 14

January 24, 2011

Information provided by LGBT Freedom Week PA

In the past few years, the issue of gay marriage has certainly seen its share of face time in the international and national news venues.

While that remains a hot button issue, there still remain many roadblocks the lgbt community faces on a daily basis. Pennsylvania organizations have coordinated to help bring attention, on a larger scale, to the issues and concerns the lgbt community faces. Originally formed as a response to the Freedom to Marry rallies held in Harrisburg and Allentown around Valentine’s Day, to support the cause of gay marriage, the renamed LGBT Freedom Week PA has expanded to include all issues facing the lgbt community.

During LGBT Freedom Week, Feb. 7–14, lgbt and supportive organizations from around the state will be holding a plethora of events, such as interfaith breakfasts, rallies, press conferences by Senator Daylin Leach and Representative Mark Cohen reintroducing gay marriage and civil union bills, and showings of Out in the Silence, a documentary that explores the challenges of being lgbt in a conservative Pennsylvania community.

Over 50 organizations, supportive of the efforts of LGBT Freedom Week PA, have agreed to advertise, via e-lists, any events other supporting organizations are holding, specifically during or around the week of Feb. 7-14. LGBT Freedom Week PA is hoping the greater community will be able to attend some of these events, and show support for all of the causes of the lgbt community.

Log Cabin Republican Brunch and Membership Drive –Harrisburg – February 5, 2011

Interfaith Breakfast – Harrisburg – February 9, 2011

Drag Show – Johnstown – February 11, 2011

Interfaith Breakfast – Philadelphia – February 11, 2011

MCC Courthouse Action – Allentown – February 11, 2011

Drag Show – Altoona – February 12, 2011

Same Sex Marriage Celebration – Allentown – February 12, 2011

Out in the Silence Showing – Altoona/Johnstown – TBD

Press Conference with Sen. Leach and Rep. Cohen – Harrisburg – February 14, 2011

Meet Your Legislator Event – Harrisburg – February 14, 2011

UUPLAN Harrisburg Marriage Equality Rally – Harrisburg – February 14, 2011

Reading of The Laramie Project – Harrisburg – February 17 and 18, 2011

Oscar Fundraiser – Limo and Red Carpet Event – Harrisburg – February 27, 2011

Drag Show – Harrisburg – February 27, 2011

Petitions for LGBT Friendly Legislation – Online and ongoing

More information, such as times and specific locations, can be found at:

Supreme Court Rejects D.C. Marriage Challenge

January 18, 2011

By Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Jan 18, 2011
Washington Blade

The U.S. Supreme Court issued an order today denying a request by a local minister to consider a case seeking to force the District of Columbia to allow voters to decide whether to repeal the city’s same-sex marriage law.

The order, which did not include any statement or opinion, ends the effort by Bishop Harry Jackson and other local opponents of same-sex marriage to go through the courts to impose a ballot measure calling for overturning the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009, which legalized same-sex marriage in the District.

None of the Supreme Court’s nine justices issued a dissent in their unanimous determination not to take the case.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court turned down Bishop Jackson’s request for review of the Court of Appeals decision on marriage equality,” said Peter Rosenstein, president of the Campaign for All D.C. Families, the local group that campaigned for passage of the marriage equality law.

“This confirms our belief that what the D.C. Council did is both legal and just,” he said. “Equality will not be denied.”
Rosenstein was referring to a decision last October by the D.C. Court of Appeals that upheld an earlier ruling by the city’s Board of Elections and Ethics to reject a voter initiative proposed by Jackson and other same-sex marriage opponents calling for repealing the marriage equality law.

In the case known as Jackson v. the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, Jackson sought to force the city to hold a voter initiative that, if approved, would repeal the same-sex marriage law and replace it with a new law defining marriage in the District as a union only between a man and a woman.

The Court of Appeals decision stated that D.C. City Council acted within its authority under the city’s congressionally mandated Home Rule Charter when it imposed certain restrictions more than 30 years ago on the types of initiatives and referenda that could be placed on the ballot.

Among the restrictions adopted then was a ban on ballot measures that, if approved by voters, violate the non-discrimination provisions of the D.C. Human Rights Act. The act, among other things, bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Jackson and a team of lawyers representing him argued that Council violated the Home Rule Charter by adopting the ballot measure restrictions.

The Supreme Court today rejected Jackson’s request for a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari, which asked the court to hear the case to enable Jackson to appeal the ruling of the D.C. Court of Appeals. By denying that request, the Supreme Court allowed the Court of Appeals decision to permanently remain in effect.

“Today’s action by the Supreme Court makes abundantly clear that D.C.’s human rights protections are strong enough to withstand the hateful efforts by outside anti-LGBT groups to put people’s basic civil rights on the ballot,” said Joe Solmonese, president of Human Rights Campaign.

“For almost two years, the National Organization for Marriage and the Alliance Defense Fund, along with Bishop Harry Jackson, have fought a losing battle to shamelessly harm gay and lesbian couples in D.C. who seek nothing more than to share in the rights and responsibilities of marriage,” Solmonese said.
According to the Supreme Court’s public docket, the nine justices deliberated over whether to hear the Jackson case in a private conference held last Friday. Under longstanding court rules, the justices usually announce a decision on whether to accept or reject a case on the next business day following such a conference.

With the Supreme Court denying Jackson’s court challenge to the same-sex marriage law, marriage equality opponents are expected to take their fight back to Congress by resuming earlier requests for Congress to either overturn the D.C. marriage law or to impose a new law forcing the city hold a ballot measure to allow voters to decide the issue.

D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large), who chairs the committee that shepherded the same-sex marriage law through the Council in 2009, said city voters have demonstrated through the city’s 2010 primary and general election that the marriage law was not a pressing issue for them.

He noted that despite promises by same-sex marriage opponents to work for the defeat of all Council members who voted for the marriage law, just a few candidates opposing the law surfaced in the elections and all of them lost by lopsided margins.

“They’ve lost in the courts, they lost overwhelmingly in the Council 12 to 1 [when the marriage bill came up for a vote in December 2009], and they lost at the ballot box,” he said. “Now they’ve lost their last chance, their last gasp in the judicial system.”
Jackson couldn’t be immediately reach for comment.

Rev. Anthony Evans, a D.C. minister who is working with Jackson to overturn the D.C. same-sex marriage law, called the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the Jackson case “a travesty of justice.”

“This law was forced down the church’s throat and what the Supreme Court has set up is the greatest civil war between the church and the gay community,” Evans said. “And let me just state for the record, we don’t want that fight. We love our gay brothers and sisters. But if the Supreme Court is not going to acknowledge the fact that we have a right as religious people to have a say-so in the framework of religious ethics for our culture and society, then we reject the Supreme Court on this issue.”

Supporters of the same-sex marriage law have noted that large numbers of local religious leaders from all denominations, including black churches, came out in support of the law. Many have begun peforming same-sex marriages.

Evans, an official with the D.C.-based National Black Church Initiative, said local same-sex marriage opponents have began discussions with “our Republican friends” in Congress to take steps to challenge the D.C. marriage law. He declined to disclose further details but said he and others opposed to the marriage law lobbied GOP leaders on the Hill to strip congressional delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) of her voting privileges on the House floor.

Since Republicans took control of the House earlier this month, GOP leaders revoked Norton’s limited floor voting privileges that Democrats gave her when they took control of the House in 2007. House GOP leaders also revoked the limited voting privileges for delegates representing U.S. territories and Puerto Rico.
“[O]ur first action was to make sure that Eleanor didn’t get a vote as punishment for her wholehearted support for same-sex marriage in this city and also for her to ignore the black religious community,” Evans said. “There is a consequence to her actions. That was one of them.”

A Norton spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment.

Issue Analysis: Would You Participate in a Demonstration?

January 13, 2011

By Frank Pizzoli

You go to Pride. Maybe you march in a gay parade. You write a check to an organization fighting for your civil rights. Would you participate in a demonstration?

Are the “times a changin’” in 2010 for gay people as Bob Dylan sang in the change-making 60s?

“We’ll be making some new noise in the old ways,” Clinton White House insider David Mixner told Central Voice last March. With AIDS Quilt founder Cleve Jones, he set into motion the Oct. 11, 2009 National Equality March.

Mixner is hearing some noise.

University of Rhode Island’s GLBT Center and Gay-Straight Alliance recently staged a sit-in. Protest organizers hoped the “non-violent, direct action” would spur administrators to “take immediate steps to ensure the safety and inclusion of lgbt students, faculty and staff.”

“We have had students throwing used condoms into students’ rooms, drawing offensive images on people’s doors, and an epidemic of people yelling ’faggots’ as they drive by the GLBT Center,” said junior Brian Stack. Sophomore Justin Willner said the campus atmosphere “makes it clear I am second rate and my well being is not valued.”

Launched about six months ago,, has is making some of the noise Mixner hears.

Cofounded by Oct. 11 national march co-organizers Robin McGehee and Kip Williams, the mostly 20-something group isn’t afraid of direct action. “They parted ways in order to add a direct action component as a tactic to move the national lgbt civil rights movement forward,” said GetEqual’s managing director Heather Cronktor.’s “Action Video” of street-blocking a San Francisco demonstration urging US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to move ENDA legislation (Employment Nondiscrimination Act) can be seen at The group said Pelosi is “blocking legislation that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workers from workplace discrimination.” ENDA is a pending Congressional bill first introduced in 1994 to prohibit workplace discrimination against homosexuality, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Following the Pelosi demonstration, GetEqual and Join the Impact-Chicago held a non-violent, civilly disobedient “flash mob” targeting Illinois congressman Rep. Daniel Lipinski. They called on Lipinski “to show leadership and demand that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi – who he supported for that position – fulfill her promise to call for a House vote on ENDA this year.

In Philadelphia, three activists staged a six hour sit-in outside of Pa. Congressman Chris Carney’s office (D-10th Dist.) calling on him to support ENDA. A Carney spokesperson confirmed that he voted for ENDA in 2007 but McGehee said Carney’s staff have indicated he may be leaning toward a “no” vote in the future. Carney voted against hate crimes legislation and DADT repeal.

In another recent action, the activist group rallied about 20 people to the White House in support of DADT repeal. They also took action in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s home state. “GetEqual’s action drew attention to the DADT issue. Their arrests and blocking of traffic in Las Vegas helped a great deal in focusing attention on Sen. Reid’s inaction,” Mixner said. The US Senate defeated DADT when a national defense budget that contained repeal language failed. During the debate, activists stood up in the middle of the hearing room to demand Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) immediately end his threat to filibuster debate.

Locally, Zack Ford says differences in strategy throughout the lgbt movement are subtle and complex. Like any demographic, especially one as broad and hybrid as gay people, not all issues are important to everyone. “There are some in the community who couldn’t care less about issues like marriage equality,” Ford says. “They see marriage as a heterosexual institution they want nothing to do with.”

“GetEqual isn’t so different from other lgbt civil rights organizations,” Ford said. “My impression has been they’re pushing ENDA passage and DADT repeal as their two biggest issues, which I think is fair. The benefits of marriage don’t do you much good if you don’t have a job.”

Although issues may overlap with other organizations, GetEqual’s focus on direct action sets them apart.

“That has been controversial, but mainly because I think we have a new generation of potential activists who simply do not understand direct action. They understand giving donations, corporate lobbying, and creating visibility, but they’re not used to being empowered to stand up for change themselves,” Ford said. GetEqual changes that, he noted, by creating transparency about where our elected leaders stand on our issues. “Rather than back room lobbying, GetEqual creates a very public accountability for the inaction of our supposed allies.”

Does media visibility create the false impression of equality? Ford thinks “there is a public perception” that visibility equals equality.

For example, the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy in a new study says that only 1/3rd of adults who have had same-sex sexual experiences identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. While 3% of adults identify as lgb, an additional 6% identify as heterosexual but say that they have had same-sex sexual partners since age 18. “Given that nearly half of Americans still believe that homosexual relationships are morally wrong, it is not surprising to find ambiguity between how people behave sexually and how they identify their sexual orientation,” said study author Dr. Gary Gates.

Ford said “The popularity of shows like Glee and Modern Family create illusions that everyone has gay people in their lives. That all those gay people are just peachy, a continuation of the Will & Grace syndrome: All the gays are white, affluent, just living silly lives like the rest of us. This perception ignores transgender people in general, who face the most overt injustice and discrimination. The perception ignores the reality that outside of ‘gay Mecca’s’like New York, D.C., San Francisco, and L.A., gay lives are till pretty tough.

“Here in Pennsylvania, I can be denied housing, employment, and any sort of civil security for my relationship all because of my sexual orientation. That is not equality; that is still a culture of fear. Nobody reports that half of homeless youth are lgbt or that elderly lesbian couples are twice as likely to be living in poverty as their heterosexual counterparts. These are facts, but they don’t fit the rosy portrait of gay life that the media likes to paint,” Ford said.

Although stories about injustices are out there Ford thinks mainstream media is eager to ignore them, preferring to milk the provocative nature of gay issues. “It’s always about ‘giving both sides equal time,’ and you see MSNBC talking to anti-gay Tony Perkins, CNN talking to anti-gay Exodus International, or FOX News completely ignoring conservative Ken Mehlman’s coming out.” The two sides aren’t equal, Ford said. “One side has facts while the other has only ideology. Conflict gets better ratings than accountability, so we just keep hearing ‘both sides,’ which diminishes the real pain and injury of persistent discrimination.”

Stop Drilling Coalition Asks

January 10, 2011

PennFuture joins faith, environmental, community development, and citizen action groups in urging Gov-elect Corbett to protect state forests

Extending drilling moratorium will protect jobs, economy as well as environment

Today Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture) joined by leaders from 40 other state organizations including the Pennsylvania Council of Churches, the League of Women Voters, Sierra Club, Audubon, Preservation Pennsylvania, land conservancies, watershed and other environmental groups, and community development and citizen action groups, sent a letter today to Governor-elect Tom Corbett asking him to protect Pennsylvania’s state forests by maintaining the moratorium signed by Governor Ed Rendell on new leases for deep natural gas drilling in the forests.

On election night, Corbett said that one of his first acts in office will be to lift the ban.

The letter points out that banning further leasing of state forest land protects jobs and the economy and sensitive natural resources and urges Governor-elect Corbett to consider the scientific evidence before he rescinds the ban:

…“The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has conducted a detailed and scientific analysis on the impact of natural gas drilling on state forests, and they have concluded that “no additional leasing involving surface disturbance can occur without significantly altering the ecological integrity and wild character of our state forest system”…

… “New drilling leases in state forests threaten Pennsylvania industry and jobs. Pennsylvania’s $1 billion outdoor tourism industry relies heavily on our state parks and forests, which offer more than 2,500 miles of trails and opportunities for hunting, fishing, hiking, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, horseback riding and snowmobiling….

…“Additionally, the timber industry, which employs around 70,000 people, relies on the Pennsylvania State Forests, one of the nation’s largest sustainable systems certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Fragmenting our state forests during the drilling process would threaten that certification, which increases the value of our timber, giving our industry an advantage. Last year, state forests generated nearly $20 million from timber sales….

… “We urge you to review this analysis and other evidence for a clearer understanding of why additional gas drilling in state forests is a bad choice for our environment, our economy, and our communities.”

A copy of the complete letter and listing of signatories is available online:

Local (Harrisburg)Equality PA LGBT Town Hall – Jan. 12

January 9, 2011

Jan. 12 – Equality PA, HRC & ACLU Host Town Hall Meeting & “Equality on The Rocks” Event

Considering the loss of pro-lgbt candidates in the past election, the political climate in Pennsylvania promises to be rough. Now is the time for everyone to do everything that that they can to work together.

Equality Pennsylvania in partnership with the ACLU of Pennsylvania and the Human Rights Campaign is travelling the state in the hopes of starting a conversation on the future with a series of town hall meetings.

The organization has held two meetings so far and heard important concerns and strategies from people in the Lehigh Valley & North East PA areas. Come on out to hear what we have planned and share your own ideas for moving forward. The meeting is open to the public and all ages.

Town Hall Meeting – Jan. 12, 6:30 p.m.
SEIU Office, 1500 N, 2nd St, Harrisburg
Meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. and will run till approximately 8:30 pm.

After the meeting, “Equality on the Rocks” will begin. Drink specials will be available at a local hot spot while you mingle, be social, and unwind with key lgbt movers & shakers.
Equality on the Rocks @ 8:30 pm – The Brownstone Lounge, 412 Forster St., Harrisburg

RSVP on Facebook:!/event.php?eid=126039747458905