Archive for April, 2013

April 23, 2013

Central Voice – Central to your life.

State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., persuaded his Republican colleagues yesterday (April 22, 2013) to approve an amendment that would eliminate a provision in a proposed tax law that discriminated against LGBT Pennsylvanians. The provision would have prevented domestic partners from equally participating in the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate program in the same way that other, heterosexual family members would have been able to. In a last minute compromise that followed weeks of thwarted attempts to include “domestic partners” in the legislation, the House adopted Sims’ compromise amendment in a virtually unanimous vote in yesterday’s session.

PA State Rep. Brian Sims

PA State Rep. Brian Sims

House Bill 468, originally crafted to create a class of family members that could apply for a tax rebate on behalf of a deceased relative, would not have recognized the hundreds of thousands of same sex couples in Pennsylvania who would have otherwise qualified in the event of the death of their loved one. The compromise language now allows any executor or administrator of a will to apply for the rebate on behalf of the deceased partner’s estate; applying equally to thousands of Pennsylvanians who choose not to be married or are legally forbidden from doing so. The overall bill (H.B. 468) could receive final House approval as soon as today.

Sims had previously attempted to offer an amendment to H.B. 468 that would specifically enumerate “domestic partners” among those able to file a Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate application on behalf of their deceased partner. After Speaker Sam Smith, R-Jefferson, scheduled the bill for a vote several times, only to pull it each time Sims offered his amendment, Sims was approached by Republican leadership to broker a deal. In the end, the Republican maker of the bill, State Rep. Jim Cox, R-Berks, agreed to alter the language and avoid discriminating against those in domestic partnerships.

“Supporting legislation which includes “domestic partners” isn’t going to create more gay people, and it won’t even create more gay relationships, they already exist,” said Sims. “What we have here is an issue of simple fairness and I’m very pleased that virtually all of my colleagues recognized that purposefully excluding “domestic partners” in this bill would have forced countless Pennsylvanians to lose their homes right after losing their loved ones.”

Sims indicated that he is already looking for other legislation in which to finally define “domestic partners” under Pennsylvania law but was satisfied that the new, more inclusive language that was finally agreed upon treated the Commonwealth’s domestic partners no differently than their heterosexual, married counterparts.

Census information made available in 2010 shows that an estimated 283,000 unmarried couples live together in Pennsylvania. Notably, the lone dissention in the near-unanimous vote came from Tea Party and Right-Wing poster boy Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, who after first voting for the Sims Amendment, then changed his “yes” vote to a “no” at the end of session.

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Alder Health Services Offering Free Wellness Classes

April 17, 2013

Alder Health Services Offering Free Wellness Classes

Womyn’s Health –
10 Steps to a Longer, Healthier Life
Harrisburg: Monday, April 22
Instructor: Rita Schlansky, CRNP
Lancaster: Tuesday, May 21
Instructor: Amanda Bostdorf, CRNP
Both 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Men’s Health 101 –
Lancaster: Tuesday, April 23
Harrisburg: Monday, June 3
Both 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm
Instructor: Amanda Bostdorf, CRNP
Harrisburg: 100 N. Cameron St.
Lancaster: 1891 Santa Barbara Dr.

To Register: 800.867.1550 or www.ALDERHEALTH.org/outandactive/

FAB Asks Community to Help Plan Event & Nominate Award Winners

April 12, 2013

The LGBT Community Center of Central PA is currently seeking nominations for the 2013 FAB Awards.

Fall Achievement Benefit (FAB) was created to honor people and organizations that have made important contributions to the economic, political, cultural, spiritual, and social progress of LGBT causes in our region.

Do you know someone or an organization that has made extraordinary contributions to the well-being of our community?

Nominations should include the name of the candidate and contact information for the candidate and the nominator, along with a short statement (300-500 words) describing the contributions the candidate has made to the community.

Submit nominations to nominations@centralpalgbtcenter.org by Friday, May 10th.

FAB 2013 will take place on Saturday, November 9 at Hilton Harrisburg.
The next FAB Community Planning Meeting is on Sunday, April 28 at 4:00 pm. There are countless ways to contribute to our annual gala, from serving as a table captain to reaching out to potential sponsors and advertisers to helping produce the evening’s program. FAB is a key source of funding for The LGBT Center, and community planning meetings are monthly on the fourth Sundays. Contact fab@centralpalgbtcenter.org if you intend to join or if you would like to hear more about helping with FAB 2013.

Eclectic Revival Headliner at May 4 Black and White Party

April 8, 2013

“Our shows are more than just music. We like to engage the audience so they enjoy the evening rather than playing one song after another,” says Eclectic Revival’s Chris Kerba.

The 7th Annual Black and White Party is May 4, 6 p.m. at Harrisburg’s Zembo Center. New for 2013 is the fully catered food included in the ticket price and provided by Gingerbabies and The Belvedere Inn.

Eclectic Revival Headliner at May 4 Black and White Party

Eclectic Revival Headliner at May 4 Black and White Party

“We’re really proud to showcase local talent as our headliner,” says Charles King, lead organizer which benefits individuals in the region living with HIV/AIDS. To date, the all-volunteer fundraiser has raised nearly $100,000. Recipients of funds this year are York’s Family First Health and Alder Health Services with office in Harrisburg and Lancaster.

Eclectic Revival’s Chris Kerba says, “We wanted to be part of The Black and White Party because we want to help.” They are by no means a main stream band. “We’ll play some Top 40 songs, a bunch of Celtic covers and traditional pieces that we’ve put our own spin on, but we enjoy what we do,” he says. The band will play any kind of charity event. “It’s a two-handed reason: one, we get to play, and two, if we can even make $5 more for a charity, that’s $5 that they didn’t have. We’ll take off our shirts for that extra $10.”

This year’s evening also includes: Silent and Live Auctions, Raffle Prizes, and catered food, with free and convenient parking.
Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased online at http://TheBlackAndWhiteParty.com. Tickets are $40 advance, $50 door; VIP tickets $100 advance, $125 door. For more details, please contact g.king@TheBlackAndWhiteParty.com; 717- 717.814.8862.

Eclectic Revival – http://www.eclecticrevival.ca/mediapress.html

Sen. Casey Endorses Marriage Equality

April 1, 2013

By Central Voice
U.S Senator Robert Casey, who had previously backed civil unions for same-sex couples, April 1 announced he was in full support of same-sex marriage. He now believes the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) should be repealed.

There are now 48 U.S. senators who support marriage equality, including 45 Democrats, two Independents and one Republican. There are nine remaining Democratic senators still opposed to same-sex marriage.

During the last week of March, Casey’s office received 10,000 calls and emails urging him to support same-sex marriage, according to a press release by Keystone Progress and MoveOn.org. Equality Pennsylvania also joined the effort to move the senator’s position with emails to its membership urging calls to Casey.

The pressure Casey faced reflected waves of media coverage when on March 26-27 the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments for and against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage.

Pennsylvania’s version of DOMA was passed in 1996 when Tom Ridge was governor. Ridge has since reversed his position as announced Feb. 28 by GOP operative Ken Mehlman and then reported out March 1 by digitaljournal.com’s Greta McClain, Michele Nix, of Ridge’s office, told Central Voice in an email.

A move by the business community to embrace equality as good for business propelled the issue further. The new Business Coalition for DOMA Repeal, a Fortune 500 effort, supports marriage equality through members like Marriott Corporation, A|X Armani Exchange, Aetna Inc., Biogen Idec, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Diageo North America, eBay Inc., Electronic Arts, Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group LLC, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, Replacements, Ltd., Sun Life Financial U.S., and Thomson Reuters.

Finally, Pennsylvania’s attitudes are changing, according to a February Franklin & Marshall College poll which found that on gay marriage, 52 percent of registered voters approve of same-sex marriage, while 41 percent oppose it. Although not statements of support for marriage equality, in related developments 30 municipalities across the state have anti-discrimination laws, many adopted in the last year.

PA State Representative Brian Sims (D – Phila.) joined the effort to persuade Casey to change his position. He penned an open letter to the Senator urging him to stand up and voice his support for LGBT equality.

Regarding Casey’s change in position, Sims said, “Senator Casey is a thoughtful and contemplative man who today not only listened to the millions of voices of Pennsylvanians calling for him to support same-sex marriage, but strongly voiced that support as well.”