Archive for October, 2013

Gay Harrisburg Official Joins LGBT Leaders in Israel

October 31, 2013

John Campbell, Harrisburg’s elected City Treasurer, is participating in a first-ever effort to promote global civil rights.

John Campbell (File photo)

John Campbell (File photo)

A delegation of American LGBT leaders from national advocacy organizations, academia, government and the media are visiting Israel to explore collaborations with their Israeli counterparts.

The visit is part of the first-ever Project Interchange seminar focused on the LGBT community. Project Interchange is the non-profit educational institute of the American Jewish Committee. Thirty-years old, the project conducts seminars in Israel for participants from around the world.

“It is an honor to be part of this group of distinguished individuals and to meet with so many pioneers in the Israeli LGBT movement,” Campbell said in a news release.

Campbell is the third youngest openly-gay elected US official and was recognized in 2012 as one of Advocate magazine’s 40 Under 40.

“I am looking forward to meeting with local elected officials in Israel to discuss how their government is best meeting the needs of their community in order to finds similarities and opportunities to bring back to Harrisburg,” Campbell’s news release said.

Watch for a follow-up upon Campbell’s return from the visit.

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Capital Region Stonewall Democrats Re-endorse Dan Miller

October 29, 2013

Updated 11:57 a.m.

“Active members voted and the end result was to re-endorse” Miller, Steve Dorko, president, of the Capital Region Stonewall Democrats tells Central Voice.

After a meeting to review the organization’s bylaws, CRSD voted to re-endorse Dan Miller for Harrisburg Mayor in the Nov. 5 General Election.

“We wanted to revisit the issue given the changing landscape of the election,” Dorko, said.

Dan Miller

In preparation for the May Primary Election, both Miller and Papenfuse completed endorsement surveys and interviews on their positions regarding LGBT equality.

Both candidates met the organization’s criteria for endorsement.

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Then the group’s executive board, last April, recommended to its voting membership endorsement of either Eric Papenfuse or Dan Miller for mayor in the May Primary Election. Stonewall Democrats is a “membership” organization and as such members ultimately vote on endorsement decisions.

Both candidates were running as Democrats. Papenfuse requested the organization endorse both candidates in the primary. The members of the organization voted to endorse Miller in the primary. Dorko explain ed that members must be in “good standing” for 30 days before being allowed to vote.

Miller lost the Democratic nod to Papenfuse in the primary. In that same election, Miller cross-filed and won the Republican nomination but initially withdrew from and later re-entered the race, deciding to run as a Republican in August, a move that has kept him in the race against Papenfuse.

The re-endorsement, Dorko confirms, does not negate the endorsement of Papenfuse given by the organization last June after Miller had lost the primary to Papenfuse but had not yet decided to run as a Republican.

The organization’s executive board “recognizes the unique circumstances” of the mayoral race, Dorko says, where Democrat Dan Miller reversed his initial decision not to run as a Republican and announced his bid to re-enter the race on the Republican ballot in August.

The organization’s bylaws, Dorko says, allow the executive board to re-endorse a candidate for the General Election, in this instance Miller, who was endorsed in the Primary Election. “Active members voted and the end result was to re-endorse” Miller, Dorko said.

Capital Region Stonewall Democrats is a political action committee representing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and straight allies in Harrisburg, Lancaster, York, and surrounding communities.

Former PA Gov Tom Ridge Addresses Log Cabin Republicans

October 24, 2013

BuzzFeed reports that former PA Gov Tom Ridge, who signed the state’s Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996 and has since changed his view, spoke last night at the group’s Spirit of Lincoln Dinner.

By Chris Geidner
BuzzFeed

“Sometimes we just come across as too damned self-righteous, and I’m sorry, that’s just not the 21st century political party GOP that I think we need to govern America,” Ridge says.

As the federal government continues to face fallout from the shutdown that came to an end last week, former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, the first Homeland Security secretary, is pointing the Republican Party in a different direction on Wednesday night.

Speaking to the LGBT group, Log Cabin Republicans, at the group’s Spirit of Lincoln Dinner, Ridge told BuzzFeed he is bringing a message not just of inclusion on the group’s issues but that he plans to give a more broad address, urging the party to take a path that could be fairly characterized as the anti-Tea Party approach.

Former PA Gov. and the first Homeland Security head Tom Ridge, who filed an Amicus Brief against DOMA. In 1996, Ridge signed the state's DOMA but has since changed his view.

Former PA Gov. and the first Homeland Security head Tom Ridge, who filed an Amicus Brief against DOMA. In 1996, Ridge signed the state’s DOMA but has since changed his view.

“I truly believe Americans are more conservative than liberal, but I also think they may be conservative, but they are far more practical than ideological and I know, particularly among young people, they are far more tolerant than judgmental,” Ridge told BuzzFeed hours before his planned address. “And I think if we’re going to change the party, we should accept those simple notions and build a positive agenda rather than just saying no around them.”

On gay issues, Ridge acknowledges, he has traversed quite a path to get to that place of tolerance, saying, “Life, politics and government is a journey, and your positions on issues as you go along that journey may become more fully embedded or, because of circumstances or other changes, they can change. As you know, when I was governor, I signed the Defense of Marriage Act [in Pennsylvania]. Since that time, frankly, my point of view has evolved.”

So far, in fact, that Ridge was one of the most prominent co-signers of the amicus brief organized by out gay former Republican National Committee chair Ken Mehlman urging the Supreme Court to find California’s Proposition 8 marriage ban unconstitutional.

That changed view led Log Cabin to seek Ridge’s presence at Wednesday’s event.

“When a couple of people from the Log Cabin group came in to speak to me about speaking at the event tonight, I said I would do so, and quite candidly, I said under one condition: You might be a gay and lesbian group, that’s fine, but I’m coming to talk to you about being Republicans, who happen to be gay and lesbian,” he said.

“I thought it was an opportunity for me, one, I’m on the amicus brief, so everybody knows my position, but also to speak to a group of Republicans — on a variety of issues and on a philosophy that I hope most of them embrace as I talk about what we need to start winning national elections and, frankly, be a more positive and compelling force for change in the 21st Century. You can’t change government unless you win elections. Our roots are conservative, but we should be far less — not even far less — we oughtta quit being judgmental.”

Asked how that looks, in practice, Ridge laughs, saying, “I haven’t read the platform. There’s a lot of angst at the national conventions about the platform and no one reads it, and the last couple of years, I plead guilty [to not having read it].”

Then, getting down to it, he admits, “Some of it has to be in the actual policies of the party. Some of it has to do with the rhetoric and approach we take toward issues. Reagan was as pro-life as you can be, but it was certainly not the centerpiece of his — for him, it wasn’t why he became president of the United States. … I think at the end of the day, you change the party by changing some people’s hearts and perhaps by changing their rhetoric if not their hearts.”

To members of his party, he said, “You may not agree with me on some of these social issues, but I want you to respect them and don’t make them the centerpiece of your political agenda. They shouldn’t be there, in my judgment.”

Going broad, again, he said, “There is a mission for government, and there is a mission for the church. And, from time to time, I do think we forget about separation of church and state in the desire of some people to promote strongly held views on some of these social issues, which may be consistent with what a church may propose but should not necessarily be at the epicenter of governing.”

Asked about Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to withdraw his appeal of the challenge to the New Jersey marriage law, Ridge demurred — mostly.

“I am not going to comment on his rationale for doing it,” Ridge said. For him, he said, “I did not have an epiphany, it was a slowly evolving change of head and heart based on experiences with some friends, interaction with other people in my community, and so I’m not going to render a judgment on why he did it.”

“My hope is this: There are Republicans out there who will be forever pro-life. Unfortunately, there will be some who still, for whatever reason, object to, dissent to, are uncomfortable with, the gay and lesbian community, but I think it’s about that time that they recognize that there are good, honest, God-fearing people in those two groups whose views should be respected and if not respected at least tolerated. And if we’re willing to be nonjudgmental about those views … you can be an advocate in a private way for those points of view, but in my judgment, that’s not to be at the epicenter of your political agenda and certainly shouldn’t be at the heart — such a critical issue for the GOP nationally. In my judgment, it doesn’t belong,” he said.

“Sometimes we just come across as too damned self-righteous, and I’m sorry, that’s just not the 21st century political party GOP that I think we need to govern America.”

Closer to home, Ridge commented on Gov. Tom Corbett’s defense of the marriage law that Ridge signed and that the state’s Democratic attorney general, Kathleen Kane, has refused to defend because of her view — similar to the view urged by Ridge at the Supreme Court — that it is unconstitutional to ban same-sex couples from marriage.

“Until the law is changed by the legislature or until the judge makes a decision, I respect Gov. Corbett, he’s a friend of mine — he’s just doing his job, and I think we just leave it at that,” Ridge said. “I think, in Pennsylvania and probably in many other states in the months and years ahead, you will continue to see an honest, rational — hopefully, rational — public debate and discussion about this issue. And I think it is worthy of public discussion.”

Summing up where he sees things going, both on for marriage equality and, he hopes, for the Republican Party, he said, “Obviously my own evolution over the years led me to the conclusions that I have drawn. And in time, I think others will draw the same conclusion. But, beyond what individual states do, I’m thinking in terms of individual voters and what the party does: And that is, we’re conservative, we’re not ideological. We’re tolerant, we’re not judgmental.”

Gay Marriage in PA: It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over

October 23, 2013

See Nationwide Round Up Below

By Central Voice

Hell hath no fury like a proposed or scorned marriage equality proposal.

With Pennsylvania nearly encircled by states recognizing same-sex unions, the Keystone State’s battle for marriage equality continues.

“It’s going to take leadership from the top,” state Rep. Mike Fleck told the Associated Press. Fleck is an openly gay Republican representing conservative Huntingdon County.

So far, leadership and rank and file members are at odds.

In the latest round, state Reps. Brian Sims and Steve McCarter, Philadelphia area Democrats, have called on Gov. Tom Corbett to follow NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s lead. On Monday, Christie dropped his court challenge to his state’s legalization of same-sex marriages. Couples began getting married that same day.

Sims and McCarter have sponsored a marriage-equality bill for Pennsylvania against a confusing backdrop of legal challenges.

Currently in Pennsylvania, Corbett is defending the state’s 1996 law that defines marriage as between one man and one woman. That move came after Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes issued 174 marriage licenses to same-sex couples following the US Supreme Court declaring unconstitutional the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

In a state Department of Health challenge to Hanes’ action, a judge ordered him to “cease and desist from issuing marriage licenses” to gay couples. As the labyrinth legal mess unfolded, some of those couples issued licenses by Hanes have mounted a legal challenge to the state law.

In all, Pennsylvania has at least four pending court cases, including two federal lawsuits, challenging the state’s DOMA.

Adding another layer to the pile of legal proceedings and political maneuvers, Attorney General Kathleen Kane has decided Pennsylvania’s law is unconstitutional. She is not defending it against the current legal challenge.

Kane’s decision has incurred the political wrath of state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who like clockwork introduces anti-marriage equality measures all of which have failed.

Metcalfe wants to have Kane impeached for her refusal to defend the state’s one man-one woman marriage law.

On Monday, Metcalfe began seeking co-sponsorships for a bill that calls for Kane’s removal from office because she is “creating a constitutional crisis by refusing to perform her assigned role and usurping the role of the courts.”

Kane said about his latest move that Pennsylvanians should be “revolted” by the way Metcalfe is thwarting her from doing her job and accuses him of political gamesmanship.

Kane says Metcalfe’s goals are “media attention and political gamesmanship” via “loud, arrogant and misguided claims.” She would prefer Metcalfe’s priorities involved “reforming education, job creation, fixing our transportation system, or making the streets safer for kids and families, and…cleaning up the good ol’ boys’ system of public corruption.”

With all these legal and legislative initiatives flying around, Sims said, “Unfortunately, here in Pennsylvania, where LGBT Pennsylvanians lack even a single LGBT civil right, some members of the Republican Party would sooner be the Republicans of 1955 rather than 2025. It’s unconscionable that Pennsylvanians who get married out of state can still be fired for putting a wedding photo on their desks.”

McCarter called Pennsylvania’s lack of progress on marriage equality “a black eye”.

“Nearly all of our neighboring states have decided to enter the 21st century and grant equality to all their citizens, yet we still are stuck in the Stone Age,” McCarter said. “Plain and simple, the fact that Pennsylvanians can now cross a border and be granted more rights than they currently have in their own state is a problem that needs to be addressed and it needs to be addressed now.”

Regarding a state constitutional amendment that would allow same-sex couples to get married, a May Franklin & Marshall poll showed that 38% of those surveyed strongly favored while 16% somewhat favored such an amendment.

Thirty-six percent strongly opposed and 7% somewhat opposed a same-sex marriage constitutional amendment.

In a related question, 40% strongly favored and 24% strongly opposed passage of a state law that would allow same-sex couples to form legal civil unions with the same rights as married couples. In other words, fewer poll respondents were against civil unions than marriage.

The highest number of poll respondents, 26%, was from the central region of the state determined by asking county of residence.

Adding nuance to the poll data, Franklin & Marshall pollster Terry Madonna says, “While the poll in May found 54 percent of Pennsylvania voters support gay marriage, 76 percent in the August poll disapproved of granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples when current state law bans it.” He is referring to Hanes disregarding the 1996 Pennsylvania law when he issued 174 marriage licenses following the US Supreme Court’s axing of DOMA.

“Voters seem to be saying that, though we favor gay marriage, breaking the current law to accomplish that objective is not the way to proceed,” Madonna said.”

Ted Martin, Equality PA executive director, an organization among others at the forefront of the battle, says, “Pennsylvanians are ready for a conversation about why marriage matters to all families, and leaders in Harrisburg should be listening.”

MARRIAGE EQUALITY ROUND UP
Fourteen states, according to Freedom to Marry, allow the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. They include CA, CT, DE, IA, ME, MD, MA, MN, NH, NJ, NY, RI, VT, and WA – plus Washington, D.C.

Five states now offer broad protections short of marriage. CO, HI, and IL allow civil union, while OR and NV offer broad domestic partnership. WI has more limited domestic partnership.

With these advances, a record number of Americans live in states that recognize relationships between same-sex couples:

Over 35% of the U.S. population lives in a state that either has the freedom to marry or honors out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples.

Over 41% of the U.S. population lives in a state with either marriage or a broad legal status such as civil union or domestic partnership.

Over 43% of the U.S. population lives in a state that provides some form of protections for gay couples.

Philadelphia Theater Review: Curio’s Same-Sex Take on ROMEO AND JULIET

October 14, 2013

By Debra Miller, Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent

The world’s most famous love story is given a new twist by Philadelphia’s Curio Theatre Company, with a same-sex version of Shakespeare’s ROMEO AND JULIET. The familiar characters are now the teenaged daughters of the feuding Montague and Capulet families, whose tragic romance is used in Curio’s production to explore the true universality of Shakespeare’s themes, and to consider the issues of hidden love and forbidden marriage in light of the Supreme Court’s ban on DOMA.

Curio Theater Company's ROMEO AND JULIET stars Rachel Gluck and Isa St. Clair (Photo credit: Kyle Cassidy)

Curio Theater Company’s ROMEO AND JULIET stars Rachel Gluck and Isa St. Clair (Photo credit: Kyle Cassidy)

Rachel Gluck as Romeo, Steve Carpenter as Benvolio, and Eric Scotolati as Mercutio in Curio Theatre Company’s ROMEO AND JULIET (Photo credit: Rebecca Miglionico)

Rachel Gluck as Romeo, Steve Carpenter as Benvolio, and Eric Scotolati as Mercutio in Curio Theatre Company’s ROMEO AND JULIET (Photo credit: Rebecca Miglionico)

. Isa St. Clair as Juliet and Rachel Gluck as Romeo in Curio’s ROMEO AND JULIET (Photo credit: Rebecca Miglionico)

. Isa St. Clair as Juliet and Rachel Gluck as Romeo in Curio’s ROMEO AND JULIET (Photo credit: Rebecca Miglionico)

To underscore the present-day relevance of the story, Curio’s costumes and set design are decidedly post-modern urban, and the seating arrangement in the theater incorporates the audience as guests in the scenes for an up-close and personal experience. In her impactful directorial debut, Krista Apple-Hodge reinforces the intimate contemporary interpretation by setting a quick pace for the action and dialogue, often employing the device of direct address; her adept cast keeps up with the rapid-fire delivery and fully engages us in its audience interactions. The adapted script maintains Shakespeare’s original language, changing only a few pronouns to reflect the new gender-bent casting, with the violent antagonists Romeo and Tybalt here re-imagined as female, and Lady Capulet’s character conflated with that of her husband (Lord Capulet does not appear in this production), so that a matriarch dominates Juliet’s family.

Rachel Gluck (Romeo) and Isa St. Clair (Juliet) bring a youthful sense of joy and abandon to the lesbian lovers, as the innocent Juliet discovers her blossoming sexuality with the more experienced Romeo, they defy their kinsmen’s hatred, and relish their secret relationship. Colleen Hughes is convincingly callous and street-tough as Tybalt, and Aetna Gallagher is a powerhouse as Lady Capulet, as she delivers the fiery speech (written for Lord Capulet) denouncing her daughter for rejecting the betrothal she arranged for her (to a man). Also outstanding is Eric Scotolati as Mercutio—sarcastic, oversexed, angry, and impassioned as the emphatic humor of Act I suddenly turns deadly.

The show runs through November 2 at 4740 Baltimore Avenue in West Philadelphia; all performances are at 8 pm. For more information and tickets, visit www.curiotheatre.org.

New Party Premiers – EXILE – Nov. 2 at LUX Night Lounge

October 8, 2013

York’s LUX Night Lounge launches a new party – EXILE – Nov. 2 at the full-scale lgbt nightclub venue located at 1327 N. Duke Street, in North York.

Lux-EXILE-blue-poster

Now besides “going gay,” the popular venue will “Growl” starting this Saturday when they introduce a new monthly Bear/Leather/Fetish Night.

The party will be a regular venue the first Saturday of every month,” says Travis McCarty, Entertainment and Public Relations Director and Head Bartender.

Hosted by the creators of Bears, Bikers & Mayhem, Bill Hugo & Charles King, this new night is sure to be one of your favorite nights on your monthly calendar.

This month’s Guest DJ is Ryan Doubleyou.

Only a $5 cover. Drink Specials and free food.

Lux Night Lounge
1327 N. Duke Street
York, PA 17404
717-793-3770
ExileatLux@gmail.com

UPDATE: PA Gov. Corbett Apologizes for Incest Comparison

October 4, 2013

By Central Voice

PA Gov. Tom Corbett has apologized for remarks he made during a televised interview earlier today (10/4/13) in which he appeared to compare same-sex marriages to incest.

His statement following this morning’s TV broadcast:

“During a recent interview, I was asked to comment on the ruling by Judge Pellegrini that the Montgomery County Clerk of Courts did not have the power to decide the constitutionality of state laws.

“My words were not intended to offend anyone. If they did, I apologize.

“I explained that current Pennsylvania statute delineates categories of individuals unable to obtain a marriage license. As an example, I cited siblings as one such category, which is clearly defined in state law. My intent was to provide an example of these categories.

”The constitutional question is now before a federal court and that is the venue in which same-sex couples wishing to legally marry have standing to intervene and be heard. Same-sex marriage is an important issue and the question of its legal status is one that will be heard and decided upon its merits, with respect and compassion shown to all sides.”

Corbett made the remark earlier today on a morning news broadcast by WHP-TV anchor Sherry Christian.

During this morning’s interview, Corbett was asked what he thought about the argument made against a county clerk who had begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. At the time of that challenge, the Department of Health made the analogy that those couples were just like 12-year-old children in being ineligible for marriage.

Corbett told Christian that incest would be a better comparison.

CORBETT: It was an inappropriate analogy, you know. I think a much better analogy would have been brother and sister, don’t you?

CHRISTIAN: I don’t know. I don’t know… Umm… Yeah, I’m going to leave the comments to you and your team, but you did say it was inappropriate and you have a better phrasing that you think.

Corbett also says he does not think a pending legal challenge to Pennsylvania’s ban on marriage belongs in federal court.

Corbett’s response follows yesterday’s introduction by State Reps. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) and Steve McCarter (D-Montgomery County) who introduced a bill that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in the state. State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery County,) has also introduced his own same-sex measure in the Pennsylvania Senate in May.

Ted Martin, executive director, Equality PA, said, “Gov. Corbett’s statements are shocking and hurtful to thousands of gay and lesbian couples who are doing the hard work of building strong families all across the Commonwealth.”

Martin said, “Corbett’s comments aren’t simply offensive; they’re out of touch.” He is referring to numerous polls indicating that the majority of Pennsylvanians support allowing same-sex couples to marry. Those polls also indicate high support for same-sex marriage among Republicans.

Martin invited Corbett “to participate in a conversation with same-sex couples to talk about why marriage matters to all Pennsylvania families.”

Corbett was speaking about gay marriage on Friday morning when an anchor on WHP-TV in Harrisburg asked about a statement his lawyers made in a recent court filing, comparing the marriage of gay couples to the marriage of children because neither can legally marry in the state, The Associated Press reported.

“It was an inappropriate analogy, you know,” Corbett said. “I think a much better analogy would have been brother and sister, don’t you?”

In August, administration attorneys said in a court filing that same-sex marriages were no more valid than a marriage between two 12-year-olds because state law bans both unions.

Corbett later rejected that analogy, saying the case revolved around the question of whether a public official had “the authority to disregard state law based on his own personal legal opinion about the constitutionality of a statute,” the Associated Press reported.

PA’s Gov. Corbett Compares Gay Marriage to Incest

October 4, 2013

By Central Voice

Pennsylvania’s Gov. Tom Corbett today compared same-sex marriage to incest.

Corbett made the remark today (10/4/2013) on a morning news broadcast by WHP-TV anchor Sherry Christian.

During this morning’s interview, Corbett was asked what he thought about the argument made against a county clerk who had begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. At the time of that challenge, the Department of Health made the analogy that those couples were just like 12-year-old children in being ineligible for marriage.

Corbett told Christian that incest would be a better comparison.

CORBETT: It was an inappropriate analogy, you know. I think a much better analogy would have been brother and sister, don’t you?

CHRISTIAN: I don’t know. I don’t know… Umm… Yeah, I’m going to leave the comments to you and your team, but you did say it was inappropriate and you have a better phrasing that you think.

Corbett also says he does not think a pending legal challenge to Pennsylvania’s ban on marriage belongs in federal court.

Corbett’s response follows yesterday’s introduction by State Reps. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) and Steve McCarter (D-Montgomery County) who introduced a bill that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in the state. State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery County,) has also introduced his own same-sex measure in the Pennsylvania Senate in May.

Ted Martin, executive director, Equality PA, said, “Gov. Corbett’s statements are shocking and hurtful to thousands of gay and lesbian couples who are doing the hard work of building strong families all across the Commonwealth.”

Martin said, “Corbett’s comments aren’t simply offensive; they’re out of touch.” He is referring to numerous polls indicating that the majority of Pennsylvanians support allowing same-sex couples to marry. Those polls also indicate high support for same-sex marriage among Republicans.

Martin invited Corbett “to participate in a conversation with same-sex couples to talk about why marriage matters to all Pennsylvania families.”