New IRS Video Helps Same-Sex Couples with Tax Tips

March 7, 2014

The Internal Revenue Service now has a YouTube video that provides useful tax tips to married same-sex couples.

The video is the latest addition to an online library featuring short IRS instructional videos on topics ranging from identity theft to new simplified home office deductions.

IRS_logoThe new video, less than two minutes long, is available in English, Spanish and American Sign Language and can be accessed via IRS.gov.

Following last summer’s Supreme Court decision invalidating a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, the IRS ruled that same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, are now treated as married for federal tax purposes.

The ruling applies to all federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor, including filing status, claiming personal and dependency exemptions, taking the standard deduction, employee benefits, contributing to an IRA and claiming the earned income tax credit or child tax credit.

Visit IRS.gov to access these and other helpful tax resources.

Advertisements

Support for Same-sex Marriage Hits New High

March 5, 2014

Half Say Constitution Guarantees Right

PA-Capital-rainbow-Editor’s Note: On this Ash Wednesday, a major day of religious observance for Roman Catholics, it is significant to note that 6 of the 10 parishioners priests will annoint on the forehead with Holy Oil support same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is illegal in Pennsylvania.

By Peyton M. Craighill and Scott Clement
Washingtonpost.com
March 5

Half of all Americans believe that gay men and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll in which a large majority also said businesses should not be able to deny serving gays for religious reasons.

Fifty percent say the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection gives gays the right to marry, while 41 percent say it does not.

Beyond the constitutional questions, a record-high 59 percent say they support same-sex marriage, while 34 percent are opposed, the widest margin tracked inPost-ABC polling.

The poll was conducted in the wake of a series of rulings by federal judges that state bans on same-sex marriage and prohibitions on recognizing marriages performed elsewhere are unconstitutional.

The judges have said they relied on the reasoning in the Supreme Court’s 5 to 4 decision in June that struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, which withheld federal benefits from, and recognition of, same-sex couples married in states where such unions are legal. Since then, the highest courts in New Jersey and New Mexico have said same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in those states, and the six federal court decisions have come in some of the most conservative states, including Oklahoma and Utah.

In the 33 states that prohibit same-sex marriage, 53 percent of those polled support allowing it, while 40 percent oppose doing so.

Apart from supporting the policy, Americans are slightly more ambivalent about whether the Constitution guarantees gays the right to marry.

According to the poll, public opinion is more unified on recent proposals that would allow businesses to refuse serving gays and others based on the religious convictions of the business owner. Nearly seven in 10 respondents say businesses should not be allowed to refuse service to gays. On this question, majorities across partisan lines said businesses should not be allowed to deny service. Last week, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) vetoed a measure that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to customers based on religious grounds.

“She did the right thing in vetoing that,” said Charles Musser of Marana, Ariz., who said that he opposes same-sex marriage and adoption rights for gays but that he thought the legislation was ill-conceived. If they passed that law, “that would open the door to all kinds of discrimination,” he said.

Support for same-sex marriage has changed more rapidly than almost any social issue in the past decade. In a Post-ABC poll in March 2004, 38 percent said same-sex marriage should be legal, while 59 percent said it should not, the same percentage now in favor of allowing gays to marry.

The shifting attitudes extend beyond issues of marital rights to more basic beliefs about the nature of homosexuality and its implications for child rearing. Nearly eight in 10 say that gays can parent as well as straight people, up from just below six in 10 in a 1996 Newsweek survey.

Sixty-one percent support allowing gays to adopt a child, up from 49 percent in 2006 and 29 percent in a 1992 poll by Time magazine and CNN. More than twice as many people consider being gay as “just the way they are,” rather than something they chose.

Despite the changing views, deep chasms remain along religious, generational and political lines. Six in 10 evangelical Protestants oppose same-sex marriage, while about six in 10 Catholics, non-evangelical Protestants and eight in 10 with no religious affiliation support it. Three-quarters of Americans younger than 30 support same-sex marriage, while less than half of seniors say the same.

Although support for such unions has grown to clear majorities among Democrats (70 percent) and independents (61 percent), Republicans have moved at a slower pace. Fifty-four percent of Republicans oppose same-sex marriage in the new poll, while 40 percent approve of it.

“I just don’t believe in the marriage thing; the Bible says that isn’t right,” said Musser, who opposed the Arizona legislation on the religious rights of businesses.

Republicans are split along ideological and religious lines. Support for allowing same-sex marriage is lowest, below one-third or less, among conservatives and evangelical Protestants.

Among Republicans who say people are born gay (half say this), 64 percent support same-sex marriage, 61 percent say the Constitution provides the right to such unions and 70 percent favor allowing gays to adopt.

“Even though I was brought up very conservatively and very religiously, I don’t care what sexual orientation people are,” said Lilly Telatycki of Surprise, Ariz., who asked to be identified by her maiden name, saying she feared being harassed for that view. Telatycki, who usually votes Republican, said she thinks the party is spending too much time on the issue.

The poll also shows divisions among Democrats along racial and class lines. Support for same-sex marriage peaks at nearly eight in 10 white Democrats, and an even larger proportion with incomes more than $50,000 favor such unions. Support is lower, just over six in 10, among non-whites and those with lower incomes.

Robert Barnes contributed to this report.

Support Region’s LGBT Community Center

February 24, 2014

By Central Voice

Ben Dunlap, left, and Barbara Darkes, of the Central Pennsylvania LGBT Community board of directors explaining the center's membership program.

Ben Dunlap, left, and Barbara Darkes, of the Central Pennsylvania LGBT Community board of directors explaining the center’s membership program.

The Central Pennsylvania LGBT Community wants YOU.

The center is a self-funded charitable organization. To meet its annual budget, sustained giving through individual memberships is necessary.

“We are a community driven resource with programs touching literally thousands of lives each year,” said center executive director Louie Marven.

“We’re looking for stable, ongoing financial support of our programs,” Marven said. This can be achieved with sustaining memberships of $60 a year that are automatically deducted from a credit card, starting at $15 every third month, for $60 a year.

In addition to maintaining a facility at 1306 N 3rd Street, Harrisburg, the center provides programs that focus on youth, aging and women, in addition to training for non-profit entities and educational institutions. The center is also home to the LGBT History Project, which archives information and resources on the region’s rich lgbt history.

On Feb. 21-22, the center completed its 7th Annual Gay-Straight Alliance Leadership Summit. The popular event offers leadership and skills training to high school and college students who aspire to be the LGBT leaders of tomorrow. The 2014 event set record attendance with 215 high school students and 125 college students for a total of 340.

Members of the LGBT community, allies, and individuals who use center services can support the organization through an annual membership. The center currently has 200 members. The goal is to increase that by 100 additional members by March 31.

A grand finale membership party will be held at the center on March 31, 6-8 p.m. for new and existing members.

Membership Levels
Basic Membership – Red Level includes discounts at participating businesses listed below. Red Levels include
– Individual $60 ($15/quarterly)
– Family $90 (one-time)
– Student $20 (one-time)

Yellow Level – $120 ($10/mo) includes discounts plus listing in Annual Report and other event programs.

Green Level – $240 ($20/mo) includes prior level benefits plus an exclusive member reception.

Blue Level – $600 ($50/mo) includes prior level benefits plus one free ticket to FAB 2014.

Purple Level – $1,200 ($100/mo) includes prior level benefits plus a private dinner party.

Participating Businesses

Dunn Law 10% discount on estate planning document packages listed at http://www.leodunnlaw.com
Contact: (717) 503-1207 | leo@leodunnlaw.com
Applies to members and significant other only. Only applies to estate planning packages, not other legal services.

Ernest Fontaine, DDS 15% off services
Contact: (717) 564-1310 | ernie.fontaine@me.com
Applies to member and member’s partner.

Garretson Tile Company 10% off ceramic tile and subsequent 5% off on installation
Contact: (717) 334-4617 | gking@garretsontile.com

Isaac’s Famous Grilled Sandwiches
Receive coupons upon joining Center membership program.

j.a. sharp Custom Jeweler 10% off items in store
Contact: (717) 295-9661 | info@jasharp.com
Applies to member only. Limited to finished goods in store. Does not apply to repairs or custom orders.

Lancaster Arts Hotel 20% off any suite (loft, arts, presidential)
Contact: (717) 299-3000 | msultan@lancasterartshotel.com
Hotel use only. Based on availability. Some black-out dates may apply.

Posh Studio 15% discount on photography services
Contact: (717) 222-1077 | ps@myposhstudio.com
Not valid with any other offers. No cash out value or cash value. Center member must be present.

http://www.centralpalgbtcenter.org/membership

Hershey Handbell Ensemble Concert – A Celebration of Our 10 Years, April 26

February 21, 2014

The Hershey Handbell Ensemble will present a concert on April 26, 7 p.m. at the Grace United Church of Christ, 1947 New Holland Pike, Lancaster.

In 2004, this auditioned, community handbell ensemble, based in south-central Pennsylvania, was formed to fulfill the need for an auditioned community ensemble comprised of persons able to play advanced literature, interested in advancing the art of handbell ringing through education and performance while uniting people through this musical art. The fourteen-member group under the direction of Dr. Shawn Gingrich performs on seven octaves of Malmark Handbells, Handchimes, and other assorted instruments.

Hershey Handbell Ensemble concert April 26, 7 p.m., Grace United Church of Christ, Lancaster, PA

Hershey Handbell Ensemble concert April 26, 7 p.m., Grace United Church of Christ, Lancaster, PA

The concert celebrates the ensemble’s tenth anniversary season and will feature favorite selections from each season along with the premiere of a new composition titled “Awakening” which was commissioned by the ensemble in honor of their anniversary. The ensemble’s popular selection of CD recordings will be available for sale.

This appearance by the Hershey Handbell Ensemble is part of Grace UCC’s ten year anniversary celebration as an Open and Affirming congregation and will assist the Memorial Bells of Grace UCC to expand and promote their new bell program. A suggested donation of $10 a person will be collected and light refreshments will be served after the Ensemble’s performance.

Info: www.hersheyhandbellensemble.org or call 717-298-7071

Philadelphia Theater Review: Lantern Theater Company’s THE TRAGEDY OF JULIUS CAESAR

February 14, 2014

By Debra Miller, Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent

Director Charles McMahon asserts that all of Shakespeare’s plays, whenever or wherever they’re set, are in fact observations about contemporary England. By shifting the locales to places outside of his homeland, the playwright made his universal themes more palatable to a British audience; in essence, they would rather hear about the human shortcomings and socio-political foibles of distant characters and cultures, than to have them exposed directly about themselves and their nation.

Following the lead of Kenneth Branagh’s movie version of As You Like It (2007) and Akira Kurosawa’s film adaptations of Macbeth (Throne of Blood, 1957) and King Lear (Ran, 1985), McMahon infuses THE TRAGEDY OF JULIUS CAESAR with the aesthetics of feudal Japan, a society that faced some of the same issues as those presented in the infamous history of the ancient Roman emperor: the pitting of personal ambition against politics; and the rights of the leader versus the rights of the people.

According to McMahon, similar concerns were found among the Elizabethan aristocracy, who wanted to preserve rather than to relinquish their privileges to a powerful monarch. Interesting idea, but does it work in a play about real figures and an actual event that we all know occurred in the Curia of Pompey in 44 BC? Shakespeare himself seems to have promoted the concept, in the words he gave to Cassius (Act III, Scene 1): “How many ages hence/Shall this our lofty scene be acted over/In states unborn and accents yet unknown!”

Joe Guzmán and Forrest McClendon in THE TRAGEDY OF JULIUS CAESAR at the Lantern (Photo credit: Mark Garvin)

Joe Guzmán and Forrest McClendon in THE TRAGEDY OF JULIUS CAESAR at the Lantern (Photo credit: Mark Garvin)

If you accept the conceit, and can reconcile the historical facts of the script with the artistic license of the design, you will surely appreciate Lantern’s stunning production. Scenic designer Meghan Jones sets the stage with Shoji screens in place of classical columns, Brian Strachan costumes the cast in traditional warrior attire and robes instead of togas, and the Kyo Daiko Ensemble pounds its Taiko drums to the beat of Christopher Colucci’s original Japanese-inspired music.

And McMahon’s accomplished actors demonstrate their fluidity with the language and their recognition of its gravity, with especially passionate performances by Joe Guzmán as Cassius, Adam Altman as Marullus, U.R. as Brutus, Jered McLenigan as Marc Antony, and Forrest McClendon (an acclaimed veteran of Broadway and London’s West End) as Caesar. Bravi! The show runs through March 16th at St. Stephen’s Theater, 10th and Ludlow Sts., Philadelphia. For information and tickets, visit www.lanterntheater.org.

Equality PA Beefs Up for Battle: 6 Staff Added, Phone Bank Volunteers Needed

February 7, 2014

By Central Voice

Equality PA has added six staff as they focus for 2014 on House Bill 300 and Senate Bill 300. The twin measures call for including LBGT protections in all matters that involve public accommodations – employment, housing, credit, and public all accommodations.

The organization’s web site says they are “ready to kick off our campaign to make 2014 the year we end LGBT discrimination in PA.”

A bipartisan slate of more than 100 Pennsylvania legislators has introduced the “300” legislation. Although 33 cities and towns have municipal ordinances already in place protecting LGBT individuals from discrimination, statewide legislation is critical to ensuring that all Pennsylvanians are protected.

Of the State Senators and State Representative who represent the Dauphin, Cumberland, Lancaster and York county region, a few have signed on as co-sponsors to the bill. Many more have not.

Co-sponsors are State Sen. Rob Teplitz, State Rep. Patty Kim, State Rep. Mike Sturla, and State Rep. Ron Miller.

Not co-sponsoring are area State Reps. Aument, Bear, Boyd, Creighten, Cutler, Denlinger, Hickernell, and area State Senators Alloway, Brubaker, Gillespie, Grove, Fulmer, Regan, Saylor, Smucker, Schreiber, Vance, Waugh, and Tallman.

“New staff will mount a statewide effort,” says Jane Slusser, who manages the newly-placed organizing team.

Organizers will focus on Harrisburg, Scranton, south East Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. One of the organizers will work with faith-based groups across the state.

In Idaho, about 40 gay rights protesters were arrested Feb. 3 in Idaho’s state Capitol after they blocked every entrance to the Senate chamber, standing silently with their hands over their mouths and wearing T-shirts asking lawmakers to enact anti-discrimination protections for gays in the state. The protesters want the Idaho Human Rights Act amended to add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”; the act now bans discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations on the basis of race, religion, disability and other factors, but not on those two.

Jane Slusser

Jane Slusser

Jane Slusser


Jane is the Organizing Director and a long-time progressive advocate. Most recently, she led the statewide efforts of the Americans for Workplace Opportunity campaign, securing Senator Toomey’s support for ENDA. Jane first came to Pennsylvania to work on the Obama campaign in South Philadelphia in 2008. She returned to Pennsylvania for the 2012 campaign, serving as a Regional Field Director for Northeast PA. She continued working for President Obama through the inauguration, serving as the Associate Director of the National Day of Service. Prior to her life as an organizer, Jane worked at Oxford University Press and also helped start up Catchafire, a social enterprise focused on transforming the nature of community service.

Maureen Gray

Maureen Gray

Maureen Gray


Maureen is the Regional Organizer for Northeastern Pennsylvania. Maureen has been an active organizer for most of her adult life. She became involved with President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012, and was eventually brought on board as a Field Organizer for the Scranton area. In 2013, Maureen organized for a Lackawanna County judicial candidate, and served as a Fellow with Organizing for Action. She has lived in Pennsylvania for four years.

Andrew Deiner

Andrew Deiner

Andrew Deiner


Andrew Deiner is the Regional Organizer for Central Pennsylvania. Originally from Bucks County, PA, Andrew started working on campaigns as a volunteer with Equality Maryland during college. Since graduating from the University of Maryland in 2012, he has had the opportunity to work on marriage campaigns across the country and is excited to come to Pennsylvania to help fight to LGBTQ rights in his home state.

Shanea Leonard

Shanea Leonard

Shanea Leonard


Rev. Shanea D. Leonard is the Regional Organizer for Western Pennsylvania. Shanea has lived in PA all her life and pursued education here as well with a B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and M.Div from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. She is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries. A native of Philadelphia, Shanea resides in Pittsburgh where she pastors JUDAH Fellowship Christian Church, a multi-cultural, affirming family ministry. Rev. Leonard is also the board of several non-profit organizations and she is the organizer/founder of the Pittsburgh Clergy Consortium, an inter-faith network of affirming spiritual leaders in the greater Pittsburgh area. She is a sought after speaker, preacher, and workshop leader.

Andrew Todd F. Kunka, J.D.

Andrew Todd Kunka

Andrew Todd Kunka


Andrew is the Regional Organizer for Southeastern Pennsylvania and resides in Philadelphia. Andrew has served as civil rights organizer and advocate for over ten years. Prior to joining EQPA, he organized with the Americans for Workplace Opportunity to pass ENDA in the U.S. Senate. Andrew has also served as Civil Rights Attorney in NJ focusing on fair housing and was a member of former Mayor Cory Booker’s LGBTQ Advisory Concerns Commission, where he coordinated various grassroots initiatives and developed policy proposals to advance progressive policy reform for LGBTQ youth and communities of color throughout the city. Andrew’s passion for social justice lead him to complete his Juris Doctorate and Masters in Public Affairs & Politics at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. As an undergraduate at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Andrew was hired as the first in the Catholic Universities’ history to develop resources for the LGBTQ community. Andrew is originally for Phoenix, AZ.

Ammon Ripple

Ammon Ripple

Ammon Ripple


Ammon is our statewide Faith Organizer. After eleven years as a librarian and LGBTQ activist in Pittsburgh, he received a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He has worked with diverse faith communities in local, regional, and national settings, including four years with the National Council of Churches. In addition to doing faith organizing and community relations work for non-profits, he has served a small church as a pastor. Ammon serves on the boards of the United Church of Christ Coalition for LGBT Concerns and the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh. He and his partner, Sean, are in the ordination process in the United Church of Christ.

Besides the non-discrimination activity in the form of hoping to pass a statewide bill, Equality PA will also involve itself in issues that have crossover and/or overlap with
the LGBT community. for example, in a recent email to supporters the organization noted that a new bill championed by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, “claims that it will help state employees by protecting them from paying union dues. However, under current law no one is forced to pay union dues, and the bill actually has far reaching consequences that will seriously undermine the union protections that state employees currently have on the job.” The legislative measures are known as House Bill 1507 and Senate Bill 1034.

The email also notes that “Unions were the first major employee run organization to add protections for LGBT people in their jobs and have fought hard to keep those protections in their contracts. Without those protections, thousands of LGBT workers in PA could lose their non-discrimination protections at work.” Equality PA held a public rally in Harrisburg’s Capitol Rotunda to oppose the bills.

Andrew Deiner Needs Your Help!
Phone Bank Volunteers Sought

Andrew Deiner

Andrew Deiner

Andrew Deiner

Andrew Deiner, Equality PA community organizer for the south central region of the Pennsylvania, needs your help. “We’ll be calling registered voters during March and April. We’ll ask them to contact their state representative and their state senator and ask them to support House Bill 300 and/or Senate Bill 300,” Deiner tells Central Voice. The twin bills call for including LBGT protections in all matters that involve public accommodations – employment, housing, credit, and public all accommodations. Deiner is one six staff the organization has brought on as they focus for 2014 on passing the measures.

“We’re calling everyone – Democrats, Republicans, and Independent voters,” Deiner says enthusiastically. Volunteers will make calls from phone banks set up in churches, allied organizations, community centers. In turn, it is anticipated that those elected officials called will have a deeper understanding of the importance of the bills. “Calls from constituents may be the deciding factor in an representative or senator votring in favor of the measure,” Deiner explains.

Individuals interested in volunteering are asked to contact Deiner at – adeiner@equalitypa.org.

80% of United Methodist Church Quits over Firing of Gay Choir Director

January 14, 2014

By Central Voice
Like any organization, secular or religious, churches cannot exist without rules.

They also cannot exist without members.

Last issue (Jan.-Fe. 2014), we reported that “outing” was not just for gay people anymore, after Lebanon’s Rev. Frank Schaefer used that word to describe what happened to him.

Schaefer was defrocked by the United Methodist Church for violating church rules when he performed a marriage ceremony for his eldest son, Tim, and his male partner in 2007. He is appealing the church’s decision because he disagrees with his church’s policy on LGBT individuals.

Now we can add the word “quitting” to the gay-versus-church vocabulary.

According to The Herald Bulletin, an Indiana church has seen about 80% of its members leave after a gay choral director was forced out over his sexual orientation.

Adam Fraley told the newspaper that he worked for the United Methodist Church in Alexandria for six years and attended with his partner. When a new minister took over the church last year, Fraley said that he resigned because of pressure about his sexual orientation.

With a twist only fate could provide Schaefer’s local situation began after the resignation of his congregation’s choir director. The choir director is also the mother of Jon Borger, the individual who made the formal complaint that led to his being defrocked because he married his son.

At the time of her resignation, Boger’s mother said she felt forced to leave, although not over anything to do with Schaefer and his son’s marriage or LGBT issues. About six weeks after his mother left her choir director’s post, her son registered his complaint against Schaefer – five years after Schaefer performed the ceremony.

The back story:
Schaefer told Central Voice that “In the fall of 2006 I put in writing to the Bishop and the church that I would be performing the marriage of my son to his partner. I received no response from church leadership.” The wedding actually took place in 2007. However, the formal complaint to the church hierarchy from then-fellow parishioner and now former church member Boger did not come until late in 2013.

Boger testified at Schaefer’s hearing, a procedure that in many ways mimics a formal court proceeding but is, in fact, a church proceeding that has no standing in the church-and-state separated legal system rooted in the nation’s history.

Boger, according to media reports, broke down on the witness stand when questioned by church counsel, describing Schaefer’s marrying his son and those who support his action as taking “the law into their own hands” and undermining the church’s credibility and integrity.

Although Boger meant church law, Pennsylvania law does not allow same-sex couples to marry, a law that is currently being challenged from a multitude of legal directions. In that regard both the United Methodist Church and Pennsylvania state law mimic each other.

Boger testified during the church trial that six weeks before filing his complaint that his mother, who was employed as the church’s choir director, felt as if she were forced to submit her resignation to the church. “He said the two events were unrelated,” Schaefer said.

And there you have it.

You can be “outed” for being gay.

You can “quit” if you disagree with your church’s policy regarding LGBT congregants.

You can be “defrocked” if your conscience tells you not to follow your church’s policy.

Prevent HIV Infection before Sex with New Method Available in Region; FDA Approved, Learn More Jan. 21, Jan. 29

January 14, 2014

Prep2013

Known as PrEp – or Pre-exposure Prophylactic – a new method of preventing HIV infection with an existing HIV medication is now available in the region. FDA-approved, the method involves taking Truvada as prescribed under medical supervision.

Truvada has long been established as a successful agent, when combined with other HIV medicines, to treat HIV infection. The PrEP method involves taking the medicine before sex in order to prevent infection.

Are you PrEped? Is this HIV prevention method for you?

Learn more about this new and effective HIV prevention strategy and determine if it’s right for you on Tues., Jan. 21, 6 p.m. at Alder Health Services, Harrisburg, 100 N. Cameron St., Ste. 301-East and Wed., Jan. 29, 6 p.m., Alder Health Services, Lancaster, 1891 Santa Barbara Dr., Ste. 104.

For more information, call 1-800-867-1550.

Gay and Progressive Politics Are Not Strange Bedfellows

January 9, 2014

Gay and Progressive Politics Are Not Strange Bedfellows
By Frank Pizzoli

Politics makes strange bedfellows. But there is nothing strange about the forces of gay politics and Progressive ideas crawling under the covers for a warm embrace.

When Hartford (Conn.) Courant editor Charles Dudley Warner (1829 – 1900) and friend of Mark Twain made his pronouncement he could not have foreseen the state of affairs for today’s LGBT individuals and issues of economic justice.

Although 12-year old Queers for Economic Justice is closing due to funding crunches, their mission remains noble: To challenge and change systems that create poverty and economic injustice…and to promote an economic system that embraces sexual and gender diversity. Economic justice and sexual and gender diversity are not strange bedfellows.

Amber Hollibaugh, QEJ founder, recently repeated to Central Voice what she told a larger media audience.

“It’s profoundly disquieting that in the midst of the current economic crisis, you have no idea that the recession had an impact on our community. It makes me insane, because this idea that all LGBT people are wealthy, and mostly white is a dangerous myth,” she said.

There were 46.5 million people living in poverty in 2012. That means about 1.4 million of them were in the gay community.

Funders for Lesbian and Gay Issues in “Out for Change: Racial and Economic Justice Issues in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Communities” and the Center for American Progress note the economic difficulties within the gay community.

Ongoing discrimination against LGBT workers leaves them economically vulnerable and makes it difficult for them to financially provide for their families, the center reports.

Almost one in four children living with a male same-sex couple and 19.2 % of children living with a female same-sex couple are in poverty, compared to 12.1 % of children living with married different-sex couples.

Furthermore, 14.1 % of lesbian couples and 7.7 % of gay male couples receive assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, compared to 6.5 % of different-sex married couples.

Black LGBT people in particular lag behind in multiple areas of economic security due to the heightened vulnerability that stems from race-based and anti-LGBT discrimination and stigma.

The LGBT community is economically and racially diverse despite media depictions of gay families as financially secure and predominately white. In fact, a 2012 Gallup poll revealed that nonwhites were more likely than their white counterparts to identify as LGBT, with African Americans topping the chart as the racial and/or ethnic group most likely to identify as LGBT.

This security in their identity as LGBT people does not make them immune to the effects of bias and discrimination. Black LGBT people are more likely to be living in poverty than their peers, and black same-sex couples have poverty rates at least twice the rate of black different-sex married couples.

Black men in same-sex relationships are more than six times as likely to be in poverty than white men in same-sex couples—18.8 % to 3.1 %, respectively—and black women in same-sex relationships are three times more likely to be poor than white women in same-sex relationships—17.9 % to 5.1 %, respectively.

Trying to find an LGBT organization that does more than pay lip service to the idea that
“the gay” and economic issues go hand-in-hand is like trying to find a virgin at an orgy.

“It seems to me the mainstream LGBT movement groups depend on labor for muscle and mostly don’t return the favor on economic justice issues. In fact, the LGBT groups take big corporate donations from some of the worst actors in the corporate world (Citibank, Walmart, Paul Singer, David Koch, etc.) which buys those companies and individuals good will and makes the groups shut up about their injustices,” observes Andy Humm, co-host with Ann Northrup of New York City’s Gay USA weekly news broadcast.

Humm means economic injustices.

One way to measure – and reward – companies with gay laurels is to include questions around economic issues of social justice. Perhaps someday a high HRC rating will reflect a commitment to both gay and economic justice issues.

Molchany and Sims Introduce Pay Equity Legislation

January 6, 2014

As part of a larger effort to address the concerns of Pennsylvania women, state Reps. Erin Molchany, D-Allegheny, and Brian Sims, D-Phila., introduced a bill today (Jan. 6) that would clarify and update the legal standards for pay-equity lawsuits.

Rep.  Erin Molchany, D-Allegheny

Rep. Erin Molchany, D-Allegheny

“The average woman earns 84 cents for every dollar a man makes. In the Pittsburgh region, the wage gap is closer to 73 cents per dollar,” Molchany said. “While the entirety of the wage gap can’t be blamed on discrimination, the fact that any of it could be attributed to someone’s sex demands attention.”

House Bill 1890 would update the conditions under which employers could pay different wages because of a factor other than sex. These factors would include specific, job-related attributes such as education, training and experience. The bill would also strengthen anti-retaliation protections for employees attempting to bring a pay-equity lawsuit against their employer and those who share information about their pay.

PA State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila.

PA State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila.

“Pay-equity laws have been around for 40 or more years,” Sims said. “Clearly it’s time to strengthen and update them to bring about real pay equity for the many working women in Pennsylvania who are still shortchanged.”

House Bill 1890, which was introduced with 45 bipartisan cosponsors, is a part of a larger package of bills supported by the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s Women’s Health Caucus.

“The agenda is not just about reproductive health,” Molchany said. “It’s about economic justice, support for families, and making Pennsylvania a national leader in supporting all of its citizens with the tools to succeed.”

“We live in a country that guarantees each of us full equality under the law,” Sims said. “Right now, in this country and in this state, more than half of our population is being insidiously discriminated against. This bill is long overdue.”

This legislation is part of the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health, which also includes workplace accommodations for pregnant women, sanitary conditions for nursing mothers, increased eligibility for breast and cervical cancer screenings, protections for domestic violence victims and a ban on intimate partner harassment (often referred to as “revenge porn”).

The Women’s Health Caucus is a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators partnering with interest groups and advocacy organizations seeking to develop and implement legislation and social policy that protects and respects a woman’s right to make private, personal medical decisions.