The 12th annual Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference is scheduled for June 13-15, Baltimore Gay Life reported this week. The event has grown substantially over the years and last year welcomed about 3,000 attendees. It’s free.
The event, produced each year by the Mazzoni Center, a Philadelphia-based LGBT health care provider, will feature many topics for discussion over the three-day event including navigating equal access to health care and insurance, faith and gender identity, sexual identities, the gender spectrum, youth and gender, parenting for trans people and more. It will also offer workshops on working to obtain a masculine voice; demystifying therapy; femmes, femininity and presentation; and writing for healing and laughing.
The event will be held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center (1200 Arch St.) in Philadelphia. Visit trans-health.org for more information.
PHILADELPHIA — The Drexel University School of Public Health has started what is believed to be only the second program in the country to offer a certificate in LGBT health, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported last week.
The University of Pittsburgh, in 2007, started the first, the report said. It’s the same program being taught at Drexel, a private research university in downtown Philadelphia. The certificate is available only to online students but should be expanded soon.
Faculty said medical schools typically teach very little on LGBT health issues, the article said.
“As a senator and as a citizen, I can no longer in good conscience take a position that denies her and her family the full measure of equality and respect,” the Democrat said in a statement after reading a letter he received from a Pennsylvania woman who talked about her partner and their children. “I understand that many Americans of good will have strong feelings on both sides of this issue. I believe elected public officials have an abiding obligation to refrain from demonizing and dividing people for partisan or political gain. Rather, Democrats and Republicans should come together and find areas of agreement to do what’s best for the country, including lesbian and gay Americans.”
Casey, who first announced his support of same-sex marriage during an interview with a reporter from the Morning Call newspaper in Allentown, Pa., earlier on Monday, backed the issue less than a week after the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in cases that challenge California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.
U.S. Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.,) Tim Kaine (D-Va.,) Mark Warner (D-Va.,) John Tester (D-Mont.,) Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.,) Mark Begich (D-Alaska,) Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) all endorsed marriage rights for same-sex couples in the days and weeks before the justices heard oral arguments in the two cases. U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.,) Mary Landrieu (D-La.,) Mark Pryor (D-Ark.,) Bill Nelson (D-Fla.,) Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.,) Tom Carper (D-Del.,) Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) are the only Senate Democrats who have yet to publicly back nuptials for gays and lesbians.
“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,” gay Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) said. “I am pleased to see Senator Casey responding to the voices of his constituents and am eager to work with him in reaching out to the hundreds of thousands of LGBT Pennsylvanians who can now count on his support for LGBT equality.”
Adrian Shanker, president of Equality Pennsylvania, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, also applauded Casey.
“Marriage matters for all families,” Shanker said. “Senator Casey’s support for marriage for all committed couples puts him squarely on the right side of history.”
MARCUS HOOK, Pa.—A Pennsylvania mayor has ended his re-election campaign after authorities accused him of imprisoning a man in his home.
The Delaware County Daily Times on March 27 reported that Marcus Hook Mayor James “Jay” Schiliro ended his campaign after he reportedly had a police officer drive the 20-year-old man to his house on Feb. 21. The newspaper said Schiliro allegedly gave him alcohol and fired one of the three firearms he had in his possession into a stack of papers.
Schiliro also reportedly asked the man to perform oral sex on him during the four-hour encounter.
Marcus Hook Councilman Michael Manerchia told the Delaware County Daily Times that Schiliro should resign.
PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia City Council last week passed a bill offering tax incentives to businesses that expand health coverage for LGBT employees, a measure hailed as the first of its kind, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported last weekend.
The bill extends rights to “life partners” throughout the city code in a wide range of matters such as medical decision-making, gender neutrality on certain city forms and more. It also requires health insurance offered to city employees to cover the needs of transgender workers including gender reassignment surgery, the article said.
“The spirit of the bill acknowledges people’s humanity, acknowledges their citizenship and their full rights to participate,” Council member James F. Kenney, the prime sponsor, was quoted as saying in the Inquirer. “It’s another step in the road of civil rights equality.”
The bill features two tax credits. One is for businesses that extend health benefits to employees’ life partners and their children, the same as they would to spouses and children. The second is for companies that make health coverage available for transgender care, the Inquirer said.
Pennsylvania state law does not include workplace protections for residents and there is no form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples in the state. The bill passed by a 14-3 vote, with Republican Council members David Oh and Brian J. O’Neill and Democrat Bill Green voting against, according to the Inquirer.
HARRISBURG, Pa.—Pennsylvania lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a bill that would ban anti-LGBT discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations in the commonwealth.
Gay state Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) co-sponsored the Pennsylvania Non-Discrimination Act alongside state Reps. Dan Frankel (D-Pittsburgh) and Chris Ross (R-Kennett Square) and state Sens. Daylin Leach (D-Wayne,) Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia) and Pat Browne (R-Allentown) in their respective chambers.
“I’ve been prepping for this, like many of my colleagues, for a long time,” Sims said.
Philadelphia Weekly reported state Rep. Mike Fleck (R-Three Springs,) who came out as gay late last year, also attended the Harrisburg press conference at which Sims and other legislators formally introduced the bill.
Betty Gloria Miller died Dec. 3 of sepsis, a toxic bacterial infection that led to kidney failure, according to her partner of 25 years, Nancy Creighton. She was 78. She had lived in Philadelphia for about eight years but spent most of her adult life in Washington.
Born in Chicago, she was the third child, and the only daughter of Ralph Reese Miller, Sr. and Gladys Hedrick Miller. Both parents were deaf and her two older brothers, Ben and Ralph, were hearing. Betty was hard of hearing much of her life; she lost her hearing completely in her 50s as a result of a high fever.
Betty was known as a pioneer in two fields. She was nicknamed the “Mother of De’VIA” (Deaf View Image Art), a genre that intentionally expresses the deaf experience through art. She was also a pioneer in counseling deaf alcoholics and substance abusers, and author of “Deaf & Sober: Journeys through Recovery,” published by the National Association of the Deaf.
She taught art at Gallaudet College (now University) in Washington for 17 years, and was the first deaf woman who graduated from Gallaudet (1957) to earn a doctoral degree (in Art Education, Pennsylvania State University, 1976). She co-founded Spectrum, Focus on Deaf Artists in Austin, Texas in the late 1970s.
Long active in civic endeavors, she worked for and supported Deafpride Inc. in Washington. She was a member of the first board of directors for Deaf Women United and designed its first logo. Later, she was president of D.C. Association of the Deaf.
She is survived by Creighton and many friends. She also leaves behind a large body of artwork — paintings, drawings, mixed media artwork and neon sculptures — in private collections throughout the world.
An open Alcoholics Anonymous meeting will be held this month with a memorial service planned for later in the year.
Stephen Decker always knows the day of Scarlet’s Bake Sale is going to be a long one. He’s typically on site at the Eagle from noon until about 9 p.m. but he says it’s always worth the effort. And he should know — he’s been one of the volunteers for about 20 years. For the last three years, he’s been the chair.
“It’s so much fun to watch the competition,” he says. “Trying to see them all outbid each other for that cake or item. It’s just full of fun.”
Scarlet’s Bake Sale, named after the late Ed Nesbit (whose drag name was Scarlet), is now in its 42nd year. This year’s event is Sunday from 5-8:30 p.m. at the D.C. Eagle (639 New York Ave., N.W.). Look for the event page by searching “Scarlet’s Foundation” on Facebook. This year’s proceeds will benefit SMYAL. Typically about 80 people attend. In addition to the auction, four awards are presented each year. Last year, Decker says about $8,800 was raised for LGBT charities.
The most memorable entry over the years?
“Oh my goodness, there’ve been so many,” Decker says. “One year we had a group bring in a watersports-themed cake. It actually had a figure standing up and a recycling pump in it, so he would actually be peeing on a man down in a pond. It, to me, was the most spectacular.”
Another year, an elaborate 3-D chocolate sculpture of a tree was so impressive it raised $2,400 in three different auctions (each winner kept putting it back up for auction knowing it was a hot item) only to be destroyed on the ride home.
Decker, a Scenery Hill, Pa., native, came to Washington for work in 1980 and has been here ever since. He previously lived in Maryland, Virginia, Mississippi and elsewhere during his growing up years and a stint in the Air Force.
He and husband Ed Moore live together in Brookland. After a long stint as a grant manager with the International Association of Firefighters, he’s looking for a new job.
He enjoys baking, cooking, the leather community and times with friends and extended family in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I have been out to myself since high school, but could never do so as the community would have never allowed it and I may not be here now if I did. One of my favorite statements when asked when I knew — it was in seventh grade with the cutest ass that sat in front of me in most all of my classes. I came out to myself in the 1980s but the hardest person to come out was more a fear of my own, it was my mother, who politely told me, “This is supposed to be news to me?” I came out to her in 1995.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Leonard Matlovich. He received a medal of honor for killing two men and a dishonorable discharge for loving one.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Loved the old DC Eagle on 7th Street before it closed. Today you will find me quite often at the Green Lantern.
Describe your dream wedding.
Our wedding was a dream. Who would ever guess that after being with my love for 22 years we would be able to wed in 2010? I wanted to elope, but our friends would not hear of that. We had an engagement party, two bachelor’s parties and a wedding with two receptions. We had about 30 great and close friends with us at the wedding and over 100 other friends that celebrated us in the other events. We were surrounded by love and it was worth every second.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Children with no love or home. Everyone deserves love, no matter who provides it.
What historical outcome would you change?
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The first Liza with a Z Concert I attended in the 1970s with another Air Force buddy who I think may have liked me for the same reason I liked him.
On what do you insist?
I insist that all are honest with me. I have always stated we can solve all issues.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
It was about the Scarlet’s Bake Sale. Ask everyone to come and have fun with us.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Vanilla? I Don’t Think So”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Hide from it. I am happy to be who I am and with whom I have chosen to live.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
That we are created by God to be who and what we are.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Keep moving forward, the job is not done. We should all have the equal rights just like every other person. Thank you, so far as we have made major movements.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
The love of my life and maybe a cup of hot chocolate on this cold day.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
People who feel they have to be “straight acting.”
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Rent” — it tackled AIDS, which affects everyone.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
The handshake — why not a warm hug?
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
Black Roses Community Service Award
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That it was OK to be who I am and not ashamed of it. I let so much get away from me.
I guess it is the only place I know that the museums are free and that there is so much history here. It’s hard to believe that the Supreme Court area has so much history itself. Check it out sometime.
PHILADELPHIA — A Conshohocken, Pa., steel worker and his husband filed suit in federal court in February after he was barred from adding his spouse to his health insurance plan in a case that is thought to be the first of its kind in the state, the Philadelphia Gay News reported.
Bryce Ginther and Kit Kineef filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Feb. 11, the paper said. Named as defendants are Ginther’s employer, ArcelorMittal, USA, the Steelworkers’ Health and Welfare Benefit Plan and the board of trustees of the Steelworkers Health and Welfare Fund, the Philadelphia Gay News reported.
The case alleges a violation of the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, which governs the implementation of many private-sector plans.
Ginther and Kineef have been together seven years and married May 15 in New York. The same day, Ginther requested to add Kineef as a dependent to his plan, which does not limit the definition of “spouse” to an opposite-sex partner. Ginther is an industrial electrician at ArcelorMittal’s Conshohocken steel mill, and is a member of the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, the Philadelphia Gay News said.
Kineef doesn’t have insurance, and Ginther began inquiring in early 2012 about adding him to his plan when they got married. Arcelor’s legal council declined the request citing the fact that state law in Pennsylvania doesn’t recognize civil unions and that even if it did, civil unions don’t render such a person eligible for spousal coverage.
The complaint requests that the court declare the defendants violated the plan, find that Kineef is an eligible dependent and enroll him in the plan retroactively to June 1. The filing also requests that the court award attorneys and litigation fees and that the board be liable to Ginther for $110 per day from Oct. 29, when he began requesting documents for an appeal.