It's well known in the LGBT public health community that there are higher rates of substance abuse and mental health problems in gay and bisexual men compared with their heterosexual counterparts. But sexual minority girls haven't been the subject of much research, something Dr. Michael Marshal is hoping to help change.
Marshal, an associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh, has just published a study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse that looks at health outcomes in young urban sexual minority girls ages 16-19 in Pittsburgh, with a particular focus on whether African American girls who identify as lesbian or bisexual have worse health outcomes than their European American counterparts.
The results are striking: of the lesbian and bisexual girls surveyed, they were four times more likely to report marijuana use or "suicidal ideation," compared with their heterosexual peers over the previous year. They were five times more likely to report cigarette use, and twice as likely to report alcohol use.
Symptoms of various personality and conduct disorders were significantly more severe.
In one sense, Marshal wasn't surprised. He expected more substance abuse and mental health problems in sexual minority girls than heterosexual girls. That's partly due to the "minority stress hypothesis" — the idea that being in socially excluded groups can lead to adverse health outcomes. But, Marshal says, "we didn't expect that the pattern of disparities would be so robust across a number of outcome variables."
And even more surprising were the study's findings that sexual minority African American girls generally fared no worse than their European American counterparts.
From CP Staff Writer Alex Zimmerman:
After Ben Stoviak posted to Facebook that he'd been assaulted last weekend because of his sexual orientation, the LGBT community called for the incident to be treated as a hate crime.
And that message reverberated through a protest in Lawrenceville Wednesday night at a peaceful event that drew around 100 people to 51st and Butler streets.
Several community members took the opportunity to show their support, with the squawk of car horns cheering them on.
"We are proud, we are gay, and we are human beings tonight," said Bill Gibson a bartender at the Blue Moon bar.
But one of the more unlikely speakers to wade into the crowd was Pittsburgh police Cmdr. Eric Holmes who says he "shook his head" when he read the report of Stoviak's assault. Police have said they have several suspects in the assault.
Holmes was met with questions from Joe King, a 41-year-old Regent Square resident who asked why the police weren't treating the incident as a hate crime.
Holmes responded that sexual orientation isn't considered a class with hate crimes protection under state law.
That drew boos from the crowd, but he encouraged those in attendance to voice their concerns in to officials in Harrisburg.
"He was targeted; it was a hate crime," King says. "If [Stoviak] was African American he'd be treated that way."
Holmes added that "the criminal justice system can be a slow system" but the system will "bring to justice everyone who committed this crime."
That's strike two — at least PR-wise — for Gov. Tom Corbett when it comes to fighting against a Montgomery County register of wills who has been issuing same-sex marriage licenses, despite a state law banning the unions. That case, and one challenging the state's Defense of Marriage Act, are being challenged in court.
In an interview with WHP-TV in Harrisburg, Corbett was asked about his legal team's comparison suggesting that same-sex couples marrying was the same as 12-year-olds marrying. Corbett responded in the interview saying: "It was an inappropriate analogy, you know. I think a much better analogy would have been brother and sister, don't you?"
The state's LGBT advocacy organization EqualityPA and organizations across the state erupted at the comparison, and demanded an apology. EqualityPA Executive Director Ted Martin said in a statement “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."
Corbett's administration released a response. “My words were not intended to offend anyone," Corbett said in the statement. Full statement after the jump.
The Pennsylvania National Guard is offering spousal benefits to legally married same-sex couples -- even as state government continues fighting efforts to recognize same-sex marriage.
Staff Sgt. Matt Jones, a public affairs specialist for the PA National Guard, says that benefits became available Sept. 3, per an order from the Pentagon that extends benefits to same-sex spouses of uniformed service members and Department of Defense civilian employees -- provided they have a valid marriage certificate.
For now, at least, that means a marriage consecrated outside Pennsylvania, which does not recognize same-sex marriage. Even so, within the Pennsylvania National Guard, "Anyone who has a federally-recognized marriage license, regardless of their gender, can receive benefits," Jones says.
And yesterday, he says, the PA Guard received its first same-sex couple in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System -- or DEERS -- office, which allows service-members to enroll their spouses and children for identification cards, as well as survivor and other benefits.
Jones says the Guard is still notifying service-members of the availability of benefits using internal communications, social media and the chain of command. "Most of it is through the chain of command," he says. "Once the [Department of Defense] enacts a policy, then it's put down" through the ranks.
But not all guard units in other states have implemented the benefits. In Louisiana, the National Guard plans to refuse the Pentagon order because the state does not recognize same-sex marriages. The Texas National Guard has also refused to offer spousal benefits.
Jones says the decision to offer benefits does not conflict with the state's own Defense of Marriage of Act: "Obviously Pennsylvania doesn't issue same-sex marriage licenses yet -- that's why it has to be anything legally recognized elsewhere." The Alabama National Guard is also offering benefits, even though the state doesn't recognize legal marriages performed out-of-state.
It's good news in Pennsylvania, where Commonwealth Court President Judge Dan Pellegrini is expected to soon issue a ruling in the case of a Montgomery County official issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite a state ban on same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the state arguing that the ban is unconstitutional.
In that case,Pennsylvania General Counsel James D. Schultz today announced the retention of former state Supreme Court Justice William H. Lamb to assist with the state's defense. According to a press release from the Office of General Counsel, a legal brief on behalf of the state is due Sept. 16 in the federal court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. A case-management conference is scheduled for Sept. 30, according to court filings.
First spotted this on The Maddow Blog and the Harrisburg Patriot-News: Montgomery County Register of Wills Bruce Hanes issued a press release saying he would issue same-sex marriage licenses to anyone who requested one from his office.
And today, according to Maddow Blog, Alicia Terrizzi and Loreen Bloodgood, who have been together 18 years and have two kids, were one of two gay couples to get licenses.
From the Patriot News:
"“Based upon the advice of [my solicitor], my own analysis of the law and mindful of the Attorney General’s belief that Pennsylvania’s marriage laws are unconstitutional, I decided to come down on the right side of history and the law, and was prepared to issue a license,” Hanes said in a press release.
What happens next is kind of a question mark and as the Patriot-News noted, Hanes is receiving support and backlash. But there's reason to be hopeful, advocates say. In Ohio, a federal judge granted some marriage rights to a same-sex couple legally married in Maryland but living in Ohio where gay marriage is banned.
Legal analysts are still determining the impact of the Supreme Court's ruling that struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage of Act and in Pennsylvania, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit to overturn the statewide ban on same-sex marriage. Attorney General Kathleen Kane has said she won't defend the state's Defense of Marriage of Act.
A meet-and-greet and reception will be held at 6:30 p.m. at JUDAH Fellowship Christian Church, 120 Parkhurst St., North Side.
The week-long Pride celebration that ends July 28 includes social events, a basketball tournament, pageants and worship celebration. A full calendar and ticket information can be found here.
Companies who have large contracts with the city of Pittsburgh will have to extend domestic-partner benefits to same-sex and opposite-sex employees under legislation introduced by City Councilor Bruce Kraus.
The requirement only applies to contracts that meet or exceed $250,000, and only applies to employees who live within the city or are subject to the city wage tax.
"One of the reasons for this piece is to continue to show that Pittsburgh is a very open-minded and a very welcoming ... diverse city that welcomes the inclusions and the nurturing of the best and the brightest in our workforce," Kraus said at council's standing committee meeting this morning.
With so many other cities adopting similar legislation, Kraus added, "it shows that when you have these kinds of policies in place and have this more progressive mindset in terms of how you approach your workforce, you have a better chance of recruiting, retaining, maintaining and growing a much better workforce."
Brandon Forbes, Kraus's policy director, noted that cities in California, Minnesota and Wisconsin have similar policies. Philadelphia enacted its own policy in 2012, and Kraus said he followed similar provisions in his bill.
The city can waive the benefits requirement in certain cases, including: when it would result in loss of federal or state funds; violates a collective bargaining agreement; the contractor is a religious institution; or the contractor is a sole supplier of services or materials.
Employees seeking the benefits are required to meet the city's definition of a domestic partnership.
Kraus said he has been working on the bill for about nine months, and it was brought to his attention by members of the LGBT community and the advocacy group Delta Foundation that pointed out efforts in other cities.
"Pittsburgh has always been a city that has very much been a leader in these kinds of positions," Kraus said.
The talk is entitled "The Freedom to Marry: What's Next After the Supreme Court's Decisions on DOMA and California's Proposition 8." It will be held from 4 to 6 p.m., Friday, at the Rivers Club, 301 Grant St., Downtown.
The event is free to Allegheny County Bar Association members and $10 for non-members. More information is available here.
Well that didn't take long.
Just more than 24 hours since the Supreme Court of the United States struck down a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and delivered a ruling that allows same-sex marriage in California, two Democratic state representatives from Pennsylvania say they will introduce a marriage equality bill here. (Sen. Daylin Leach has proposed marriage equality bills several times as well.) An identical bill already exists in the Senate.
The bill will be introduced by Philadelphia-area Democrats state Rep. Brian Sims, the first openly-gay elected state representative, and Rep. Steve McCarter.
"LGBT Pennsylvanians are seeing their neighbors in New York, Maryland and Delaware, among other states, now qualify for the approximately 1,000 federal rights and benefits that come with civil marriage and they are increasingly asking why they don't have those same rights, as well as the state rights and benefits," Sims said in a press release. Marriage equality has steadily grown, now standing at majority support in recent Pennsylvania polls. I believe that more and more legislators from both parties will decide to be on the right side of history."
The bill, according to Sims and McCarter, would provide protections for religious organizations and entities that do not wish to sanction, perform or in any way recognize same-sex civil marriages.
As we noted earlier, several local electeds spoke out in support of the rulings and the LGBT community. One of the lighter moments of the day came when openly gay city councilor Bruce Kraus, in introducing Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, said "I asked Rich to marry to me. He turned me down so I asked [City Councilor Bill] Peduto."
But Fitzgerald didn't take the idea off the table entirely.
"I don’t know, Bruce. My wife says 30 years might be enough so we might be on the market, who knows?" Fitzgerald joked, to raucous applause. "Wouldn’t that be city-county consolidation? How about that?"
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