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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A booster for gubernatorial candidate Paul Mango spouts anti-LGBTQ rhetoric on controversial podcast

Posted By on Tue, Feb 27, 2018 at 10:13 AM

Carla D'Addesi (left) with Paul Mango (center) at a Mango campaign event in February - PHOTO COURTESY OF FACEBOOK
  • Photo courtesy of Facebook
  • Carla D'Addesi (left) with Paul Mango (center) at a Mango campaign event in February
In January, business consultant and gubernatorial candidate Paul Mango (R-Pine Township) participated in a video interview with the controversial Rev. Hyung Jin Moon, the leader of a far-right Christian church in Northeastern Pennsylvania that worships AR-15 automatic rifles.

During the January interview, Moon said that public-school students were getting “indoctrinated into the homosexual political agenda” and a “transgender agenda.” Mango nodded along to Moon’s comments, and Pennsylvania Democratic Party officials criticized Mango for his appearance with Moon.

Mango spokesperson Matt Beynon told the TribLive in January that Mango doesn’t believe “that schools are indoctrinating our kids," but does “believe that our culture has eroded and has become more and more intolerant of traditional family values.”

But a month later, on Feb. 15, a volunteer and campaign booster for Mango made an appearance on Moon’s podcast, and she joined in with Moon on espousing some anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.

Carla D’Addesi is a conservative cable-news commentator and self-described faith-and-family-coalition leader for Mango’s 2018 gubernatorial run. She went on Moon’s podcast to discuss state Senator and gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner (R-York) and his support for the Pennsylvania Fairness Act, a bill that would provide LGBTQ Pennsylvanians the same civil-rights protections currently received by religious practitioners, minorities and immigrants. Wagner is a co-sponsor of the state senate's version of the Fairness Act.

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Friday, January 19, 2018

Daniel Smith Jr., an openly gay candidate, is running against homophobic Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe

Posted By on Fri, Jan 19, 2018 at 5:00 PM

  • Photo courtesy of the candidate
  • Daniel Smith Jr.
Daniel Smith Jr. is a Butler County native and longtime resident, who grew up in Zelienople and now lives in Adams Township with his husband, Don. He has been paying close attention to his state representative, Daryl Metcalfe (R-Cranberry), for years. Smith has grown frustrated as Metcalfe has continually focused on bombastic and divisive issues, such as opposing same-sex marriage and attacking immigrants’ rights. Over the years, Smith felt that with every controversial Metcalfe issue that made headlines, Pennsylvania’s 12th House District suffered from being cast in a negative light.

Then a video was released in December 2017 of Metcalfe freaking out when his colleague, state Rep.Matt Bradford (D-Montgomery), touched him on the elbow during a committee meeting on land use. Metcalfe exclaimed, “I am heterosexual. I love my wife, I don’t like men, as you might. Stop touching me all the time.” The video went viral and was mocked on Jimmy Kimmel Live and Late Night with Stephen Colbert.

“The moment he had at the committee meeting, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” says Smith. “Yes, what [Metcalfe] said pissed me off. But I saw the rest of the representatives in the meeting shake their heads. And I was thinking, ‘How does a district keep voting for this person?’ Then I thought, I needed to do something.”

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Friday, December 8, 2017

State rep. candidate Emily Skopov wants Daryl Metcalfe out of committee chair seat

Posted By on Fri, Dec 8, 2017 at 2:07 PM

  • Photo courtesy of the candidate
  • Emily Skopov
On Dec. 5, a video of Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Cranberry) exclaiming he is a “heterosexual” when a Democratic colleague touched his arm went viral. It spread so far and wide, that on Dec. 7 it was featured on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel Live.

And while Metcalfe’s blatant homophobia is undoubtedly humorous to most Americans, some people involved in Pennsylvania state politics are taking it seriously. On Dec. 6, Gov. Tom Wolf (D-York) requested that House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Marshall) re-examine Metcalfe’s chairmanship of the House’s state government committee.

And the woman who is running to challenge Turzai’s state House District 28 seat, Democrat Emily Skopov of Marshall, was even more unambiguous in her request; she believes Turzai needs to remove Metcalfe from the committee chair.

“Mike Turzai needs to do the right thing and remove Daryl Metcalfe as chair,” said Skopov in a press release. “Metcalfe’s actions are repugnant and dishonor our state government. By allowing Metcalfe to continue as chair, Mike Turzai further demonstrates his lack of a moral compass, endorsing homophobia and bigotry. It is time for Speaker Turzai to grow a spine and do the right thing.”

Metcalfe is arguably the general assembly’s most anti-LGBTQ member. He has tried to deny spousal benefits to same-sex couples and tried to make it illegal for LGBTQ people to marry. Metcalfe also chairs the state House’s state government committee, and thus controls the fate of civil-rights legislation that can affect the lives of LGBTQ Pennsylvanians. He has used this position to refuse to let the Fairness Act see a vote (the bill would grant LGBTQ Pennsylvanians the same non-discrimination rights that minorities and Christians receive under federal law).

According to a 2015 study from the Public Religion Research Institute, 70 percent of Pennsylvanians support a statewide LGBTQ non-discrimination law, while only 25 percent oppose such a law.

Turzai, as the state House’s highest ranking member, has the ability to move Metcalfe out of the state government committee into another committee chairmanship, but he alone cannot strip Metcalfe from his current chairmanship, because of Metcalfe's seniority. It should also be noted that Turzai placed anti-marijuana state Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga) at the chair of the health committee, which was a main reason why the state took so long to pass a medical-marijuana bill, despite widespread public support.

In a Dec. 7 article in Lancaster's LNP , Turzai brushed off calls to move Metcalfe out of the state government chair seat. A request for comment to Turzai's office was not returned.

Regardless, Skopov feels that Metcalfe should be removed from the state government committee because of his anti-LGBTQ views, as well as other controversial behavior in the past. For example, even though the 1964 federal civil-rights act granted non-discrimination rights to immigrants, in 2015 Metcalfe attempted to pass English-only legislation and brought a white nationalist to Harrisburg to lobby for his cause.

“Time and time again, Representative Metcalfe has displayed bigotry, and Mike Turzai has remained silent,” said Skopov in a press release. “Mike Turzai either supports homophobia and bigotry or he doesn’t. If he refuses to strip Metcalfe of his chairmanship, everyone will know exactly where he stands.”

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf says Rep. Daryl Metcalfe’s committee seat should be re-examined in light of homophobic comments

Posted By on Wed, Dec 6, 2017 at 4:33 PM

A Dec. 5 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette headline was one for the ages: “State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe comes out as heterosexual.” The P-G story was about Metcalfe (R-Cranberry) freaking out when state Rep. Matt Bradford (D-Montgomery) briefly touched his arm during a committee meeting about land-use policies.

“Representative Bradford, look, I am heterosexual,” said Metcalfe after Bradford tapped his arm. “I love my wife, I don’t like men, as you might. Stop touching me all the time.”

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Southwestern Pennsylvania Congressman Tim Murphy uses male pronoun when referring to Chelsea Manning in statement

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 5:19 PM

Congressman Tim Murphy (R-Upper St. Clair) - PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
  • Congressman Tim Murphy (R-Upper St. Clair)
When President Barack Obama pardoned Chelsea Manning this week, a predictably polarizing media storm followed. Many on the left praised the president, while many on the right condemned him. Manning was convicted of espionage and theft charges in 2013 for her role in leaking classified U.S. military information to Wikileaks, however some believed her actions caused no real harm and she was merely acting as a whistle blower. Manning is a transgender woman who has been held in a men’s federal prison since her conviction and, according to her lawyer, has attempted to commit suicide twice while in prison.

And Southwestern Pennsylvania Congressman Tim Murphy (R-Upper St. Clair), like many Republicans is upset Obama commuted Manning’s sentence, citing the setting of dangerous precedent.

“Three days before he leaves office, our Commander in Chief just set a tremendously dangerous precedent. Commuting the prison sentence of Bradley (Chelsea) Manning signals in no uncertain terms that protecting classified materials, military secrets and diplomatic documents is not a national priority," said Murphy in a statement. "In fact, his actions may have actually cost lives of those who help our nation in the fight against terrorism. Yet, one of the President’s final actions is to reward Manning’s treachery.”

And while Murphy is entitled to his opinion on governing and national security, it is how he addressed Manning that is upsetting the LGBT community. Murphy refers to Manning as “Bradley (Chelsea) Manning” twice in the press release and uses the male pronoun “his” when describing her.

Ted Martin, director of statewide LGBT-advocacy group Equality Pennsylvania, says Murphy should think harder about how he refers to transgender people and not “misgender them” because his profile can create a bad precedent for how his constituents should treat transgender individuals.

“It’s a really unfortunate choice of language for the congressman,” says Martin. “For people in his position, he should really think about how he refers to people in the transgender community. Some people can take the leap to treat other people with respect; it is not hard.”

A 2014 study by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention found that 41 percent of transgender people attempt suicide, compared to 4.6 percent of the overall population. Transgender people report higher rates of bullying in schools and still face large stigmas from society overall.

Carly Atchison, press secretary for Murphy, offered a no comment to City Paper for this story.

Manning said in an article in The Guardian, that her first public appearance as a woman was in February 2010, and she said “I’d long known I was a woman” before that public appearance. Manning leaked documents in January 2010 and has served seven of her 35-year sentence (significantly longer than similar convictions in recent years). Manning will be released in May.

However, those looking closely at Murphy’s LGBT-related record would hardly be shocked that he would choose to use language insensitive to the LGBT community. Murphy voted against a federal bill to ban job discrimination based on sexual orientation; he voted for defining marriage between only a man and a woman; and he voted for a same-sex marriage ban.

During his entire 14-year tenure in congress, Murphy has never received higher than a 0 percent rating on the Human Rights Campaigned scorecard, which rates U.S. senators and reps on their LGBT-related votes and stances. (BTW, many other Pennsylvania Republicans have received higher than a 0 rating over the years.)

Additionally, both Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) issued statements deriding the President's decision without referring to Manning by her dead name or using male pronouns.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania LGBT-rights leaders wary of Trump presidency's potential impact on state

Posted By on Tue, Nov 1, 2016 at 2:14 PM

  • Image courtesy of Human Rights Campaign
Last week, an employee at one of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s golf courses filed a lawsuit alleging he was fired because he is gay. Eleazar Andres says in the lawsuit that shortly after he revealed he was gay to his co-workers at Trump’s Pine Hill golf course in New Jersey, several of his co-workers threw rocks and golf balls and yelled gay slurs at him. Andres filed a police report, and said in the lawsuit that he was fired shortly after.

Pittsburgh City Council President Bruce Kraus (D-South Side), the city’s first openly gay politician, spoke out last week against the alleged misdeed, calling for more protection for LGBT people.

"In too many places in our country, you can get married on a Sunday and fired on a Monday. No one should suffer harassment because of who they are or who they love — not from Donald Trump or anyone else,” said Kraus in a press release. “This is just another example of the discrimination that LGBT Americans still face far too often.”

Levana Layendecker, of statewide LGBT-advocacy group Equality Pennsylvania, says stories like the lawsuit point to the Republican candidate’s inconsistent record on LGBT equality. In April, Trump said transgender people could use whatever bathroom they felt most comfortable in, but a month later said the decision should be left up to state legislators.

But Layendecker says Trump’s choice as a running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, set in stone that the Republican ticket is anti-LGBT.

“Mike Pence is absolutely the most anti-LGBT governor in country,” says Layendecker. “If that is any indication of what we are looking forward to in Trump’s America, then we are worried.”

Pence has supported “religious freedom” laws that LGBT groups say would increase discrimination and has opposed laws that prohibit LGBT discrimination in the workplace. Layendecker also worries that Trump’s calls to Pennsylvanians to monitor the polls, will only increase voter intimidation, that many in the LGBT community already feel.

“Voter intimidation is very real in the LGBT community,” says Layendecker. “People in the LGBT community are targets for bullying in a real way. And the idea that someone would stand in front of the polling place and intimidate people, that is very worrisome.”

But Layendecker says this has only re-ignited Equality Pennsylvania’s push for equal rights for LGBT individuals. The group has knocked on 100,000 doors (and plans to knock on 100,000 more) to inform people of the potential trouble of the Trump-Pence ticket, and also to talk about its ongoing fight to pass the PA Fairness Act. The bill would provide statewide housing and workplace protections for LGBT people. (Thirty-six municipalities offer protection, including Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, but outside of those, it’s still legal to fire someone for identifying as LGBT.)

Last week, Pennsylvania’s state assembly failed again to pass the act through the legislature. For 12 years, Equality Pennsylvania has been trying to get the Fairness Act through, and this year there was some progress. The act was voted out of committee in the state Senate, but was held up after two Republican Senators called for public hearings on the bill. Now the bill will have to start the process over again come the new year.

Gov. Wolf has pledged to sign the bill if it comes to his desk, and polling completed by Equality Pennsylvania shows that 75 percent of Pennsylvanians support the bill. Layendecker says it’s just a matter of educating everyone, so the whole state can advocate for LGBT rights.

“So much progress has been made on LGBT rights, we have to go back and remind people that those protections don’t exist here,” says Layendecker. “People can’t believe that it hasn't already happened.”

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