Voting for LGBT friends and allies

Editor:

The current political electoral debate calls into question the role of the federal government and the extent of the use of the wealth of the nation through taxes and spending. Expressions of the debate challenge voters to resort to the true meaning of the Constitution and subscription to liberty from government intrusion. The glaring omission from the debate, however, is a review of the Preamble of the Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” And the ending of the Pledge of Allegiance: “With Liberty and Justice for all.” These words call for action for the common good! The current Congress and administration were confronted with a financial catastrophe comprised of a near-complete failure of the banking system, demise of the domestic automobile industry, overextension of consumer credit and real-estate financing, exorbitant oil prices and two underfunded wars. With a rising unemployment rate, collapse of consumer confidence and buying power, and a contraction of domestic and foreign trade of goods and services, Congress and the administration acted for the “general welfare” of the nation with a focus on all Americans and not just the privileged few. The federal government enacted an economic-stimulus package that reversed the free-fall of the stock market, provided funding to state and local governments for police and education and provided funding for long-overdue infrastructure rebuilding of the nation’s economic thoroughfares. Legislation was enacted to make college loans more affordable, stimulate purchases of automobiles and durable goods, provide new consumer protections for credit-card users, provide tax credits for first-time homeowners, provide businesses with tax incentives to hire unemployed workers, increase federal regulation of tobacco products, crack down on waste in Pentagon weapons’ acquisition, ma,e attacks based on sexual orientation a federal hate crime, provide remedies for women to challenge pay discrimination, eliminate the costly Medicare donut-hole for seniors, promote scientific research and provide a meaningful health-care program for all Americans. Congress and the administration acted true to the words of the Constitution and the Pledge of Allegiance through action. The consequences of the failure to act would have been staggering. Confronted with a fierce resistance to any action, our government acted to preserve, defend and uphold the Constitution for the betterment of all Americans. Criticism that such action would bring America to bankruptcy is naïve and pandering to the interests of the few. On Nov. 2, let us go to the election polls and decide whether the actions of our government warrant reelection of our representatives to continue the policies of addressing the problems we Americans face together, or whether they should be replaced with others who shout for change, but are afraid of the changes in our policies that seek the common good for all Americans. Robert Szwajkos Newtown Editor: LGBT Democrats cannot afford the danger of suffering from fatigue or malaise in this Congressional election. Many of us think the honeymoon is over with the Obama administration. LGBT activists are questioning whether this change we hear about is sincere. To many, President Obama does not seem to be pursuing the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act. This has become especially jarring since the Justice Department is appealing federal court rulings that declare DADT and DOMA unconstitutional. The fear is that the administration does not have our best interests at heart. But Joe Sestak has proven his loyalty to the LGBT communities. Joe co-sponsored the Domestic Partnership Benefits Obligations Act that provides federal civilian LGBT employees the same benefits that are currently offered to all spouses of federal employees. Joe co-sponsored the Tax Equity For Health Plan Beneficiaries Act. This ends the discrimination that limits employer-sponsored health coverage for domestic partners and other non-spouse, non-dependent beneficiaries. Joe co-sponsored the Family Medical Leave Inclusion Act that permits an employee to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from work if his or her domestic partner or same-sex spouse has a serious health condition. Joe is an original co-sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Very tellingly, Joe is co-sponsor of legislation to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and he supports repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. Finally, Joe is co-sponsor of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This is very important because his opponent, Pat Toomey, wants to appear to be mainstream but is against hate-crimes legislation, a woman’s right to choose and LGBT rights. If in two years Obama has proven to only give lip service to our issues, if it is shown that he is only with us when it is convenient and the weather is fair, we can campaign for another Democratic presidential candidate who will respect us. In the meantime, we should plead our case, petition and demonstrate to make Obama hear us. Perhaps we need only to seriously threaten to support another candidate to get this administration to take us seriously. This is our Democratic Party. It does not belong to one person, not even Barack Obama. We need to protect our presence in the party and the Democratic majority in the Congress. The Supreme Court already tilts to the right. We have to continue to maintain a Democratic Congress and presidency so that in time we can tilt it back. We need to elect Sen. Joe Sestak to do that. It is well known that Joe Sestak is independent of Obama. He did not need the president’s support to win the primary. He will not need his support or approval to repeal DADT or DOMA. Cei Bell Philadelphia In response to “Investigation continues in Blahnik murder,” Oct. 22-28: This is in response to the letters to the editor about the tragic death of Stacey Blahnik and the PGN’s use of her birth name. I understand their outrage! The same editorial practice was used in the initial reportage of Nizah Morris’ murder many years ago. As a trans-activist, I contacted PGN at the time to say that their use of Nizah’s birth name and male pronoun was disrespectful. While PGN has ceased using inappropriate gender pronouns, they seem to have not gotten the message about trans-affirming naming. If this is really a matter of journalistic practice, a dubious excuse, then I say turn to the Associated Press Style Manual for the appropriate usage. I quote the AP Style Manual as follows: “Transgender is an overall term for people whose current identity differs from their sex at birth, whether or not they have changed their biological characteristics. Cite a person’s transgender status only when it is pertinent and its pertinence is clear to the reader. Unless a former name is newsworthy or pertinent, use the name and pronouns (he, his, she, her, hers) preferred by the transgender person. If no preference is known, use the pronouns consistent with the way the subject lives publicly.” While this policy is open to interpretation, I contend that it is not “newsworthy or pertinent” to use the birth name of a trans-identified person in any situation. Please, PGN, enter the 21st century and use trans-affirming language. Trans communities have been dealing with PGN and this same issue for several decades; it’s about time for a change! — Ben Singer Editor’s note: In our coverage, PGN used Stacey Blahnik’s legal name in our initial reporting, though not in subsequent coverage. Initially, the police reported this as the murder of a man, also using Blahnik’s legal name. As it is possible — and still unknown at this time — that Blahnik’s killer was motivated by her gender identity, it is important to report that fact. It was also important to make sure the community knew that Blahnik was the person who had been killed, not a second male-identified individual. Moreover, Blahnik, for whatever reason, had not changed her name legally. We must assume — correctly or incorrectly — that she had a valid reason, and we respect that.