2014 will see a new city council president in Pittsburgh, PA in the form of openly gay Councilman Bruce Kraus. Kraus has served on the council since 2008, when he became the first openly LGBTQ member to be elected. He was re-elected in 2012 after several strong years of service, including municipal reforms for Pittsburgh's LGBTQ citizens like the Domestic Partner Registry and the requirement of domestic partner benefits for city contractors. Kraus's achievements extend beyond one specific community, however, and his emphasis has been making Pittsburgh the best city it can be.
Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents reports:
Kraus’ achievements are perhaps most notable in his fight against blight, litter, and related conditions that plague the neighborhoods, especially those with sizable hospitality businesses. He’s often cleaning abandoned lots with his staff and volunteers, literally “redding up” as well as tackling the issues on a systemic level in Council. Kraus has worked on anti-violence initiatives that generated a safe-schools partnership between Persad and GLSEN. He also notably opened two satellite offices staffed by volunteers, one in the South Side slopes and the other in South Oakland. Kraus currently serves as chair of Committee on Public Works…
While he prefers to focus on the issues on the table, Kraus does acknowledge the unique significance of being the first openly gay man to serve and to assume the role of Council President. He understands that it does matter and it will send a positive message about the diversity he so values. He’s often said “I look forward to the day when it won’t matter, but I understand and respect that it does right now.”
That Kraus's sexual orientation matters is especially evident given the disrespect LGBTQ citizens receive at the hands of another council member, Reverend Ricky Burgess. Kraus reportedly challenges Councilman Burgess's remarks on a regular basis, indicating that his status as the first openly gay city council president could bring a great deal more respect for Pittsburgh's LGBTQ community and their rights.
Congratulations to Bruce Kraus, and best of luck in your new role!