By Emma Teitel - Saturday, March 16, 2013 - 0 Comments
Something very good happened in the United States this week: Rob Portman, the Republican senator from Ohio, who co-sponsored DOMA and was once favoured to be Mitt Romney’s running mate, penned an editorial in the Columbus Dispatch, announcing his newfound support for gay marriage. He began to change his mind on the issue, he wrote, after his son Will came out of the closet two years ago. Here he is, below:
“At the time my position on marriage for same-sex couples was rooted in my faith tradition that marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman. Knowing that my son is gay prompted me to consider the issue from another perspective: that of a dad who wants all three of his kids to lead happy, meaningful lives with the people they love.”
For anyone unaffiliated with NOM, it would seem like pretty heartwarming stuff—good fodder for the next marriage equality PSA, or in the very least, something for Ellen DeGeneres to dance about. The consensus among progressive pundits, however, was decidedly different.
Rob Portman made the right choice, they argued, but his history of wrong ones (voting against gay rights) overrides that. Changing your mind for personal reasons is selfish. The only noble about-face is an altruistic one.
Witness below, a living example of Oscar Wilde’s observation that a “cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”
Igor Volsky, the managing editor of ThingProgress.org, on Twitter:
“Kind of sad that Rob Portman probably wouldn’t have come out for marriage equality if his son wasn’t gay.”
Noah Berlatsky in The Atlantic:
“Portman says he changed his mind because he looked at his son and wanted him to have a happy life. But the gay people to whom Portman was denying marriage before his conversion—those people were also someone’s sons and daughters. Does Portman only care about suffering when it occurs in his family?”
Steve Benen, on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC blog:
“I’m genuinely glad Portman has done the right thing, and can only hope it encourages other Republicans to do the same. What I find discouraging, though, is that the Republican senator was content to support discriminatory policies until they affected someone he personally cares about. What about everyone else’s sons and daughters? Why must empathy among conservatives be tied so directly to their own personal interactions?”
The moral posturing would make Moses cringe.
Personal interaction has inspired practically all activism and ethical choice throughout history. We don’t discredit abolitionists who rejected slavery because of personal encounters with slaves, nor do we doubt the sincerity of activist parents who champion causes that affect their own children. Unless you are on the list of possibly two people in human history and imagination whose empathy is not tied to their own personal interactions (Jesus and God?), perhaps you should keep your righteous indignation to yourself.
Portman’s critics refuse to acknowledge that overcoming prejudice and changing one’s mind—for whatever reason—is a really big deal. It’s something that should be commended, especially when you come from an enormously anti-equality environment, in which minds do not change overnight.
Being gay is not a choice, but neither is being born to a socially conservative, Methodist family. The way a person is raised—to believe homosexuality is a grave sin for example—is as beyond his control as his sexual orientation. No one is immune to child rearing. I was not immune to my own secular Jewish, liberal upbringing, which instilled in me two core principles: that it’s perfectly okay to be gay but it’s not okay to drink milk with dinner. Had those principles been reversed, as I’m guessing they were in the Portman household, I don’t know what I would believe. I don’t know if I would have the courage to challenge my convictions as Rob Portman has, and announce publicly that they have changed. I don’t know because I am lucky to have never had to make such a choice. And I suspect, neither have any of the cynics above. It’s easy to love everyone and everything with conviction when you were never taught to hate.
I understand the urge to dismiss Portman and people like him—people who come out for equality later in life–if you have always been “out” yourself. But to dismiss him on those grounds is to lose sight of the bigger picture: Portman’s change is a boon for gay rights. And celebrating that change is an even bigger boon. It lets others know that if or when they follow suit, they too will be celebrated. They may lose friends in one corner, but they’ll gain a whole lot more, somewhere else. Chiding Rob Portman for his homophobic past isn’t bad for Rob Portman: it’s bad for gay rights. It leaves progressives in the closet and open-minded people in the dark–caught between one community that will denounce them for thinking differently, and another, for not thinking differently soon enough.
There will come a time when Republican lawmakers overwhelmingly support same-sex marriage, because it would be political suicide to do otherwise. If the pro-equality movement in the United States wants that time to come sooner rather than later, it should give its newest members an extra warm welcome.
By The Associated Press - Friday, September 21, 2012 at 12:15 AM - 0 Comments
ATLANTA – Chick-fil-A is once again in the public relations fryer.
The controversy flared…
ATLANTA – Chick-fil-A is once again in the public relations fryer.
The controversy flared up this week when a Chicago politician said the company was no longer giving to groups that oppose same-sex marriage, angering Christian conservatives who supported Chick-fil-A this summer when its president reaffirmed his opposition to gay marriage. Civil rights groups hailed the turnabout, yet the company never confirmed it and instead released two public statements, neither of which made Chick-fil-A’s position any clearer.
The events suggest the Southern franchise may be trying to steer clear of hot-button social issues while it expands in other, less conservative regions of the country. In its statement Thursday, the Georgia-based company said its corporate giving had for many months been mischaracterized.
“Part of our corporate commitment is to be responsible stewards of all that God has entrusted to us,” the statement said. “Chick-fil-A’s giving heritage is focused on programs that educate youth, strengthen families and enrich marriages, and support communities. We will continue to focus our giving in those areas. Our intent is not to support political or social agendas.”
The three-page statement did not say whether that included gay marriages.
The company’s response, its second in as many days, was posted on its website after Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno announced the alleged policy change. Moreno said the change followed extended negotiations, and as a result, he would no longer try to block a Chick-fil-A restaurant from opening in his district.
Social networking sites lit up following Moreno’s remarks, with many people saying Chick-fil-A had caved to pressure from gay rights organizations.
The Cathy family has always been public about its faith. Since Dan Cathy’s father, Truett, opened the first Chick-fil-A in 1967, the restaurants have been closed on Sundays. The company refused to reconsider the policy during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, sacrificing even more profit.
University of Georgia marketing professor Sundar Bharadwaj said the company is risking alienating its customers.
“You can change your position, but you have to have a rational reason for the change and be consistent and communicate that to your customers,” he said. “Two different brands cannot be visible to the customer. Your authenticity is questioned after that, and your brand loses equity.”
The company has declined to take any questions from the media.
Earlier this week, before the statements, Dan Cathy tweeted to celebrate a fundraiser by Chick-fil-A’s primary charitable arm, the WinShape Foundation. The beneficiary? The Marriage and Family Foundation, which was among organizations cited by gay rights groups as opposing same-sex marriage.
When The Advocate, a leading gay rights publication, called attention to Cathy’s tweet, some civil rights groups quickly reassumed the critical posture they had abandoned only a day earlier.
“Chick-fil-A can’t claim to be turning over a new leaf while simultaneously funneling thousands of dollars towards a group that does not acknowledge the dignity and respect of LGBT people,” said Fred Sainz, a spokesman for The Human Rights Campaign.
In recent years, civil rights advocates have also publicized at least $3 million in contributions the WinShape Foundation has made to conservative organizations such as the Family Research Council. The group’s headquarters was the site of a shooting last month when authorities said a gunman and gay rights supporter, carrying a backpack full of Chick-fil-A sandwiches, opened fired on a security guard.
The younger Cathy became a flashpoint this summer when he told the Baptist Press that the company was “guilty as charged” for backing “the biblical definition of a family.” In a later radio interview, he ratcheted up the rhetoric: “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’”
When gay rights groups protested, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee started a social media campaign for “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.” It drew hundreds of thousands of supporters and the company later announced that the occasion set a single-day sales record.
Chick-fil-A posted more than $4.1 billion in sales last year, most of it below the Mason-Dixon Line. Just 14 of its restaurants are in the six states and the District of Columbia where gay marriage is legal. Massachusetts has just two locations, both more than 10 miles from Boston.
The company reports that its sales figures have increased annually each year of operation.
By John Parisella - Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 3:25 PM - 0 Comments
The President could have chosen the safer path by continuing to ‘evolve’
Sure, the economy remains the number one concern of the voters down south, and with good reason. But choosing a president in a free market democracy entails more than observing and responding to the monthly job statistics, the price of oil, or the Dow Jones. It involves looking for leadership and the sense of direction for the country. Barack Obama, by endorsing gay marriage, illustrates the kind of moral, presidential leadership that he needs to bring forward in an election year.
Already, the analysts are assessing his historic statement. Was it Vice President Joe Biden’s Meet The Press interview that forced the President’s hand? Was it the liberal base pushing Obama to take a stand? Or, was it the commentators like former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, telling Obama on national T.V. to man up?
The Republicans, on the other hand, appear perplexed and confused. The religious right, showing no understanding or tolerance of an opposing view, is always talking about “radical social engineering”, dixit Rick Santorum. Rush Limbaugh calls Obama’s stance a war on traditional marriage. Others interpret this rather risky decision by Obama as petty politics.
Actually, Obama could have chosen the safer path by continuing to “evolve”. After all, the swing state of North Carolina just voted for an amendment to the state constitution, banning same sex marriage. Obama won that state in 2008, and it is now a toss-up in 2012. The same can be said of another state Obama won in 2008 – Iowa –where there is a strong conservative religious fervor. In other words, ambiguity may have served him better, in what everyone agrees will be a close election.
His opponent Mitt Romney, who has flip flopped on so many core conviction issues, remains adamantly opposed to same sex marriage. The religious right, already fairly lukewarm to Romney’s candidacy, may suddenly find a reason to get excited for Mitt after all.
At the end of the day, Obama’s thinking is very much similar to America’s as a whole. Americans are also reflecting, evolving, and some, like Obama, have come to the conclusion that gay marriage is a question of civil rights and now support it. Polls show those in favor of gay marriage may number over 50 per cent. Obama may have taken a risky decision for close swing state politics, but it is the right decision in terms of equality, respect and compassion.
It is fitting that the first African American President should advance the cause of civil rights even further in the 21st century. The hopes and dreams he inspired in 2008 have been severely tested by a slow economic recovery. Yet he was elected to take the difficult decisions. Capturing and killing Bin Laden, saving GM, bringing in healthcare reform and financial institutional reform were important decisions in the governance of a nation gripped by a severe recession and a war against terrorism.
Moral courage is a fundamental tenet of leadership, and it is required in expanding civil rights. By his latest act of political statesmanship, Obama passed the transformational leadership test.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Friday, February 17, 2012 at 10:40 AM - 0 Comments
Support is soaring for the father of seven who offers the rhetorical red meat Romney can’t
With his sweater vests and earnestness, Rick Santorum has been called the Mister Rogers of the Republican presidential race. He’s also the new consensus conservative and, all of a sudden, the new front-runner—the last man standing amidst the once-crowded field of candidates not named Mitt Romney. In the remarkably ﬂuid primary contest, where candidates have leapt to the lead only to fall back within weeks, Santorum’s surge could not be better timed. He’s catching fire just as the nominating contest heads toward the March 6 “Super Tuesday” bonanza, in which 10 states will vote.
Support for the former Pennsylvania senator has surged since his triple victories in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado earlier this month. Now 30 per cent of Republican primary voters nationally say they support Santorum, compared with 27 per cent for presumed front-runner Romney, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll released on Feb. 14. Other polls suggest his national lead may be even larger. And Santorum has the potential to keep building his momentum this month with the Michigan primary on Feb. 28. Michigan was considered home turf for Romney: he grew up there and his father, George, was governor of the state. But Santorum now leads Romney there 39 to 24 per cent among likely primary voters, according to a Public Policy Polling survey. A Santorum win could deal an embarrassing blow to Romney ahead of Super Tuesday.
In a year when many Republican voters say they are looking for the conservative alternative to Romney, Santorum has now displaced Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, as the favourite among the party’s conservative base of right-wing voters, evangelicals, and Tea Party supporters. “It used to be that Gingrich was leading with all these groups and Romney was staying competitive enough with them to hold the overall lead. No more—a consensus conservative candidate finally seems to be emerging and it’s Santorum,” said a report from Public Policy Polling on Monday.
By Richard Warnica - Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at 5:46 PM - 0 Comments
A panel of California judges reversed a statewide ban on gay marriage Tuesday, finding…
A panel of California judges reversed a statewide ban on gay marriage Tuesday, finding the ban unconstitutional. The ruling is expected to push the battle over Proposition 8 one step closer to an eventual showdown at the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a 2-1 decision, the ninth circuit court of appeal ruled that the controversial ballot measure passed in 2008 “serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California,” the Guardian reports.
The ruling will likely be stayed pending an appeal, first to a larger panel of California judges, then to the Supreme Court, where Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia will be asked to adjudicate on the, I guess, alienable rights of gay and lesbian Californians.
Victory or no, Tuesday’s ruling does mean one thing, says the Atlantic’s Richard Dawson: It’s time to forgive California.
This decision is the truest of San Francisco treats! Because it not only takes this important fight to the top of the food chain, but it finally moves the whole mess far enough away from California that we can put the knotty, frustrating past behind us and bring it back into the fold. Welcome! All your old friends are here, plus some new ones, like Iowa and New York. Sure they did it differently, the legislative way, and yes the case against Prop 8 isn’t even exactly settled yet, but dramatically shipping the matter off to Washington D.C. at least finally gives us permission to safely categorize you again. Welcome back to the Left! Don’t let us down again.
By the editors - Monday, January 23, 2012 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
The Conservatives have not only accepted gay marriage, they are defending it vigorously
Same-sex marriage was the subject of a brief media tempest last week when an unidentified foreign lesbian couple found that the wedding they celebrated in Toronto in 2005 was a vanishing one-way street: half Brigadoon, half bear trap. Seeking a divorce from a Canadian court, they met with the surprising argument from a lawyer for the federal government that there was no way to give them one—because they weren’t really married. The same-sex nuptials are not legally recognized by the jurisdiction in which the couple lives, and so, under well-established principles of what lawyers call “comity,” that means the marriage contract is void in Canada, too.
This sad tale was reported by the Globe and Mail, which described the Crown’s stance as a Conservative-driven “reversal of policy” on same-sex couples. In fact, as a chorus of lawyers from across the political spectrum hastened to reassure us, the government’s position in the case was settled law. It reposes upon a mountain of precedent, and is not specific to same-sex marriage at all. A heterosexual couple making the same argument under analogous circumstances would have gotten the same dismissive answer; Canada permits first-cousin marriages, for example, while most U.S. states don’t.
It’s not clear why a couple seeking a divorce should be unhappy to discover they don’t need one. Former gay-marriage tourists were nonetheless troubled to learn that their wedded bliss was no longer “legal”; influential sex columnist Dan Savage, who got hitched in Vancouver in 2005, complained of being “divorced overnight.” Our Conservative majority government could hardly move fast enough to reassure Savage. Before the sun had set on the Globe’s story, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson had responded, affirming the validity of non-resident same-sex marriages and promising to repair the “gap” in the law.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, January 16, 2012 at 3:30 PM - 0 Comments
While it is true that there exists a Canadian residency requirement of one year before a couple may divorce here, this requirement applies to all marriages — homosexual and heterosexual — and existed long before same-sex marriage was adopted in this country. Indeed, this provision is from the 1985 Divorce Act introduced by the Conservative government of Brian Mulroney. Certainly, if this provision needed fixing so urgently as a result of same-sex marriage, the Conservatives have had ample opportunity to do so since their assent to power in 2006.
While it appears that the couple in this particular court case — comprised of one partner from the UK and the other from Florida — may not meet this requirement, the government could have rested its case here. Instead, the government went a step further and deserves to be called out on its approach — it is one thing to say this couple cannot divorce because the residency requirement has not been met; it is an entirely different contention — and an offensive if not discriminatory one — to assert that the couple was never married in the first place. This is to turn fact and law on its head, while in the process undermining equality for gays and lesbians.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, January 13, 2012 at 1:23 PM - 0 Comments
While blaming the Liberals for whatever might be wrong with the laws concerning same-sex marriage, the Justice Minister assures that everything will be fine.
Speaking at a Toronto luncheon Friday, Mr. Nicholson blamed the Liberal government that preceded his for not filling a “legislative gap” that has left thousands of same-sex couples in an agonizing position of being unable to divorce should they feel a need to. The situation has been “completely unfair to those affected.” Mr. Nicholson said. “I want to make it clear that in our government’s view, these marriages are valid.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 7:29 PM - 0 Comments
The Prime Minister was in British Columbia just now for a shipbulding announcement and was asked again about the case.
We’re not going to reopen that particular issue. This is a complicated case and the Minister of Justice, I think, has put out a statement clarifying the government’s position on that.
Mr. Harper was then asked specifically whether the government considered the same-sex marriages of non-citizens to be legal or not.
The law recognizes same-sex marriage in Canada and the government is not going to reopen that issue.
The reporter who asked the second question was heckled when he did so.
By Emmett Macfarlane - Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 6:56 PM - 0 Comments
Why federal lawyers are wrong to argue same-sex marriages by non-residents aren’t valid
Today’s news that government lawyers are arguing same-sex marriages performed in Canada are not valid if the couple resides in a jurisdiction that doesn’t recognize them has caused considerable controversy. It’s a case that pits established equality rights against the intricacies of Canadian family law and principles of international comity (i.e. recognizing other countries’ laws).
The legal issues involved are complex. While there is no residency requirement to get married in Canada, there is one for divorce (to get a divorce you must have lived in Canada for a year). For that reason the ability of non-resident, same-sex partners who get married in Canada to later obtain a divorce has been up in the air.
The difference here is that government lawyers do not simply want to deny a divorce because the couple does not meet the residency requirement. Instead, they argued that because Florida and the United Kingdom (the jurisdictions the couple comes from) do not recognize same-sex marriage, their marriage in Canada was never valid in the first place. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 3:56 PM - 0 Comments
A statement from Justice Minister Rob Nicholson.
I want to be very clear that the Government has no intention of reopening the debate on the definition of marriage.
This case today involved the fact that, under current law, some marriages performed in Canada could not be dissolved in Canada.
I will be looking at options to clarify the law so that marriages performed in Canada can be undone in Canada.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 1:57 PM - 0 Comments
In both cases, we shouldn’t let the technicalities distract us from matters of principle. A government proud that Canada’s Parliament has granted equal marriage rights to gay men and lesbians would stand behind such marriages, however other countries saw them. And a government supportive of equality would affirm other countries’ efforts to recognize gay relationships.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 9:53 AM - 0 Comments
In court, the Harper government is apparently arguing against the legality of some same-sex marriages conducted in this country. Asked about the Globe story detailing this situation, the Prime Minister stuck to his previous public stance.
But speaking in Halifax Thursday, the Prime Minister said the issue was not on the agenda for his majority Conservatives. “We have no intention of further re-opening or opening this issue,” Stephen Harper told reporters when asked about The Globe and Mail’s report…
“In terms of the specifics of the story this morning, I will admit to you that I am not aware of the details,” Mr. Harper said. “This I gather is a case before the courts where Canadian lawyers have taken a particular position based on the law and I will be asking them to provide more details”
Bob Rae is unimpressed.
By Nicholas Köhler - Monday, September 5, 2011 at 11:35 AM - 10 Comments
The charismatic NDP leader’s sudden death unleashed six days of unprecedented mourning
When, a decade or so ago, his activism in support of same-sex marriage triggered death threats, Rev. Brent Hawkes would call his friend Jack Layton, the Toronto city councillor who, along with his wife and colleague Olivia Chow, had done so much to champion gay rights, and gave him the specifics. The bullies said they’d turn up at this or that event, and promised violence. Layton was always determined to show up. When Hawkes, wearing a bulletproof vest, officiated at the 2001 double wedding ceremony that eventually led to the legalization of gay marriage, Layton was there.
Now here they were again, Layton and Hawkes, on stage at Roy Thomson Hall. Layton was dead—“cruelly gone, at the pinnacle of his career,” as eulogist Stephen Lewis put it—his body within a flag-draped casket that over the last days, amid much pomp, had travelled to Parliament Hill, to Quebec, and to Toronto’s City Hall, where thousands came, waited to gaze upon him, many with tears in their eyes.
Before Hawkes was an audience composed of some of the most powerful people in Canada, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who, while in opposition, had been a leading antagonist in the fight for gay marriage. This was a state funeral—an extraordinary gesture normally reserved for past and present governors general, prime ministers and cabinet ministers, but one that Harper had offered Layton’s family. Hawkes did not exploit the moment—not to partisan ends, anyway. Rather, he dwelt on the way Layton’s life, at its best—despite his mistakes, his “normal imperfections,” to quote Lewis again—could be used as a model to live better. “If the Olympics can make us prouder Canadians, maybe Jack’s life can make us better Canadians,” Hawkes said, noting that Layton was always careful to ask after his husband, John. “It’s about remembering, about remembering to say, ‘Hi, Brent. How’s John doing?’ Hawkes paused, looking into the hall. “Hi, Prime Minister. How’s Laureen doing?”
By Emma Teitel - Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 8:50 AM - 3 Comments
Why marriage equality shouldn’t be extended to puppets.
In 2009, the National Organization for Marriage—America’s foremost opponent of same-sex marriage, civil unions, and gay adoption rights—launched an ad campaign called “Gathering Storm” in an attempt to pass Proposition 8, which would bar the door to legalize same-sex marriage in California. The commercial featured actors of all creeds (because bigotry knows no colour), standing stern against a backdrop of stormy clouds, relaying the following messages: “The winds are strong,” “We—are—afraid,” and “There’s a storm gathering.”
That storm, of course, was gay marriage, and all the evils it would carry with it: (1) the obliteration of the sanctity of marriage, (2) the collapse of the traditional family, and (3) the blatant homosexual indoctrination of “our” children. Statistics have since proven 1 and 2 are non sequiturs (divorce rates are unusually low in states that sanction gay marriage, where, remarkably, traditional God fearing families still abound). But it’s the latter threat that has anti-marriage folk all hot and bothered these days. Why? Because according to one of NOM’s most recent blog posts, “an online campaign to pressure the producers of Sesame Street into having lovable roommates Bert and Ernie get married is gathering steam.” The big gay Storm, it seems, has gotten steamy—so much so that it threatens to corrupt odd couple Ernie and Bert, all the while predisposing your Sesame Street-watching child to a life of sexual deviance. Continue…
By John Parisella - Monday, June 27, 2011 at 12:59 PM - 0 Comments
Back in September 2010, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took a position in…
Back in September 2010, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took a position in favour of building a mosque near Ground Zero and, in so doing, joined a highly emotional debate that swept the nation. He didn’t back away when the controversy became a national one, taking a principled stance as mayor of the city that was the subject of an unspeakable terrorist attack. This was a leadership moment.
Since January 2011, New Yorkers statewide have been treated to a similar series of leadership moments by recently elected Governor Andrew Cuomo, particularly with respect to his negotiations with the state’s unionized employees. Continue…
By Julia McKinnell - Thursday, June 16, 2011 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
Do you propose with a ring? Is it okay to share clothes? A new etiquette book answers all.
Traditional etiquette books are full of wedding advice, but what if the couple is gay and neither would-be groom knows for sure who should propose? “You won’t get much help on the particular manners predicaments of LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered] people from mainstream etiquette books. We’re invisible there,” writes 54-year-old Steven Petrow, founder of gaymanners.com and author of the new Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners for Every Occasion.
Petrow’s book answers “queeries” from gays and lesbians as well as from straight people, like the one who wonders, “I’m not sure if my new neighbours are a gay couple, may I ask?” Not a good idea, says Petrow. “Feel free to invite them over for a drink but don’t just come out and ask them about their sexual orientation. Once you’ve started to get to know one another, it’s fine to ask them some personal questions. Their answer to your query, ‘Where did you meet?’ will usually do the trick. My guess is, they’ll come out to you then—unless they’re straight roommates.”
A gay man writes, “I find it annoying that every straight person I’ve met knows one gay man to set me up with. You know the drill—the gay neighbour, the gay mechanic, the gay lawyer. I appreciate the good intentions but how do I explain that being gay doesn’t mean I would go out with just any gay guy?”
By Nancy Macdonald - Friday, April 29, 2011 at 8:10 AM - 36 Comments
A young urbanite who’s in favour of gay marriage and arts funding, ‘he actually gets it’
On a cold, dreary Good Friday, James Moore, Conservative candidate for Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam, is standing in the rain; the local Legion turns 80 today, and Moore is out stumping, though it doesn’t look as if he’ll pick up a lot of votes. The crowd is mostly under 18—Boy Scouts and Cadets in awkward, blue uniforms. Moore, who’s built like a linebacker and looks even taller than his six-foot-three frame, towers over them.
Then again, his seat isn’t really in doubt: he won by over 15,000 votes last time. The 34-year-old is already the region’s most powerful political minister. And with the recent retirements of B.C. heavyweights Stockwell Day and Chuck Strahl, “his time has come,” says University of Victoria political scientist Norman Ruff. Gary Lunn, his competitor for senior minister from B.C., faces a fight against Elizabeth May in Saanich-Gulf Islands, and was demoted in cabinet in 2008.
Moore, meanwhile, has deftly handled the heritage portfolio, his rookie ministerial assignment, ensuring Stephen Harper will never again be side-swiped by angry artists. Harper’s comments in the last election that “ordinary people” didn’t care about arts funding backfired spectacularly, particularly in Quebec, and Moore, who is single and unencumbered by a family, has been criss-crossing the country ever since, making nice, spreading cash and the new Harper creed—lately, the Tories have delivered the biggest arts funding budgets in Canadian history.
By Elio Iannacci - Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 4:35 AM - 9 Comments
On life with Elton John and who (surprise!) baby Zachary’s godmother might be
Producer David Furnish and Elton John became parents of a new baby on Christmas Day. Furnish’s latest movie is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet featuring garden gnomes.
Q: Your producing portfolio is quite diverse. In 1999 you produced Women Talking Dirty, in 2005 you produced the Broadway version of Billy Elliot and, most recently, you produced your first animated feature Gnomeo & Juliet. What common thread runs through all your projects?
A: I hope a thread that promotes inclusiveness. When Elton and I work on things, we want to invest our time, creativity and energy in things that hopefully bring the world closer together, not further apart. If you look at Gnomeo & Juliet, the movie’s message essentially says it doesn’t matter if you’re a “red” or a “blue,” at the end of the day, parents should love their children and want what’s best for them. Elton and I try not to be judgmental people. We are not advocates in the placard-carrying way, we just try to live our life by example.
Q: Do you think Gnomeo & Juliet‘s anti-war message is something children should learn about at an early age?
A: I do. We live in a confused world at the moment. It’s a world that seems to be less about tolerance and less about togetherness. People seem to be more and more divided. There is such [debate] over civil rights for all couples and [laws surrounding] people just wanting to have marriage or some form of civil union to ratify their relationship. Many seem to be tarring a lot of Muslims with the same brush. What’s happening in terms of terrorism has been such a tiny sect of extreme people within a religion. I think people get fearful of things they don’t know or understand. Out of ignorance and fear comes judgment and division.
By macleans.ca - Friday, January 28, 2011 at 12:45 PM - 18 Comments
Court rules ban is constitutional
France’s Constitutional Court has ruled that the country’s ban on gay marriage is in line with the constitution. A lesbian couple, Corrine Cestino and Sophie Hasslauer, who have four children and have lived together for 15 years, brought the case to court in a bid to have France join Spain and Belgium in legalizing same-sex marriages. Most French people are in favour of overturning the ban, with 58 per cent approving and 35 per cent opposing gay marriage, according to a TNS Sofres survey. But the court upheld two articles in the civil code that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman. Gay marriage advocates are hoping the ruling will make gay marriage an election issue, a hope also shared by far-right National Party leader Marine Le Pen, who opposes gay marriage but feels it is up to French people to decide, not the Constitutional Court.
By Anne Kingston - Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 2:00 PM - 4 Comments
Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem, Molson-Coors and Labatt Blue, The NHL and Stan Lee
Vince Vaughn and Kyla Weber
The 39-year-old Wedding Crashers star shed his Hollywood swinger reputation by marrying a 31-year-old former Calgary realtor in Chicago in January. The couple, now expecting their ﬁrst child, met through mutual friends in 2008 and quickly became fixtures at Chicago Black Hawks games before Vaughn sealed the deal with a US$125,000-ring.
The NHL and Stan Lee
The legendary creator of Spider-Man, Iron Man and X-Men, joined forces with the National Hockey League in October to form Guardian Media Entertainment LLC, a platform for 30 “Guardians,” one for each NHL team. The project, to be unveiled in January, isn’t set in the world of hockey but “organically and authentically incorporates various NHL elements.” Climb down Spider-Man, Slapshot-Man is coming.
By Nancy Macdonald - Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 11:20 AM - 0 Comments
A banner year for gay rights
It’s hard to believe that a year marked by the heartbreaking suicides of a number of gay U.S. teens, including 13-year-old Asher Brown and Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi, could also be a banner year for gay rights. But their tragic deaths spurred an outpouring of public sympathy, hope and help for gay youth, including It Gets Better—a popular project featuring gay adults talking about overcoming bullies and hurt.
By Colby Cosh - Friday, August 13, 2010 at 4:23 AM - 0 Comments
Don’t look now, but a twist has materialized in the legal epic of same-sex marriage in California. When U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker struck down the statute implementing the anti-SSM Proposition 8, even sophisticated observers began imagining the familiar capillary process whereby a quarrel migrates upward through increasingly mighty appellate courts.
But wait! Remember what the style of cause was in this lawsuit? That’s right: Perry v. Schwarzenegger.
The plaintiffs were two gays and two lesbians seeking California marriage licenses. The defendants were state officials obeying the dictates of Prop 8, as unwilling legislative automata, from the Governator on down. Those officials have no intention of appealing Walker’s ruling. Indeed, they barely presented a defence of “themselves” in the first place. The advocates of Proposition 8, whose clumsy evidence Judge Walker treated like a speed-bag in his decision, weren’t parties to the suit and didn’t ask to be. They were mere intervenors. So how can they obtain standing to appeal?
This wrinkle didn’t come to the attention of the general-interest press (or to me) until yesterday, when Walker addressed it in his handling of a request for a stay of his decision. The rule is that federal appeal courts, under Article III of the Constitution, can only hear legitimate, non-hypothetical “cases” and “controversies”. This means that intervenors and other observers have to meet a high standard in order to take a decision to U.S. Circuit Court without the aid of one of the original parties—aid that will certainly not be forthcoming in this instance.
Traditionally, in order to gain standing, non-parties have to show that they have suffered a concrete, specific injury as a result of the decision being appealed. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out in 1997 that “An intervenor cannot step into the shoes of the original party unless the intervenor independently fulfills the requirements of Article III.” In no case that reached the U.S. Supreme Court has this happened.
The strangest quirk of all is this: the issue that will decide the feasibility of an appeal by private citizens advocating Prop 8 seems like the same one that came before Judge Walker in the first place. Namely, does the existence of same-sex marriage cause meaningful harm to anybody? Judge Walker, having found that it does not, is naturally skeptical of the intervenors’ ability to proceed. But what’s going to happen if the 9th Circuit turns those intervenors away? Is it quite fair for the judiciary as a class, having thwarted California’s voters, to say “Judge Walker’s ruling that gay marriage doesn’t hurt anybody is impervious to appeal on technical grounds, because gay marriage doesn’t hurt anybody”?
Me, I’m no bleeding-heart small-D democrat. But to the opponents of gay marriage, and perhaps even to unpersuaded moderates, this might seem like sharp dealing. It is one thing for the judiciary to block the will of the majority: hey, welcome to the U.S.A., tenderfoot. This, however, is a case where the judiciary may not only end up obstructing the volonté générale, but elbowing it good and hard in the vitals. Somehow, in California, a majority vote against same-sex marriage will have led directly to the near-permanent entrenchment of same-sex marriage.
This sort of counterintuitive outcome could surely lead to a backlash outside California. Who knows?—it might even create the impetus for an anti-SSM affort at constitutional amendment. The Democratic character of the Congress is a poor assurance of safety for the five (shortly to be six) states which have full, legal gay marriage. That institution still has never won a referendum in the U.S.; its win-loss record stands at 0-31. And the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies nationwide constitutional “full faith and credit” to same-sex marriages, was opposed by just 14 Senators and 67 Representatives not so long ago (1996).
Time and history are on the side of gay marriage. (This is especially true if it represents some sort of fatal Spenglerian decadence.) But it is unclear just how much of each will be needed.
By Colby Cosh - Thursday, August 5, 2010 at 5:21 AM - 0 Comments
Yesterday afternoon a federal court struck down California Proposition 8, the successful ballot initiative that had banned same-sex marriages in the state. U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker’s Perry v. Schwarzenegger decision offers a fascinating overview of the American SSM fight. Subjecting Prop 8 to the strict and searching scrutiny that any overt act of state discrimination invites, Walker found the evidence of social harm resulting from gay marriage to be wretchedly meagre, and the evidence of any additional administrative burden on the state to be worse than nonexistent. (In a display of perversity surely more nauseating to many of us than mere sodomy, debt-addled California has been foregoing revenue from marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples and has been maintaining a distinct bureaucracy for the creation and oversight of “domestic partnerships”—a species invented in order to endow gays and lesbians with all the legal difficulties of civil marriage without entitling them to drink from the dregs of its social dignity.)
Walker, having entertained and weighed the evidence of a rational basis for Proposition 8, could find none—none beyond discrimination against gays and lesbians for its own sake, which he characterizes as a “private moral view” that, in the absence of a legitimate government interest, cannot be an appropriate subject of legislation under the due process and equal-protection provisions of the Constitution. So runs the argument. (I’m not a lawyer, but it feels to me like a rather Canadian, Oakes-y one, structurally.)
How airtight is the ruling? One objection that someone like Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia would make—for he has made it—is that all laws implement some “moral view”, and could be struck down by a judge the minute some protectable class were found to object to it. Laws against homicide discriminate against murderphiles, and so on. Of course, this isn’t very convincing. Even if you can show that there is such an inherent characteristic as “being a murderphile” and that people in no way choose membership in this class—which, in fact, is an argument you could probably win!—the compelling state interest in preventing murderphiles from murdering is a million times easier to show than anybody’s interest, anybody’s at all, in fretting over the nebulous effects of gay marriage.
This debate is over in Canada, except as a convenient way for kooks to define themselves, because how the heck could you possibly show that absolutely anybody’s life was affected irreversibly for the worse on the exact date of July 20, 2005? I’ve given pro-lifers generous helpings of hassle over the years, but they’ve at least got the “Abortion Stops A Beating Heart” thing to fall back on. If you were picking a similar slogan for the anti-SSM movement, where would you even start? Gay Marriage…Makes A Gorge Rise? Gets A Dander Up? Sticks In A Craw?
The punchline to all this is that Justice Scalia is so forthright, confident, and frankly plain ornery in his views that he inadvertently supplied Judge Walker with a grace note for his magnum opus. Back in 2003, UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh pointed out that the then-fresh Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court decision annulling that state’s sodomy law featured a little sideshow he thought relevant to the future of the gay-marriage struggle.
In today’s Lawrence decision, Justice O’Connor refuses a general right to sexual autonomy, but concludes that banning only homosexual sodomy violates the Equal Protection Clause—there’s just no rational basis for such discrimination besides “a…desire to harm a politically unpopular group,” she says. What about gay marriage, one might ask her? She anticipates this, by suggesting that “preserving the traditional institution of marriage” is a “legitimate state interest.” “Unlike the moral disapproval of same-sex relations—the asserted state interest in this case—other reasons exist to promote the institution of marriage beyond mere moral disapproval of an excluded group.”
Justice Scalia derides this—”[Justice O'Connor's reasoning] leaves on pretty shaky grounds state laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples,” because “‘preserving the traditional institution of marriage’ is just a kinder way of describing the State’s moral disapproval of same-sex couples” [emphasis in original]. But wait: Isn’t that the usual argument of those who criticize the heterosexual-only marriage rule?
In his tirade against “a Court…that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda”, Scalia gave the game away. Allergic to O’Connor’s cop-out, he argued that there was no need for hetero-only marriage to stand on any basis but “moral disapproval”—and took the extra step, regarded as dangerous by many in his camp, of denying that it could possibly have any other basis. It was an admission, a rather gay-friendly admission really, that any search for objective harms or administrative excuses with which to bash same-sex marriage would be nonsensical and futile.
And lo and behold, in the year of our Lord 2010, the Volokh prophecy has come to pass; Scalia’s grenade has landed right smack in paragraph 21 of Perry v. Schwarzenegger.
Lawrence v. Texas, 539 US 558, 604-05 (2003) (Scalia, J, dissenting): “If moral disapprobation of homosexual conduct is ‘no legitimate state interest’ for purposes of proscribing that conduct…what justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples exercising “the liberty protected by the Constitution”? Surely not the encouragement of procreation, since the sterile and the elderly are allowed to marry.”
By John Parisella - Wednesday, June 3, 2009 at 3:41 PM - 14 Comments
You have to hand it to Dick Cheney. The man knows how to generate…
You have to hand it to Dick Cheney. The man knows how to generate headlines. After a month of chastising President Obama on the closing of Gitmo, the potential handling of detainees, and for supposedly making America less safe, he has now ventured into sacred territory for social conservatives—the gay marriage debate. Cheney is evidently in favour of same-sex unions, and while he did not use the m-word, many are already saying the former vice-president is ahead of Obama on this controversial issue. Never mind that he stayed silent during the eight years of the Bush Administration and said precious little when the president pushed for (but ultimately failed to get) a constitutional amendment preventing gay marriage. The fact that one of his daughters is gay may have a lot to do with it, but I believe his statement reinforces my conviction that gay marriage in America is inevitable. Court cases, pending legislation in a growing number of states, an emerging Supreme court case to be argued by Ted Olsen and David Boies (two opposing lawyers in Gore v. Bush), a new battle to come against Proposition 8 in California, and now Dick Cheney are all making an eloquent case for same sex unions, which reinforces the momentum in favor of gay activists.