By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - 0 Comments
STEINBACH, Man. – A high school student in Manitoba who has been leading a…
STEINBACH, Man. – A high school student in Manitoba who has been leading a charge for gay rights may soon get his wish.
Evan Wiens was recently allowed to set up a gay-straight alliance group at his school in Steinbach, but was told he could not put up posters to promote the group.
Wiens appealed to the regional school division Tuesday evening in a closed-door meeting, and said the hearing went well.
Later, board superintendent Randy Dueck said a decision had been made, but he would not comment until the board talks to Wiens again on Wednesday.
Wiens, who just turned 17, has become the focal point of a battle over Manitoba’s proposed anti-bullying law.
The law would require schools to let students set up gay-straight alliances if they so wish, and some religious leaders and politicians have called the idea a violation of freedom of religion.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Monday, March 25, 2013 at 11:25 AM - 0 Comments
The GOP needs to rethink outreach in order to stop “secular socialism”
As the speakers revved up the crowd with jabs at Barack Obama, socialists and the “liberal media,” last week’s gathering of American conservatives at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) felt on the surface just like any other. The convention hall near Washington teemed with banners (“Stand with Rand!”), buttons (“Don’t tread on my gun rights”) and booths that ran the conservative gamut from the Ayn Rand Committee for Individual Rights to Christians United for Israel.
But what started out as a moment of indecisive post-election soul-searching by conservative activists from around the country was only days later overshadowed by a bold move by Republican party insiders in Washington bent on saving the party from itself. To some it looked like a coup.
No sooner had the speakers and activists packed up and left town after their weekend meeting, then the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, ventured into enemy territory, the National Press Club, to unveil a 100-page post-mortem report on the November election losses, and announce the party’s future strategy. The rank and file may have spent three days debating the way forward, but the party leadership had already made up its mind.
By Emily Senger - Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 10:06 AM - 0 Comments
Carly Rae Jepsen has cancelled a scheduled appearance at the Boy Scouts of America…
Carly Rae Jepsen has cancelled a scheduled appearance at the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree over the organization’s policy not to allow openly gay members or leaders.
By Emily Senger - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 10:50 AM - 0 Comments
A controversial vote on whether to allow gay members and leaders into The Boy…
A controversial vote on whether to allow gay members and leaders into The Boy Scouts of America has been delayed.
The Boy Scouts were supposed discuss the old policy barring gay members at a national executive board meeting in Texas on Wednesday, but a report from The Associated Press says the vote was moved until the annual meeting in May where 1,400 voting members will have their say.
“After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy,” Boy Scouts of America director of public relations Deron Smith said in a statement. Continue…
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Monday, January 21, 2013 at 7:13 PM - 0 Comments
1. Surprisingly strong emphasis on climate change
I spoke recently with a Canadian politician who remarked that the words “climate change” had not come up in the presidential campaign. I noted that Hurricane Sandy, which hit at the very end of the campaign, has since changed the context and the public conversation in the U.S.. Today, Obama devoted a surprising amount of attention to the issue:
“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries—we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure—our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.”
What will that broad statement add up to in the context of a Republican-controlled House of Representatives? Regulations out of the Environmental Protection Agency aimed at reducing emissions from power generating plants, especially coal-burning plants, are the most likely outcome. And the fiscal cliff negotiations preserved some tax breaks for renewable energy. Obama has also nominated a new Secretary of State, John Kerry, who has been an advocate for climate change policy and is expected to take a more aggressive role in international climate talks. What all this means for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline remains to be seen. In his first press conference after the campaign, Obama said he’d be doing more on climate change, but added, “If the message is we’re going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don’t think anybody’s going to go for that.”
By Colby Cosh - Friday, October 19, 2012 at 6:29 AM - 0 Comments
The Alberta Court of Appeal tumbled another grenade into the thicket of Alberta human-rights law Wednesday, delivering its two cents’ worth on the case of Stephen Boissoin [PDF]. Boissoin, you may recall, was a Red Deer preacher who made use of the letters column of the local Advocate back in 2002 to declare his opposition to the “homosexual machine that has been mercilessly gaining ground in our society since the 1960s”.
As a piece of comedy, Boissoin’s letter has held up surprisingly well, with its asides to “Mr. and Mrs. Heterosexual” and its defiant warning that your child may be “the next victim that tests homosexuality-positive”. The epistle takes a disconcertingly militant tone, but it is also careful not to show contempt for homosexuals as a class, directing its fire instead at pro-gay “educators” and “activists” who “spread their psychological disease into every area of our lives”. After a decade, it’s still not quite clear whether the disease in question is tolerance, or homosexuality itself, or even just a civilized indifference to the domestic arrangements of one’s neighbour.
Anyway, in 2007 the Alberta Human Rights Commission ordered Boissoin to “cease publishing disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals” and to pay $7,000 in damages and costs. In 2009 I wrote about a Queen’s Bench review of the finding that went about as badly for the Commission as can be imagined. Interestingly, the Court of Appeal has now reversed the reviewing judge, E.C. Wilson, on a few points.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, September 14, 2012 at 2:46 PM - 0 Comments
In a speech in Montreal, John Baird lays out the Harper government’s international agenda as a champion of women’s rights and gay rights.
Speaking out when we see hate and violence also means we cannot be selective about which basic human rights we defend, nor can we be arbitrary about whose rights we protect. Sadly, this is something lost on too many people who hold power.
In my time as Foreign Minister, I have directly confronted some of these people, and I’ve done so because there are times when diplomacy must be balanced with tough, direct talk. Speaking the truth to power. I do so, standing firm on the principles that have made Canada economically prosperous and rich with diversity.
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 4:20 PM - 0 Comments
Sept. 6-13, 2012: Blake and Ryan get hitched, Philip Roth takes on Wikipedia, and pro football tackles gay marriage
Moving on up
Famous dress wearer Pippa Middleton may—or may not—be moving to New York City. But either way, the tabloids and gossip sites are all atwitter. Paparazzi shots of the 29-year-old entering an expensive Manhattan apartment building last week, in the company of a woman “rumoured to be a realtor,” set off the frenzy. Middleton has been enjoying some R&R in the Big Apple, taking in tennis at the U.S. Open and New York Fashion Week. If only she’d find a nice boy and settle down like her sister.
Hunky Canuck Ryan Reynolds married Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively in a South Carolina plantation this week. The hush-hush nuptials, which came after a year-long courtship, involved just 70 guests—all of whom checked their cellphones at the door. Lively, 25, walked down the aisle in a gown by Chanel, while the 35-year-old Reynolds—who was previously married to Scarlett Johansson—wore a tuxedo by Hugo Boss. Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine, a close friend of Lively’s, performed three songs for the newlyweds, who co-starred in last summer’s Green Lantern film.
By Emma Teitel - Monday, September 3, 2012 at 7:43 AM - 0 Comments
New York Times columnist Frank Bruni lamented the lack of gayness at the Republican National Convention, especially in light of how keen the GOP was to court other minority voters — women and Latinos, in particular. “You certainly didn’t see anyone openly gay on the stage in Tampa,” Bruni wrote on Sunday. (Apparently Marcus Bachmann had a prior engagement). “More to the point,” he wrote, “you didn’t hear mention of gays and lesbians.”
What the RNC lacked in gay voices, however, and more importantly, gay rights, the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, is making up for in—well—a hell of a lot of gay people. A total of 534 openly LGBT Democrats—the most in convention history—will take part in the DNC this week (the RNC had roughly two dozen). Charlotte will play host to gay and lesbian caucuses and parties all convention long, and openly gay Wisconsin rep. Tammy Baldwin (vying to become the first openly lesbian senator) is set to speak. In many ways, this convention is shaping up to be a kind of miniature political pride parade.
In fact, so great is the number of gays descending upon Charlotte that popular Conservative radio host and professional bigot Bryan Fischer, (the man who shamed Romney’s only openly gay staffer, Richard Grenell, into resigning) has cancelled his DNC appearance, literally fearing for his life. “I’ll miss the fun, and potentially vigorous interviews with folks on the other side of the aisle,” he said, “but I might live longer this way.”
Let’s hope he’s wrong.
The Democrats are expected to officially write marriage equality into their platform on Tuesday, which could give new life to a viciously negative campaign that desperately needs it. After all, as the Republicans rightly pointed out in Tampa last week, Obama’s lofty oratory doesn’t quite resonate in trying times. The best line in Paul Ryan’s convention speech (and possibly the only one based in reality) was his proclamation that “college graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.”
The only problem is that for many Americans—and the LGBT community, in particular — it isn’t Barack Obama who’s preventing them from “getting going” in life, but the GOP.
I spoke with a number of gay and lesbian delegates last night at Unity Charlotte, what is likely to be the convention’s largest and most stereotypically gay event (Beyonce techno remixes were at full blast all night long), and it became clear to me that while the rest of America is increasingly aloof when it comes to Barack Obama’s last four years, the gay community (Log Cabin Republicans excluded) is decidedly not. What was a dissapointment for many Americans, was overall, a victory for the gays:
“With the president coming out for marriage equality,” says 42-year-old Texan Democrat Jeff Strater, “we’ve seen other elected officials come out in support.” In other words, another term of Barack Obama may mean another term of gay-friendly legislation averse to the kind preventing 30-year-old Erin Goldstein from getting married.
Goldstein, a third-generation North Carolinian and lesbian social worker (“I’m Rush Limbaugh’s worst nightmare,” she says) would like to start a family with her partner, but they want to get married first; something they can’t do in North Carolina, where a recently approved constitutional amendment—amendment 1—prohibits same-sex marriage. And they don’t want to move either. “I shouldn’t have to move to Canada to be treated equally,” says Goldstein.
This is a common sentiment among proud gay southerners. LGBT activist Omar Narvaez, from Dallas, Texas, would also like to marry his partner of 16 years, but he can’t because his state outlaws same sex marriage. “I shouldn’t have to move,” he says, echoing Goldstein. Narvaez believes that Barack Obama can and will (if he is elected) repeal DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act). “That’s not going to fix everything,” he says, “but once we get that fixed we will be a little closer.” Elect Romney, he argues, and the goal for equal rights will slip farther and farther away.
This is why the 2008 campaign spirit remains very much alive for this year’s LGBT delegates at the DNC. There is only one party, one leader who recognizes their civil rights. The Romney/Ryan “Comeback Team” is not “coming back” for gay people. And until it does, gays in America have only one viable political option: to look up at their fading Obama posters and hope for change.
By Colby Cosh - Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 10:49 AM - 0 Comments
To protest a chicken sandwich — reluctantly
The continuing controversy over the anti-gay beliefs of the owners of the U.S. fast-food chain Chick-Fil-A has established one thing with stark objectivity: Chick-Fil-A sandwiches are the best in the business. There wouldn’t be much of an issue, after all, if Chick-Fil-A’s chicken had ready, obvious substitutes. The website BoycottChickFilA.com comes right out and asks, “How can something so good be so evil?” One lawyer even has a scheme for offering “chicken offsets” that let gay-friendly chicken-lovers salve their consciences by donating to non-profits that support same-sex marriage.
The Cathy family, owners of the chain, have never made a secret of their Southern Baptist convictions. Chick-Fil-A’s 1,614 restaurants in the United States stay closed on Sundays, and the chain’s centre of gravity is in the American South.
The present fuss began early in July when gay news website Equality Matters reported on donations to conservative Christian organizations by WinShape, a charity started by Chick-Fil-A CEO Truett Cathy in 1984. But the web of alleged anti-gay money is hard to navigate, and Equality Matters does not make a very strong case that WinShape makes same-sex marriage a particular target.
By Emma Teitel - Thursday, July 12, 2012 at 5:43 PM - 0 Comments
News broke yesterday about a Nigerian refugee claimant named Francis Ojo Ogunrinde, who happens to be gay. Or so he claims.
Last summer a senior Canadian immigration officer rejected the 40-year-old Nigerian’s refugee application, acknowledging that even though conditions for LGBT people are not “favourable” in Nigeria (where being gay is illegal and in 12 states punishable by death) she simply wasn’t “convinced” he was a homosexual. It turns out Ogunrinde’s letters from and photos of his alleged boyfriend weren’t steamy or provocative enough to activate the immigration officer’s gaydar. And being from Nigeria and all, he probably didn’t know a single lyric from Rent. Case closed.
Or maybe not.
Last month, a federal judge named James Russell ordered that the officer reopen the case and give Ogunrinde’s allegedly dubious sexuality closer consideration. According to Postmedia News, the judge ruled that the officer “erred by failing to consider the ‘complete picture before her,’ and ordered that Ogunrinde’s claim get a second look in a case that raises questions about the extent to which immigration officers should be probing the bedroom activities of claimants.” Makes sense to me.
If only he had stopped there.
“At the same time,” Russell wrote, “the acts and behaviours which establish a claimant’s homosexuality are inherently private.” “When evaluating claims based on sexual orientation, officers must be mindful of the inherent difficulties in proving that a claimant has engaged in any particular sexual activities.”
The problem here isn’t a lack of mindfulness in proving someone’s sexuality: it’s in the belief that a person’s sexuality is something you need to prove in the first place. Yes, of course gay people have gay sex, but having gay sex—or any sex at all—is not a prerequisite to gayness (unless of course Judge Russell doesn’t believe in gay virgins, or virgins of any kind). And it isn’t necessarily proof either.
What is? Two words: “I’m gay.”
Not “I’m gay and last night I watched Glee and sodomized somebody. Here’s a photograph.” Just “I’m gay.”
Straight people do not, and should not, have to prove they are straight. Neither should homosexuals.
But what if saying “I’m gay” isn’t good enough? What if our borders are suddenly flooded with self-proclaimed homosexual refugees from homophobic countries? Well then hopefully like Ogunrinde, those claimants will have photographs of and letters from their respective same sex partners or testimonies of friends and gay organizations confirming their sexuality. That, you’d think, would be enough.
Unfortunately–at least in Ogunrinde’s case–it wasn’t. Why? Because a sizable portion of our society still believes that a person’s sexuality can be “established” (to use Judge Russell’s words) not by his identity or his relationships, but by the “particular sexual activities” in which he engages.
In the end, I’m not suggesting our immigration officers blindly approve refugee applications, and throw all investigation to the wind. But it would be nice if their reservations about letting people cross our borders were just as strong when it came to peering into their bedrooms.
By Emma Teitel - Friday, June 1, 2012 at 2:28 PM - 0 Comments
The “Etch-a-Sketch” is here to stay. After a primary season of “gaffes” and “flip flops” on everything from animal rights to abortion, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has finally secured the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Whether or not he’ll shake it up and set his programming back a few clicks to moderate mid-nineties Mitt (remember when he was better for gay rights than Ted Kennedy?) or remain on the wrong side of history, has yet to be seen. It’s too bad his father, George W. Romney, is no longer with us–a man so far on the right side of history (they say integrity skips a generation in the Romney family) it cost him the Republican Presidential Nomination against Richard Nixon in 1968.
When asked in an interview about his inconsistent stance on the Vietnam War, he said that he had initially supported the war effort because U.S military officials and diplomats had “brainwashed” him (a term the media interpreted literally) into thinking it was a good idea, and he could no longer support an “overreaction in military terms in dealing with Vietnamese problems.” His popularity plummeted after the interview, and he withdrew from the contest early. Witness the exact moment Romney Sr. blew it:
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 25, 2012 at 11:44 AM - 0 Comments
Foreign Affairs has posted the text of John Baird’s speech in Washington yesterday on the topic of religious freedom.
Canada has a tradition that some in our country seemed to forget during the latter half of the last century: a tradition of standing for freedom and fundamental rights, a tradition of standing against oppression. We did so in the earliest days of World War II … And yet, after the Second World War, some decision makers lost sight of our proud tradition to do what is right and just. Some decided it would be better to paint Canada as a so-called honest broker. I call it being afraid to take a clear position… even when that’s what’s needed.
So I’m proud to say Canada no longer simply “goes along to get along” in the conduct of its foreign policy. We will stand for what is principled and just, regardless of whether it is popular, convenient or expedient. We do so as part of our commitment to basic rights for all.
By Emma Teitel - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 12:17 PM - 0 Comments
A new bill wants to ban ‘conversion therapy’
California is in the gay rights spotlight once again, with a first-of-its kind ban on “conversion therapy” for gay youth. The bill, which is before final committee, is necessary, says its sponsor, Democratic Sen. Ted Lieu, because the therapy—popular with religious organizations like Exodus International and Manifested Glory Ministries—can lead to depression, guilt, even suicide. “Pray the gay away,” counselling and exorcisms are among therapy’s techniques. It has been denounced by the American Psychiatric Association. Some parents who enroll their kids in conversion therapy are “well meaning,” says Rebekah Orr, of Equality California, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, “but don’t know how psychologically damaging it is.”
Those in the so-called “ex-gay movement,” however, contend that gay people can purge themselves of their homosexuality. If passed, the bill would also force adults seeking conversion therapy to sign a release form confirming that they understand the potential psychological risks involved. “With conversion therapy, there are no happy endings,” says Wayne Besin, executive director of the U.S. gay rights group Truth Wins Out. “It’s an experiment that failed and left a trail of victims.”
By Michelle Tarnopolsky - Wednesday, April 25, 2012 at 10:04 AM - 0 Comments
Where the closets are crowded with a lot more than Prada and Gucci
After being punched in the nose and called a “f—ing faggot” outside a bar in Reggio Calabria, Italy on April 13, Claudio Toscano must have assumed his ordeal was over once he got to the hospital. But as he told Il Quotidiano della Calabria newspaper, that’s when the psychological attacks began: “Are you gay?” asked a paramedic in the emergency room. “I can recommend a psychologist. Hormonal treatments can heal you.”
Welcome to the world of LGBT in Italy, where the legal and cultural progress felt elsewhere in the Western world is all but absent. In February, the popular satirical TV news program Le Iene (“The Hyenas”) helped bring to justice Sicilian “magician” Alfio Sciacca, who claimed to heal people from the “sickness” of homosexuality. Le Iene learned of Sciacca after receiving complaints from a number of his fraud victims.
“It’s a great shame, but from this point of view, our country is still in the Middle Ages,” says lesbian activist and parliamentarian Anna Paola Concia. In April 2011 she and her partner were walking hand-in-hand down a crowded street in Rome when a man shouted, “F—ing lesbians. They should have sent you to the ovens!” No one came to their defense; some even reproached Concia for responding angrily. And they were lucky to be downtown—such encounters usually escalate to physical violence on the outskirts of Rome.
By Gabriela Perdomo - Friday, February 17, 2012 at 10:23 AM - 0 Comments
Legislators in New Jersey voted in favour of legalizing same-sex marriage Thursday, but no…
Legislators in New Jersey voted in favour of legalizing same-sex marriage Thursday, but no one is celebrating just yet. The state’s Republican governor, Chris Christie, is expected to veto the bill. The bill doesn’t have the two-third majority votes necessary to override a veto in the New Jersey Assembly.
There is no reason to believe Christie will change his mind, as he is among the roster of potential Republican vice-presidential nominees for this year’s presidential election, and a reversal could hamper his credibility among the party’s social conservative base. Christie supports Mitt Romney, who has declined to comment on the vote.
Same-sex marriage is currently legal in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Iowa. On Monday, Feb. 13, Washington state governor Christine Gregoire signed a bill legalizing the unions there into law. It should come into effect in June.
By Emma Teitel - Tuesday, February 14, 2012 at 10:30 AM - 0 Comments
It’s only by comparison that Ontario Catholic schools’ treatment of gay students and staff can be called ‘liberal’
A think tank representing Ontario’s publicly funded Catholic school boards coined the euphemism of the century recently when it proposed that gay-straight alliance (GSA) clubs operate under a hopelessly vague designation: “Respecting Differences.” You can just see it in lights: the clubs’ mission statements, and the Catholic boards’ iconoclastic revision to Emma Lazarus’s legendary sonnet: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to break free . . . oh yeah, also your gay, bisexual, transgendered . . . anyone with acne.” Alas, that won’t happen, because in addition to the name change, the proposal has also stipulated that gay kids (sorry, different kids) can’t talk about being gay. Perhaps “Ignoring Differences” would have been a more apt suggestion, because it’s obvious that Ontario’s separate school system is keen on treating homosexuality as an adolescent affliction like any other (bad breath, body odour) and the most humane way to deal with such an affliction is, of course, to sit a safe distance from the person who has it: i.e., to ignore it. Or, in the words of Ontario’s Catholic school boards, respect it. As one of the afflicted myself, I try to avoid the phrase, but “Respecting Differences”? That is so gay.
In another context, though, it’s oddly progressive. Take a look at the rest of Canada’s partially publicly funded faith-based schools (namely in Alberta, Manitoba and British Columbia), and it’s clear that LGBT students in Ontario’s Catholic system fare better than their peers elsewhere when it comes to starting GSAs (or “difference” clubs). At least in Ontario the debate isn’t silenced before it gets too loud. In Manitoba, for example, which partially funds religious schools of all stripes, there is no provincial law requiring the independent schools to accommodate gay-straight alliance clubs. In addition, every religious independent public school operates, in large part, as its own school district—which makes it more difficult for students to lobby together at the provincial level.
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 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 Emma Teitel - Friday, January 6, 2012 at 5:16 PM - 0 Comments
Everybody’s talking about Rick Santorum, a.k.a. the previously ignored Republican primary candidate from Pennsylvania (also Jerry Seinfeld’s unfunny, Roman Catholic doppelganger) who couldn’t get a word in edgewise at any of the GOP debates. Until this week, he was far better known for his “Google Problem” than his warmongering, privacy quashing political aspirations. Today Santorum is a rising star, setting his socially conservative sights on the state of New Hampshire, after placing an extremely close second to Romney in the Iowa caucuses this week. He seems to think his near-victory in Iowa is proof that you don’t have to be a moderate to win a general election.
Iowa, however, isn’t America, something the former senator was rudely reminded of at a New Hampshire university last night, when his gay-marriage-will-lead-to-polygamy argument was met with unanimous boos:
That Santorum will flounder is almost certain (it’s only a matter of time before talking heads and comedians start lambasting him as fiercely as they did Bachmann and Perry) but mainstream and liberal media could quicken the process if only they’d avoid using the manipulative terminology Santorum and friends use to espouse their anti-gay rights, and anti-privacy beliefs. For too long, grossly dishonest phrases like “pro-family” and “family values” (phrases invented by and for America’s religious right) have been used by mainstream publications to describe the political profiles of Republican candidates. Take this example (one of many) from the Boston Globe:
Santorum, a Catholic, has campaigned on a strong family values platform.
The above is simply not true. Santorum may say he is campaigning on a “strong family values platform,” but it doesn’t take a Ph.D. in ethics to understand that revoking adoption and marriage rights for gay people (something Santorum has expressed keen interest in doing) is not in the best interest of families. Then again, Santorum’s definition of what constitutes a family is decidedly limited (let’s just say he doesn’t see eye to eye with Mrs. Doubtfire).
Anyway, enough with this doublespeak. It’s lazy journalism for reputable publications to use terms like “pro-family” and “family values” out of context in reference to a political candidate. Just because Santorum and company cloak their bigotry in euphemisms, doesn’t mean we have to follow suit and use their language. Rick Santorum is not running on a “pro family platform.” He is running on a pro-heterosexual-family-and-no-contraceptives-please!-platform. Just as “pro-life” is a gross euphemism for “anti-abortion,” “pro-family” is a gross euphemism for “anti-gay.”
By Alex Ballingall - Wednesday, December 21, 2011 at 10:40 AM - 0 Comments
Strip searching transsexual or intersexed individuals has never been easy, but it’s about to get more complicated
Nothing is simple in the post-9/11 world of border security. That’s especially so in an era when a person boarding a plane might refuse to be identiﬁed as a man or a woman. Given that, the Canada Border Services Agency has developed a new strip search guideline. But now it’s a question of whether they’ve made things even more complicated.
Released in August, the protocol applies to “transsexual or intersexed” individuals; people who strongly identify or seek to live as a member of the opposite sex, have undergone surgery to physically change their sex, or were born with a mix of male and female reproductive parts. Such people can now choose from three options when faced with a strip search at the border: they can be searched by male border ofﬁcers or female border ofﬁcers—or receive a “split search.” That’s where things get interesting.
Two groups of ofﬁcers perform the search. The person being examined strips the clothes from their upper body, and a team of ofﬁcers from one sex perform the search. Then, the person puts their top back on and strips off the bottom half of their clothing before a second group of ofﬁcers of the other sex scrutinizes down there. The whole process is observed by at least one non-participating ofﬁcer to ensure everything is on the level. For those counting, that’s at least ﬁve ofﬁcers for every split search.
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 1:58 PM - 3 Comments
New initiative may help shore up Obama’s base
In a speech at the United Nations Human Rights Council this week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signaled a vocal new place for the U.S.–in the worldwide battle for gay rights. “Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct,” Clinton said in Geneva, according to the New York Times, “but in fact they are one and the same.” The speech coincided with a new memorandum on the same topic by President Barack Obama. Some believe the initiative could be an attempt by the administration to shore up a key portion of its base ahead of next year’s presidential election.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 28, 2011 at 1:03 PM - 10 Comments
A week ago, Conservative party staff and MPs put together a contribution to the “It Gets Better” video series originally inspired by Dan Savage. In short order it was duly noted that Public Safety Minister Vic Toews opposed same-sex marriage and that Senator Don Meredith once said homosexuality is a choice, while the opposition subsequently pushed for the Harper government to defend gay rights within the Commonwealth and fund Gay Pride events in Canada.
Yesterday brought two new points of conflict: news that Conservatives MP David Sweet, who appears in the video, once said homosexuality is a sin and an odd disagreement during Question Period over whether or not Peter MacKay was willing to say the word “gay” out loud. Continue…