2004 is ending on the upswing for gay rights.
Same-sex marriage available to 88% of Canadians and Americans living in Massachusetts. Civil Union rights in California, and two recent court decisions supporting gay foster parents.
I am not trying to say we don't lots of work ahead on the road to equality and justice, we do. We are however on the track to victory. We know younger Canadians and Americans support gay rights in much higher numbers than older citizens.
We are gaining in the courts and in public opinion. The work now is to get on with achieving our goals and not wait for others to do the heavy lifting.
From the Charlotte Observer
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - An Arkansas judge Wednesday declared unconstitutional a state ban on placing foster children in any household with a gay member.
Ruling in a case brought by the Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Timothy Fox said the state Child Welfare Agency Review board had overstepped its authority by trying to regulate "public morality."
At issue was a 1999 board regulation that said gays cannot become foster parents, and foster children cannot be placed in any home with a gay member under its roof.
The ACLU had argued that the regulation violates the equal-protection rights of gays. But the judge's ruling did not turn on that argument.
While acknowledging that the ban was discriminatory against gays, Fox said that homosexuals are not recognized under the law as a "suspect class," as women and racial minorities are.
Instead, he said that the Arkansas Legislature gave the child-welfare board the power to "promote the health, safety and welfare of children," and that the ban does not accomplish that. He said that the regulation instead seeks to regulate "public morality" - something the board was not given the authority to do.
And other quotes on LGBTT2IQQ* issues in 2004
'Several centuries ago, it would have been understood
that marriage be available only to opposite-sex couples. The recognition of same-sex marriage in several Canadian jurisdictions as well as two European countries belies the assertion that the same is true today.' - Supreme Court of Canada December 9, 2004
"Some see the move as an attempt to preserve traditional values, while others see it as a cynical ploy to ensure that Vice President Cheney will never have to pay for his gay daughter's wedding." Jon Stewart, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," on the gay marriage ban. (Newsday, March 4)
"The long hard battle for LGBTT2IQQ equality rights did not happen overnight in Canada, but we sure can loose them over time if we loose sight of them," Tami Starlight - B.C/Yukon regional director - Egale
In August, at a hastily arranged news conference, New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey announced: "I am a gay American". He made the declaration with his wife at his side, and said that because he had had an adulterous affair he would leave office in November. When the McGreevey's did leave the governor's mansion they went their separate ways.
"I have friends who are gays and friends who are lesbians, and they are wonderful people. But I am a politician as well, and my personal feeling is that I support the traditional concept of marriage." - Alberta Premier Ralph Klein gives his views on same-sex marriage.
"I plan on having the largest gay wedding that Canada's ever seen," he said. Ashley MacIsaac said he would invite Alberta's premier, "... I'd love to have him (Premier Ralph Klein) make a toast," he said.
He came across Wayne State University (of Detroit) instructor John Corvino and another man kissing on a park bench at the state Capitol and told them that homosexual conduct is illegal and "We won't have you doing this on Capitol grounds." Gay kissing is not illegal, even in Texas, and Carlson has been suspended for six months and given a written reprimand.
"This was indeed a complex murder; no one is suggesting otherwise,"Garry concluded. "But for 20/20 to lay out a case based on speculation, innuendo, the avoidance of critical facts, sources lacking in basic credibility, and reliance on conflicting pieces of information is GLAAD Executive Director Joan M. Garry
"If God had thought homosexuality is a sin, he would not have created gay people." Howard Dean, presidential hopeful (U.S. News and World Report, Jan. 19)
Controversial Canadian hockey commentator Don Cherry appearing on TSN tonight was asked about same-sex marriage. "Why should I care," he said, "Is it going to cost me money, no." Cherry who is an Anglican, went onto say he didn't think they should be married in church, but going to a Justice of the Peace was okay.
Larry King asked the 94-year old leader of the world's Mormons if the "problem" is one caused by gays themselves or one they were born with. "I don't know. I'm not an expert on these things. I don't pretend to be an expert on these things. The fact is, they have a problem," Hinckley replied.
Activist Elizabeth Massiah said gays and lesbians in Alberta won't accept anything less than full equality. ``What Ralph is proposing is a version of apartheid,'' she said. "I don't want to live in a province where there is an apartheid or caste-like system of equality."
"Marriage hasn't been my thing. But gay people, knock yourselves out!" Ben Affleck (Us, Aug. 16)
A gay Mexican man plans to appeal for the second time a decision made by Canada's immigration body that claimed he could not be granted asylum because he was not "visibly effeminate."
"Effeminate gestures come naturally and unconsciously. If he were indeed visibly effeminate ... he would have been (un)able to easily land a job with the 'macho' police force of Puerto Vallarta," the IRB concluded.
"As a civil marriage commissioner under the laws of the country, I think I have an obligation to perform the ceremony, and that's exactly what I will do," Wells said shortly before the ceremony (Pottle and French tied the knot Thursday night in ceremony at St. John's city hall, performed by mayor Andy Wells)
The young Pte. Merida apologized to the victim's family, "He was a son, a brother, someone very important to them," he said. "I took someone they loved and cared for." Merida killed their son after having sex with him.
"Educating society about the lives, and deaths of transgender people world wide is the most important aspect of the Transgender Day of Remembrances. That education can dispell the ignorance that is one of the main contributers to transgender people being murdered. We honour the lives of those taken from us and in turn educate our communities about who we are and what we face on a daily basis due to ignorance, hatred and lack of equality rights," said Tami Starlight, a Canadian transgender advocate and exectutive director of the Vancouver Transgender Day of Remembrance Society, November 20, 2004
"Let's be clear. We've always had gay bishops. All I'm doing is being honest about it." Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, on being the church's first openly gay bishop (Newsweek, March 15)
“This is a step in the right direction,” Alan Van Capelle, the executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, the state’s leading lobbying group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered New Yorkers, told Gay City News in November. “Thousands of LGBT families will benefit because pension systems will treat our families the same way they treat every other family.” and New York Mayor Bloomberg added, “All of our city employees deserve to be treated equally, regardless of their sexual orientation.”
* ed note: In case you have not seen this group together in your alphabet soup, LGBTT2IQQ refers to: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transexual, 2 spirited, intersexed, queer, and questioning.
COME CELEBRATE CHINESE NEW YEAR
"The Year of the Cock "
Victoria's Ambassodor from Historic China Town and he is one the boy's!
Dinner with Many Surprizes (presents too!)
Cost - $30.00 Per Person
Date: Feb.12th, 2005
Time: 6:30 Cocktails
Location: Golden City Restaurant
721 Fisgard St. Victoria BC
For Tickets and Information, Contact Les Chan:
NOTE: Tickets Not Available at the Door
The Headmaster, David Delph of Trinity Christian Academy in Dallas issued a general statement about the school's discipline policy in response to questions with regard to their decision to expell a gay student months away from graduation.
"As a community of Christian families we also believe the Bible provides insight to help us discern God's desire for our conduct.
Therefore we demand high Biblical standards of behavior from our students both academically and socially.
Our families are asked to embrace these standards of conduct by signing a covenant with the school when students are admitted.
The private school has the right in Texas to expel students upon discovering they are gay. Texas like most jurisdictions in the United States does not protect someone from discrimination due to sexual orientation.
See: Gay teen outed then kicked out of Christian High School
The Dallas Morning News reports that the student was a varsity athlete and a winner of service and citizenship awards at the fundamentalist private school in Addison. He was active in the school theater, was a yearbook editor and helped younger students with Bible study.
Trinity Christian was his second family, the student said, and by every indication he was one of the school's favorite sons.
You can read the Dallas Morning story at : Gay student forced to leave school
This school has chosen to cast aside a bright young man, their loss will be America's gain as more American's grow more intolerant of such treatment. One has to believe that the United States will catch onto the politics of fear and demonization of homosexuals. Prevailing views among younger Americans is significantly more accepting than older Americans.
Those willing to continue on the anti-gay ban wagon will in a few years find themselves in the minority. In the interim those that support gay rights and acceptance need to willing to express their views more often and openingly.
The day is obviously one that was established to celebrate the life of Jesus. I celebrate his life and many of his values. Those values are so far removed from what many in the Christian church preach today. So much of what they talk about is about excluding people, about casting the first stone.
Still this day is important to me. What does it mean to me and why am I comfortable in saying Merry Christmas?
The primary reason is this. People are friendlier, so many good news events take place, it is okay to talk about and give to those less fortunate than us, people are compassionate for awhile.
As a gay person I have been the subject of severe mental and physical abuse directly and indirectly, I remain strong, determined and unrelenting in my pursuit of love, affection, and belonging.My assessment is straight (pun not intended) ahead. I have a large family, a family that recognized differences, that accepted everyone. We always had room for more at dinner and you were welcome to join us and it often happened.
The funny part here is that we were the poorest family and the largest on the block. We had rich kids come to be with us because they had experianced the feelings in the air. They knew it was the real thing.
My Dad was the garbage collector, Mom later went to work, not to mean she wasn't before, she had eight kids to look after. We lived in unfinished houses, wood heat and no running water. I was 16 before I had a shower.
The experiance of being poor has drawn me closer to many of Jesus' teachings. Looking out for each other, helping those you know and don't know, hearing people out and understanding we all make mistakes and that does not make you bad or evil.
Yet some how, many Christians today follow their "leaders" down a path of zealousness. So many are willing to cast the first stone. Heck they have cast a whole gravel pit at me and guess what, I am still standing.
I am standing for a reason. I am a person and that makes me important. I am a brother, son, grandson, uncle, partner, lover, friend, neighbour, co-worker and citizen.Today when you have time, think about who you are and why you are important. If you are important so is that guy asking you for some change. There is a saying that goes "there by the grace of god go I." If each one of us took that saying to heart, this time together would have fewer heartbreaking stories.
You can interchange "god" with universe, love, community, goddess or Tim Horton's. The point without getting too silly is to accept differences, that every life is important and so are you.
Today I am spending Christmas with the most beautiful young woman in the world. She is my step daughter, Stephanie. Stephanie and her boyfriend Dennis and his mother are here with me. Today she is the most important thing in my life. She is important because she brings joy to those near her, she cares and I know I had a small part in who she is today.
So Jesus, the man who walked with those that were cast away, that preferred the poor to the rich, who accepted one and all, either through legend or fact set some good values to live by. You don't need to be a Christian to accept them either.Merry Christmas to each of you, smile with someone you don't know today, if you are alone know that at least one person thinks you are important and my guess is, many more than that.
I am still standing and so are you.
I have a friend in Victoria, Garry Penny, who owns the gay bar, Prism Lounge. Garry grew up without a family, came out as a teenager and was adopted into the "gay" family. Garry has for years now, given back. The people that welcomed this kid into the group were creating his family, a place to be safe and loved.
For the last 45 years Garry has been giving back, fighting for gay rights in Toronto in the 50's and 60's. Running places where gays could gather, all of it was pretty scary back then.
Garry moved out to Vancouver some 20 or 25 years ago. He was instrumental in starting gay pride in that city. He ran a gay bar, held community events in the bar, donated thousands to the "gay family".
One event Garry has had every year since moving to Victoria, is a Christmas dinner at the bar. The dinner is always free and open to anyone. Garry is doing it for his family and his family has been getting bigger every year. This usually takes place around 2pm Christmas Day at Johnson and Broad St in Victoria.
If you are able this holiday, invite someone over who is alone or has no place to be. Make your family a little bigger.
I found these lyrics by the punk group, The Vandals. The song is about a family struggling to deal with a gay brother.
INDEPTH: YEAR IN REVIEW 2004
CBC News Online December 22, 2004
The continuing U.S. occupation of Iraq saw the deaths of more than 1,000 American troops and thousands of Iraqis. Images of prisoner abuse prompted apologies from American leaders. And a bitter election year in the U.S. ended with the re-election of George W. Bush as president.
365gay - 2004 The Year In Review
2004 was the year of gay marriage - a roller coaster ride of marriages granted, denied, fought for, and begun.
Macleans - 2004: the year in review
The annual follies, from Bush to Parrish, swarming cicadas to Swedish undies
National Year In Review: Weddings and Setbacks
This was the year of marriage rights—again. And the subject is likely to cop top honors for several more years to come before the final chapter is written. But in some senses they may all seem a tad anticlimactic when compared with 2004.
A look back at the news of 2004 - Gay.com
Reacting to a landmark November 2003 ruling in Massachusetts, President Bush began 2004 by making a startling reference to what would become the defining issue of the year: same-sex marriage. During his State of the Union speech last January, he criticized the "activist judges" of Massachusetts by saying, "If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process."
Canoe News - Year in Review
Conrad Black launches $850-million defamation suit against members of Hollinger International board, claiming he has been made a “loathsome laughingstock” by media coverage of accusations against him. San Francisco becomes first U.S. jurisdiction to issue marriage licences to gay couples.
LifeSiteNews.com Year in Review - 2004
This year has without doubt been the most hectic year in terms of developments in the culture wars. Other than the Bush victory which was likely the biggest newsmaker of the year, Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of the Christ, ranked as one of the most talked about developments.
No. 1. "Frosty the Snowman," especially the line "He was made of snow but the children know how he came to life one day."
Was Frosty's nose a genetically modified carrot, is he a clone and just why is he a he and the pipe, that's just wrong My advice: this song is just so bad, leave it out.
No. 2. Lines such as "Make the yuletide gay" and "Don we now our gay apparel" may not fly in Alberta. Don't perform in Three Hills or Airdrie.No. 3. A panoply of problems in "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town": First of all, this business of "making a list, checking it twice" smacks of Gordon Campbell's attack on BC's people with disabilities.
"He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake" (!). Well, that sort of surveillance is what happens when you contract out sensitive government medical files to big American companies. I suggest refraining from singing this ode to the "coalition of the willing" until after the next BC election.
No. 4. "May all your Christmas be white." I recommend: "May all your holidays be gloriously enriched with the multicultural diverse tapestry (union made) we enjoy in Canada."
No. 5. "God rest ye merry gentlemen." Should have been changed when women became persons.
No. 6. In "Silent Night," the phrase "round yon virgin" makes certain Albertans, Ralph Klein and Myron Thompson, MP really squeamish. Instead, sing "Round yon well-raised young woman."
No. 7. "Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose." It is, of course, in poor taste to point out a difference or disability - doubly disconcerting if sung in Maui while Premier Campbell is driving.
No. 8. Difficulties accrue in "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Here, the person known as "my true love" gave "nine ladies dancing" and "eight maids a-milking." Combined with the general "ho, ho, ho" motif of the holidays, this trafficking in women is a moral powder keg. And later lyrics introduce "11 pipers safely piping," an obvious drug reference.
Leave out the eighth and ninth days, and you still have ten days of Christmas. Change the 11th day to "11 pipers safely piping." If in the US of A leave this out. This will have you hauled in as a drug supported terrorist and shipped to Syria for reprogramming.
No. 9. "The first Noel, the angels did say / Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay." Why "poor" shepherds? Why characterize their socioeconomic status at all? Couldn't they be "hard-working shepherds"? And the song ends with "born is the king of Israel." Steer clear of Middle East references in these testy times.
I found this on the web. I have modified it for Canada and BC.
The original version was written by columnist Alfred Lubrano for American readers, can be found at: Do you hear what we hear?
It's the holiday season and a time to watch out for those unwanted gifts. You know the ones I am referring to, no not the fruitcake from your Aunt, or the ugly tie from the brother you never see, no I am talking about things that make you itchy, sore and sometimes just down right uncomfortable.
To all of us that have had one, that have passed one along and those of you still free of any of these, here is the The 12 STI's of Christmas. This is funny and educational.
Whoops now you won't look! Darn!
For those that just want funny, go here!
Keep yourself in the game. Turn your speakers on and listen.
CBC - St. John's: The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador this morning gave the green light for gays and lesbians to get married in that province. This is the eighth jurisdiction in Canada to approve same-sex marriage. The case was brought forward by two lesbian couples who had been denied a marriage license. See the CBC report below.Same-sex marriage OK'd by court
CBC WebPosted Dec 21 2004 03:36 PM NSTST. JOHN'S — The Newfoundland Supreme Court has cleared the way for two lesbian couples – and for all same-sex couples to follow – to marry legally. Judge Derek Green ruled Tuesday afternoon on the issue, making Newfoundland and Labrador the eighth jurisdiction to sanction same-sex marriage.
Go to Peace Earth and Justice for the full story
Now there is a stat for you. If you take four people that go to church at least once a month, one will support same-sex marriage.
That is the finding of a national survey of families conducted by sociologist Reginald Bibby for the Vanier Institute of the Family. The survey states further that 58% of those that attend religious services less than once a month approve of same-sex marriage.
I for one am overjoyed at the prospect of having one in four regular church go'ers support same-sex marriage. American supporters of gay marriage would love that number. The tide is turning. We know that younger people are more likely to support same-sex marriage, people with university or college degrees are supportive and women. The other piece to this is that church attendees are falling off.
People that attend church rarely are most likely to be suuportive vs someone that goes regularily.
Only 6% of active evangelicals - also commonly referred to as Conservative Protestants - agree that gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry, compared to 35% who are less active.
Thr remainder of the release can be found at Lifesite.
Read the report, Religion and the Same-sex Debate
"Wrongheaded" says an editorial in the Register-Guard
see also: Bush's stop loss policy enforced - Gays sue for reinstatement
This policy has to rank as the dumbest policy in any modern military in the world. That of course would have mean the US Military establishment was modern beyond all those smart bombs and superman like x-ray equipment they have at their disposal.
The editorial points out;
Among the highly qualified soldiers who were kicked out of the services last year because of their sexual orientation were Arab language specialists; rocket and missile specialists; and nuclear, chemical and biological warfare specialists.
Now anyone running a small business or a large mega corporation would have said, we need these guys, what do I care if they are gay, heck they have been doing it for us all along before we found out he or she was gay.
They would ask further, "how will this affect our ability to respond to the marketplace, are we giving our competitors an advantage?
The Military should if for no other reason than it is the right thing to do, allow gays and lesbians to serve because they need every man and woman they can get their hands on. Personally I would not want to join, given your chances are pretty good you could get blown to bits in Iraq, but gays and lesbians are like everyone else. Some want to serve, have been serving and they are just as good at it as any other person.
- Rick Barnes
A wrongheaded policy: 'Don't ask, don't tell' is a national disgrace
There should be a contest to try to uncover a dumber, more embarrassing, less productive military policy than the disgraceful "don't ask, don't tell" pogrom against openly homosexual service members.
First prize could be a copy of the U.S. Constitution, which had already left the building when outraged generals slapped President Clinton (the draft dodger!) upside the head for having the unmitigated gall in 1993 to suggest lifting the ban on allowing gays and lesbians to legally die defending freedom in the uniforms of the U.S. military.
The don't ask, don't tell policy was the "compromise" that rose from the ashes of Clinton's bungled attempt to do the right thing. It's a classic of Orwellian Pentagon doublespeak. Presumably, as long as homosexual service members kept their sexual orientation camouflaged ("don't tell"), the military wouldn't actively attempt to hunt them down and drum them out of the service ("don't ask").
In reality, the Pentagon was hardly blase about tolerating gay gunnery sergeants and lesbian logistics officers. Since the policy went into effect in 1994, more than 1,000 soldiers, sailors, Air Force members and Marines have been involuntarily discharged every year. Not for poor performance or lack of courage under fire. They lost their jobs as a result of a form of discrimination that is illegal in almost every other workplace in America.
How's this for a Catch-22: Air Force physician Monica Hill got the boot simply by asking for something that is automatically granted for straight soldiers - leave to care for a terminally ill partner. But because Hill's partner of 14 years was female, she was found unfit for further service. "It's right here in the manual."
Link to editorial: A wrongheaded policy: 'Don't ask, don't tell' is a national disgrace
“I spent four years of my time, partly because I was drafted, but also because [we] felt that for once we were involved in a just war,” he testified. “We were attacking the very people who burn books and destroy books, either in public or in secret, and I have been opposed to that ever since.”- Pierre Berton
I had forgotten Mr. Berton's appearance before the Supreme Court on behalf of Little Sisters some six years ago. I was reminded by an article in Xtra! West recently. Berton's appearance was another opportunity for him to speak up against censorship and he did not disappoint.
Many Canadians know Pierre Berton from Front Page Challenge and his biggest book, The National Dream (CBC made it into a mini series). In all Berton wrote in excess of 50 books during his life. Mr. Berton passed away at the age of 80 earlier this year.
Little Sisters Book & Art Emporium
From Xtra! West
The morning after the taping of Front Page Challenge, Little Sister’s lawyer Joe Arvay introduced the day’s first witness with unusual fanfare.
“My lord, I thought it might be appropriate to have the next witness testify behind a screen,” said Arvay, “and give your lordship twenty questions to guess his identity. But then I thought maybe it wouldn’t be appropriate. So my next witness, without any concealment, is Pierre Berton.”
At 74 years, a robust six-foot-three, with trademark bow tie and white hair, Pierre Berton reeks of Canadiana. After almost 40 years on network TV, Berton’s face was deeply embedded in the mainstream consciousness; he was also a prolific print journalist. But it was Berton’s literary accomplishments that formed the bedrock of his national reputation: several Governor General’s Awards for popular histories (notably, his saga of the CPR railroad, The Last Spike), plus a Stephen Leacock Medal for humour (Just Add Water).
It would be hard to imagine a personality better equipped than Pierre Berton to lend a respectable air to Little Sister’s case. While solidly liberal and urbane, he also represented an orthodoxy: that of the white, middle-class, heterosexual man. The side of Berton that emerged during his Little Sister’s testimony—perhaps less well known to his game show audience—was his strong commitment to civil liberties. For Berton, the Little Sister’s case was inescapably linked to his experience as a soldier in World War II.
“I spent four years of my time, partly because I was drafted, but also because [we] felt that for once we were involved in a just war,” he testified. “We were attacking the very people who burn books and destroy books, either in public or in secret, and I have been opposed to that ever since.”
Berton spoke effortlessly on the merits of Richard D Mohr’s Gay Ideas, published by Beacon Press in 1992 and seized by Canada Customs in April 1993. A philosophy professor at the University of Illinois, Mohn had difficulty finding a publisher for the academic text, which covered scandalous topics like civil rights and the politics of culture and identity. Gay Ideas was originally scheduled for Canadian distribution by Oxford Union Press, but they declined the book. The apparent problem? Mohr’s analysis of the erotic photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe, which were reproduced in the book, made Gay Ideas a likely candidate for a Customs seizure.
After exploring Gay Ideas, Arvay asked Berton to step back and consider the impact of censorship on the community.
“Well, I’m a member of a large constituency,” Berton said. “It is a constituency of people who write books and read books. We believe that books are the essence of our culture, that without a literature, a country has not only no soul, it has no reason for being … Literature … will be the basis on which we are judged as a civilized community, and we are very upset when people try to infringe upon our freedom either to write or to read.”
Please go to Xtra! West for the rest of this bit of Canadiana and significant testimony in support of another Canadian Icon, Little Sisters!
"He was a son, a brother, someone very important to them," he said. "I took someone they loved and cared for."
The News Observer reports that a National Guardsman pleaded guilty to killing a 17-year-old Iraqi boy. Pte. Federico Daniel Merida, 21, said he shot the young man 11 times after they had sex in a guard tower. (From court-martial records)
Merida was sentenced Sept. 25 to 25 years in prison and reduced in rank and will be dishonorably discharged. He is being held at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., a Leavenworth spokeswoman told the News Observer.
Details of this case had been withheld by the U.S. army officials at Forward Operating Base Danger, the location of the court martial in Iraq.
Merida first told investigators that the teen demanded money at gunpoint. Later, he said he killed him because the boy forced him to have sex.
Finally in a third interview, Merida said he got angry after the two had consensual sex. Merida in an agreement with the Army, pleaded gulity to murder without premeditation. He will serve 25 years. He was also found not guilty for having consensual sex while he should have been guarding the camp.
The young Pte. Merida apologized to the victim's family,
"He was a son, a brother, someone very important to them," he said. "I took someone they loved and cared for."
For those of you that need to know this stuff, Merida is a member of the 113th Field Artillery Battalion's Battery B, based in Monroe. He deployed to Iraq early this year with an N.C. National Guard brigade of several thousand soldiers, which was placed under command of the 1st Infantry Division.
With files from the News Observer.com
The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador will hear the gay marriage case today in St. John's. The court case was brought by two lesbian couples. The federal government and provincial government are not opposing the challenge of the law by the two lesbian couples.
The federal government is supporting the two lesbian couples in the attempt to gain the right to marry. This is the first time the government has done this. This is consistent with the federal Liberal government's plan to introduce an amendment to Canada's marriage law to allow same-sex couples to marry.
A Pastor from Newfoundland and Labrador has been granted an opportunity to present the case for maintaining the current definition of marriage in that province, which describes marriage as being between a man and a woman.
"We love each other, we built a home together," Lisa Ziegler and Theresa Walsh , one of four women involved in the lawsuit, we are a family and this is the last step of getting official recognition as a family."
The Lawyer for the couple, Sean Foreman told CBC;
"What is unacceptable for gays and lesbians in the remaining provinces in Canada is that government agreed that it was unconstitutional to deny marriage rights, yet everyone else is supposed to wait while Parliament gets it acts together."
Commenting on the proposed federal law allowing gays and lesbians to marry, provincial Justice Minister Tom Marshall says, "The previous law has been that marriage is a union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, we've enforced that law, if the Parliament of Canada or the Supreme Court of Newfoundland should change the law, we'll enforce that law."
"Isn't it about love, isn't it about spending the rest of your life together?"
I hope to have news of the decision here later today.
Rick Barnes is 46, recently moved to Kelowna BC and has been an advocate for queer and social justice issues in BC, Canada and internationally. He currently is the editor of GLBTQ news for Peace, Earth and Justice.
Will the Iraq war oddly bring gays safely out of the closet in the armed forces ? That is one of the strange twists in the tangled web of war overseas and at home in the United States.
Just last week a group of soldiers filed a law suit to get out of the Armed Forces. That same day 12 former armed forces personnel were trying to get back in. The former personnel all had good records of service, yet were let go because they were gay or lesbian.
So we have 100's of thousands of parents, wives and husbands and children all over the United States worried about their loved one being in Iraq. Most of these people would do just about anything to have their loved one back in the United States. Over 1,000 of those loved ones have not returned alive.
So it is a bit odd to see people trying to get back in. I mean the whole of the armed forces is having trouble recruiting. One group of capable, well trained and ready to re-enlist are gays and lesbians. They have already been trained and served honourably in the past.
University of California-Santa Barbara's Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities researchers have found that many gays and lesbians, including Army Ranger Brian Hughes, who helped rescue POW Jessica Lynch, served openly in Iraq and Afghanistan without problems from their comrades.
So although I find it odd that anyone wants to enlist, it maybe that the next break in advancement of rights for gays and lesbians will occur in the armed forces of America. Who would have thought that?
God Bless America for all it's opportunities.
With files from: Journal Gazette
See: Junior enlisted personnel more pro-gay than commissioned and non-commissioned officers in the United States military and America the Beautiful, Not so for Gays
Please forward onto those you think would be interested.
Albertans in Edmonton and Calgary say "I do" support same-sex marriage - Sunday, December 19, 2004
"Gays won't be getting married in Alberta, we're not going to do it," - Premier Klein - Sunday, December 19, 2004
UCC bouncer ad holds up "mirror for America" - Gays and UCC won't step aside - Saturday, December 18, 2004
Canadians favour gay marriage - Saturday, December 18, 2004
Hockey Icon, Don Cherry, Gives Thumbs up to Gay Marriage - Friday, December 17, 2004
Harper lacks leadership on Gay Marriage say Martin and Klein - Thursday, December 16, 2004
"Anti-Gay Marriage Minister" now a supporter says inside source - Thursday, December 16, 2004
Canada's Conservatives move to prevent Gay Marriage - Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Texans Home away from home, Canada's Red State - Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Newfoundland mayors to defy law - City won't officiate at gay marriages - Monday, December 13, 2004
Newfoundland and Labrador next Gay Marriage battle - Sunday, December 12, 2004
David Frum "In the National Review" Blames Canada for Gay Marriage - Friday, December 10, 2004
Supreme Court Upholds Equal Marriage Legislation - Thursday, December 09, 2004
Green Light for Gay Marriage - Thursday, December 09, 2004
Catholic Lawyers - Minister Should Resign Over Alleged Foul Play with Supreme Court Same Sex Marriage Ruling - Thursday, December 09, 2004
Rights groups, churches waiting for same-sex marriage decision decision - Thursday, December 09, 2004
Gay's Celebrate - Canada's Supreme Court says Yes to Same-sex Marriage - Thursday, December 09, 2004
Canadian MPs await Gay marriage Supreme Court decision - Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Bush Leaves Canada as Canadian Court gets Closer to Gay Marriage Opinion - Wednesday, December 01, 2004 Anti Gay Same Sex Marriage Email Campaign - Wednesday, November 24, 2004
An ANTI- Equal Marriage Bill is Coming to Parliament on Nov. 26th ! - Saturday, November 20, 2004
Fiddler eyes gay Alberta wedding - Friday, November 19, 2004
The Edmonton Sun reports today support for gay marriage is higher than the Premier would have you beleive. Bruce Cameron of Cameron Strategy Inc. a pollster told the paper, "the premier is saying the majority of Albertans don't support same-sex marriage, but that's not what (the numbers) show."
The Alberta Premier has been screaming "the sky is falling" for two weeks now. It is time for people to look up and see the sky is still there.
Cameron referred to a poll taken this summer of 2,000 people in Canada's major cities - Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto - "Do you support or oppose same-sex marriage?"
In Edmonton of the 300 people polled 48% supported same-sex marriage and 44 per cent said they were opposed. The rest were undecided.
Calgary proved to be even up. 41% per cent said they support gay marriage, and 41% said they were opposed. 18% said they were unsure.
The Sun to today in printing these results has shown Ralph Klein to not only being a redneck, but an uninformed one at that.
Links: "Gays won't be getting married in Alberta, we're not going to do it," - Premier Klein
The Sky is falling! Albertans in a Frenzy over Gay Marriage
Conservatives accept same-sex relationships ought to be recognized for the first time. You read it right, Conservatives and the religious right are accepting of recognizing gay unions.
This latest move may appear to seem enlightened until you see it is a last ditch attempt to keep gays from entering into a marriage. For the last ten years, Ralph Klein, Stephen Harper, Pat O'Brien, Randy White and Tom Wappell have fought against every single gay rights initiative.
What was to end families, destroy the foundation of our communities is now acceptable to these folks. How easily they change their colours. To their credit, they have come a long way, fighting as they did to keep gays from having access to their children, adoption rights, partner benefits, security in employment and housing.
Gays won't be getting married in Alberta, even if Ottawa goes ahead and approves same-sex marriages. "We're not going to do it," Premier Ralph Klein told the Sun yesterday.
"That's the attitude right now -- gays and lesbians shouldn't be discriminated against except when it comes to marriage.
You read that right, gays in Alberta should have all the rights of straights except for marriage, the Premier himself said that. This from the Premier that tried twice to use the Charter of Rights and Freedoms "notwithstanding clause" to prevent providing the most basic human rights to gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans Albertans.
Kleins states he will do whatever it takes, even defying the law, forcing gay Albertans to go to court. Klein's government will spend tens of thousands of dollars to delay the implementation of the law. Klein and his conservative band of thugs are threatening the principle of responsible government.
The right to marry has always been between a man and a woman they argue. We can not allow gays to marry. To do so will mean my marriage means less. This sounds a lot like the rational used to prevent women from voting, that made women property of their husband, that banned mixed race marriages, prevented aboriginal Canadians from voting or entering into business contracts and keep women out of leadership roles in some churches, business and government.
The rational is always the same. Some people at the top of the heap need others at the bottom to gaze upon in order to justify their feelings of superiority.
"But I'm adamant about this issue. The majority of Albertans oppose same-sex marriage. My caucus unanimously supports traditional marriage. I also have my own personal views. Whether you're a subscriber to the Darwin theory or to the Biblical theory of Adam and Eve, marriage is between a man and a woman and it should stay that way," concluded Klein.
Well at least there is some hope here, Klein did mention evolution.
Rick Barnes is 46 and has just recently moved to Kelowna BC. He has spent the last 25 years advocating for gay rights and played a significant role in electing gays and gay positive persons at the municipal, provincial and federal levels of government.
Links: Canadians favour gay marriage
Texans Home away from home, Canada's Red State
Check out Against All Flags Blog on Klein: Klein: Mad As Hell Tour
Stephen Harper must be shitting himself. Ralph Klein has announced he will lead his own "mad as hell tour" across Canada in the new year. The object? To rouse discrimination in the nation. A worthy cause for anyone, isn't it?
Klein has stated discrimination is okay. That's right folks, the leader of our wealthiest province has given his approval to the kind of thing we were taught from our earliest days on earth is downright despicable. Great example for the kids, isn't it?
City of Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino went on the offensive after being told he and every member of his police force would have to take a gay sensitivity course. "It's being forced on us," Fantino said
Link: All Toronto police ordered to take training in Gay sensitivity
The force shouldn't have to "bow to all kinds of pressures," Fantino told the Toronto Star in an interview."We have made extraordinary efforts to reach out and work with all entities in the community."
The gay sensitivity course is part of a settlement in a class action legal case against the the City of Toronto and the Toronto Police. The suit was filed against the police after the police raided lesbian bathhouse four years ago.
Five male officers raided the lesbian bathhouse, that was occupied by hundreds of women, many of whom were only partly dressed. The Ontario Court of Justice ruled the raid to be an "outrageous, flagrant, deliberate, unjustified violation of the women's Charter rights"
"I don't believe for one moment that they acted in a way that infringed, on anybody, or intended to infringe on anybody's rights or entitlements," said Fantino.
The Toronto Star says the Police Chief's comments drew a forceful reaction from two of the original complainants. "I'm really glad (Fantino's) going," said Chanelle Gallant. "What a slap in the face. He's doing all this PR — going on the cover of Fab magazine, going to Pride. But it's all so meaningless."
The five officers involved in the raid are also required to issue signed letters of apology to the women that were in attendance the night the police spent five hours on their dubious liquor inspection.
Toronto's police board will take the following action as a result of the settlement;
Training programs for police officers on gay and lesbian sensitivity, particularly when it comes to inspecting gay and lesbian venues, businesses and bathhouses, and interactions with transgendered people.
A new "gender-sensitive" board policy regarding police attendance at places "occupied solely by women in a state of partial or complete undress," as well as a policy regarding the search and detention of transgendered people.
A signed apology by the five male police officers who conducted the bathhouse raid on Sept. 15, 2000, stating they did not intend to breach the rights or privacy of the 300 or so women in attendance that night.
Every officer leaving the force will be handed a confidential survey on behalf of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, asking if they are leaving because, in part, they felt they were targets of discrimination.
With files from the Toronto Star
See also: Toronto police ordered to take training in Gay sensitivity
Cop chief slams sensitivity class
Toronto Chief Slams Gay Ruling
Toronto lesbians, police reach settlement
'Several centuries ago, it would have been understood that marriage be available only to opposite-sex couples. The recognition of same-sex marriage in several Canadian jurisdictions as well as two European countries belies the assertion that the same is true today.' - Supreme Court of Canada December 9, 2004
Shocking, scared, running for the hills? No, Canadians really do support gay marriage. This is not a surprise to me or to most Canadians.
Friday evening, December 17, Canada's biggest controversial televison mouth piece from Hockey Night in Canada, Don Cherry expressed his support for gay marriage.
Cherry stated on TSN and reported by Queer Thoughts first, "Why should I care," he said, "is it going to cost me money, no." Cherry is an Anglican and went onto say he didn't think gays should be married in church, "going to a Justice of the Peace was okay."
The Supreme Court of Canada decision gave the "Green Light" to same-sex marriage on December 9, 2004.
The Court said equal marriage 'far from violating the Charter, flows from it.' The choice for Parliament is clear - legislate same-sex marriage across the country or invoke the notwithstanding clause to take away gay Canadians Charter protection.
The Supreme Court's decision stated that the government's proposed equal marriage legislation is within Parliament's exclusive jurisdiction and consistent with the Charter. It also ruled that the Charter protects religious officials from being compelled to perform marriages for same-sex couples. The Court said there is no need to question the decisions of courts in 7 provinces and territories.
An Environics poll released July 1, 2004 showed Canadian public support for gay marriage is at its highest point ever. 57% of Canadians stated they were in favour of equal marriage and 38% opposed. Clearly calls from MPs and Alberta Premier Ralph Klein to use the Notwithstanding clause of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms are out of step with Canadian values.
"Around the world, people are realizing that discrimination against lesbian and gay people is just plain wrong. Here in Canada, same-sex couples have been marrying for over a year and a half, and support for equal marriage is higher than it's ever been," said Gilles Marchildon, Executive Director of Egale Canada.
"The Supreme Court gave a green light to the government's proposed equal marriage legislation, reflecting Canadian values and Canadians' commitment to fairness," said Alex Munter, Co-Chair of Canadians for Equal Marriage, an umbrella group fighting for passage of the government's equal marriage legislation. "We are pleased that the government has pledged to act quickly to bring Canada's law into compliance with the Charter. We expect to see legislation introduced as soon as Parliament resumes sitting in January."
The attacks on the proposed legislation by Canada's religious right and Conservatives are unfounded. "Every religious official can choose whether or not to perform marriages for same-sex couples," said Rev. Garth Bulmer, of St. John Anglican Church. "We welcome the Supreme Court's ruling, which confirms that the Charter clearly and strongly protects everyone's religious freedom."
Gay marriage is here to stay for 88% of Canadians. MP's are playing catch up to ensure the law already in place for the vast majority is applied in the rest of the country. There remains only two choices for lawmakers. Pass the same-sex marriage law or use the "notwithstanding clause" of the Charter.
"Same-sex couples have the right to get married in B.C. and that will continue to be the case," said BC Attorney General Geoff Plant.
Controversial Canadian hockey commentator Don Cherry appearing on TSN tonight was asked about same-sex marriage. "Why should I care," he said, "Is it going to cost me money, no."
Cherry is an Anglican and went onto say He didn't think they should be married in church, but going to a Justice of the Peace was okay.
Cherry is loved or hated in Canada. There is nothing in between. His opinions on Quebec, swedish hockey players and and the Iraq war got him into serious trouble during his Hockey Night in Canada segment, "Coaches Corner." The five minute segment that plays at the end of the first period is one of the highest rated five minutes on Canadian television.
Cherry had two favourite hockey players. Bobby Orr whom he coached in Boston and Doug Gilmour. Gilmour appeared on Cherry's show more than any other hockey player. Cherry always gave him a kiss.
Earlier this year Cherry was selected as a finalist for a television show, Greatest Canadian. Cherry finished seventh after 10 weeks of voting.
Now that gay marriage has Don Cherry's okay, I can not imagine it not passing in Parliament next February. He was one of the last of the "good ole boys" I expected to be supportive.
Link: CBC Archives - Don Cherry
Are there any Hockey fans out there. I am a "little" big fan. The Vancouver Canucks are my NHL team, the Kelowna Rockets are my Major junior team.
I am not sure if it is blind loyalty or not but I think Bertuzzi has been poorly treated in the media. He came back to play in a charity game in Vancouver a few days ago. 17,000 fans gave him two rousing standing ovations.
Today we learned Todd Bertuzzi of the Vancouver Canucks may not have to face a trial on criminal charges because his lawyers are close to reaching a plea bargain, says the Vancouver Province.
Sources close to the discussions say the two sides have almost reached an agreement. It's likely that a plea bargain would include a reduction in sentence for Bertuzzi.
Todd was charged with assault causing bodily harm linked to the Colorado Avalanche's Steve Moore during a game on March 8. The case is scheduled to be in court on Jan. 17.
Bertuzzi's agent Pat Morris told CTV.ca "Our approach through this whole process has been to keep matters between Todd, his lawyer and myself involving the criminial case private," Morris said. "We will continue to be consistent in that position."
Bertuzzi is still suspended. He was supposed to meet with Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner at the beginning of training camp for the 2004-05 season.
Hockey is a rough game. Todd Bertuzzi made a mistake when he hit Moore from the side. It has to be made clear here though, Todd Bertuzzi did not intend to injure the Colorado player to the extent he was injured. In fact in can be argued that it was the resulting pileup on top of Bertuzzi and Moore that resulted in the serious injury to Moore.
It leaves you to wonder in a nothing game,(the Canucks were behind 4 goals in third period) why the Colorado coach sent Moore on to the ice. Moore was the player that elbowed Naslund in the head, knocking him out of the lineup for three games and even then Naslund was off for sometime. The league did nothing, no penaldy, no action when a nobody from Colorado put one of the leagues top three players for the last three years in a row, out of action.
Another message, Bettman sign a deal with the players. You may have some points to make about cost, but lets face it. Owners, not players created the mess. I don't really care if a player is making millions or not, my [point is the NHL has shafted so many players over the years, perhaps it is time you paid a price.
CTV.ca reported earlier today that Toronto Police lost a class action law suit for a raid on a lesbian bath house.
Police forces all across Canada could do with understanding the gay community alot more than they do. Many look at the LGBTQ community as group of outsiders and thus need to be watched. A victory for human rights was won in Toronto! Details are reported below.
- Rick Barnes
T.O. police to attend gay sensitivity training
CTV.ca News Staff
Gay sensitivity will be a requirement for all Toronto police officers as the fallout continues from a raid on a lesbian bathhouse four years ago.
The training in gay sensitivity will be required for all current -- and future -- Toronto police officers, from the newest constables to the chief of police.
On top of that, the Toronto force will also have to pay $350,000 to a group of lesbian complainants, The Globe and Mail reported Friday. The money will cover legal fees and go to specific charities.
The Toronto Police Services board approved the plan on Thursday.
"It feels like the end of a very long journey," said J.P. Hornick, one of the complainants, told the Globe and Mail. "It has been a grueling process. On a personal level, I would have to use the word vindication."
The case that made headlines in Toronto -- and across Canada -- began on Sept. 14, 2000.
A special event for more than 300 lesbians was in full swing at a downtown bathhouse when two female police officers slipped inside to check for possible liquor violations.
The two then quickly called in five male officers and the place was raided.
The officers allegedly entered private rooms and areas where the patrons' nudity was most evident.
Complainants alleged their feelings of violation and intimidation were akin to being strip-searched.
"The larger battle here is for the police to understand the community they serve," Hornick told the Globe and Mail. "That is the most important and exciting part for me."
After the raid, a group called The Toronto Women's Bathhouse Committee was formed. It then began a human rights complaint and several members launched a $1.5 million class-action lawsuit.
Both that complaint and the lawsuit will be dropped, in light of Thursday's announcement
It is happening all around us. We know Gay kids in school are at increased risk of being the targets of violence and assault. It is time authorities in our schools in Canada and the United States started taking assults and threats against gay students seriously.
Teachers, administrators and others in positions of authority have for too long tried to keep gay kids quiet. The story below highlights this specifically.
From: NBC Cincinati Police Pick Up Investigation at Beechwood High
POSTED: 4:45 pm EST December 17, 2004
UPDATED: 7:26 pm EST December 17, 2004
FORT MITCHELL, Ky. -- A gay high school student who found a death threat in his locker says he's scared, but more than that, he's upset that the assistant principal he showed the note to told him to just forget about it.
Scott is just like any other junior at Beechwood High School, News 5's Juliette Vara reports.
The 16-year-old likes to write and hang out with friends. The only difference, he says, is he's gay.
"I came out in 8th grade when I was 13," Scott says.
Scott says he's been harassed and had to deal with slurs about his sexuality.
But he says what happened to him last Friday, when he found a death threat on a piece of paper in his locker, crossed the line.
So did assistant principal's reaction when he reported it.
"He told me I should throw note away and act as if I didn't see it," Scott says.
So Scott went to the police, who are now investigating this crime.
"In light of things that happen in other schools across the United States, you' can't discount any of these," said Fort Mitchell Police Chief Steve Hensely.
That's Scott's point exactly.
Now he wonders, what if this happened to a female classmate? Would the school react the same?
"If a note got in her locker that said, 'I'm gonna rape you,' that would've been handled differently," Scott says.
All he wants is to be taken seriously.
The Beechwood superintendent said he was unaware of the conversation Scott had with the assistant principal.
But the superintendent assured News 5 that the school is working with police and that they are trying to determine who wrote the note.
If that person is found, he could be charged with terroristic threatening.
Christians use power to overwhelm gay teen in Dallas Texas. James Barnett, 18, was expelled from Trinity Christian Academy in Dallas this week for being gay and running a website for gay youth to talk with other youth about their struggles being gay. The site was pulled by Barnett when he was told he may be able to remain in the school he had been attending for 13 years at a cost of $130,000.
The school kicked Barnett out anyway. His story as reported by Ryan Davis is below.
Gay Teen Expelled From High School
by Ryan Davis
(Exclusive - Must credit Ryan Davis/Notgeniuses.com)
What would you do if you were a closeted eighteen-year old senior in high school and your principal told your parents that you were gay? That recently happened to James Barnett, who was a senior at Trinity Christian Academy in Dallas, Texas.
It all started, when a young gay personal site decided to start charging for their service. He knew this would hurt the anonymity usually provided. "You have me and 50,000 other gay teens out there, who don't want their parents to know anything is up and a credit card statement saying XY.com Magazine would be a little obvious." He knew this would make people less likely to use the site. "When they released this greed campaign I said this isn't right, kids who struggle with this and need some kind of help won't pay money."
Diaries :: Ryan Davis's diary ::
Being able to talk to other gay teens on-line had provided James with support when he was questioning. "The site to me meant a great deal, as it had probably saved my life; it gave me people who were going through the same thing and we could talk. I could finally come out of my shell. So I created a free service that would give teens an outlet; stray away from drugs, suicide, alcoholism, etc."
So with the best of intentions James, a talented web programmer, started My-Boi.com. It went off well, and three months later he had over fifteen-hundred members. "I have personally received countless e-mails from teenagers who are experiencing what I was nine months ago, and say that this site helped!" Three months later, things changed.
A snoopy kid at school told several heads in the administration that James was gay and ran a gay-themed website. He was called into the office and grilled about the site and his sexual orientation. After the discussion James asked the principle repeatedly not to inform his parents. "I again emphasized and I explicitly said, 'I am 18, I reserve the right for my parents not to know and I do not want them involved.'"
What happens next?
"The first people I see to walk in the door are my mother and my father. This is where I bury my head in my hands and don't really know what to do, how to respond - I for the first time in my life have never felt that betrayed and first time I've ever been speechless."
The principle took it upon himself to out his student. "They tell my parents "I am struggling with homosexuality." My mother broke down in tears, my dad wasn't particularly thrilled..."
If this wasn't enough they took six days to decide to expel James from school, citing 'immoral behavior and supporting an immoral cause.' "The reason for expulsion and the suspension is the fact that what I have done/am is a Class A offense. I am not given a chance to appeal to honor council, it's "too sensitive";"
Before the expulsion the school made James pull his site. They suggested if he complied they might allow him back. They didn't and he was able to get it put up on a private server, which is costing him $200 a month. He thinks its worth it. "My site meant a great deal to me to keep up, since sites like it saved my life. I felt like it was stripped away from me and from a group of people who might not have been able to find a friend in a hard time."
James attended Trinity Christian Academy for thirteen years, his family paying around $130,000 in total tuition. All he wanted was a degree from the school he's been so fond of. It's ashame that they won't give him that.
As of last Monday, James has contacted the ACLU and is waiting for a response.
Update: 12/14 10:45 AM -
To clear up some confusion: The site was not stored on the school's server. James has a server at home and runs a successful web design company. The site was pulled so it wouldn't be “under his parent's roof.” I assume he makes enough money to cover the $200 a month bill from his design work.
James is currently attending a local public high school for the remainder of the year. He is currently living with his parents, and things seem to ok.
Update: 12/14 - 1:50 PM Also, Destiny6 suggested we contact the Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Dallas Media: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Links: Houston Voice
Trinity Christian Academy in Dallas
Why do Conservative leader Steven Harper and Prime Minister Paul Martin avoid the real issue of gay marriage? The Prime Minister has hid behind the court decisions to made to date and the Supreme Court's opinion on proposed legislation.
Harper on the other hand is not being honest. He knows "civil unions" are to domain of provincial governments, yet that is one of the amendments he is proposing.
The issue is really about equality. The law as it stands now is unequal in some parts of Canada. Gay couples are being discriminated against in four provinces and two territories.
This kind of situation would not be tolerated in any other circumstance under federal jurisdiction without Parliament acting to ensure Canadians are all equal.
What would the new bill do if passed? It would extend marriage rights to Alberta, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and two Northern Territories.
What will happen if the bill is not passed? People living in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and the Yukon will still have gay marriage. There will be challenges to provincial Supreme Courts in those jurisdictions that don't have gay marriage.
Approximately 88% of the Canadian population lives within a province or territory where gay marriage is already the law. These cases were hard fought for rights, rights that had to be established in the courts because the federal government did not act to protect the rights of gay Canadians.
Newfoundland and Labrador may very well be a "gay marriage province" before the federal Parliament debates its legislation. The issue is currently before that court!
The sky has not fallen in those provinces that allow gay marriage. Straight people are still getting married and religious organizations can not be compelled to perform gay marriages. How could a marriage between two men or two women hurt anyone else?
"Same-sex couples have the right to get married in B.C. and that will continue to be the case," said Attorney General Geoff Plant.
From Victoria News
Victoria Liberal MP David Anderson will vote in favour of legalizing gay marriage now that his government's proposed same-sex legislation has been declared constitutional.
The Supreme Court of Canada issued the long-awaited decision last week, concluding Parliament is responsible for defining marriage, but that religious organizations are under no obligation to perform ceremonies that conflict with their beliefs.
"It's a Charter issue, an issue of rights, as determined by the courts, and I'll be supporting the Charter," Anderson said Friday from Ottawa. "But I hope we don't spend a lot of time on it in the House. It's an issue that probably has had just about everything said on it already. There's not much that hasn't been canvassed."
A vote on the Liberal same-sex bill is expected early in the new year.
Cabinet ministers have been directed to support the proposed law as representatives of the government's position, but backbenchers, including Anderson, will get a free vote.
Some Liberals have been critical of the split, arguing all MPs should be permitted to declare their conscience on a matter that redefines marriage. About 30 Liberal MPs are known to oppose same-sex unions.
But Prime Minister Paul Martin has rejected requests for an expanded vote, along with calls for a national referendum on the issue.
Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca MP Keith Martin -Liberal parliamentary secretary for defence - will follow his government's lead and vote yes for the new law. But in an interview with the Esquimalt News last week, he said Canada should get out of people's bedrooms altogether.
"Personally, I don't care what people do in their personal lives - I absolutely do not care," he said. "Governments should get out of the business of marriage because marriage is a religious institution..."
Saanich-Gulf Islands Conservative MP Gary Lunn said he'll vote against the bill, arguing a civil registry for same-sex partners would have been a better option - one that would protect the definition of marriage as the union between a man and woman.
Whether the bill passes or not, there will be no changes in B.C., where the Court of Appeal has already legalized gay unions.
"Same-sex couples have the right to get married in B.C. and that will continue to be the case," said Attorney General Geoff Plant.
Last week's Supreme Court of Canada decision upholds favourable same-sex rulings in six provinces, including B.C.
It stopped short, however, of determining whether the country's current definition of marriage is unconstitutional.
If the bill passes in 2005, Canada will be the third country in the world to recognize same-sex unions, behind Belgium and the Netherlands.
Note from Queer Thoughts: Gay Marriage will continue to be legal in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and the Yukon, no matter what happens with the Marriage bill in Ottawa.
Newfoundland and Labrador may get gay marriage before Parliament passes legislation. The case is currently before the Supreme Court of that province.
See these links for background:
Supreme Court of Canada on Same-Sex Marriage
Newfoundland and Labrador next Gay Marriage battle
"Anti-Gay Marriage Minister" now a supporter says inside source
Alberta, the state of "De Klein"
Harper lacks leadership on Gay Marriage say Martin and Klein
"He is going to vote with the government and that's the message he will take to the religious leaders," a senior government source said Wednesday."
John Efford, Minister Natural Resources will vote for same-sex marriage when the bill is introduced in February. Efford made his decision this week according to Canadian Press. Efford has not confirmed this personally. It was leaked through a high level government source.
Efford will meet with church leaders in Newfoundland and Labrador next week to discuss his decision. The decision to support the Government's bill was not a choice if Efford wanted to remain as a cabinet minister.
With Efford now onside the chane of a cabinet revolt has been deminished. Cabinet solidarity is a key underpinning of Canada's parliamentary system and any minister who openly defies the government runs the risk of being expelled.
Late Wednesday Efford said as he rushed by reporters, "The story's been taken, twisted around and it's not going to be twisted anymore until I meet with the church leaders," he said. "That will be next Tuesday."
Canada's Supreme Court last week declared that there were no reasons same sex marriages could not be allowed by an act of Parliament. The court also clearly stated that religions could not be compelled to perform same-sex marriages.
Efford's decision to support the bill is a major blow to the those opposed to same-sex weddings. Pressure will be directed at other cabinet ministers to break ranks. That's not likely to happen. Should the Prime Minister get wind of someone about to do so, a cabinet shuffle would occur and the offender tossed.
The law if passed by Parliament next February, will have little effect in Canadian jurisdictions that already have gay marriage. Parliament will not be able to change that.
The current battle is taking place in Newfoundland and Labrador's High Court. See these links: Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland mayors to defy law - City won't officiate at gay marriages
Canada's Conservatives move to prevent Gay Marriage
Supreme Court Upholds Equal Marriage Legislation