Here are all the fantastically amazing entries posted during February, 2007

Supreme Court To Rule on Gay Partner’s Pension

February 28th, 2007

Timely Court Ruling

Remember George Hislop? He’s involved in a lengthy court battle to get same-sex survivor’s benefits. And he’s dead.

Sadly, Hislop died in October 2005 while waiting for the supreme court’s decision. But luckily for him, the final ruling is coming tomorrow! At last! Uh, not that there’s much he could do with his partner’s pension if it’s awarded now. A good tombstone polishing, maybe.

Incidentally, our beloved federal government is the party fighting the case, arguing that the elderly surviving partners of gay relationships should not be awarded their partner’s pensions retroactively. After all, it’s not like gay people have ever paid money into the Canada Pension Plan. Oh—wait…

Church Threatened With Shutdown Over Gay Blessings

February 26th, 2007

Anglican Church

B.C. Anglican churches may be forced to shut down if they don’t stop blessing gays. The Anglican Communion, a global collection of Anglican authorities, issued this ultimatum to “errant” churches last week in Tanzania.

This is especially unfortunate for the churchgoing community who agrees with their local church over the foreign ultimatum. Under the Anglican structure, church buildings are owned by the Anglican denomination itself, not the individual parishes who pay their mortgage. If a parish is thrown out of the denomination, it must surrender the property, or pay double to purchase it.

Throwing an entire community out of their church for blessing gay people like anyone else… That’s totally what Jesus would do, right?

Anything Remotely Gay To Be Outlawed in Nigeria

February 23rd, 2007

Nigeria Redecorating

Get ready for some serious closet!

A Nigerian bill is poised to outlaw anything that’s remotely close to being interpreted as sort of gay in the country. The bill prescribes a five-year prison sentence for—are you ready for this? Meeting with gays, promoting equality for gays, donating money to gay organisations, expressing gay love in letters and emails, attending or participating in a gay wedding or ceremony, publishing, selling, renting, or loaning a gay book or video, taking or possessing pictures of a gay couple, selling or renting housing to gay couples, and visiting, hosting, or creating gay websites. That, of course, in addition to the harsher interpretations.

Hey, how about that? Slap’s actually illegal somewhere! Kudos to you, my law-breaking visitors!

Anyway, misinformation about homosexuality is rampant in Nigeria. A special advisor to the president recently announced that being in a same-sex relationship directly causes “mental retardation, and high tendency to commit suicide.”

Fascinating, no?

Alberta Government Caves, Lets Gay Couple Adopt

February 21st, 2007

Adopted Child

The abolishment of an obscure protocol has made Lance Anderson and Blair Croft the first gay parents to adopt through a non-private agency in Alberta.

Croft, a child care worker, originally filled out the adoption paperwork in 2004. After impressing social workers with their success in the mandatory parenting courses and home inspections, the couple was immediately approved. Or, rather, they were approved… until assistant deputy minister Bill Meade got word of their efforts. Two days after the approval, Bill outlined a new “protocol for adoptive placement with same-sex couples.”

Under the protocol, offices were forced to look for other parents for the child before considering the same-sex couple, first regionally, then provincially. If no other parents were available, the child would then go through “media recruitment,” including a website promotion and weekly television segment. If parents could still not be found for the child, the same-sex applicants would be scrutinized and the final approval—unlike all other adoptions—would have to go up through the ranks to the deputy minister himself.

Privately, social workers suggested filing for adoption as a single parent to avoid the hoopla.

Luckily, the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act abolished the same-sex adoption protocol earlier last year. Jody Korchinski, a spokesperson for Child Services, assured same-sex couples that Lance and Blair’s horrible experience won’t be repeated:

The sexual orientation of the parents is certainly not a considering factor. What we’re looking at is in terms of the home: Is it stable? Is it permanent? Is it loving? Can they provide the medical attention? A safe and secure environment? Education of the child? It’s the interests of the child that are put first.

What a novel concept! Well, congratulations, guys!

Why I Support Making Commissioners Wed Gays

February 19th, 2007

Cold Virus Makes Me Post A Mailbag Segment

Well, folks, a gang of microscopic germs have decided it would be convenient to set up shop inside my throat. I’m feeling lousy. So, I’m posting a response from the Slap Upside The Head Mailbag!

A visitor (from back in November) writes:

Why do you object to parents being notified if their kids are going to take a class on gay issues? And why does it bother you that some people do not wish to administer marriage vows to gay/lesbian couples?

Mark responds (again, back in November):

Thanks for writing; I appreciate your questions!

First, I’d like to clarify that I don’t have a problem with clergy refusing to officiate over same-sex weddings. Clergymen are performing a religious ceremony on behalf of the church, and are absolutely free to abide by the rules of the church. Many churches, for example, do not permit inter-faith marriage and will refuse to officiate over such ceremonies. This is within their constitutional right.

My objection is rather to the notion that a Justice of the Peace or civil marriage commissioner could refuse to perform their services to a same-sex couple. Unlike a clergyman, JOPs and commissioners are not religious ambassadors, and the services they are providing are on behalf of the state, not the church. For a state-sanctioned commissioner to refuse a marriage license to a gay couple would be kind of like a state-sanctioned private registrar refusing to issue a drivers license to someone of a profoundly different faith.

On a personal note, I absolutely agree with a person’s right to religious expression. However, I do think it’s a bit of a stretch for someone to claim their religious beliefs forbid them from interacting with same-sex couples in a job capacity.

As for the school notifications, I assume this is a reference to Ted Morton’s Bill 208, which stated that parents would have to be notified before a teacher acknowledges the existence of same-sex marriage in Canada.

Given that same-sex marriage does exist in Canada, I feel this is an awfully heavy-handed restriction to be written into law. The most outspoken opponent of this bill was the Alberta Teacher’s Association. My objections are the same as theirs. To require parental notification before acknowledging any potentially contentious topic effectively muzzles spontaneous discussion. A teacher would have to refuse to answer student questions on the topic and halt student reports. This gags discussions on the constitutional, social, political, and economic aspects, and I firmly believe that it’s important for students to develop sound discussion skills.

Beyond that objection, I also think that since other contentious topics (war, abortion, divorce) are not given the same treatment, this law would single out discussions about same-sex marriage as posing a unique hazard. This is not a fair message to gay and lesbian students, and their peers.

Incidentally, there are no courses in Alberta that discuss same-sex marriage as part of the curriculum. There is a new “Social Issues” course being offered in B.C. for 2008, and that includes a unit on gay issues. However, this course is offered to senior students in high school only, and is purely an elective. Parents should always discuss which electives their children take.

So there you have it: My lazy “Sick Day” post! Do you agree? Disagree? If you’d like to send a letter for a future mailbag post, don’t forget to visit the stupendous About Page!

Well, I’m off to get some rest and drink plenty of fluids. Until Wednesday, folks!

Update: Thanks to everyone who sent me “get well” notes, and to the very many more of you who wrote to point out the hilarious ambiguity in this post’s title. At my own discretion, I respectfully refuse to clarify which interpretation is accurate. ;-)

Related Posts:

NHL Harassed, Boycotted By Anti-Gay Lobby

February 16th, 2007

Pro-Family Lobby Objections Flowchart

Hey, remember Brian Rushfeldt of the Canadian Family Action Coalition? In December, Brian called on Canadians to boycott hockey because of what he called the NHL’s promotion “of an 11-year-old boy as the poster child for gay sex.”

Now, what Brian was actually refering to is an independent film entitled Breakfast With Scot, which licensed the Toronto Maple Leafs’ logo from the NHL. The film, which just finished shooting, is about a macho hockey player whose life is transformed when he and his gay partner become the guardian of an 11-year-old boy. Paul Brown, the producer, described the comedy as a “crowd pleaser in the spirit of Billy Elliot or About a Boy—movies that celebrate the uniqueness of children, and how they can teach adults.”

Although this is enough to give Rushfeldt a hernia, the hockey boycott isn’t going quite as well as planned. As a result, the anti-gay lobby appears to have switched to Plan B, teaming together with other lobbyists to start an email campaign harassing the Leafs’ president, Richard Peddie. Americans for Truth, a US-based anti-gay organisation, even posted Peddie’s email address online, flooding his mailbox with what he called “raw,” “live,” and “dissapointing” emails.

Former team captain, Rick Vaive, said that both the Canadian Family Action Coalition and Americans for Truth need to “get over it:”

It is time people realized that [homosexuality] is part of real life. It doesn’t matter what the colour of your skin is, or what your sexual preference is, or what your religious beliefs are—we all have to get along. So get over it.

Well put! Though, personally, I’d have liked to see the hockey boycott continue. Given the right resources, I’m sure that lobbyists could have convinced Canadians to embrace an exciting new national pastime: Jesus Ball.

Happy Valentine’s Day Update

February 14th, 2007

Valentine’s Day Update

Happy Valentine’s Day, kids! Love it or loathe it, it’s an existent holiday and that can only mean one thing: It’s time for me to post a lazy update on old stories!

Alvaro Orozco Might Stay

Alvaro Orozco, the Nicaraguan man who was to be deported for not being “gay enough” has been allowed to stay in Canada for two more months. His lawyer is using that time to arrange an application for citizenship based on “humanitarian and compassionate grounds.”

If you’d like to help Alvaro, visit his website for information on what you can do.

Canadians Like Gays, But Not Too Close

While nearly one in five Canadians would dislike a gay neighbour, a sizable majority would like to see those gay neighbours explicitly protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

According to a recent Angus Reid poll, 62% of Canadians responded that they’d support explicit provisions in the Charter to ensure equality for everyone regardless of their sexual orientation. In addition, 54% of respondents said that the final word on issues involving Charter rights should be decided by the courts, and not parliament.

Hey, do you think that means we’ll be getting our Court Challenges Program back?

Well, until Friday, have a great Valentine’s Day!

Love Thy Neighbour, Unless They’re Gay

February 12th, 2007

Gay Neighbour

Canadians would be more uncomfortable having a gay neighbour than any other minority. At least, that’s the news according to a recent poll conducted across various western and Eurpoean nations.

Canada, where nearly one in five people reported they’d dislike a gay neighbour, falls well behind Sweden’s 6% intolerance rate, but better than Italy’s 28.7%.

Respondents weren’t asked why they disliked gays so much, but I’ll address the most likely culprit: Garden jealousy.

Yes, it’s time to dispel the old myth that a gay garden in the neighbourhood will outshine your own. You see, no houseplant—let alone an actual outdoor garden—has survived my care. Too much water, not enough sun, sporadic fertilization schedule… I’m just destined to be incapable of nurturing a plant. So, if you have me as a neighbour, there’s nothing to fear! Your garden will be comparatively better in pretty much every respect. Though I guess it’s kind of a moot point, since I live in a downtown apartment.

But, what do you say? Am I welcome in the neighbourhood?

Refugee Deemed “Not Gay Enough,” Deported

February 9th, 2007

Gayometer

A gay Nicaraguan man who fled his country at the age of 12 will be deported from Canada.

Alvaro Orozco had been seeking refugee status in Canada after swimming across the Rio Grande, making his way up through the states, and finally settling in Toronto. Orozco claimed that his father threatened to kill him for being gay, and that he didn’t feel safe in Nicaragua where homosexuality is still illegal. Strangely, his Calgarian adjudicator, Deborah Lamont, refused to hear him out, saying that if he were gay, he should have been sexually active:

I found the claimant’s many explanations unsatisfactory for why he chose not to pursue same-sex relationships in the U.S. as he alleged it was his intention to do so and he wanted to do so.

He is not a homosexual […] and fabricated the sexual orientation component to support a non-existent claim for protection in Canada.

Alvaro, incidentally, was only a teen when he made his claim for refugee status. His lawyer, El-Farouk Khaki, is furious with the decision, and said it showed a lack of understanding about gay teens:

Did [Lamont] expect all gay teens to be sexually active at 14, 15, 16 years old? That’s horrid.

You’ve got a kid who’s run away from home because he’s had the crap beaten out of him by his dad because he’s different, because he looks gay, because he doesn’t behave like the other boys or his brothers.

Alvaro is, of course, seeking a stay on the deportation order. In the meantime, adjudicators clearly have some well-defined expectations for gay men, so here are some quick tips to help conform to their image:

  1. Remove all songs from your iPod except for generic House music
  2. Try to book Snagglepuss as a speech therapist
  3. Shriek whenever you see someone that resembles Madonna
  4. Wear one of these fine costumes: Policeman, Construction worker, Indian, Cowboy, or whatever stereotype that leather-clad guy is supposed to be
  5. Carry around papers labeled “The Homosexual Agenda” and distribute them to school children

Good luck, Alvaro!

Update: Sheena, a youth centre worker, has informed me that Alvaro’s friends and allies have set up a website containing information on what you can do to help him out. Check it out!

Priest Removed For Refusing To Fire Gay Employee

February 7th, 2007

That ol’ church compassion

Ah, so that’s what Jesus would do!

The congregation of the Holy Cross Church is reeling after Bishop Richard Gagnon fired their favorite priest, Father Michael Favero, for refusing to dismiss a gay employee.

Father Favero indicated that firing the gay office manager would have gone against his concience, and chose to be dismissed rather than compromise his integrity. Parishoner Monica Kowalewski said Favero was a “hero” for taking that stance, and that Bishop Gagnon needs to apologize for his un-Christian behaviour:

Not only has [Father Favero] been fired from our church, he’s been barred from undertaking any priestly functions anywhere. He should be offered the opportunity to return to Holy Cross, and if he doesn’t want to come back, at least he can work elsewhere.

So, there you have it: Since same-sex marriage has become reality, churches have fired priests for refusing to dismiss gay employees, refused communion to gay parishoners, and suspended the marriage licenses of archbishops who bless gay couples.

Guess that terrifying slippery slope was actually more like a rope-tow, huh?

UN Rejects Canadian Gays

February 5th, 2007

The Wonderful World of Bigotry

Today, on Slap Upside The Head’s The Wonderful World of Bigotry, we bring news of the UN’s decision to grant observer status to the Coalition gaie et lesbienne du Québec (CGLQ)!

By an 8 to 6 vote, the result is: nay.

That’s right folks, UN representatives for Egypt, Guinea, Pakistan, Qatar, Sudan, Burundi, China and Russia have decided that the rest of the world doesn’t want to hear out gay Canadians. While no reason was revealed for the nay votes, Yvan Lapointe, spokesperson for CGLQ had some insight:

They said they lost our file. They claimed they did not receive our e-mails. It was only after the Canadian mission got involved that they started to find things.

Yvan, who was understandably disappointed by the vote, was also concerned by the attitudes toward gays in other nations: “The delegate from Egypt told me they don’t have a gay problem in his country because there are no gays there.” Egypt, notably, has come under fire by Amnesty International for detaining suspected gay men.

As for CGLQ, I guess there’s still the backup plan: Found the nation of Gaybonia.

Tories Quietly Reverse Discriminatory Law

February 2nd, 2007

Tory initiative

A discriminatory law from 2004 that disallowed same-sex spouses from sponsoring their partner for Canadian citizenship was quietly overturned by the Conservative government last week. In fact, the law was reversed so quietly, that it was announced by none other than NDP MP, Bill Siksay.

“Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley has informed the Standing Committee of Citizenship and Immigration that her department’s interim policy on same sex marriage […] has been annulled,” Siksay said in a press release, adding: “This is another important victory towards full equality of gay and lesbian Canadians.”

Now, there’s no word on why the Conservatives didn’t announce this change themselves, although I guess I could try to share some insight. Let’s see… They, uh, outsourced their policy announcements to the NDP?

No?

Well, perhaps Siksay’s voice resounds with Canadians more. Or—Oh! I know! The parties are merging! The New Canadian Democratic Conservative Reform Alliance. Yes, that sounds about right to me.