Here are all the fantastically amazing entries posted during February, 2009

Asian Network Censors “Gay” From Oscar Telecast

February 27th, 2009

For legal purposes, these are actually the Stintflones.

STAR, a Pan-Asian television network owned by Rupert Murdoch, is drawing criticism this week for its decision to censor their broadcasting of the Oscar telecast on Monday morning.

Audiences found that all occurrences of the words “gay” and “lesbian” were deleted from the ceremony’s acceptance speeches, specifically those of Dustin Lance Black and Sean Penn for the film Milk.

Jannie Poon, a spokesperson for STAR, was unapologetic, saying that the network has “a responsibility to take the sensitivities and guidelines of all our markets into consideration.”

Well, I’m outraged, I am! Being ___ myself, I find this to be an affront to the sensitivities of the network’s ___ and ______ markets. ___ and _______ viewers all over Asia—as well as the greater worldwide ___ community—are being told that words and references to anything ___, such as ___, _______, ______, and even _____ are so _______ that they can’t even ___ ______ or ____________ the ____ ___ ______ ___ ______!

Charitable Status Revoked From Gay Drop-In Centre

February 25th, 2009

The Wii in the lobby is really a training simulation.

The Pride Centre of Edmonton, a non-profit organisation featuring senior’s drop-in activities, a library, mentorship program, clothing bank and youth shelter, is in serious trouble. The centre, which relies entirely on donations, had its charitable status revoked in 2004 after being declared a political organisation by the federal government.

Jocylan McDonnell, one of the Price Centre’s board members, said that they have made a significant effort to be non-partisan. Still, despite relocating twice and replacing their board and administrators, it is now ineligable to issue tax receipts.

As Montreal Simon poignantly notes, gay seniors in particular have had to endure a lot—much more than younger generations can imagine—and they don’t often have access to the peer support that today’s youth does. A Gay senior’s drop-in centre is a place where they can socialize safely and openly, but Edmonton’s is at risk while harmful, vocal, and politically active anti-gay organisations such as Focus on the Family Canada and REAL Women of Canada are still permitted to accept tax deductable donations.

Something’s awry, don’t you think?

Unless… that crafty senior’s centre is up to something that we don’t know about yet; something sinister…

Alberta Still Dragging Feet On Gay Rights

February 23rd, 2009

No, I'm not on medication. Why do you ask?

Alberta is the only province in Canada that does not explicitly include protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation in its human rights code. This, despite a ten-year-old Supreme Court ruling stating that provinces must not exclude gays and lesbians from their human rights legislations.

Rachel Notley, an Alberta MLA, has now brought the matter up in the legislature, calling out the government for its embarrassingly slow response to the court ruling. “Why,” she asked, “does the government continue to give a wink-wink, nudge-nudge to homophobes and gay-bashers by refusing to include sexual orientation in our human rights code?”

Great question, Rachel.

Just last year, Premier Ed Stelmach said that the human rights code would not be updated to include sexual orientation in that legislative session, calling the process “complicated.”  Now, Lindsay Blackett, the Minister responsible for the human rights code and the first black cabinet minister in Alberta, has said the same thing for this legislative session, announcing that updating the human rights code would be a “knee-jerk response:”

We do not make changes to legislation… or make amendments to any particular body just because of the whim of one particular individual in this House.

I guess avoiding a knee-jerk response justifies a plain ol’ jerk response. Isn’t politics just the classiest?

Here’s the thing: this issue is not just the wishes of one lone MLA—it’s the wishes of the Supreme Court of Canada, and Alberta has no excuse for letting this go unattended since 1999, when Rosie O’Donnell hosted the Grammys that debuted Ricky Martin—and only one of them was suspected of being gay.

So, yeah, if updating the human rights code is truly complicated and requires cascading updates, then say so—say unabashedly that it was a mistake to ignore it, that you’re on the case now, and that it will be in place soon. But, frankly, I don’t think it’s complicated, especially since the courts must already interpret the human rights code as if sexual orientation were present. Alberta has a long history of institutionalized homophobia by the government, and dragging their feet on updating the human rights code—while continuing to introduce homophobic legislation—gives me reason to suspect that they’re just being… What’s the most recognizable word for it?

Let’s say: “Alberta-governmenty.”

Evangelical Lobbyists Get Top PMO Gigs

February 20th, 2009

It's beautifully unjust, isn't it?

The Prime Minister’s office has shuffled some top positions this week, and the appointments are raising some eyebrows.

Darrel Reid, the former head of Canada’s largest anti-gay lobby group, Focus on the Family Canada, has been promoted to the Prime Minister’s Deputy Chief of Staff. While working for Focus, Reid lobbied against same-sex marriage, the adding of sexual orientation to the list of minorities protected from hate crimes, and has actively promoted the harmful and discredited practise of conversion therapy for gays.  He was initially awarded a government job by Harper in 2006, and has since been promoted several times across  unrelated departments.

Reid’s old job, Director of Policy, has now been assigned to Paul Wilson, the former executive director of Trinity Western who coordinated government internships for the Christian university’s students.

Well, I’m shocked—shocked!—that Stephen Harper, of all people, would be in such tight circles with the religious right. Imagine!

Churches Call For Ethiopian Ban On Homosexuality

February 18th, 2009

It's a priority.

The Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches in Ethiopia have gathered to formally call on their government to enact a constitutional ban on homosexuality. Being gay is already illegal in Ethiopia with prison sentences of up to five years—but why settle for boring, old illegal when it can be constitutionally illegal!

An anonymous spokesperson for the church coalition spoke to journalists after their meeting to explain:

For [gays] to act in this manner they have to be dumb, stupid like animals. We strongly condemn this behaviour; they have to be disciplined and their acts discriminated—they have to be taught a lesson.

Yes, having solved all those pesky, dire famine and plague issues, Ethiopia’s churches are finally moving onto other priorities—and what better way to start than to judge and punish all those dumb, dumb gays that are holding back the country?

You stay relevant, you Ethiopian church coalition, you!

Toronto Anglicans Latest To Ponder Same-Sex Blessings

February 16th, 2009

This is silly. Sorry.

The gravely divided Anglican church is super interesting for some reason. The issue of same-sex blessings, of all things, has become the epicentre of a massive fracture, and their attempts to stay united has led to some of the most bizarre declarations I’ve heard from any religion.

Why, just in June, 2007, Canadian Anglican leaders congregated to discuss what to do about same-sex blessings and their divided church. After intense debate, they officially declared that same-sex unions are perfectly compatible with the core doctrine of the church. Hours later, they voted to forbid the blessing of same-sex couples.

Since then, several of Canada’s Anglican diocese have broken ranks with the church to bless same-sex parishioners. Toronto Anglicans are now about to join the Ottawa and Montréal diocese in allowing the blessing of same-sex couples. (And, just to be clear, we’re just talking about blessings here; not even marriage.)

But the church is in pretty rough shape. Priests have been fired, churches have split—with some opting to become part of the Anglican community located in the province of Southern Cone, South America. They’ve even barred some of their own bishops from attending conferences, all due to same-sex blessings.

From their actions, though, it seems they can all agree on at least one thing: This is definitely the best use of their resources. You know, instead of things like, oh… Housing the poor, tending to the sick, etcetera, etcetera…

School Board Partially Caves, Offers Social Justice Course Upon Parental Permission

February 13th, 2009

And go bug your sister, while you're at it.

The Abbotsford school board has reversed its decision to yank a social justice course from its schools. The course, a grade 12 elective featuring a unit on gay rights, was nixed after anti-gay groups and vocal parents lobbied to have it pulled.

The sudden reversal is great news for all the students that had the course ripped out from under them last Autum. Their substantial outcry no doubt helped to get the course re-instated, but something is still a wee bit off.

Curiously, the course now requires written parental consent before any student is allowed to register. That means that students who wish to take the course will be barred if one of their parents objects.

Julie MacRae, superintendent of the Abbotsford school board, said that the parental permission decision was made due to “the sensitive nature of some of the course content.” An interesting stance; almost nearly partly understandable. Parents should always be in the know when it comes to what their children are learning; however, at grade 12, there’s no reason the student shouldn’t have the final say in their own education.

Still, how’s this for a solution: Any parent who objects to the social justice course must take it themselves first before they mandate their decision onto their children. Fair, no?

LifeSite Hearts Scare Quotes: Part 2

February 11th, 2009

Say, Mark? How did you spend your evening? Oh, you know, the usual... sketching, inking, and painting a computer keyboard in three-point perspective before resizing it in such a way that you can barely see the joke.

A New York judge has ruled that the surviving partner of a same-sex couple married in Canada is entitled to the deceased’s estate—as stipulated in his will—without having to involve next of kin in the probate proceedings. It’s a barely interesting legal case for very many, terrifically boring reasons, but it does establish some precendent in how all the “death do us part” matters are handled when it comes to foreign same-sex marriages.

Say, let’s see how those nutty scribes at LifeSite are reporting this!

Despite the fact that same-sex “marriage” is illegal in New York, a New York Judge has ruled that a man will receive the estate of his deceased male partner, whom he had “wed” in Canada eight months earlier. […] The decision is the latest in a series of decision [sic] in New York which have set legal precedent in the state in favor of same-sex “marriage.”

We’ll ignore, for a moment, that same-sex marrages are not actually illegal in New York when performed out-of-state, and focus on the much more interesting issue here: Scare quotes!

Yes, in their usual LifeSite style, every occurance of the words “marriage,” “married,” “wed,” and “spouse” in the article are encased by a pair of delightfully sneering quotations. Why, even the word “divorce” gets a nice pair of quotes when it refers to same-sex partners. In fact, of the exactly nine sentences, there are 13 pairs of quotation marks—none of which are used for proper attributions. Oh, how the contempt does drip forth! I can almost visualize the author’s face, locked in a disapproving rictus, the Shift key permanently held for maximum quotage.

Almost makes you wonder exactly what their beef is regarding state probate notification procedures with respect to estate transfer between same-sex spouses…

Probably the same-sex part.

Parenthetically, while LifeSite correctly points out that the couple was married in Canada eight months ago, they somehow neglect to mention that the couple had been in a committed relationship for nearly 25 years prior and the surviving siblings had no objections to the will.

NJ Issues Gay Divorces; Still No Marriage

February 9th, 2009

But why are they asking a hotel receptionist, anyway?

Here’s another reason why the whole concept of separate civil unions instead of same-sex marriage is a terrible idea: New Jersey.

New Jersey happily recognises same-sex marriages performed out-of-state, but in-state, only civil unions can be issued for gay couples. Well, now a New Jersey couple who married in Canada in 2004 wants a divorce so one half can re-marry. Canada won’t issue a divorce because they aren’t citizens; New Jersey, until now, wouldn’t do it because they could only dissolve gay civil unions, not marriages; and, of course, Canada won’t let the other half re-marry if they don’t get a proper divorce first. What a mess!

Enter Judge Mary Jacobson, who ruled that the couple should be able to get a divorce within New Jersey because the state has a history of divorcing foreign marriages. This ruling comes much to the chagrin of The Attorney General’s Office, which had argued that only civil union dissolutions should be allowed for same-sex couples in-state, even if they were fully married, not civil-unioned. The argument resolved around the idea that allowing same-sex divorce would eventually lead to same-sex marriage.

So, there you go. Civil unions have become entangled in the long tentacles of the law, the state is arguing that divorce leads to gay marriage, and we’re now left with this fun fact: In New Jersey, same-sex couples can’t get married—but they’ll be happy to divorce you!

World’s First Openly Gay Leader Is A Big Deal

February 6th, 2009

Cue the 70s synthesizer sting

Last week, the world got its first openly gay leader: 66 year-old Johanna Sigurdardottir, the Prime Minister of Iceland. While a lot of people—especially the gay community—are turning somersaults over this rather spiffy milestone, I’ve encountered a somewhat less celebratory reaction across the web and in the traditional media, and it’s not exactly what you’d expect:

Does the hard-working citizen really need to be aware that the new Prime Minister is not heterosexual? Who cares? […] Whether a politician is gay or straight should be of no interest at all.

Hey, this guy must be from the future!

Here’s the rub: Gay people are still fighting for basic, equal, legal rights in the most developed of nations;  less-developed nations still imprison gays, or worse. Gay people struggle every day to gain acceptance from their own families, let alone an entire nation. Having a country overlook sexual orientation and judge a leader based on their governing qualities is freakin’ huge!

Congratulations, Johanna!

Lesbians File Rights Complaint Against Doctor

February 4th, 2009

What does that head reflector thingy do, anyway? And why don't doctors wear them anymore?

A human rights complaint has been filed against a Winnipeg family doctor who allegedly refused a lesbian couple as patients.

While it’s not clear if the doctor actually outright refused to treat Andrea and Ginette Markowski, her chilly attitude and ignorant comments were clear as day. In an interview with the Winnipeg Free Press, Dr. Kamelika Elias said that she didn’t know how to treat lesbians, that it was against her religion, and that gay people “get a lot of diseases and infections” with which she has no experience treating.

I’m not entirely sure which religion Dr. Elias claims to profess, but it should be easy enough to discover. I’ll just try Googling the relevant commandment: “Thou shalt helpeth others in their hour of need—except whenceforth a forbidden gayness eminates.”