Here are all the fantastically amazing entries posted during December, 2009
Well, that’s all for this year, kids! Regular posts will return in the new year. Until then, have a safe and happy holiday!
Great news coming out of Mexico City, just in time for Christmas!
City legislators have approved a gay marriage bill, granting equal marriage rights to all residents! The bill, which also gives gay couples the right to adopt children, was passed with a wide margin of 39 to 20 against. Mayor Marcelo Ebrard is expected to sign the bill into law quickly.
Opponents, led by the Nation Action Party, are already mobilizing, saying they will bring the new law to the courts. I doubt an open-minded place like Mexico City will take such a challenge lightly, though. So, for now, congratulations on finally getting full legal equality for all families! Here’s hoping more places follow suit quickly.
I love mayors. They’re inherently funny, like the head of a condo association—passionately seizing what amounts to no real power. And aren’t we in luck? There are two mayor stories today!
Bill Mills, the mayor of Truru, Nova Scotia (who you may remember for some earlier anti-gay shenanigans), is facing extra accusations of homophobia after declaring that gay men alone are responsible for a proposal to install a locked gate at Victoria Park, restricting hours for all residents. Many people are angry with the proposal, and while the park has a reputation of being shady (pun kind of intended), it has many problems, including drug dealers, underage drinking, and teenage hookups—not just gay cruising. Still, Mayor Mills has refused to withdraw or clarify his comments. The rest of the city council, meanwhile, has publicly distanced themselves from the mayor’s craziness.
In some better mayor-related news, our friends in Houston, Texas have reason to celebrate after electing their very first lesbian mayor! Annise Parker, an openly gay politician with a partner of 16 years and two adopted children, won with 53.6 percent of the vote in the normally über-conservative U.S. state. The voter turnout was one of the lowest in history, mind you, at just over 16 percent. But that’s just more proof that mayors are silly positions. Am I right?
Scott Brison, a gay Nova Scotia MP, sent out some really charming Christmas cards to his constituents this year. The postcard shows Brison and his husband, Maxime St. Pierre, standing in a field along with their golden retriever, Simba.
It’s not unusual for MPs to mail out greetings with pictures of their families, and while most people responded well to Brison’s postcard, not everyone was as gracious or polite. After posting the photo online, The Globe and Mail was forced to shut down their comments section over what they called “an overwhelming number of hateful and homophobic remarks,” explaining “we can’t allow our site to become a platform for intolerance.”
Brison, displaying his usual class, shrugged off the hate, saying: “There’s always a very, very tiny minority of bigots. It’s their problem; it’s not my problem.”
Good for Scott! And here’s to the day when sending out a simple postcard won’t result in a ridiculous controversy.
Slap reader John writes in with some good news coming out of Washington, DC. The city council has voted in favour of legalizing equal marriage rights for gay couples!
The bill’s fate is now with congress, which has 30 days to veto it, which appears unlikely, or let it be.
Of course, gay marriage opponents are already in hysterics. A group calling themselves Stand4Marriage (meaning opposite-sex only marriage) has declared their intentions to put the issue to a referendum vote on the next ballot, asking every single resident whether or not to take away the marriage rights from gay couples.
Still, if all goes well, DC residents will have full equal marriage rights by St. Patrick’s Day. Here’s hoping for the best!
- DC City Council votes to legalize gay marriage [Associated Press]
Dragon Age, a mature-rated, Canadian-produced video game is being virtually drawn and quartered by the anti-gay lobby over the possibility for the player to have a male/male liaison.
The scene, described as “far more chaste than Brokeback Mountain” by the New York Times, takes place between a man and an elf named Zevran—if the player chooses to accept various prompts to pursue that sort of interaction.
Bioware, the Canadian studio responsible for the game, said the whole scenario “is designed to celebrate player choice and create a story that is reactive to the way you choose to play it.” World Net Daily, an anti-gay publication based in the U.S., views the whole interaction differently, declaring their objection under the headline “Players have dirty ‘gay’ sex in hit game.”
Anti-gay groups regularly decry gay content in video games, depicting it as some sort of conspiracy to recruit youngsters to the dreaded homosexual lifestyle via inconspicuous toys. (That’s how it started out for me… I ask for one He-Man action figure as a kid, then BAM! I’m living the homosexual lifestyle: Going out for brunch, doing some grocery shopping, and typing a blog entry while my fiancé does the laundry.)
The focus on youth by these groups is a dishonest target; according to the Entertainment Software Foundation, the average age of a video game player is now 35, and the range of story lines offered by games reflects this. Dragon Age, in particular, is rated M by the ERSB, restricting its purchase to anyone over the age of 17, mostly due to its violent fantasy content.
Still, this misdirected focus can border on being amusingly obsessive. The Timothy Plan, an anti-gay lobby group that encourages investors to boycott gay-friendly companies, regularly ranks video games by their “homosexual themes.” Here’s their official warning for a game called Army of Two by Electronic Arts:
Although never spoken of, undertones of homosexuality are present. Weaponry in the game can be decorated to be anything from diamond encrusted to gold plated. You share a parachute, and the riot shield system allows one player to use a shield or car door as portable cover while the other cuddles up close behind and dispenses “lead” from his “iron.”
Boy, if Freud were alive today…
As for Dragon Age, I say good for Bioware! I mean, why should gay gamers always be saving the princess?
Canadian Blood Services has gotten a lot of heat for its unscientific ban of gay blood donors, particularly while blood is at a shortage. Gay men are permanently barred for life from donating blood, even if they have been tested and are in monogamous relationships.
It looks like Canadian Blood Services has been reviewing the science behind some of its policies, though, as a ban on gay men donating bone marrow and stem cells has now been lifted. The policy change is relatively minor, mind you, as bone marrow and stem cell transplants require nearly perfect genetic matches. Only 250 such operations are conducted per year.
Still, that means there are about 250 people annually who will be more likely to find a donor match to save or improve their lives. It’s also a positive step in recognition of the scientific and statistical literature, which has consistently shown that gay men pose no inherent risk, and that screening based on risky sexual practices instead of sexual orientation improves the safety for everyone.
It’s a step in the right direction. Not that I’m too keen on undergoing a painful bone marrow extraction operation right now or anything…
I’m very pleased to introduce today’s guest author. Matthew David is a gay Christian and talented singer/songwriter with an aptness for challenging popular conceptions. In his second Guest Slap, Matthew questions whether Christianity’s appropriation of Christmas was wise, and whether it’s possible to integrate one’s faith with knowledge that the Nativity is rooted in pagan mythology.
Christmas is a write-off for a lot of people who have happily fallen deaf to the pagan reconstruction’s attempt at Christian symbolism. Adding to that the corporate cash-grab which brings about greed-gone-wild in our children (and our adults too), the heart of the season seems to have been lost. And ever a blog post, article, or television preacher crying foul about this very tragic loss every December.
I’ll join the chorus, but as an oddball—a gay Christian. Sure, many an “unsaved” soul has seen the Christmas tree, the holly, the stockings, and the virgin/manger nativity, and has observed that this is nothing more than a rebranding of Rome’s then-ancient pagan myth. Some have even seen the story behind the celebration as “same script, different cast,” referring to some Egyptian, Greek, or Hindu god-story, to list only a few. To be sure, the similarities are exact, and become frightening to the faithful.
Others have gone further, writing off everything the church believes as false, as they’ve seen how the institution’s dogma has mistreated the human race in ages past, and yes, continues to do the very same burning at the stake (well, as much as the law allows, the bastards). Many readers have experienced the unChristian manifestation of this dogma personally, and have in turn, turned their back on the people of this dogma, and even the dogma itself. Granted, if a belief prescribes atrocity, why believe?
But here’s a thought in a different vein: don’t let a people’s obviously-false doctrine rule out the pursuit of a correct interpretation of said doctrine. Siding with naysayers is the easy button for a person who has been hurt or has seen others hurt; likewise, news that demeans the character of an enemy is easily believed, and is rarely given fair and responsible thought.
Generally, looking at things with an open mind and a different angle is wisdom. Believe immediately the premise that Christmas is a man-made myth meant to help us sleep at night, or hear the criticism and ask a question. Perhaps this: Is Christmas veiled paganism, or is it the final manifestation of the persistent collective human psyche’s prophecy of a god-man coming? Have ancient sages, prophets, and star-gazers from every part of the world and from every age seen the same story in their rituals, apparitions, and star-charts, and deducted the same story to pass on to the masses? Or is this population control for a new era? Perhaps something even more sinister? There are many things to ask before a fair judgment is made, if we’re willing to be fair.
This holiday season, take the time to entertain the thought that there may be something good within the traditions to believe. When we have preconceived notions about anything, we miss the true notions when they come. And believe me, if you will, a pauper’s baby in a back-country manger is easy to miss… Still, strange so many have believed all this time.
Thanks again to today’s guest author! If you’d like to hear more from Matthew, including his brand new album, Masquerade, head on over to the official Matthew David website.
An Alberta court has ruled that a hateful, anti-gay letter published in 2002 does not violate the Alberta human rights code. The letter (which has been republished on Xtra for analysis) was penned by Stephen Boisson, an evangelical youth pastor. In it, Boisson uses violent war metaphors as a call to arms to stop “the homosexual machine” by “taking whatever steps are necessary.”
While Canada’s criminal code forbids inciting violence against identifiable groups, the Queen’s Bench court ruled that the talk of war in the letter was metaphorical. Here’s an excerpt from the ruling:
That the language of [Stephen Boisson’s letter] may be jarring, offensive, bewildering, puerile, nonsensical and insulting may be of little doubt, but the language does not go so far as to fall within the prohibited status of “hate” or “contempt.”
Boisson’s letter may not criminal, but that does not mean the public has to treat it as acceptable. There was a violent gay bashing in Boisson’s town just days after his letter was published, and—while I doubt his letter was the sole cause—it certainly supported an atmosphere where violence against gays can flourish.
There is a difference between the right to do something and the right thing to do. There are consequences for hateful speech, and it is up to the public to challenge anyone not big enough to accept responsibility for those consequences. Hate speech is worthless and leaves the world worse off for it; use your own free speech to make the world better, and confront hate wherever it is found.
- Court quashes human rights anti-gay ruling [CBC News]
An amusingly bizarre rift over same-sex blessings in the Anglican Church has felt its latest tremor after a court decision late last month.
Harnessing the healing power of embittered legal conflict, four Anglican parishes sued the Diocese in May over a property battle stemming from a disagreement about same-sex blessings and other differences of very, very little significance. (The lawsuit was heartily endorsed by Jesus himself, purportedly.)
Well, now the court has reached its verdict. The land and buildings claimed by St. John’s Shaughnessy, St. Matthew’s, St. Matthias, and St. Luke’s parishes are rightfully the property of the Diocese, and the breakaway parishes can not seize them for themselves.
Having settled the property dispute, all sides have now decided to put their disagreements behind them and rejoin, strengthened by a renewed commitment to sheltering the homeless, feeding the hungry, and offering comfort to the less fortunate…
Hahaha! Ah, I’m just pulling your leg. They’re totally still exchanging petty insults and stuff.
Sweden is finally lifting its lifetime ban on gay blood donors, instead implementing a deferral of one year based on responses to questions about sexual practices. The change, which takes place in March, puts Sweden beside several European countries to reverse their gay blood donor bans, a trend applauded by the American Red Cross who called such bans “medically and scientifically unwarranted” in 2007.
Canadian Blood Services, in the meantime, continues to bar all gay men from donating blood for life—even if they’re in long term, monogamous relationships—and goes as far to personally track down and sue anyone suspected of violating the ban.
Meanwhile, straight men who engage in risky sexual practices only receive temporary deferrals. That’s bloody-well unfair, isn’t it?
- Sweden to end ban on gay blood donors [Canada.com]