Here are all the fantastically amazing entries posted during March, 2010
The U.S. State of Oklahoma has accidentally passed a bill that eliminates all hate crime protections from people based on their race or religion instead of their sexual orientation, the bill’s original intent.
Bill 1965 (named, most likely, for the attitudes of that era) was supposed to essentially reverse the Matthew Sheppard and James Byrd Act, a federal law that added sexual orientation to the list of minorities protected from violent hate crimes. While states are not allowed to override federal law, Oklahoma found a strange workaround, mandating that local law officials simply not enforce a specific section of the U.S. Code under Title 18. Due to a clerical error or typo, however, the bill identified that section as 245 (which deals with race and religion) instead of 249 (which deals with sexual orientation).
Now, it’s actually a worthwhile exercise to substitute religion or race for sexual orientation to see how crazy anti-gay arguments sound, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen lawmakers do it themselves… to their own legislation… and actually pass it.
Or who knows, maybe they just wanted to exercise the golden rule and seek to be treated the way they treat others?
Either way, the intent of Bill 1965 is exactly the same, no matter which group of people it applies to. With that in mind, I’m sure the legislators who supported the bill in the first place will see no problem keeping it on the books as it stands, right?
Ottawa City Councillors are annoyed to have been flooded with angry, homophobic hate emails this month. The messages—which originated from one man, but were sent from multiple email accounts to presumably bypass the councillor’s email filters—railed hysterically against Alex Munter and the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa, which he heads.
City Councillor Rick Chiarelli, who forwarded the hate messages to the police, said that members of the Council were “appalled” with the “threatening and disgusting” e-attacks, calling the content “narrow-minded and unsubstantiated.”
The Youth Services Bureau also commented on the emails, saying: “We have a long history of supporting LGBT youth; it goes right back to the 1980s and we are very proud of our role in fighting homophobia and supporting LGBT youth with our services.”
Good on ’em!
- Munter target of anti-gay e-mails [Ottawa Citizen]
- Anti-gay emails flood Ottawa city councillors’ inboxes [Xtra]
If you’re a politician belonging to Hungary’s most radical right-wing political party, you might want to leave your camera at home the next time you go vacationing in Canada.
András Király, a member of Jobbik, the religiously-based political party defining itself as the “movement for a better Hungary,” took some time in 2008 to visit Toronto during the city’s Pride Week. The young politician, whose platform is set firmly against gay rights, gypsies, and immigrants, also decided to document his stay with a digital camera.
The photos, as if we should all be surprised, have now surfaced in multiple, French-language and Hungarian media outlets this week. Each documents a smiling (and I mean smiling) Király, posing flirtatiously with several hot, Torontonian, gay men, as well as a topless transgender woman. Additional photos also show him smoking pot, and (apparently) inhaling it second-hand from the mouth of another guy.
Király claims that his participation in Toronto’s Pride week was all part of his own “research,” but Jobbik mustn’t feel particularly pleased with the findings. Király’s page vanished without a trace from the party’s official website.
Don’t worry, Jobbik; since you seem to be low on web resources, I’ll happily document your candidate’s research on this site!
Special thanks to Slap reader Matt for alerting me to this story.
A statistically significant percentage of medical studies in the United States have been excluding gay participants for no logical reason, a new survey has found.
The survey was started when one researcher, Brian Egleston, noticed that a clinical trial about cancer patients deferred all gay couples from participating. That study turned out to be just one of about 15% to exclude gay participants without any obvious link to the subject matter. Results of the survey have now been published in last Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine.
It’s definitely odd for such a disciplined field of academics to arbitrarily exclude subjects for research as generic as a cancer study. Unless they know something I don’t. Say… Are—are we gays immune to cancer? ‘Cause if we are, I’m totally starting a new, gay-only, asbestos fashion line.
John Sheehan, a retired army general from the United States, has blamed the lifting of a ban on gay troops in the Dutch army for the 1995 Bosnian massacre.
Serbian forces overwhelmed Dutch peacekeepers stationed in Bosnia fifteen years ago, leading to one of the largest genocides in Europe since World War II. Approximately 8,000 men and children were killed by Serbian forces.
Sheehan, speaking to a senate committee currently discussing a proposal to end the country’s ridiculous policy banning openly gay men and women from serving in the military, said that the Dutch would have prevented the Bosnian catastrophe if only they hadn’t “made a conscious effort to socialize their military,” adding “that includes open homosexuality.”
Roger Van de Wetering, a spokesperson for the Dutch Defence Ministry, dismissed the comments as “total nonsense:”
The whole operating in Srebrenica and the drama that took place over there was thoroughly investigated by Dutch and international authorities and none of these investigations as ever concluded or suggested a link between homosexual military personnel and the things that happened over there.
- General blames gay Dutch troops in massacre [CBC News]
A school in rural Mississippi has cancelled the school prom rather than letting a lesbian student bring her same-sex partner.
Constance McMillen said she approached her school’s administration about taking her date to the prom and wearing a dashing tuxedo, but was told that the two must attend separately, be accompanied by “guys,” wear dresses, and refrain from dancing together. When McMillen refused these conditions, the school cancelled the prom altogether—for everyone.
Say, this is just like the time back in grade 1 when I took my ultra-gay He-Man
dolls action figures home rather than let my friend Matthew play with them. Except now it’s over a prom with an entire school board’s administration staff, some formal written policies, harsh sanctions, and a pending lawsuit from the ACLU. Other than that, it’s pretty close though.
As for what Constance McMillen thinks of the whole thing, here’s what she told the media: “I want my prom experience to be the same as all of the other students—a night to remember with the person I’m dating.”
Good on ya, Constance!
- Hearing set in lesbian teen’s suit to force prom [Associated Press]
J.D. Hayworth, Senator John McCain’s primary challenger in the United State’s upcoming senate elections, is trying to ban same-sex marriage nationwide. Rather than offering any reasons why gay marriage is bad (they are awfully hard to come by, after all), he had this explanation:
You see, the Massachusetts Supreme Court, when it started this move toward same-sex marriage, actually defined marriage—now get this—it defined marriage as simply “the establishment of intimacy.” […] I guess that would mean if you really had affection for your horse, I guess you could marry your horse. It’s just the wrong way to go, and the only way to protect the institution of marriage is with that federal marriage amendment that I support.
Hayworth is essentially declaring that if marriage is all about love, then it is impossible to legally deny marrying other “lovable” things—like horses.
The problem here—as if such an argument deserves any dissection—is that marriages aren’t one-way; they involve two people that love each other. Does a horse have the capacity to consent to such a partnership? Can it sign the necessary state documents? Can it uphold its legal responsibilities involving property, decision-making, taxes, etcetera?
The answer, of course, is neigh.
And with that, have a great Wednesday, kids!
- J.D. Hayworth: Gay Marriage Law Could Produce Man-Horse Nuptials [The Huffington Post]
Les and Susan Molnar, owners of a small bed and breakfast in British Columbia, have refused lodging to a young couple for no reason other than that they are gay.
The Molnars, both of whom identify as evangelical Christians, claim that their personal religious beliefs forbid them from extending any hospitality to gays. Shaun Eadie and Brian Thomas, who say that they have been unjustly denied service from a public business, have filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.
Turning away those different from you… Well, that’s an interesting interpretation of what Jesus was all about. I’ll watch for how this one turns out!
Ken Cuccinelli II, the Attorney General for the U.S. state of Virginia has formally warned all of the state’s colleges and universities that they must rescind their non-discrimination policies for gays, or face legal consequences.
Well, that’s all kinds of crazy. Surely “non-discrimination policies” is a really just some coded phrase to camouflage what might actually be a more reasonable request, right? Let’s look at Cuccinelli’s letter:
It is my advice that the law and public policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia prohibit a college or university from including “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” “gender expression,” or like classification as a protected class within its non-discrimination policy absent specific authorization from the General Assembly.
Yes, it appears that treating everyone equally, regardless of their sexual orientation, is illegal in Virginia. Discrimination with respect to employment and college admission is the letter of the law and, by golly, Cuccinelli is going to enforce it.
The state’s top universities—all of which have such non-discrimination policies—are reacting nervously, declining any official comments. Students, on the other hand, are having no trouble speaking their mind. Even though it’s in the middle of spring break, a Facebook group in support of equal treatment has already popped up with nearly 5,000 members.
Say, Cuccinelli does realize that being straight is a sexual orientation too, right? Hey, maybe this means I could start a gay-only faculty, offering degrees in fabulousness!
Special thanks to Slap reader Chase for alerting me to this craziness!
- Virginia attorney general to colleges: End gay protections [Washington Post]
Sacred Heart of Jesus, a Catholic school in Boulder, Colorado, has kicked out a student after a year of preschool for having lesbian parents.
While an anonymous staffer revealed that the school itself is furious with the decision, the archdiocese is quite content with themselves. In an official statement, they said that booting the child from classes was simply a board-wide policy: “No person shall be admitted as a student in any Catholic school unless that person and his/her parent(s) subscribe to the school’s philosophy.”
Punishing children with expulsion because of the sexual orientation of the parents may be malicious, uncaring, and very un-Jesus-like, but, hey, that’s Catholic schools for you. As a private institutions they’re likely well within their right to behave as unethically as they like.
Not a very good place to send a child, come to think of it.
I managed to survive my entire gradeschool education in the Catholic system, but it wasn’t pretty. Who knew that escaping that awful institution could have been so easy? If only I pretended my parents were gay!
- Catholic school boots student with gay parents [Associated Press]
- Gay couple’s child denied re-enrollment at Catholic school [9News.com]
James over at Gay Persons of Color noticed something odd the other day. Tourisme Montréal, which recently launched a new promotional blog called The Montréal Buzz to replace the five separate ones they started last summer, had added an on/off switch to the top of their page labelled “LGBT Content.” It was off by default.
I emailed Daniel Baylis—Tourisme Montréal’s amazing gay events blogger—to see what was up. Here is his explanation:
Tourisme Montréal is very aware of the LGBT market, and wanted to ensure that LGBT content was still part of “The Montréal Buzz.” But they were also concerned about reactions to people landing on a webpage and seeing too much “gay” — for instance, the perhaps-under-sophisticated couple from the mid-west who is thinking about Montréal as a destination. There is a risk that they would see some of half naked men kissing each other and think that Montréal was not for them. Ultimately we want all types of people to visit our city and experience the joie de vivre.
I don’t envy the tourism marketing industry; they have to advertise a city as being the perfect destination for all people, including crazy bigots who feel faint at the thought they might be sharing the city with a gay. (Shock horror!)
The solution, though, shouldn’t have been to hide us gays behind a curtain with a drawstring tucked away in the corner for the curious. I mean, this is Montréal we’re talking about here; all tourists will encounter a gay person every thirty seconds. Pretending that we didn’t exist for the benefit of some extra closed-minded visitors wasn’t just offensive to gays, it was an inaccurate portrayal of an incredible, diverse city. It was the sort of ill-advised compromise that I’d expect from one of Canada’s more, uh, shall we say “perhaps-under-sophisticated” tourism marketing organizations.
Whether a post features half-naked men kissing each other or not (and let’s face it, photos of half-naked people are a staple of the entire tourism industry), Tourisme Montréal had identified all GLBT content as a special hazard, unshared by any other post category. Why, even a post about Piknic Électronique, Parc Jean Drapeau’s weekly outdoor DJ set, was hidden by default because it was presumably too gay. This ran completely counter to the original idea of a unified blog to showcase all of Montréal’s vibrancy.
The switch is gone now—as of last night—but that probably still leaves The Montréal Buzz with a dilemma: How do you advertise the same place to people who are looking for very different experiences? Their old solution of having multiple blogs (including a gay one) made sense, but meant that people interested in more than one category had to follow several subsites.
Personally, I’d recommend fairer category filters that don’t single out any community as being somehow risky or problematic. After all, a couple of young gay tourists are probably just as uninterested in child-friendly stroller parks as conservative mid-westerners would be for Divers/Cité. Having a small list of check boxes for categories like “Family,” “Seniors,” “Night life,” “GLBT,” etc. would keep the spirit of a unified blog that can be browsed all at once, while still presenting an audience-targeted view of the city and not unfairly singling out the gays.
Whatever they end up doing now, I’m happy to see that Tourisme Montréal recognized their mistake and got rid of the switch so quickly. In fact, to facilitate the matter, it has been moved here. I don’t think I’ll put it at the top of the page, but it’ll be well taken care of, I promise!
A tremendous hat tip to James over at Gay Persons of Color for alerting me to the story.
Remember the government’s 63-page guide for new immigrants? Intended to teach potential citizens the ins and outs of Canadian culture, the guide was mysteriously missing any meaningful mention of GLBT rights.
Shortly after the final draft of the guide was released, Canada’s largest gay rights group, Egale, arranged a meeting with Jason Kenney, the Tory minister for Immigration and Citizenship in November. At the time, he told the group that gay rights had simply been “overlooked” during the design of the guide.
Interestingly enough, the Canadian Press revealed yesterday that not only were gay rights not overlooked in early drafts of the guide, but they were actually ordered to be removed by Kenney himself back in June.
The order to nix the gay rights sections didn’t go over well with civil servants, mind you. In August, a memo addressed to Kenney from Neil Yeates, the department’s deputy minister, urged that the GLBT-related sections be readded. Two bullet points from the memo read:
Recommend the re-insertion of the text boxes related to […] the decriminalization of homosexual sex/recognition of same-sex marriage
Recommend the addition of ‘equality rights’ under list of rights. Had noted earlier that this bullet should be reinserted into the list as a means of noting the equality of all based on race, gender, sexual orientation etc.
Kenney—who fought against same-sex marriage from 2005-2006 and voted to open a debate to ban same-sex marriage in 2007—vetoed the recommendations, and 500,000 copies of the guide were printed without mention of GLBT rights.
So, I guess that’s what’s Kenney means by “overlooked.” (Perhaps he has a different edition of the dictionary that I do.)
Applicants for Canadian citizenship, incidentally, will be tested on the contents of the guide starting March 15th. So beware the Ides of March, new immigrants—and especially gay ones; your future government is the type that would censor your very first introduction to our country and culture.
Bill Whatcott, Canada’s most hysterically obsessed anti-gay activist, does not have to pay $17,500 in fines after successfully challenging a Human Rights Tribunal ruling in Saskatchewan.
Whatcott was fined in 2005 over a “clear pattern or practice of disregard for protected rights,” sparked largely over some insane, anti-gay fliers.
The ruling was upheld by the Court of the Queen’s Bench in 2007, but the appeals court overturned the ruling, saying that the fliers didn’t violate Canada’s hate speech laws by inciting hatred and violence, and were therefore protected by freedom of expression.
Hey, I guess that means the Bill Whatcott flier collection fundraising effort for GLBT organisations is still on!