Here are all the fantastically amazing entries posted during September, 2011

Lobbyist Says GLBT People Don’t Exist

September 21st, 2011

A man in the pose of The Thinker ponders to himself: "I *think* I think..."

Linda Harvey, an anti-gay activist and lobbyist on behalf of Mission America, has announced that “there is no proof that there’s ever anything like a gay, lesbian, or bisexual or transgendered child, or teen, or human.”

“There are no such humans,” she added.

Well, that’s certainly surprise to me, a gay man. If I don’t exist, then logically, how is it that I’m typing right n—*poof*

Australia Adopts Trans-Friendly Passport Rules

September 19th, 2011

A man sits at a Galactic Passport office. "Errorr," the attendant says, "Galactic passports require your gender: Czzrz or Froupi?"

Australia has adopted new passport regulations that allow trans citizens to select the gender with which they best identify.

Until last week, all people had to either list their birth gender (or assigned gender, if their birth gender was indeterminate), or undergo a full sex change operation if they wished to list their identified gender. Since some trans people can’t undergo sex reassignment surgery for medical reasons, this resulted in mismatches and holdups at borders.

In addition to the policy change, a new gender type called ‘X’ can be used for anyone whose gender has been indeterminate from birth or was assigned arbitrarily.

This is definitely a step in the right direction, although I’m not particularly sure why passports need to list gender in the first place. At least not since the miraculous technical advancement known as photography was made widely available sometime in the last couple of years (give or take two hundred).

Incidentally, legal changes to gender identity in Canada is provincial jurisdiction, with Canadian passports reflecting the provincial status. All provinces allow for legal changes to gender identity, but with different rules. The United States, it turns out, is currently mulling changes similar to those of Australia.

(Very special acknowledgments will now be issued to the astute Slap readers who alerted me to this story! Thanks, Matthew… Thatthew. Also: Thanks, Dana… Thana.)

Conservative Radio Host Files Police Complaint Over School Anti-Homophobia Initiative

September 16th, 2011

Kari Simpson, Batshit insane.

Kari Simpson, an anti-gay activist and conservative radio host, has filed a police complaint against an anti-homophobia program designed to reduce the bullying of LGBT students and foster a safer atmosphere in schools.

Slap readers may remember Kari from the time she unsuccessfully launched a class-action human rights complaint against the B.C. Education Ministry for not introducing the “thousands” of schoolchildren who “suffer from homosexuality and other dysfunctional sexual orientations” to sexual re-orientation therapies. (Oddly enough, not one of these thousands of schoolchildren seemed interested in supporting Kari’s case—or in the universally rejected therapies—which was promptly thrown out by the BC Human Rights Tribunal.)

Anyway, Kari went away for a while. And that was nice. But she’s back now, spearheading an attempt to get the police to investigate Out in Schools, an anti-bullying initiative designed to “facilitate discussion with youth on bullying, homophobia, and stereotypes, [giving] youth a safe space to explore these issues.”

According to Kari, though, the anti-bullying motives behind Out in Schools is really just a clever front. The real reason for the anti-homophobia program, she says,  is to “dupe parents and introduce children into homosexist politics and pornography,” effectively recruiting children “into a sexualized culture of porn and games of debauchery.”

Oh, Kari. Where would this website be without you?

So let me respond to this allegation with the only appropriate question: Is Kari actually delusional, or does she merely have an intense psychological need to get in the media despite lacking the intelligence and talent necessary to accomplish this without doing something so astonishingly dumb that people can’t help but become fascinated by the mounds of wiggling, manifested stupidity?

If you have a guess, I’ll gleefully accept it via email, Twitter, and Facebook.

The police, by the way, have yet to comment on Kari’s complaint.

(Special thanks to Slap reader Christina for alerting me to this mind numbing stupidity!)

Canada Mulls Ending Gay Blood Ban

September 14th, 2011

A man hauls a large bucket of blood.

Hot on the heels of the United Kingdom, which ended their gay blood donor ban in favour of a one year deferral last week, Canadian Blood Services is now mulling a similar change.

Canada’s permanent deferral on blood donations from men who have had sex with another man—even once—has never been scientifically sound; on top of that, the ban has been increasingly difficult to defend as more and more countries shed the practice. CBS has gone through several revisitations of the issue, but they always ended up being more theatrics than science, opting for the status quo. Somehow, though, I think this time will be different. Heck, even Russia, which is pretty darn anti-gay, has ended their lifetime ban on gay donors.

The identically cautious adoption of a one-year deferral is based on the rationale that particularly dangerous contaminants, such as HIV and hepatitis B, are undetectable for a period of time. Since all blood donations are tested for blood-borne contaminants, a period of a few months is really all that’s necessary, but donor clinics want to be especially vigilant, so a 12 month buffer makes sense.

And yet, I still find this change problematic.

As I’ve pointed out many times before, the problem isn’t the length of the ban (although forever was clearly a bit excessive), but rather the question that triggers it. This question essentially singles out sexual orientation instead of sexual behavior, treating many safe donors as risky, and many risky donors as safe. Monogamous gay couples, for example, are still effectively banned by the questionnaire, while a straight man that has unprotected sex with hundreds of partners is treated like an ideal donor, despite being a far greater risk.

This problem shouldn’t be difficult to resolve. The question could be replaced with something along the lines of: “Have you had more than one sexual partner in the last year?” followed by “Has your sexual partner had more than one sexual partner in the last year?” Answering yes to either could trigger the deferral without singling out sexual orientation and would likely even improve the quality of the blood supply by catching risky straight donors in addition to gay ones.

But, hey, these things are slow, so I’ll take ending the ban as a baby step in the right direction. Kinda.

Dads Win Right To Remove Surrogate From Birth Certificate

September 12th, 2011

A doctor talks aloud in front of a baby in an incubator: "Since you were carried to term in the Gestinotron 3000 neonatal incubator, it's your official birth mother."

Two same-sex fathers in Saskatchewan have won the right to amend their child’s birth certificate, removing the name of a surrogate mother.

The surrogate, identified only as Mary, carried the child to term using an embryo created from the sperm of one of the fathers and an ova from an anonymous donor. Despite being neither the child’s biological, nor adoptive mother, she was listed as the child’s mother by the hospital on the birth certificate. This was the case for two years, until a court ruled otherwise late last week.

In Canada, it’s standard practice for a child’s adoptive parents to be listed on their birth certificate. Listing the biological parents would be unusual, and until this case I had never actually heard of a non-adoptive, non-biological surrogate ever being listed as a parent. Still, I’ve already heard rumblings from enraged goofballs, calling this case political correctness run amok, a deterioration of the definition of children, etc. etc.  Considering the long precedent of in vitro fertilization and listing adoptive parents as official parents on birth certificates, I find it very strange that this outrage only seems to emerge when the parents happen to be a same-sex couple.

Good thing these weirdos don’t matter. Congratulations to the two dads, and their daughter. Your official documents now reflect the nature of your family perfectly, and I wish you all the best!

UK Kinda Almost Lifts Gay Blood Ban

September 9th, 2011

A vampire lunges through a doorway while a man remarks: "Wait... It's been a full year already? Well this is just great."

The United Kingdom has removed its lifetime ban on blood donations from gay men, replacing it with a one year deferral since the last time a donor has had sex with someone of the same gender.

So, yeah—essentially, nothing has changed.

Well, I suppose at the very least it’s an acknowledgement that the lifetime ban (which Canada still has, incidentally) was never scientifically sound. Nonetheless, I wish that questionnaires would stop singling out gay men and simply ask about risky sexual practices for everyone. This can include the number of sexual partners, whether or not the donor has unprotected sex, is non-monogamous, etc.

In western nations, gay men undeniably have a higher incidence of STDs, but heterosexuals are far from immune; in fact, the fastest growing HIV demographic in Canada is young heterosexual women, accounting for a quarter of all new infections. I have no reason to doubt the situation is similar in the UK, yet monogamous gay couples are deferred for a year every time they have sex, even if both partners have been tested—simply because they’re gay. Silly.

Calgary Mayor Leads Pride Parade For First Time

September 7th, 2011

People parade through a field of hay.

Calgary may not have the reputation of being a particularly tolerant city, but that perception could change sooner than one might think. For one, Calgarians elected a surprisingly progressive mayor last year. Naheed Nenshi won by a comfortable margin thanks in large to an active youth vote, assembled into action via social media. And now, from this involved base of progressives, the city’s mayor has—for the first time ever—led the city’s annual Pride parade.

For some history, Calgary—the largest city in the Canadian prairies—hasn’t been particularly welcoming of Pride celebrations in the past. It famously rescinded a Gay Pride proclamation in the early 90s following angry public demonstrations. Even more recently, any public visibility by the city’s GLBT community is usually accompanied by protesters, an annual occurrence at the Pride parade, as well as events like the regional Outgames in 2007.

Needless to say, I think the growing visibility and comfort of the GLBT community is wonderful, and already a big change from my experience living in Calgary in the mid 2000s. So, thank you, Mayor Nenshi, for representing all Calgarians!

The Story Of My (Super Gay) Wedding

September 2nd, 2011

Ruining an otherwise perfect wedding, a pterodactyl crashes through the window just as the cake is being cut.

The following article was one that I originally wrote for the September, 2010 issue of Outlooks magazine. Although I’ve now already celebrated my first wedding anniversary, I figured this would be a worthwhile time to reflect on a very special group of lobbyists that tried their hardest to force us out of a wedding in the first place. Enjoy!

So, I’m getting married in a week. A gay wedding. Exciting, right? I’m pretty nervous about the whole thing, too. Don’t get me wrong. The commitment part is kind of a no-brainer. I’m just worried that if things aren’t handled just right, grave consequences will hang on my conscience forever.

Let me explain. My wedding, I’ve discovered, has upset a large number of people. To my credit, I don’t think this was my fault; I simply hadn’t assumed that so many strangers would feel so passionately about my relationship.

I suppose the problems started about a year before my fiancé and I made the plans official. Although my wedding had been made a legal possibility many years earlier, REAL Women of Canada and the Canada Family Action Coalition jointly issued a press release announcing that they’d be seeking a national referendum on our marriage. Lots and lots of people that I’ve never met, they said, didn’t think my fiancé and I were a very good fit. Apparently, we ought to have asked everyone in Canada first.

I wasn’t too keen on the whole referendum thing, personally. We preferred our wedding to be a small, private event. And, while polls strongly suggested that most Canadians would be fine with our plans, it seemed like a pretty big inconvenience to ask everyone individually. The referendum never happened, luckily, but there were still obstacles.

The year we got engaged, Focus On The Family Canada, the Institute For Canadian Values, and the Canada Family Action Coalition were apparently so displeased with our lack of consultation about the wedding details that they started a campaign for an official, royal commission on our marriage. A group of commissioners working without government intervention, they suggested, should be ordered to intimately study my relationship with my fiancé and report back to the queen’s representatives with recommendations. The outcome, the lobbyists hoped, would be to cancel our wedding.

I guess this one really took me off guard. My financé and I had already given ample thought to formalizing our relationship and commitment, but perhaps we were missing something. A royal commission was pretty serious stuff, after all. There had only been two such commissions launched in Canada in the last ten years: One about the Air India bombing (Canada’s largest terrorist incident), and another about the future of health care. The mere prospect of such a costly inquiry made me anxious.

If I had to pinpoint the greatest cause of stress, though, I think it was Conservative MP Harold Albrecht. His blunt statement helped me grasp the unintended gravity of our plans. Our wedding, he declared, “will succeed in wiping out an entire society in just one generation.”

All of society?

My mind frantically raced, searching for what detail I could have possibly overlooked to cause such a disaster. Was the frosting that we had selected for our wedding cupcakes too bold of a colour, capable of sparking a cascading, mass seizure—wherein one guest would be thrown into epileptic fits so grotesque that all those within view would share the same fate? Maybe the outdoor location we had chosen was part of a sensitive ecosystem, jeopardizing the survival of important phytoplanktons, collapsing Earth’s food chain from the bottom up? Or maybe we had inadvertently planned the greatest wedding ever—an event so perfect that it ended the tradition of marriage completely, removing the only construct capable of ensuring the continuation of human reproduction (according to some).

All seemed a little far fetched, but what else could our small wedding celebration do to result in such horrifying consequences? All these lobby groups seemed so sure, and were wasting no expense in trying to end our ceremony.

Luckily, Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary offered a hint to help me pinpoint what the source of the problem could be. My upcoming wedding, he announced to a forum called “Let’s Talk About Children’s Rights,” was “the worst betrayal of children’s rights I’ve ever seen; even more so than the Catholic church sex scandals.”

Children! How could I have missed it? This was truly a disaster, and I fear that all of it was, indeed, my fault. Having approved one of our reception’s meal options without having inspected it personally, I couldn’t be certain that the side dish wasn’t, in fact, made of children. In retrospect, this seems like an odd choice for a restaurant to have offered me in the first place, but I should have inquired more closely about the Succulent Rack of Soylent Chops before adding it to the menu. And now, with only a week to go, I can’t make any changes or substitutions.

It’s an inexcusable oversight, if it turns out to be true, but an oversight nonetheless. To play it safe, my fiancé and I will do our very best to alert guests that one of the meal options may possibly be made of children. This will hopefully deter our guests from consuming too many.

So, with that taken care of, I have this to say to the lobby groups: Kindly buzz off. My wedding is none of your business; you have no stake in it, and your attempts to suggest otherwise don’t hold water. So leave us—and everyone else celebrating their commitments to each other—alone.