Showing posts with label equal marriage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label equal marriage. Show all posts

6.28.2015

some thoughts on the u.s. moving a bit closer to equality (#lovewins)

At last, it has happened. With Obergefell v. Hodges, same-sex marriage has been declared legal and constitutional in the United States. Same-sex couples can legally marry, just as opposite-sex couples have always had the right to do. Most importantly, laws prohibiting same-sex marriage are now unconstitutional.*

For some years on this blog, I used to note every country that joined the equal marriage club, but about two years ago, I stopped counting. More than 20 countries now recognize same-sex marriage as a right, and that number continues to climb.

This issue has always been, is, and always should be a complete no-brainer. Equality is equality. Rights are rights. We can't have rights for some and not others. That couldn't be more obvious. The debate in the US, especially the displays of extreme homophobia and bigotry from the other side, has helped the vast middle of the road to adjust to the idea.


That's why yesterday's SCOTUS decision, although incredibly wonderful, is tinged with a sad after-taste. I fully expected this ruling, but I imagined something more like 7-2 or 6-3. The 5-4 majority, and the small-minded bigotry embedded in the dissenting opinions, are disturbing evidence of the deep and frightening divisions that exist at every level of US society.

Right now it's Pride, and we're all celebrating, and we're not fretting over this close call. That's as it should be. But reading quotes from Justice Scalia's dissenting opinion makes my flesh crawl. This is a Supreme Court Justice, one of the most powerful positions in a country that claims to be a modern democracy. Say no more.

Shortly after the Harper Government was elected, the new Prime Minister brought a motion before Parliament to re-open the issue of same-sex marriage. Equal marriage had been the law in Ontario since 2003, then became legal in eight provinces and one territory, and finally was enshrined nationally on July 20, 2005. But Harper had promised his socially conservative backers this one re-visit. This would be a "free vote," where all Members of Parliament could vote according to their individual consciences, rather than voting as a party, the way the Parliamentary system normally works. The motion to re-open the issue was defeated 175 to 123.


Allan and I had moved to Canada only a few months before this, and were still getting up to speed on how the system works. We expressed surprise and dismay at the closeness of the vote... and learned that the previous votes, the second and third readings of the Civil Marriage Act, were carried by 164-137 and 158-133, respectively. That 175-123, the last stand of the backwards thinkers, was actually an improvement.

This is so hard to get my mind around. More than 100 elected representatives to the Canadian House of Commons believed it should be legal to deny a same-sex couple the same rights afforded an opposite-sex couple. I think this is what the over-used word mind-boggling refers to.

Mind you, I could care less about legal marriage personally. To me it's an antiquated and meaningless institution. Not love. Love is The Most Important Force in the World. Not commitment, and partnership, and dedication, and chosen family. But legal marriage. That choice has been my privilege as a woman partnered with a man. If I was partnered with a woman, the choice would have been made for me. I would be a second-class citizen, with fewer options, protections, rights, and privileges than if I had a male partner. So duh. No-brainer.

Yet four out of nine Justices on the Supreme Court of the United States disagree.

Thank you to Justices Kennedy, Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg, and Breyer. Thank you to every lower-court judge, every lawyer, every state legislator and mayor, who made this possible.

Thank you especially to every same-sex couple who didn't take no for an answer.

* * * * *

Vanity Fair: The Bitchiest Quotes from Scalia’s Gay Marriage Dissent

ThinkProgress: 19 Hysterical Passages From Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Dissenters

Gawker: The Craziest Lines in Every Dissenting Gay Marriage Opinion


* Many states continue to enforce anti-abortion laws that have been ruled unconstitutional, so there are still battles ahead.

2.10.2013

dyke duo dupes fox news

The wingnut media continues to redefine irony. Yesterday Fox News ran a piece called "To be happy, we must admit women and men aren't 'equal'". (Sorry, no link. Linking to bigots is a violation of wmtc policy.) To illustrate their homophobic, anti-woman twaddle, they used a picture of a wedding atop the Empire State Building, apparently not realizing it was... the wedding of two women! What a riot.

Read the story: you'll come for the laughs, and stay for the wisdom. From Feministing.
Yesterday the feminist internet collectively lol’d at Fox News when Jessica Valenti realized that the “wedding kiss” picture they’re using to accompany a piece about traditional gender roles is actually of a same sex couple.

Turns out, the two women whose love was mistakenly highlighted by the tirelessly homophobic news outlet are no strangers to the spotlight. Lela Mc Arthur and Stephanie Figarelle of Anchorage, Alaska won a contest last year to have their dream wedding in New York at the Empire State building, becoming the first same-sex couple to be married at the historic site (here’s a kickass video of them reciting their vows and defending their right to do so). They are currently on their honeymoon (!) but Stephanie Fiagrelle gave us permission to publish her pitch perfect Facebook post about the recent, hilarious kerfluffle with Fox News...
Go to Feministing to read what Fiagrelle said - simple, wise, powerful.

7.25.2012

mayor of boston puts equality before commerce, tells bigoted company to stay out of city



Menino: "Chick-fil-A would be an insult to the city's long history of expanding freedom."

Rob Ford, please take note.

12.25.2011

barney frank's radical homosexual agenda and other greatest hits

We can say two things about Congress in the wake of the news that Rep. Barney Frank is retiring after this term: It’s about to get a little dumber, and a lot duller. So here, in appreciation for his years of service and entertainment, are some of Frank’s best YouTube-accessible moments
Thanks to Ezra Klein, via James. They're short and sweet. Enjoy.

(But excuse me, Mr. Frank, you made a boo-boo in that last vid. The US invaded Iraq with your party's enthusiastic blessing, and then continued to occupy that country after your party promised otherwise in 2006. Other than that, thanks for the memories.)

11.26.2011

polygamy ruling: why are the courts still trying to protect marriage?

The recent BC Supreme Court decision upholding Canadian laws criminalizing polygamy is disappointing and dangerous. The much-quoted summary paragraph of Chief Justice Robert Bauman's decision contained a surprising clause: the protection of marriage as an institution.
I have concluded that this case is essentially about harm; more specifically, Parliament's reasoned apprehension of harm arising out of the practice of polygamy. This includes harm to women, to children, to society and to the institution of monogamous marriage.
As we all know, harm to women and children has been the stated basis behind anti-polygamy laws, but in contemporary society, this makes no sense. Forced marriage, spousal abuse, child abuse, and child sexual abuse are already crimes, whether they occur in the context of legal marriage or any other context.

Laws curtailing women's freedom have always been rationalized as necessary for women's protection. Women weren't allowed to work, vote, smoke cigarettes, dress as they pleased, own property, and whatever else because, supposedly, they were weak and in need of protection. The anti-abortion-rights people still claim that anti-abortion laws protect women, when of course those laws do exactly the opposite.

Although it may be difficult for many people to believe, some women do freely choose to be in group marriages with several women and one man. Maybe most people don't understand this, but then, Charter rights exist to protect the minority against the dominant culture.

Children are in need of legal protection, and seldom receive enough of it. Having more than two parents doesn't inherently harm children any more than having two parents of the same gender does (i.e., not at all). If society is truly concerned about protecting children, it should strengthen and enforce existing child-protection laws. Dictating what types of relationships are sanctioned for child-raising is simply bigotry.

Beyond the usual excuses about women and children, protecting "the institution of monogamous marriage" is the same irrational, nonsensical excuse used for prohibiting same-sex marriage. Why does an institution need court protection? How do multiple-partner marriages threaten and harm monogamous marriages? What business do the courts have in siding with an institution over individual Charter rights?

Tabatha Southey, writing in the Globe and Mail, says it very clearly and succinctly:
A list of things that have been decried as threats to monogamous marriage: contraceptives, gay marriage, sex education, out-of-wedlock cohabitation, lewd dancing to rock 'n' roll, women in the work force, legal alcohol, naughty films, no-fault divorce and educating women.

Yet even though all these things came to pass – and several of them would be a fair trade for monogamous marriage – the institution is still here. Possibly monogamous marriage isn't the fragile flower it's made out to be.

But Parliament's chivalrousness toward it, as reaffirmed by Chief Justice Bauman's ruling, makes me nervous anyway.

It assigns an inherent moral value to a particular kind of union over other kinds of relationships entered into by consenting adults, and I hate that. What's more, upholding a law that violates our Charter right to religious freedom in the name of protecting women and children from trafficking, rape, abuse and forced marriage is just faulty logic: These are already crimes.
[Read her excellent column here.]

A surprising number of people in our society reject monogamy. This may be expressed in dozens of different models of relationships, from married couples who have casual sexual relationships outside the marriage with their partners' knowledge and consent, to polyfidelitous group common-law marriages. And, supposedly, as long as none of them tries to formalize these nontraditional relationships with legal marriage, it's nobody's business but their own. But if they want to be legally married, they're committing a crime. That is ridiculous.

I will never truly understand why people who choose to live outside societal norms still crave societal approval. Of course I support equal marriage; I just don't understand why so many people want to be married. But you know what? I don't have to understand. Just like the courts and Charles McVety and "Stop Polygamy in Canada" don't have to understand the people of Bountiful. They just have to let them be, because it's their right to live as they choose.

7.24.2011

today in new york: joy, normalcy, equality

Today in New York City, some families will celebrate their love and commitment, because the law has finally caught up with reality.
2 Dads, 2 Daughters, 1 Big Day
by Frank Bruni

Even in a city as diverse as New York and a neighborhood as progressive as the West Village, a little kid knows that having two dads is different. Eight-year-old Maeve certainly did.

She knew, too, that the world didn’t see her family exactly the way it saw others. Her dads, Jonathan Mintz and John Feinblatt, could tell.

“She understood that there was something, for lack of a better word, second-class about her family,” Mintz said.

And, as she wrestled with that, her frustration was distilled in a question that she and then her sister, Georgia, 6, began to ask more and more often.

Why aren’t you two married like our friends’ parents?

For a long time Mintz and Feinblatt avoided an answer because, while they didn’t want to lie, they also didn’t want to focus their daughters’ attention on the blunt truth: that New York, like most states, forbade it. So they perfected stalling tactics, asking Maeve and Georgia if they thought a wedding would be fun and whether they envisioned being flower girls and on and on. Anything to keep the conversation happy and the girls from feeling left out.

On Sunday, their family will be at center stage. The first same-sex weddings will take place in New York, and Mintz and Feinblatt are saying their vows at Gracie Mansion, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a longtime friend, will officiate.

And while the two men are thrilled for themselves, it’s on behalf of their daughters, who will indeed carry bouquets and stand with them and the mayor, that they’re positively ecstatic. The men care deeply that the girls feel fully integrated into society and see it as just. Sunday’s ceremony goes a long way toward that.

Outside New York there’s less cause for celebration: Twenty-nine states with constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage and plenty of people who interpret a formal validation of same-sex relationships as an assault on “family values.”

So I invite you to look at the values of the Mintz-Feinblatt family. They do, too. That’s why they let me drop in on them twice this week and will have reporters at their wedding.

6.28.2011

handmade soaps, equal marriage, and stop the tar sands: i discover lush

As part of my work for the video surveillance project, I was wandering around the Square One mall, when I saw this sign in the window of Lush.


I went inside to ask for more information: there was a petition, a postcard drive, and an excellent pamphlet from Freedom To Marry. The manager told me about some of the company's past political actions, including Stop The Tar Sands and anti seal hunting campaigns.

I am very impressed! Most corporate chains define their social responsbility in the blandest and least controversial way possible. With Stop The Tar Sands, Save Our Seals, and Freedom To Marry, Lush is bound to take a lot of static in both Canada and the US. They'll certainly gain some business, too, but corporate social responsbility is usually all about middle-of-the-road.

Lush sells beautiful handmade soaps, all cruelty-free and ethically sourced. As much as it pains me to plug a competitor of my friend Stella Marie Soaps, shipping charges from Rhode Island may be prohibitive for Canadians, or you may need to touch and smell your soap in person. Or maybe you need a quick gift, and mail order won't work. In those cases, think Lush.

Extra special thanks to Dharma Seeker for turning me on to Lush.

6.25.2011

thank you, new york!!! marriage equality comes to my home state

New York State, thank you for doing the right thing!

Forty-two years after Stonewall, same-sex couples have the legal right to marry in New York State. Whoo-hoo!

New York is the state of birth, of my parents' birth and even one grandparent's, my home for 44 years (minus my time in Philadelphia), and in so many ways, the place of my heart. At one point, it looked like I'd be ashamed of my home state, but now I am proud of it.

A special shout-out must go to Jason West, the former mayor of New Paltz, New York, a straight guy who said, this is ridiculous, and married same-sex couples in a parking lot. When I Googled "New Paltz mayor married same sex couples" to find West's name, this turned up: Awaiting a Big Day, and Recalling One in New Paltz.

I remembered this because I feel a personal connection to New Paltz and nearby Minnewaska State Park, related to our trips upstate with our dogs. I love that this happened in that same little college town.

We're getting there. It's an insane process, it's a no-brainer, it's long overdue, and it's happening way too slowly... but we're getting there. It's only a matter of time before this happens nationally in the US.

5.24.2011

another (canadian) athlete speaks out for equal marriage

It comes as no surprise that NBA great - and peace-loving Canadian - Steve Nash supports same-sex marriage. But it's damn great to hear him say it.



Does anyone know of a list or compilation of all the New Yorkers for Marriage Equality videos? Human Rights Campaign, the organization that's producing the videos, doesn't seem to have them archived. I've Googled the daylights out of it and can't find anything.

5.14.2011

new yorkers - including at least one nhl player - support same-sex marriage


Thank you to this Canadian for taking this public stand!
Since September, advocates for same-sex marriage in New York have released 30-second videos of celebrities endorsing their cause. More than 30 have taken part, including the actors Julianne Moore and Sam Waterston, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the former first daughter Barbara Bush. On Thursday, former President Bill Clinton released a written statement of support, too.

Until now, supporters have come mostly from the worlds of politics, entertainment, theater and fashion. One type of New York celebrity was conspicuously absent: the athlete.

Enter Rangers forward Sean Avery.

He recently recorded a video, becoming one of only a few active athletes in American team sports to voice support for gay rights, and is believed to be the first in New York to publicly advocate for same-sex marriage. No active male player in a major American team sport has declared his homosexuality, and homosexual slurs remain in use to insult opponents and officials.

Avery, a 31-year-old from Pickering, Ontario, has played nine seasons in the N.H.L. Known as a fashion-conscious, on-ice agitator, he has never been afraid of what others think of him.

“The places I’ve played and lived the longest have been in West Hollywood, Calif., when I played for the L.A. Kings, and when I moved to New York, I lived in Chelsea for the first four years,” Avery said in a phone interview. “I certainly have been surrounded by the gay community. And living in New York and when you live in L.A., you certainly have a lot of gay friends.”

Avery, who lives in the SoHo section of Manhattan and keeps a home in Los Angeles, said some of those friends had wanted to marry, and he saw no reason they should not.

“I’m certainly open to it,” he said. “Maybe I can help, and I jumped at this opportunity.”
Avery's homophobic agent doesn't like it, but that's his problem. Many, many thanks to Avery for helping to blaze this trail in the world of sport.

3.15.2011

gay rights back in citizenship guide. sort of.

Let it not be said that the Harper Government™ does not support equality! Why, there's an entire sentence about gay rights in the new version of the Citizenship Guide! And that's a full sentence more than when the guide was published. See?? Progress!!

(Thanks to West End Bob for alerting me to this.)

3.03.2011

sexism in the child-care debate: it's worse than i thought

A few weeks ago, when Human Resources Minister Diane Finley made some horribly offensive comments about working parents, I noted:
I find it shocking how this discussion in Canada focuses almost exclusively on working mothers. I was so accustomed to hearing "working parents" in the US that when I moved here, I was really taken aback by the difference. To me, this is akin to seeing the choice of "Miss" on Canadian forms, or "Dear Sir or Madam" instead of "To whom it may concern". But those phrases, although important, are largely symbolic. The unquestioned assumption that women choose between staying home or earning income, while men do not make similar choices, should have been retired at least 30 years ago.

Little did I know, these assumptions about gender and child care are actually written into Canadian law! Perhaps Canadian readers already know this, but when I inadvertently discovered it a few weeks ago, I was shocked.

In my Research Methods class, we had a guest lecture by Melissa Fritz, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. Fritz is examining the language used in government policy documents, specifically child care policy. Her talk described her methods of analyzing Hansard transcripts, but I got stuck on the content of her research.

Fritz pointed us to Canada Revenue Agency and the Universal Child Care Benefit:
The Universal Child Care Benefit is designed to help Canadian families, as they try to balance work and family life, by supporting their child care choices through direct financial support. The UCCB is for children under the age of 6 years and is paid in instalments of $100 per month per child.

Leaving aside that these are taxable benefits, that the benefit amount ($100 per month) is totally inadequate for child care, and that the tax benefit does nothing to create quality child care for so many families that need it - leaving all that aside - the UCCB is actually sexist by design, stemming from the sexist assumptions embedded in the Income Tax Act.

On the application for the UCCB, Canada Revenue explains:
...there is a presumption that when both a male and female parent live in the same home as the child, the female parent is considered to be primarily responsible (see the definition on page two of this information sheet) for the child and should apply. However, if the male parent is primarily responsible, he can apply if a signed note from the female parent is attached to the application...

Primarily responsible for the care and upbringing of a child means that you are responsible for such things as supervising the child's daily activities and needs, making sure the child's medical needs are met, and arranging for child care when necessary. If there is a female parent who lives with the child, we usually consider her to be this person. However, it could be the father, a grandparent or a guardian. [See Income Tax Act, Section 122.6(f)]

This floors me. In the 21st Century, an antiquated, gendered division of labour is actually written into federal policy. And it's not like the present government wrote this. It dates back at least as far the 1970s. Although tax codes are constantly evolving, this has never been changed.

Obviously this blatant sexism offends me, but beyond that, it doesn't reflect the realities of contemporary life. Families with equally shared parenting responsibilities have to pretend otherwise to receive their $1,200. Stay-at-home fathers need a note from Primary Earner Mom before their responsibilities can be legally recognized. And same-sex parents... well, good luck with that. They have to convince Canada Revenue Agency that one of them - but not both of them! - is raising a child.

And it's not only the presumption of the mother as primary caregiver; if you look a little deeper, there are all kinds of assumptions going on. If the female parent is assumed to be the primary caregiver, then the male parent is assumed to be the primary income earner, which in turn assumes the female parent earns less than her male partner. Those are some pretty ridiculous assumptions to make these days.

According to Fritz, as recently as 1993, some women's organizations argued in favour of continuing the gendered presumption of care, feeling it protected women's benefits after divorce. Honourable ends, but ridiculous means.

In 2005, former MP Dave Chatters, a Conservative from Alberta, tabled a private member's bill to amend the Income Tax Act to remove the female presumption of child care. Chatters had a constituent who was a single father with full custody of his two children. At some point, the man's female partner - not the children's mother - moved in with him. She did not legally adopt the children, yet the child-care benefit was automatically paid to her! The man tried to fight it, without success. Canada Revenue would only pay the benefit to the man's girlfriend! Chatters sought to change the law on this man's behalf, but the private member's bill went the way of most, dying when an election was called. Chatters, a Conservative, has since retired.

2.20.2011

congratulations to two more new canadians!

Major congratulations are in order! Our friends and fellow expatriates "Gito and Mrtew" are now Canadian citizens! Or soon will be: they've passed their test and are scheduled to take their oath.

These guys have been through a lot to be together. Because Gito is not a US citizen, they couldn't live together in the US, since their relationship is not legally recognized. They stayed together through deportation and then the long wait of immigration. In Canada, they were able to get married, buy an adorable house in Windsor, and make their life together. Gito is now attending university.

We finally met in person for the first time a few years ago, and I'm sure we'll all see each other again. The Red Sox in Detroit are a great excuse to visit friends in Windsor. You can see Gito's amazing and unusual photography at eggfactory and Arte is Foto.

Becoming Canadian means a lot to me, and our journey from that first thought - "Maybe we should move to Canada... Could we? Should we?" - to the day we took our citizenship oath has, in many ways, defined our lives. But no matter how much Allan and I wanted to leave the US, we could have continued living in New York City. Gito and Mrtew, like our friends Tom and Emilio, didn't have that option. Tom and Emilio lived in constant fear of deportation; Gito and Mrtew were forced apart. It doesn't have to be that way. One day, it won't be. Until then, how many lives will be ruined?

Most of our old moving-to-Canada crew - a bunch of US couples who applied to emigrate to Canada within a few years of each other and found each other online - are now either Canadian citizens or soon will be. As each of us gets citizenship, we all celebrate. I feel a real bond between us all. They're like my extended family, Canadian edition.

12.03.2010

pew research: "the decline of marriage and rise of new families"

Via Andrew Sullivan, Chart Of The Day: What is a family?, from the Pew Research Center.

A majority of respondents don't consider my family a family. Although I actually don't care, because I know we are a family. (Which may make you wonder why I posted this.)

Even more interesting, 18% of respondents judged an unmarried male-female couple with children as not a family. And 12% thought a single parent with children is not a family! How do we wrap our heads around that one? It may be bigotry, but it also may be a failure of the imagination. People cannot imagine a type of family other than the kind in which they were raised. Their minds are very small.

Another interesting chart: percentage of people who think the changes in marriage and family types are a good thing, a bad thing or neither.

The summary of the report is very interesting: here. I'd like to see future surveys include polyamorous, multiple-adult households - just to piss off the bigots.

10.15.2010

a trio of smackdowns for canadian conservatives: the u.n., the citizenship guide and fox news north

Stephen Harper and his merry band of Canadian Conservatives suffered a trio of defeats in the past week - which is another way of saying that we, the people who want to reverse the damage the Harper government has done to Canada, enjoyed a series of significant victories.
  • First, the world said no to the Harper foreign policy agenda when the UN denied Canada a seat on the UN Security Council. Haroon Siddiqui has an excellent round-up of why the UN very rightly said no to Canada, and how the Conservatives are typically and lamely trying to spin their defeat.
    It’s not just his pro-Israeli stance that made Canada a pariah at the UN. He:

    • Sabotaged the UN climate accord.

    • Decried the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    • Downgraded UN peacekeeping — to 160 Canadian soldiers out of 105,500 worldwide, placing Canada 57th, behind Yemen and Uganda. (Tuesday, the day we lost the vote, was the anniversary of Lester B. Pearson’s Nobel Peace Prize for inventing peacekeeping.)

    • Diminished our role at the UN and its agencies.

    • Diverted Canadian funds from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency to the Palestinian Authority, to boost Mahmoud Abbas against rival Hamas.

    • Thwarted a probe into the alleged torture of Afghan detainees.

    • Left Omar Khadr to rot in Guantanamo Bay, while defending the policy of indefinite detention as well as the American military’s kangaroo courts.

    In many of the above policies, Harper copied George W. Bush. Whereas America has shaken them off, the Prime Minister is still pursuing them.

    Of course, that last paragraph is completely wrong. Obama hasn't "shaken off" the policies of his predecessors; he has reinforced and extended them. This is typical of mainstream Canadian commentary: the US taken at face value. But the column is well worth reading, especially for the neat summary of how the Tories are trying to spin this defeat as a victory.

  • It was announced that new editions of the guide to Canadian citizenship will refer to legal same-sex marriage and the fact that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. This wouldn't be news if it hadn't been proven - thanks to Access to Information requests by the Canadian Press - that Jason Kenney himself had all mention of LGBT rights stripped from the citizenship guide.
    Internal documents show an early draft of the guide contained sections noting that homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969; that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation; and that same-sex marriage was legalized nationally in 2005.

    But Kenney, who fought same-sex marriage when it was debated in Parliament, ordered those key sections removed when his office sent its comments to the department last June. Senior department officials duly cut out the material, but made a last-ditch plea with Kenney in early August to have it reinstated.

    "Recommend the re-insertion of the text boxes related to ... the decriminalization of homosexual sex/recognition of same-sex marriage," says a memorandum to Kenney from deputy minister Neil Yeates.

    "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..."

    In the end, however, Kenney's view trumped that of the bureaucrats. The 63-page guide, released with fanfare last November, contains no mention of gay and lesbian rights.

    Wmtc readers know that equal rights for LGBT citizens weren't the only good thing about Canada omitted from the new citizenship guide: peace, social justice and the environment were all cut, making for more room for war, distrust of immigrants and as many mentions of the Queen as they could stuff in. For more on that, see my comparison of the current citizenship guide with the previous version: short version here, full version here.

  • And finally, I hope you've all heard the good news about "Fox News North": Quebecor has dropped its bid for special treatment from the CRTC.
    It was Quebecor's second shot at special treatment: first, in March, it applied for a rare licence from the CRTC, which would have required cable and satellite companies to carry Sun TV News on their services. That type of licence, known as Category 1 (soon to be Category A), is currently not being granted by the regulator, and it rejected Quebecor's application.

    The company then tried again in July, asking for a much more common Category 2 licence to operate a specialty channel. But in that run-of-the-mill application, it included a request for "must offer" conditions – requiring distributors to offer the channel during its first three years, on at least one tier of their services. The company argued this was different from must-carry status because it let consumers decide whether to subscribe.

    There can be little doubt that Quebecor was pushed into this retreat by public pressure. From Avaaz:
    83,000 of us signed the petition, 25,000 sent letters to the CRTC and 4,000 donated over $115,000 - and last week SunTV, seeing they could not win, dropped their request to the government to force cable companies to carry them. A huge congrats to everyone on this amazing victory for Canada!

    It wasn't easy -- the Sun media empire threw everything they had at us - smear pieces, legal threats, even insider knowledge of sabotage of our campaigns -- but our united voices proved more powerful than even a Harper-allied corporate giant.

    I frequently hear progressive Canadian friends lament how Canada is "becoming the United States". I have a solid list of reasons why that isn't so, but this post points out a central difference: here, it's still possible to create change. Keep speaking out.
  • 10.05.2010

    it gets better: dan savage, sarah silverman and my friend nick

    I'm thinking most wmtc readers have seen this by now, but if even one of you hasn't, it's worth posting.

    There has been a rash of suicides of of gay teens in the US. All of the young people were bullied in high school, because they were gay.

    Columnist Dan Savage and his partner Terry Miller made this video in response.



    Nick is the first friend I met through wmtc. He's Canadian now, having left the US for a better life in Toronto. Here's his contribution to "It Gets Better".



    Sarah Silverman puts the bullying and the suicides in context. This is short; please be sure to watch it.



    Bullying isn't limited to queer kids, nor is teen suicide. The deaths of those six young people is not a "gay problem". It's our problem - all of us. It's up to each of us to create a safe world where each and every one of us can be ourselves, and can live without fear.

    We have a long way to go.

    "When you're sure you've had enough of this life... hang on."



    My heart breaks for those boys and their families. I've known what it feels like to wonder if death might be the way to stop the pain. I've also known the pain that suicide leaves behind. It's so important to know that there is a way out, that there may a better world on the other side. Thank you to everyone who is a part of "It Gets Better". Pass it on.

    8.07.2010

    why an openly gay judge ruling on behalf of equal marriage is not a problem

    Just as we were leaving California, an astute federal judge struck down Proposition 8, marking a big victory for equality and a significant defeat for the forces of bigotry and hatred. As New York magazine put it, quoting the ruling, this is "what history sounds like":
    Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same sex couples.

    The ruling has many excellent parts, but I particularly like this one, addressing the overturning of a vote in referendum-happy California:
    . . . fundamental rights may not be submitted to [a] vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.

    HuffPo has good analysis.

    Then, as you know, the bigots, facing defeat, denounced the ruling because US District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker is openly gay. Recuse, they cry! Conflict of interest, they cry! Remove him, reverse it, how dare he!

    As usual, they have it ass-backwards.

    There's a reason it took Thurgood Marshall to successfully argue against legal segregation, and why we need female Congresspeople to bring women's equality to the fore. This is why our elected officials must reflect the makeup of the population. Of course there are millions of non-queer people who support equal marriage, just as there are millions of feminist men. But people whose lives and very beings are directly affected by issues have a special investment, and have the potential to use their personal stake to affect change. I can imagine that Vaughn Walker is very proud to have made this ruling, to significantly contribute to the cause of gay rights.

    As more and more queer people are able to be out, we see more legal equality, such as same-sex partner benefits. Openly gay lawyers, legislators, CEOs, human-resources administrators, and so on, all help advance the cause of legal equality.

    The other reason that it's fine for a gay judge to rule in favour of equal marriage is the same reason it's fine for a non-gay judge to make the same ruling. It's a constitutional no-brainer. There is simply no reason in the world to deny LGBTQ USians equal rights except bigotry, and bigotry has no place in the law.

    Dr. Dawg writes about the hypocrisy of the religious right on this one. So many layers of hypocrisy, it's difficult to identify them all.

    Meanwhile, Mexico's Supreme Court upheld Mexico City's equal marriage law against the conservative government's challenge, and Arnold Schwarzenegger called for the state of California to immediately resume granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

    7.15.2010

    welcome argentina to the land of marriage equality

    Argentina has become the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage. Way cool! The same law also allows same-sex couples to adopt children. BBC story here.