by The Canadian Press
(Ottawa) If the Conservatives had hoped to put the Tom Lukiwski issue behind them, they won’t be able to because of pressure from within their own caucus.
Senator Nancy Ruth, the only openly gay member of the Conservative caucus, said she plans to raise the issue when caucus meets Wednesday.
“Apologies are never enough,” Ruth said in an telephone interview. “There always needs to be action.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper refused Monday to discipline Lukiwski over a vulgar homophobic slur the Regina MP uttered 16 years ago while he was a provincial Conservative organizer. (story)
Harper acknowledged that Lukiwski’s remarks were “completely unacceptable,” but he told the House of Commons that he considers the matter is closed following Lukiwski’s apology.
Harper added the government will not be stripping Lukiwski of his title as parliamentary secretary to the House leader.
Ruth would not offer an opinion on whether Lukiwski should resign from that position, but she plans to tell him and her caucus that more needs to be done.
“I will speak to him and let him know that it’s not good enough, and I’ll do it in the most tactful way I can,” Ruth said while en route to Ottawa.
“There are queers everywhere _ including in his constituency _ and we don’t ever forget this stuff.”
She suggested that Lukiwski spend some time in his constituency with a group of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gender people to develop a better understanding of the challenges they face.
Ruth said her discussions about homosexuality with Harper have always been positive. He considers sexual preference a private matter, she said.
That openness leads her to believe Harper will be willing to listen to her suggestions on how Lukiwski can begin making reparations.
A swaggering Lukiwski was videotaped on the evening of a provincial leaders’ debate in 1991 trying to draw distinctions between those who are gay and straight.
“There’s As and there’s Bs,” he said. “The As are guys like me. The Bs are homosexual faggots with dirt on their fingernails that transmit disease.”
Since the tape was made public last week, Lukiwski has apologized during a news conference and in the House of Commons.
The opposition has demanded that Lukiwski be fired from his parliamentary secretary duties, saying to do otherwise would condone bigotry.
Ruth said she has reservations about Lukiwski’s apology.
“When people say that stuff, there’s something deep-seated that’s true.”
She is, however, going to give him the benefit of the doubt, as people do change over sixteen years.
“I know he has experience with homosexuals in the caucus _ I’m in the caucus, there are others.
Ruth was appointed to the Senate in March of 2005 by then-prime minister Paul Martin as an independent Progressive Conservative. When she later joined the Conservative caucus, she met with Harper who asked why she thought she had been approached to join.
“I said that it was because it was the year of gay marriage, and I was a lesbian,” Ruth said.
“His response was `that’s interesting. I’m sure there’s more to it than that.”’
Ruth says that Harper has been respectful of her views which she finds remarkable.
“And he listens. I actually got a budget line in last year around an action plan for women.”
Matthew Shepard’s Parents: ‘We are humbled that it bears our sons name’
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff Posted: September 27, 2007 – 11:50 pm ET
Updated 12:10 pm ET, 1:00 pm ET
(Washington) The Matthew Shepard Hate Crime bill passed the Senate on Thursday, setting up a potential battle with the White House.
The measure has already passed the House. The two versions of the bill must be reconciled before heading to President Bush.
In a bid to head off a threatened veto, the Senate’s chief sponsor, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) tacked the bill onto a Defense spending bill as an amendment.
The president is desperate to have the spending bill passed. The White House has not said if the president would veto the Defense bill to kill the Shepard Act.
The attack on the bill in the Senate was led by Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) who called it “unwise, unnecessary and unconstitutional”.
Hatch said that the term “gender identity” is ambiguous and unenforceable. Rather than passing legislation now he suggests more study of all hate crimes is necessary. The Utah Republican offers an alternative amendment that would set up a task force with the states.
Other GOP leaders were careful not to attack the legislation itself, focusing instead on what they said was the “non-germane” nature of the amendment to the overall spending bill.
Following an impassioned plea by Sen. Edward Kennedy, the Senate voted to end debate on the Shepard Act – receiving just the 60 votes needed for cloture.
The bill then passed on a simple voice vote.
Among those opposing cloture and the bill was Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) who is fighting to overturn a guilty plea he entered after being busted in a gay sex sting operation in the men’s washroom at the Minneapolis airport.
Opponents vowed to fight the inclusion of the Shepard Act in the Defense bill during conference sessions with the House.
“The president is not going to agree to this social legislation on the defense authorization bill,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “This bill will get vetoed.”
Nevertheless, LGBT civil rights leaders sitting in the Senate gallery were delighted.
“For over a decade our community has worked tirelessly to ensure protections to combat violence motivated by hate and today we are the closest we have ever been to seeing that become a reality,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.
“Congress has taken an historic step forward and moved our country closer to the realization that all Americans, including the GLBT community, are part of the fabric of our nation. The new leadership in Congress fully understands that for too long our community has been terrorized by hate violence. And today, the US Senate has sent a clear message to every corner of our country that we will no longer turn a blind eye to anti-gay violence in America.”
Federal hate crime legislation already covers people on the basis of race and religion. Republicans and socially conservative groups argued that adding sexuality and gender identification to hate crime law would allow gays to target churches.
“This legislation marks a milestone for both First Amendment rights and civil rights,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.
“You can fight hate crimes without harming free speech, and this legislation reaches that goal,” said Fredrickson.
“By passing this bill with comprehensive language, this legislation will provide law enforcement agencies with the tools needed to fully prosecute bias motivated crimes,” said Jon Hoadley the Executive Director, National Stonewall Democrats.
“We urge President Bush to stand with the American people, who have demonstrated their strong support for this legislation, and ultimately sign this bill into law once it reaches his desk.”
During debate Wednesday on the bill Oregon Republican Sen. Gordon H. Smith, another sponsor invoked the name of Matthew Shepard for whom the bill is named in a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday.
“For those of you who do not know Matthew Shepard’s story, it is truly heartbreaking,” said Smith.
“Matthew was a 21-year-old college student at the University of Wyoming when he was attacked. Shortly after midnight, on October 7, 1998, Matthew was kidnapped, beaten, pistol whipped, lashed to a lonely stretch of fence and left to die alone. Almost 18 hours later, Matthew was found alive but unconscious. His injuries were deemed too severe for surgery and Matthew died October 12.
“He was murdered by two men simply for who he was, because he was gay. To think that such virulent hatred of another person’s sexual orientation drove another to commit such a heinous act is truly unthinkable. Sadly, this case is not isolated,” said Smith.
Matthew Shepard’s parents said the legislation sends a bold and unmistakable message about violent hate crimes.
“The Matthew Shepard Act is an essential step to erasing hate in America and we are humbled that it bears our sons name,” said Judy and Dennis Shepard in a statement.
“It has been almost nine years since Matthew was taken from us. This bill is a fitting tribute to his memory and to all of those who have lost their lives to hate.”
In May, shortly before the House voted to pass the bill, the White House called the measure “unnecessary” and “constitutionally questionable.”
Following Thursday’s Senate vote White House spokesperson Dana Perino reiterated Bush’s opposition but would not comment on the prospects for a veto now that the measure is part of the Defense bill.
“We believe that state and local law enforcement agencies are effectively using their laws to the full extent they can,” Perino said.
FBI statistics show that one in six hate crimes is motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation.
And WE are TWO of those 45,300 people…
by The Canadian Press
(Ottawa) Same-sex unions are growing at five times the rate of opposite-sex ones according to census numbers that also reveal, for the first time, the number of gay marriages in Canada.
Some 45,300 couples, both common law and married, reported as same-sex in the 2006 census, up from 34,200. Those numbers represent a 33 per cent surge since 2001, while heterosexual couples grew by just six per cent in the same time period.
The historic Statistics Canada query on same-sex marriage, coming in the wake of Parliament legalizing such unions in 2005, revealed 7,465 gay and lesbian marriages.
That’s considerably lower than numbers reported by the now-defunct advocacy group Canadians For Equal Marriage. The group, based on its own research of municipal records, reported last November that 12,438 marriage licenses had been granted to same-sex couples since provincial courts began recognizing such unions in 2003.
The census relegated same-sex marriages to a write-in category under the questionnaire’s ‘other’ box _ a move that raised the ire of Egale Canada. The national advocacy group responded by urging its membership to list their relationships as husband and wife.
“One box for everybody,” is how executive director Helen Kennedy described the group’s position.
“People are people and people just want the same things out of life. Your sexual orientation should not matter.”
Anne Milan, a senior analyst at Statistics Canada, stands by the accuracy of the census data but concedes the limitations of relying on the answers people provide.
“It’s the first time that we’ve asked same sex marriage so it’s really a benchmark number,” said Milan, who added it’s “difficult to say” what effect Egale’s dissent had on the numbers.
“Future census releases will allow us to compare the count and see what’s happening.”
The fact that the question was being asked at all shows that “people are getting on with their lives, which was fundamentally what the whole debate was about,” said Michael Leshner, a lawyer and one of Canada’s first legally married gay men.
“It’s really a debate that hopefully has run its course… We’re just part of the boring middle class now,” Leshner said.
According to the census, same-sex couples accounted for 0.6 per cent of all couples in Canada. That falls in line with numbers reported in the United States, New Zealand and Australia. More than half, or 54 per cent, of same-sex married Canadian spouses were men.
Some nine per cent of same-sex couples had children, more commonly in female unions (16 per cent) than male ones (three per cent). Children were present more in same-sex married couples (16 per cent) than common-law ones (eight per cent).
Clarence Lochhead of the Vanier Institute for the Family says the gay community’s successful fight for marriage reflects the desire to be accepted in the larger community.
“To the extent that you can think of the homosexual community feeling that they’re marginalized populations, I don’t think it’s all that surprising that they would want access to those forms of unions that are recognized in a much wider social community sense,” he said.
Ontario became the first province to legally recognize same-sex marriage following a 2003 decision from the Ontario Court of Appeal. Similar decisions followed in British Columbia, Quebec, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon, and New Brunswick.
On July 20, 2005, Canada became the third country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, after the Netherlands and Belgium. Spain and South Africa have since legalized gay marriage as well.
“As my spouse Mike Starkel always says, we won. There’s nothing they can do, we won,” said Leshner.
This is the exact kind of Religious SHIT that I hate – HATE about Christian Fundamentalists. That you believe that you hold sway over the government any more than the rest. This is why America needs a clear SEPARATION between CHURCH and STATE.
In the year 2007, Straight Evangelical Minions are so concerned with Gay Rights, Hate Crimes Legislation, AIDS funds, Gay Marriage, that you are going to spend millions of dollars and hundreds of hours of lobby time to sway the electorate to elect a God Damned President?
Oh the Gays are gonna come and get us, they threaten the sanctity of marriage, Oh the gays want Special Treatment, Rights, and Protection from Hate Crimes!! Oh Oh Oh….
The Evangelicals are on another Witch Hunt. They are going to press the Gay Issue on the Candidates and they will attempt to KILL any nomination of any candidate who is soft on the Homosexuals, Gays and Lesbians. I guess we are not past the wedging of Sexual Orientation or Sexual Orientation issues into a Presidential Campaign.
It is really sad when you think that all Evangelicals do with their spare time is THINK about all things GAY!!! Does this strike anyone as problematic for them and informative for us?
God, We pray for Salvation from Evangelical…
- Osama Bin Laden is still alive [See Video]
- The United States is engaged in a war [Read:IRAQ] that they cannot win
- President George Bush is an idiot – And needs to be IMPEACHED
- Your foreign policy needs work
- People need health care
- There are children going without food
- There is not enough money for People with AIDS across the board
- All you Christians can think about is the GAY AGENDA!! Pardon me while I THROW UP!!! You limey bastards…And God Wept!!!
by The Associated Press
Posted: September 9, 2007 – 3:00 pm ET
(Washington) Prominent evangelical leaders who spent the summer hoping Fred Thompson would emerge as their favored Republican presidential contender are having doubts as he begins his long-teased campaign.
For social conservatives dissatisfied with other GOP choices, the “Law & Order” actor and former Tennessee senator represents a Ronald Reagan-like figure, someone they hope will agree with them on issues and stands a chance of winning.
But Thompson’s lack of a full endorsement of a federal gay marriage amendment and his delay in entering the race are partly responsible for a sudden shyness among leading evangelicals.
“A month or two ago, I sensed there was some urgency for people to make a move and find a candidate,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a Washington-based conservative Christian group. “Right now, I think people are stepping back a little and watching. The field is still very fluid.”
A loose network of influential evangelical leaders known as the Arlington Group met privately Wednesday and Thursday in Washington to discuss presidential politics and other issues, participants said.
Although the group does not endorse candidates, individual members have done so in the past, and one of the organization’s founding principles is to get the movement’s leaders on the same page when possible.
Some in the meeting shared their presidential leanings, but the consensus was that more time is needed to gauge Thompson’s performance, according to a participant.
A clearer picture may develop Oct. 19-21 during a “Values Voter Summit” in Washington that will include a presidential straw poll.
In June, Thompson met privately with several Arlington Group members, many of whom are uncomfortable with the GOP top tier for various reasons: Arizona Sen. John McCain for championing campaign-finance overhaul and labeling some evangelical figures “agents of intolerance”; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for backing abortion rights and some gay rights; and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for his social-issue policy reversals and – for some members – his Mormon faith.
With the post-Labor Day primary push under way, the 65-year-old Thompson faces a crucial month to prove he is the best alternative for a key GOP constituency.
“He’s got a real opportunity to be the most credible conservative candidate across the board,” said Gary Bauer, a one-time presidential aspirant who heads the advocacy group American Values. “Whether he can put it all together remains to be seen. But he’s got a real chance to emerge as the major conservative alternative to Giuliani.”
Others are skeptical about whether Thompson can fill that role.
Rick Scarborough, a Southern Baptist preacher and president of Texas-based Vision America, said that while he is encouraged by Thompson’s strong voting record in the Senate against abortion, he questioned the candidate’s commitment to social issues.
“The problem I’m having is that I don’t see any blood trail,” Scarborough said. “When you really take a stand on issues dear to the heart of social conservatives, you’re going to shed some blood in the process. And so far, Fred Thompson’s political career has been wrinkle-free.”
Thompson’s long-delayed entry is another concern, Scarborough said. “The hesitancy has made us wonder whether he has the stomach for what it’s going to take,” he said.
Earlier this summer, doubts crept in following reports on Thompson’s role in crafting campaign finance reform and stories that he lobbied for an abortion rights group.
More recently, Thompson has come under scrutiny for his position on a constitutional amendment on gay marriage, a defining issue for the Christian right.
Thompson over the past month has stated on more than one occasion that he supports an amendment that would prohibit states from imposing their gay marriage laws on other states. (story) That falls well short of what evangelical leaders want: an amendment that would bar gay marriage nationwide.
Thompson’s position surprised evangelical leaders who say they met with him in June and came away thinking he shared their desire for a more sweeping constitutional change. Now, they wonder if he is flip-flopping.
One person in attendance – Mathew Staver of the Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based conservative legal group – said Thompson described going back and forth about the merits of an amendment prohibiting gay marriage nationwide.
“At one time, he said he was against it,” Staver said. “Then he said in June he was for it. So if now he’s saying he’s against it, to me that’s a double-minded person. And that would be a real concern for religious conservatives.”
Messages left with Thompson campaign were not returned.
Several Christian right leaders said opposition to a broad amendment would hurt Thompson with evangelicals, but not necessarily cause irreparable harm. Others played down the issue, pointing out that their favored approach was politically impossible anyway because Democrats control the House and Senate.
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said Thompson’s position is consistent with the former senator’s support for limited federal government and giving power to the states.
Land said it is healthy that expectations for Thompson have diminished from unrealistic levels and he does not think evangelical excitement has dimmed for a man he described as a “masterful retail politician.”
Many evangelical leaders said one of Thompson’s biggest draws is his perceived electability. Some are watching whether former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, can build on his second place finish last month in the Iowa straw poll.
Tim Wildmon, president of the Tupelo, Miss.-based American Family Association, said that while he likes Huckabee, Thompson’s better name recognition and fundraising potential is a strong draw for evangelicals.
“This is a dilemma a lot of people have,” Wildmon said. “They want to support the candidate that most reflects their values. “But at the same time, you have to balance that against finding someone who can actually win.”