This monthly column features news and issues affecting gays and lesbians in Canada and around the world. Look for it on the second week of each month, only in The Voice.
While on tour for tsunami relief, Prime Minister Paul Martin had to battle a religious edict from a Sikh clerical authority that calls upon all Sikh’s to resist the legalization of same-sex marriage. “I would point out that we are a country of ethnic and religious minorities,” Prime Minister Martin told a news conference. “And the purpose of the Charter of Rights is to protect minorities, to protect them against the oppression of the majority.”
A new survey of Massachusetts legislators shows that a proposed amendment to the state Constitution is likely to fail. Same-sex marriage was legalized in the state April 2004, and since then, state legislators have been seeking a way to amend the state Constitution so that it will be stopped in its tracks.
Richard Hatch, the winner of the original Survivor, has been found guilty of tax evasion. He will be pleading guilty to two counts of tax evasion for not reporting income relating to the $1.01 million he won on the show. He could face up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for each charge.
George W. Bush is about to be inaugurated for a second time. However, the Human Rights Campaign launched a series of TV ads that asks “What will he do in the next four years?” trying to highlight the inconsistencies regarding equal rights for gays and lesbians.
Ontario’s Attorney General Michael Bryant reports that there is smooth sailing in regard to same-sex marriage in the province. No one has had to be forced to perform same-sex marriages in the province against their will. Marriage commissioners in British Columbia and Saskatchewan have quit their jobs because they object to same-sex marriage, although they had not been forced to perform any ceremony.
Gay and Lesbian couples can now get married on Canada’s military bases. The Royal Canadian Armed Forces has quietly drafted a policy calling for military chaplains to formally perform same sex weddings. Interim guidelines have a process for pre-nuptial counselling and using the base chapel for same-sex ceremonies.
On Tuesday, February 1, the minority Liberal government tabled its same-sex marriage bill in the House of Commons. According to the Globe and Mail, 139 MPs will vote in favour, 118 are against the bill, and 49 are undecided. The bill needs 154 votes to become law. “No religious official will be forced to perform marriages that are contrary to their beliefs,” Justice Minister Colter said at a press conference. The Liberals are expected to have a hard time passing the legislation. The Conservative party has taken out ads in several newspapers.
Quote of the Month
“Human sexuality is a powerful force, which society has acknowledged through many of our laws and social customs.”
— Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic, Archbishop of Toronto, in an open letter to Prime Minister Paul Martin, Jan 19, 2005.
“It is wrong to invoke the love of God in order that one person’s ‘values’ might diminish another’s value. Those who claim that homosexual people threaten to dismantle the value of heterosexual marriage would do well to remember that if anyone destroys marriage, it is married people, not gays and lesbians.”
— Right Rev. Dr. Peter Short, Moderator of the United Church of Canada in an open letter to all members of Parliament.