Tag Archives: gay marriage

Flying the Rainbow Flag? It’s Not So Black and White

By Jay Menard

I’m sure there are those who will read this and brand me a homophobe. There are others who will point to my societal privilege, my cishet status, or my general whitey-ness and tell me I don’t have a right to make a comment on issues of gay rights.

I know that to be the case because I’ve read the comments — on both sides. The venom and knuckle-dragging vitriol of the homophobe is being countered by the righteous indignation and instant branding of the pro-gay warrior.

But in the end, the idea of flying a rainbow flag to protest the Sochi Olympics is not so black and white to me. Continue reading

Pride Comes in Many Forms

By Jason Menard

“Why are they here, Daddy?”

It may seem like a simple question and it would have been easy to give a simple answer: “Because they hate.”

But although that would have been the quickest and easiest answer, it wouldn’t have been fair: not to my 10-year-old daughter and her friends; and not to the people standing on the corner with signs in their hands who prompted this question. Continue reading

Tolerance Does Not Equal Agreement

By Jason Menard

There are certain powder keg topics that are guaranteed to blow up no matter how small the spark is – and the only thing that gets destroyed in these explosions is our understanding of the word tolerance.

Issues surrounding real and perceived racism, misogyny, and homophobia are the unholy trinity of irrational response. And those who are quickest off the mark to point out intolerance are often guilty of the same behaviour they claim to abhor. Case in point: the response to boxer and politician Manny Pacquiao’s comment saying he opposed U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent expression of support for gay marriage. Continue reading

Christians Claiming Marriage? Then Let’s Take Everything Else Back!

By Jason Menard

The recent North Carolina constitutional amendment that effectively bans gay marriage and all forms of civil unions has stoked the fires of the human rights debate. And since this argument is so often rooted in a claim of one faith’s dominion, perhaps it’s time for supporters of all forms of marriage to fight back using those very same principles.

First things first. Let’s deal with the actual debate at hand. This isn’t about preserving the sanctity of marriage – it’s about preserving the sanctity of the Christian definition of marriage. No more, no less. Continue reading

Out of the Mouths of Babes a Message is Lost

By Jason Menard

Can you believe they made those kids say fuck?

And there lies the line of demarcation between an extremely powerful message and going just a little too far.

If you haven’t seen it yet, please check out the YouTube video for FCKH8.com, an organization dedicated to fighting for equal access to marriage to both gay and straight couples. The ad encourages you to purchase a shirt, which would show your support for the cause. Through the purchase price, you are donating to the cause. Continue reading

Looking for Skeletons in Harper’s Closet

By Jason Menard

Could this be it? Could this be the moment we’ve all been waiting for? Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced that a free vote on same-sex unions will be held in the fall. But by opening that particular closet, will this be the time that a few right-wing skeletons come tumbling out?

Remember, this ain’t your father’s Conservative Party. The Conservative Party of Canada, as helmed by Mr. Harper, is the (some would say unholy) union of the Progressive Conservative and Alliance Party – the old Reform. And let’s just say the past has been peppered with some interesting comments.

For example:

  • Garry Breitkreutz, MP for Yorkton-Melville was quoted in a press release saying, “ In the 1950s, buggery was a criminal offence, now it’s a requirement to receive benefits from the federal government.”
  • Art Hanger, MP for Calgary Northeast uttered these bon mots, “Homosexuality, to anyone who has not been brainwashed by the last decade of effective propaganda by the gay lobby, is unnatural. It is a repudiation of nature. … Homosexuality is nihilistic. It protects nothing, it defends nothing, it continues nothing, and it sustains nothing.” Now, admittedly, that was back in 1995 – so maybe a decade has tempered his views. You think?
  • And how about Mr. Stockwell Day, who followed the natural train of thought when discussing why the protection from discrimination from religion, ethnic origin, and gender should not extend to same-sex couples… “What about the next step? Those who lobby for sex with children?”

Yes, is there any wonder why Mr. Harper’s running the government like an Orwellian Ministry of Truth? Now, to be fair, these quotes – and others like them – are compiled on the official Web site of Egale, a national organization which aims to advance equality and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans-identified people and their families across Canada. But we these quotes out there, Harper, when considering his own political future, must be thinking, ‘With friends like these who need enemies?’

And that’s the problem with this debate. The Conservatives know it too, which is why some members of Harper’s own party have come out recently with concerns about not letting sleeping dogs lie – even if they choose to lie together despite having the same genitalia.

You’ve got to have the feeling that the more right-wing members of Harper’s Caucus (is that too homoerotic for them?) have been patiently sitting on their hands, allowing the Prime Minister to go his way knowing that their position as a minority government is precarious at best. But will the bait be too tempting for them not to slip up? Harper, like a frantic plate spinner, has been taking on all the responsibilities himself to ensure that nothing leaks from the back benches. He’s running ragged, desperately trying to ensure that not one plate falls, shattering the silence, by assuming the brunt of the public responsibility himself.

This will be the test. There are many out in Canada believing that old habits truly do die hard. And they’ve been waiting for any sign of the sheep’s clothing to slide off these presumed wolves. The gay marriage debate may just be the issue that does it.

One has to wonder if Harper even has an interest in fighting this battle, knowing that he’s probably going to lose. The NDP and Bloc are certain to vote against rescinding the existing legislation that permits same-sex marriage. And the majority of Liberals will probably do the same. But in an attempt to showcase his good points – the willingness to live up to his promises, he’s running the risk of showering his party with negativity.

In provinces such as Ontario and Quebec, where the Conservatives are desperately trying to show their compassionate Conservatism can mesh with the left-leaning tendencies of these provinces and their major, vote-rich, urban areas, Harper can’t come across as a discriminatory Redneck.

In the end, even if he loses, he can come out better than when he went in. If Harper’s willing to engage in a respectful debate, avoid name calling or downright offensive behaviour, and keep the chatter from the back benches to a dull whisper, he can come out of this debate as a better facilitator. Harper can stand up and say that he’s a willing representative of the will of the people, and that he was able to keep his promises.

But that’s only if those skeletons stay in the closet. And right now, the door’s wide open.

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

United Left Harper’s Worst Enemy

By Jason Menard

Well, that certainly didn’t take long. Not even 24 hours into the federal election campaign and Conservative leader Stephen Harper threw down the first sequined gauntlet, promising to hold an open vote on the question of legal marriage in this country.

Yet, what Harper and both capital and small-c conservatives haven’t figured out yet is that if they want to reach out to the soft middle, the gay issue has to be kept aside. Otherwise, the same ol’ fears that keep Harper out of a Sussex Drive address will continue to flourish – and a polarized left will rise to send the Conservatives to defeat.

At a time when there are so many other topics with which Harper could effectively campaign from, he chooses to bring up an issue that was cooling nicely on the back burner. What’s next? Will Harper advocate a plebiscite on the return of the death penalty? How about introducing a motion to make kids recite the Lord’s Prayer in school? Maybe a little missive on abortion laws, just to keep the conversation going?

Instead of promoting talking points that are inclusionary, he has to choose to turn the heat up on one of the most divisive issues affecting our country. And when you take one side of a polarized issue, it’s only natural that an opposing side will unite to fight back – which is exactly what the Conservatives don’t want.

The Tories best chance at unseating the Grits is to play to the soft centre of Canadian politics. They’ve already wrapped up the right-wing vote – in fact, they’re the only game in that town, so why the need to focus on those polarizing issues that cause anyone that leans a little to the left to run screaming away from his party?

Harper could run a successful campaign simply focusing on the Liberal’s lack of accountability, the need for a new voice in Parliament, and a commitment to fiscal responsibility – which was the hallmark of the Liberal party until its recent string of budgetary/campaign promises running up to the non-confidence vote.

But no, that gay issue obviously is quite the bee in his bonnet. Instead of letting sleeping dogs lie, he’s decided to grab it by the tail and wave it around. Now, he can only hope that this particular dog doesn’t come back and bite him.

There’s a reason why the Liberal’s 2004 campaign included allusions to a hidden agenda. It’s the same reason why so many left-leaning voters chose to support the Liberals instead of the NDP at the last minute. Rightly or wrongly, a significant number of people believe that the Tories actually do have a secret agenda. And it doesn’t help when lesser issues like gay marriage come to the fore at the first available opportunity.

This election is ripe for the picking. The Tories could have it easily if they just learned to be compassionate conservatives. Canadians want a viable alternative to the Liberal party but they’re also leery of losing what it means to be Canadian. Rightly or wrongly, the Conservative party has been painted as threats to our social programs and our inclusionary culture – and taking on gay marriage doesn’t soften that perception one little bit.

The Conservatives have to stop preaching to the converted and realize that they’re playing right into the Liberal’s hands. Those who lean to the right will support Harper, while those who lean way to the left are going to support Jack Layton. But it’s the majority of us who reside somewhere in the vast middle that will decide this election – and that’s the demographic that the Liberals have been able to leverage so effectively over the past couple of decades.

Harper needs to realize this and stop alienating the soft Liberal. In the end, while he may see a few former Liberal voters come into his camp, his best option is that he prevents the fear-mongering and polarizing effect an “anything-but-Conservative” campaign can produce.

If he stays away from the hot-button points – or at least stops bringing them up on his own – then voters may be lulled into a feeling of security where they feel that they can comfortably cast a vote for the NDP. That way, the Conservatives can split the left and walk up the right lane, uncontested, to assume the mantle of power.

To Harper, a vote for Layton is just as good as a vote for himself. Secure in the knowledge that the Canadian centre-to-right will support his party, as they’re really the only viable option, then his focus has to be on preventing a unified left from rising up to challenge him in this election. And to do that, he doesn’t necessarily have to appeal to left-of-centre voters, but he does have to avoid being demonized.

Unfortunately, he’s already stumbled coming out of the gates and tripping over the relative non-issue of gay marriage. The Tories have to hope that he rights himself and sticks to issues – not opinions – in order to stake their claim on a very winnable election.

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved