FRIDAY, 5 FEBRUARY 2016

‘I’ve changed my mind’: a gay activist reverses stand on wedding cake row

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Amy and Daniel McArthur of Ashers Bakery  Photo: Photopress via Telegraph

 

A well-known British gay rights activist, Peter Tatchell, has changed his mind about the prosecution of a Northern Irish business couple over their refusal to provide a wedding cake iced with the slogan, “Support Gay Marriage”.

“Much as I wish to defend the gay community, I also want to defend freedom of conscience, expression and religion,” wrote Tatchell in The Guardian prior to a hearing of the case in the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal this week.

Last year, the Belfast High Court found that Daniel and Amy McArthur, who run Ashers bakery in Belfast, had unlawfully discriminated against a customer when they refused a request for the cake and were ordered to pay £500 in damages. Ashers Bakery appealed the decision. Read more about the case here and the… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

MONDAY, 25 JANUARY 2016

Italy in heated debate about “civil unions”

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A heated debate is taking place in Italy over the recognition of same-sex partnerships. Parliament will begin a debate on Thursday (January 28). A bill has been proposed by Senator Monica Cirinnà to regulate “civil unions” and – as expected – it is dividing both public opinion and the Parliament.

Italy has currently no form of recognition of either same-sex or opposite-sex relationships outside heterosexual marriage. Over the past ten years, similar proposals have been quickly abandoned, not least because of Italy’s political instability.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has repeatedly manifested his support and his Democratic Party (PD)  has drafted a proposal which is presently under debate. “We are the only European country without a norm on civil unions, and we want to fill the gap,” Mr Renzi said last week. “I only hope that the debate, in the next days, will stay serious and focused… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

TUESDAY, 19 JANUARY 2016

Collateral damage: same-sex marriage, private religious schools, and parental rights

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The “inversion of the original meaning of liberty” in Obergefell v. Hodges, observed Justice Clarence Thomas in dissent, “will likely cause collateral damage to other aspects of our constitutional order that protect liberty . . . It appears all but inevitable that [civil and religious marriage] will come into conflict.”

In Obergefell’s aftermath, it is possible that the government will ask religious institutions to choose between retaining their non-profit tax status and retaining their beliefs. But the “collateral damage” will not stop at their sanctuary doors. Many churches, synagogues, and mosques also operate schools, and they will be the next targets. Of the 30,000 private schools in the United States, the Department of Education’s Private School Universe Surveyfound that 68 percent have “a religious orientation or purpose” and that 80 percent of private school students attend such a school. Such religiously… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

TUESDAY, 19 JANUARY 2016

Alberta gets transgender-friendly schools

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What can parents expect from new laws about accommodating the needs of transgender people? Will they affect primary and secondary education? Of course. And there’s no better proof than recent headlines in the Canadian province of Alberta.

Last week Alberta’s education minister, David Eggen, of the left-leaning New Democratic Party, released guidelines for sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expression in Alberta schools. They are not described as mandatory but both government and religious schools have no choice but to implement them.

Alberta’s school system is consistently praised as one of the best in the English-speaking world, perhaps because it is decentralised and competitive. Government, religious and charter schools are run by about 60 boards scattered across the province which appear to have a great deal of autonomy. But because the provincial government pays the bills, it also calls the tune.

Hence Mr Eggen’s diktat. By… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

FRIDAY, 15 JANUARY 2016

Pronouns and the march of gender diversity

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Image: Kit Wilson via BBC Magazine

For all its difficulty in other ways, the English language is wonderfully simple in the matter of gender. People may feminise objects and roles, calling ships “her” and female flight attendants (in one brief, perhaps benighted era) hostesses, but these are passing conventions. Only pronouns have grammatical gender: he, she, it; him, her, it; his, her(s), its. Plurals are neutral: they, them, their(s). Easy peasy.

But for some people today that simple scheme has become a straightjacket. It offends them. It is that altogether horrid thing, a gender binary, implying that the human race is either male or female, when they consider themselves neither, but located – or moving around --on a spectrum in between. Listen to student Kit Wilson who identifies in a BBC article as “genderqueer”:

“Neither end of the spectrum is a… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

TUESDAY, 5 JANUARY 2016

The mechanic who transitioned to a 6-year-old girl

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Human interest stories are like earthquakes. Readers love earthquakes, but they get bored with the small ones that flatten a single city. Editors need devastated provinces and tsunamis up to wind up their interest. So the lives of transgender people are the gift that keeps on giving for tabloids. Readers are always interested and the stories keep getting weirder and weirder.

Bruce/Caitlin Jenner is a 65-year-old man transitioning into a 45-year-old woman. Yawn. So 15 minutes ago. Where to from here?

To 52-year-old Paul Wolscht, a Canadian mechanic with a wife and seven children, who has transitioned into Stefonknee Wolscht, a six-year-old girl in frilly dresses who lives with adoptive parents and spends her time playing with their grandchildren.

Stefonknee (pronounced Stephanie) doesn’t look like a six-year-old girl, even in the frilly dress. She is heavy-set, about six-feet tall and has a deep voice. But she likes colouring in and playing… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

THURSDAY, 17 DECEMBER 2015

Polyamorists build their movement

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Polyamorists at San Francisco Pride parade, 2004. Pretzelpaws via Wikimedia Commons

 

Has there ever been a marriage conference where jealousy management and STDs are on the agenda, and where cuddle parties, tantra and BDSM groups beckon from the sidelines? My guess is no, although the “marriage” scene is changing fast.

The mainstreaming of “gay marriage” has been accompanied by frank admissions that the majority of gay relationships are not monogamous but at best “monogamish”. Can “plural marriage” be far behind?

In America, surviving Mormon polygamists provide a (illegal) precedent. Polyamorists, who (so far) define themselves by "love" rather than marriage, have been arguing the merits of their lifestyle and their rights for some years now, and the movement will hold its fifth international conference at the University of California, Berkeley, in February.

According to a chatty mailout from Saturnia Regna to… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

MONDAY, 14 DECEMBER 2015

Liberal media outlet gives Ryan Anderson a fair hearing

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The Atlantic magazine staged an LGBT Summit the other day with the redoubtable Ryan T Anderson as a contributor. The Atlantic -- as in general -- hews to the liberal line on “equality” in sexual matters, but its representative, Mary Louise Kelley, conducted a respectful interview with Anderson, Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, in front of a live audience.

It’s 20 minutes long, including three questions from the audience, but compulsory viewing for anyone who wants to get the conversation with the equality movement in this post-Obergefell era right. Anderson is a top scholar who disarms (reasonable) opponents with his genuine tolerance and makes the issues – even for those outside the USA -- crystal clear. 

Note in particular his recent experience of having a hotel in Bermuda cancel a seminar booking at the last minute because he would be speaking against gay marriage, and why he would NOT take… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

THURSDAY, 10 DECEMBER 2015

Rubbery statistics

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“All Of Us” is an education pack about homosexuality and transexuality for teachers of Australian children in Years 7 and 8. Launched last month, it is supposed to help students be aware of bullying and discrimination and to affirm the identities of their LGBT classmates.

It is a comprehensive resource, with videos, posters, student hand-outs, and a unit guide for teachers – all painting a positive, if not glowing, view of the LGBT minority.

However, the statistics on the size of that minority – the crucial figures which justify the very existence of the program, are wrong.

First of all, what proportion of the population is same-sex attracted?

On page 8 of the booklet for teachers, it states very clearly that "10% of people are same-sex attracted". This is supported by Footnote 9, which refers the reader to a monograph, the 5th national survey of… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

FRIDAY, 4 DECEMBER 2015

Gross? Parents might think so

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All Of Us is a federally-funded teaching resource for children in Years 7 and 8 that aims to increase Australian students’ understanding and awareness of gender diversity, sexual diversity and intersex topics.

Launched this week with much hoop-la, it was developed by Safe Schools Coalition Australia, which campaigns against homophobic bullying, and Minus18, “Australia's largest youth led organisation for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans youth”.

Although parents are practically invisible in the “All Of Us” material, some of them might be interested in a poster which is being distributed by Minus 18 for use in schools.

There are a number of other posters, too, with messages like: "I don't mind if you're straight, just don't flaunt it in public", "You're cis?. So what do you have down there?", and "When are you going to tell your parents you're straight?" 

Quite a few children might feel… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

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Conjugality deals with the true nature of marriage and the challenges it faces today. Our current focus is on the campaign to legalise same-sex marriage. We'd love to get your comments and suggestions. Send an email to conjugality@mercatornet.com


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