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Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for July, 2009

Gay Canadian Sues Church

This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not necessarily reflect that of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Timothy Kincaid

July 15th, 2009

Jim Corcoran is no doubt a valued member of the family at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Ontario. (National Post)

Mr. Corcoran, 50, began as an altar server just before Christmas. He said St. Michael’s did not have altar boys and he thought that creating a group of adult altar servers would help the priest during Mass. Many Catholic parishes have adult servers.

But he’s also an idiot.

Mr. Corcoran is a gay man married to his partner. He and his priest (and you, and I, and the neighbor’s cousin’s cat) all know that the Catholic Church has some pretty restrictive beliefs about the participation of gay men in the life of the Church. Mr. Corcoran cannot have thought that his efforts would be universally praised and appreciated.

And, as could be expected, several parishoners signed a letter to the Bishop and Corcoran was removed.

So he’s suing.

A gay man has filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal against a Catholic bishop after he was removed from his volunteer job as an altar server because of his sexual orientation.

Now in the US, Corcoran would be tossed out on his ear. I hope that in Canada they do the same.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the decision of the Church was stupid. Corcoran probably isn’t even technically in violation of the Vatican policy; he and his partner are chaste. And the motivation of the parishoners appears to have been pettiness and spite and was primarily an attack on the priest.

But the issue isn’t whether the Church is right or wrong. The issue is whether the Church should be allowed to make its own policies, however stupid they may be.

And I come down on the side of self-determination and freedom – both for Corcoran and the Church. St. Michael’s should be entitled to deny liturgical authority to whomever they please for whatever reason they please, and Jim Corcoran should be entitled to cross the street to a church that operates more to his pleasing.

Guess Who Else Isn’t On Board With the U.N. Resolution to Decriminalize Homosexuality

Jim Burroway

December 5th, 2008

Mark, at Slapped Upside the Head, has a good take on yesterday’s news that the Vatican is opposing a U.N. resolution calling on member states to rescind laws outlawing homosexuality — which in some countries includes the death penalty. We discussed the Vatican’s intrinsically disordered logic here. Mark has his own take here.

There are a lot of countries which have already signed on to the declaration, including: Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Uruguay, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Ukraine, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Those last three are rather surprising. Also surprising co-sponsors are three African countries: Gabon, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau. That’s quite an impressive list.

So, who’s missing? Well, let’s see. Oh look: the United States and Australia.

Marriage Rights Around the World

Timothy Kincaid

May 15th, 2008

The following countries offer some form of recognition to same-sex couples:

Marriage

Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, United States (Massachusetts, California)

Civil Unions

New Zealand, Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul), Argentina (Buenos Aires, Rio Negro), Mexico (Coahuila), Uruguay, United States (Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey)

Registered Partnership or Domestic Partnership

Denmark, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Finland, Luxembourg, , Slovenia, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Italy (City of Padua), Switzerland, Hungary, Australia (Tasmania), United States (Maine, Washington, Oregon)

Other Methods of Limited Recognition

France (PACS), Germany (Life Partnership), Croatia (Law of Same-Sex Relationships), Andorra (Stable Union of a Couple), Mexico (Mexico City – PACS), Colombia (Common-law marriage inheritance rights), Israel (Limited recognition of foreign legal arrangements), United States (Hawaii – Reciprocal Benefits; New York – recognition of out-of-state legal marriages)

Although recognition is in a rapid state of change, this is my best understanding of the current rights provided. Several nations are in the process of adding or revising recognition.

Can Figure-Skating Make You Gay?

Jim Burroway

April 8th, 2008

That question was posed by a letter writer to Canada’s National Post blog, “Full Comment.” The writer concluded that the answer was yes. My favorite response in the comments was this one:

To paraphrase, some are born gay, some achieve gayness and some have gayness thrust upon them.

I’ll have to remember that one. It’s like I’ve said before, I don’t think there will ever be a one-size-fits-all explanation.

HIV+ Canadian Stopped At The Border

Jim Burroway

March 31st, 2008

The United States is one of only thirteen countries in the world which bans travelers with HIV from entering the country. This puts the U.S. in the distinguished company of Iraq, China, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Sudan, Qatar, Brunei, Oman, Moldova, Russia, Armenia, and South Korea.

Nice company. And America’s offensive enforcement of that ban mirrors what one might expect from any one of those other twelve:

The Surrey, B.C., man was on his way to Bellingham, Wash., for the Remembrance Day long weekend last November to shop, with the Canadian dollar trading at about $1.07 against the greenback. After lining up for four hours to reach the U.S. customs booth, he was asked where he worked.

“I said I was on disability. He said what’s my disability. I said I have HIV,” said the 47-year-old, who was diagnosed in 1989.

The customs officer told him he needed a special visa waiver to enter the country, even though Canadians do not require a visa to travel to the United States.

“He hauled me into a backroom. … He put on a set of rubber gloves to hold each of my fingers. Nobody else wore rubber gloves. Then he fingerprinted me, photographed me, ran me through the FBI’s most-wanted list and told me to go back to Canada and not return until I came back with a waiver,” Mr. Rooney said. “I felt like I was being treated like a terrorist.”

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a bill sponsored by Sen. John Kerry to lift the travel ban soon. Then maybe the U.S. can join the community of civilized nations. Like Canada.

AIDS Nonsense From the Far Left

Jim Burroway

March 31st, 2008

We often debunk the junk science emanating from conservatives. Rarely do we mention junk science from the left. It’s not because it doesn’t exist; it’s just rarely anti-gay, so it often escapes our attention.

The Canadian bills itself as “Canada’s new socially progressive and cross-cultural national newspaper.” But from its web site, it’s unclear how often the paper is published, but a scan of its headlines show a strange fascination with conspiracies, especially if they get to use the word “eugenics”:

For one whose looking for weird stuff to debunk, there’s treasure to be had here. Like this one by AIDS conspiracy theorist Alan Cantwell:

HIV-AIDS was created with the use of Gay men as targets for Eugenic experiments suggests U.S. doctor
There is no doubt that AIDS erupted in the U.S. shortly after government-sponsored hepatitis B vaccine experiments (1978-1981) using gay men as guinea pigs. …

The widely accepted theory is that HIV/AIDS originated in a monkey or chimpanzee virus that “jumped species” in Africa. However, it is clear that the first AIDS cases were recorded in gay men in Manhattan in 1979, a few years before the epidemic was first noticed in Africa in 1982. It is now claimed that the human herpes-8 virus (also called the KS virus), discovered in 1994, also originated when a primate herpes virus jumped species in Africa. How two African species-jumping viruses ended up exclusively in gay men in Manhattan beginning in the late 1970s has never been satisfactorily explained.

Those two paragraphs alone have a lot of whoppers which are easily refuted. Let’s break it down:

The first AIDS cases were recorded in gay men in Manhattan in 1979. Not quite. The first known case of AIDS was found in a 1959 blood sample drawn from an unknown man in Leopoldville, Belgian Congo (today’s Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire). This was long before the hepatitis B vaccine experiments that Cantwell is so sure started it all.

The epidemic was first noticed in Africa in 1982. By having this sentence follow the previous one, Cantwell seems to suggest that the African epidemic followed the American one. But just because the African epidemic wasn’t noticed until 1982 doesn’t men that’s when it started. In fact, as early as 1983, researchers had identified an epidemic already well underway. In fact, it was well established in some parts of Zaire in 1976.

How two African species-jumping viruses ended up exclusively in gay men in Manhattan beginning in the late 1970s has never been satisfactorily explained. Here, Cantwell’s referring to the Herpes-8 virus, which we now know causes a form of cancer known as Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS). This disease was a very common opportunistic infection among those whose immune system was compromised. Being a transplant patients has been one historic risk factor due to anti-rejection medications which work by lowering the immune system. KS was also common among many ethnic groups in the Mediterranean, Middle East and Africans living in Africa.

The virus which causes KS may have been discovered in 1994 but the disease was first described in the medical literature by Dr. Moritz Kaposi back in 1872. Because KS has been quite common in Africa, there have been thousands upon thousands of medical reports on the disease throughout the past century. For evidence, all you have to do is go to the National Institutes of Health’s PubMed database, type in “Kaposi’s sarcoma” and press “GO.” As of this writing, you’ll find references for 10,850 articles in professional journals going back to 1948. That’s quite an achievement since PubMed rarely indexes articles published before 1950.

This is pretty elementary stuff that any dermatologist would know. It takes a lot of ignorant — willful ignorance even — for a retired dermatologist like Alan Cantwell to pretend these facts don’t exist. But like all such conspiracy theorists, he has to either ignore fundamental facts or bend them beyond all recognition for his crackpot theories to survive (like some other theorists we know). Cantwell’s theories are so nutty, he had to start his own publishing house just to get his books into print. Nobody else would touch them. But it just goes to show that the practice of abusing science isn’t confined to one end of the political spectrum.  It’s everywhere.

Hat tip: Stefano

Will the Real John Westcott Please Stand Up

Timothy Kincaid

March 17th, 2008

westcott.jpgOn the 3rd, a Canadian television network pulled the following advertisement from the air, citing violation of their policies. The spot ran seven times in Sudbury, Ontario and was scheduled to run the whole year. But a Facebook campaign brought the ad to the network’s attention and they promptly ended its run.

You hear about gay rights, gay marriage and the gay lifestyle being taught in our public schools to children. But what many people don’t realize and seldom hear about is that many homosexuals don’t want to be homosexual. What many who are struggling with homosexuality don’t realize and seldom hear is that they can change. I should know. For 13 years I used to be one.

Now from the text, it sure seems that the narrator is quite troubled about what is being taught “in our public schools” there in Sudbury.

So who is this concerned Canadian ex-gay? Catholic Online describes him as

The 30-second spot is narrated by John Westcott, the founder of Exchange ministries, an organization that seeks to help practicing homosexuals who wish to leave the lifestyle. Westcott is himself a former homosexual, as is his wife Amanda.

The narrator’s name sounded familiar to me so I did a bit of research. And I found an ex-gay named John Westcott, but this one is not a concerned Sudbury resident nor was he married to Amanda. But his picture sure looks the same.

A small classroom on the campus of Calvary Assembly of God in Winter Park, Fla. is the place. John Westcott leads a group of 15 men in worship without a microphone or speakers.

Two years later, he began dating Dena, a former lesbian he met through the group. Today, they have three children and have devoted their lives to helping others who want to leave the homosexual lifestyle.

So now it’s time for the real John Westcott to stand up. Are you a former homosexual worried about Canadian education? Are you a Floridan? Are you married to Amanda or Dena? Or perhaps all of the above?

Living Waters Ex-Gay Ministry In Montreal

Jim Burroway

September 28th, 2007

Peterson Toscano has learned that the Living Waters ex-gay ministry will be giving a twenty-five week “healing program” at a conservative Anglican church in Montreal, Canada. Headed by Andrew Comiskey, a former president of Exodus International, Living Waters has been expanding aggressively, with a presence in Canada and Europe. Former ex-gay leader Vonnie Pits issued an apology for her role in a Living Waters-based program she set up in New South Wales, Australia.  Peterson observes:

Often Living Waters uses extreme methods that involve forms of exorcism (deliverance/healing prayer) and rely on teachings that believe that people become gay through demonic influences and the sins of ancestors. This is a simple explanation of what they believe, but you get the idea. This is a group that is far far off the radar and not based in science or reality. They also charge for their services.

Read the stories of Christine, Eric, Euguene and Tom (a former Living Waters leader) to find out a little about their times at Living Waters programs.

Fear the Fatal Anal Wart

Timothy Kincaid

September 24th, 2007

whatcott24.jpgYou can always count on anti-gays – especially of the ex-gay variety – to spice up your week with a healthy dose of crazy.

Take, for example, Bill Whatcott, a former teen prostitute who is running for mayor of Edmonton, Alberta on an anti-gay campaign. Per the Winnipeg Sun, Whatcott showed up at the candidate registration wearing a shirt with anti-gay stick figures and had this to say:

“Homosexuality is killing young men with diseases like anal warts, anal gonorrhoea and anal cancer — you’re not going to get that living the lifestyle of a Ukrainian,” he told Sun Media yesterday.

I’m not sure what Ukranians have to do with it, but by all means Fear the Fatal Anal Wart.

Oh, and while you’re at it, Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun The frumious Bandersnatch!

Sometimes Bigots Create Their Own Enemies

Timothy Kincaid

August 7th, 2007

Sometimes decent people get so annoyed at bigotry that they feel compelled to respond.  When Bill Mills, mayor of the 12,000 residents of Truro, Nova Scotia, decided that his “Christian beliefs” compelled him to not fly a rainbow flag over City Hall it so annoyed and embarrassed heterosexual resident Sharon Farrell that she organized a protest to show her solidarity and support for her gay neighbors.

Well the haters weren’t going to take that lying down.  They hunted down her number and called to give her a piece of their mind.  Unfortunately they got the wrong person, Sharon Laura Farrell.  After hearing the vile comments left for her namesake, Ms. Farrell No. 2 felt she had to do something:

Ms. Farrell then sent the other Sharon Farrell, the rally organizer, a message on her Facebook account in which she detailed the calls. They later met at the rally.

“I was very impressed with her. She is very sincere and she was aghast that anyone would go to such great lengths to get a phone number or to make phone calls like that. I was impressed by her stand. It got me involved.”

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