Thursday, March 28, 2013

Gay marriage getting closer in States -- hopefully

After two days of hearings at the US Supreme Court it's not for certain whether gays and lesbians will finally win their hard fought for right to marriage equality across the States.  The transcripts don't in my opinion give too much of a clue, at least in the first case.   But I have a couple of observations.

The first day concerned California's Prop 8, the gay marriage ban that was shockingly approved the same day Obama won his first term as President -- and obviously, many who voted for him on the economy also voted for the ban for ethical reasons.    While it was 52-48 yes, then and polls now indicate that people would remove the ban 63-37, it's still not clear what this court will do even though the Ninth Circuit struck it down.

Gay marriage is now legal in Washington DC and nine states; two more recognize gay marriages contracted in other states.   But from the hearing on Tuesday, some suggestions were made the court may decide not to decide and throw the case out all together.

This strategy would be known as a DIG -- a denial for improvident grant of certiorari (cert means the court grants leave to appeal and issues a certificate ordering the lower court to send up transcripts, docket books and the decision itself for review before oral arguments, about 80 to 100 cases per year).   Leave granting is rare, about 8000 or so applications are tossed out for lack of a "federal issue" while another 300 to 400 are decided on summary judgment based the merits of the case and without a hearing.

Why a DIG?   Such a strategy is used when after leave was granted the court decides it wasn't ready yet to even to hear such a case.   But if that's true, then why all this thumb twisting?   The court really does need to decide.   That 12 jurisdictions have affirmed gay marriage,  and the other 39 ban the practice all together is bizarre.

This isn't worker's compensation which rightfully is a state issue.   This is about families.   And even if the state bans are upheld, the court needs to make clear that the full faith and credit clause means if you're marriage in one state or territory you're married in all of them -- in other words, you have to enforce custody orders from other states and have to give the same fringe benefits and entitlements to gay couples as well as straight no matter what your state laws otherwise say.

The court has to do the right thing.   Strike down Prop 8 and say marriage is a union of two people regardless of the sex of the partners.


The second day of hearings on gay marriage dealt with DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act.   Interesting that Obama decided to demur the appeal to the Tea Party.    That will help the case go against the act, actually.   But more important is that the court wasn't so much concerned with gays and lesbians collecting federal benefits as it is with the fact the 1996 law was so encompassing.    According to some justices, 1100 statutes were amended.   If the law was just one sentence -- that a marriage is one man and one women to the exclusion of all others -- it might still be on shaky ground especially given how so many people have changed their minds and now support gay marriage and a court can't necessarily ignore public opinion while deciding.  But the fact so much was covered in the law may bolster the case that rights were trampled on multiple times even if inadvertently.

However as Chief Justice G. Roberts pointed out on day one and reemphasized on day two the Constitution requires a President to defend laws on the books even if he or she disagrees with it, and that they "faithfully execute the laws".   This is certainly also a shot at numerous Presidents who sign laws symbolically but then issue a signing statement they won't enforce it in whole or in part.

He's got a point.   Even if the President favors gay marriage and thankfully he does, he should have tried to come up with some kind of plausible way to defend the law rather than throw the hot potato to Sarah Palin and company.

This one looks like it is definitely going down and it should.   But a void for vagueness argument would be unacceptable too as much as an overreach decree.   Just say it's wrong and give all families the same rights to benefits as well as access to hospitals for family visits.   How hard is that really?


One last thought.   At least a few of the intervenor groups against gay marriage say that they are against it because to allow it would infringe on their freedom of religion.   Seriously.   Wasn't that the same argument men made a century ago about why women shouldn't have the vote?  Or people of colour shouldn't have equal rights?  Or women active personnel shouldn't be allowed to live on military base housing like male officers?

And let's not forget restrictive covenants against Jewish people which lasted in many neighbourhoods especially wealthier ones well into the 1970s.

Even people who identify with a religious group don't necessarily practice it, they just want something to belong to.   If people are offended they can just look the other way inside and stew inside their hatred.   Being opposed to something is one thing, actively denying that something to someone else is another.

The ship has weighed anchor from the harbour.   We should all be on that ship.  It's all of us or none of us -- straight, gay or otherwise.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Let the "muzzled" speak

As disgusting the comments are from several MPs from the far right of the already right-wing and ruling Conservative party, I think they have a point about being muzzled by PMS, and should have the right to speak their minds in the Commons unimpeded.   After all, several MPs from the Liberal party said things on the floor during the 90s that were just as repugnant -- Rosanne Skoke for one -- and Chrétien didn't stop them.

Why should they have free reign?   Because they will help bury their own party at the next election.  Canada has taken pride in being a pragmatic country, not a doctrinal one.   And the more people know what the backbench stands for the more Canadians will wonder if the Cons really do "stand up for Canada" ™.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Gender identity wins, and Justin proves he`s a loser

What a pleasant surprise to hear that the House of Commons gave third reading to an opposition bill, C-279, that would include gender identity as an aggravating circumstance in determining if a criminal act was motivated by hate and therefore deserved an extended sentence.   More astonishing is that 18 Conservatives, including 4 ministers (John Baird, Jim Flaherty, Lisa Raitt and James Moore), broke ranks from the party and voted against the Whip.   C-279 is simple enough and does nothing more than add to the already existing suspect classes -- race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, or mental or physical ability.   This is a no brainer piece of legislation and the Senate would be wise to pass it as soon as possible.

Not too surprised Harper voted against.   We all know who butters his bread.   And Rob Anders calling it the "bathroom bill" and a licence for pedophiles?   Give me a break.

But I am angered that Justin Trudeau couldn't even be bothered to show up.   Not even to "pair" with another member (i.e. abstaining).    If this is a future Prime Minister, then he lost much of what little respect I had for him in the first place.   You are not your father's son, sir.   Even Alexandre and Sarah have more common sense than you.   Would it have been so hard to take one hour out of your tour to show up into the House on a matter of principle?   Shame on you!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Weekly roundup (ending Mar 16 / 13)

First and biggest news of the week was the upset election of 76 year old Jorge Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, who interestingly has taken the name Francis I.    No sooner was he elected, and leading up to his investiture next week (since 1978, new Popes have refused to take the three tiered crowned during a coronation, preferring to be inaugurated instead like pretty much every monarch in Europe, save the UK, is) comes the news that Bergoglio may have had a hand -- or at the least said way too little -- in the so-called "Dirty War" in Argentina from 1976 to 1983, when 30,000 political opponents of the military junta "disappeared" and thousands more were tortured.

The bigger problem, though, is that because the junta was also Roman professors, the Catholic Church of Argentina made a deal with the devil in an attempt to stop insurgents who were against religion all together, as well as those who supported "liberation theology" -- the Catholic parallel to the Protestant "Social Gospel".   The code of silence, even if voluntarily self-imposed, had incalculable consequences.

(I can only think of Oscar Romero of San Salvador who paid the supreme sacrifice for speaking out against the five member joint presidential junta -- and the funeral thereafter when at least 50 mourners, maybe more, were murdered at the funeral.   Imagine if the new Pope came from there or another Central American country.   Then a lot of heads would have been rolling!)

I don't know what to make of this news.   Heck, the now retired Pope, Joe Ratzinger, had a lot of questions to answer about his membership in the Hitler Youth.   And while he was extremely complicit about child abuse during Wojtyla's time as Pope and only started doing baby steps after he became top of the heap, it was way too little, too late.

Let the good times roll.   We're stuck with this guy for another 10 years, if he follows Ratz' lead and quits at 85 -- which is actually a good precedent to follow.


Patrick Brazeau.    My God.   He really takes advantage of the $22,000 housing allowance by claiming he lived with his father, even though he didn't.   He claims he got a status card from the organization that represents non-reserve First Nations and that he used to run -- but the group doesn't have that ability, only bands do.    He allegedly beats his girlfriend (allegations before the courts at this time).   And so forth.   It's almost a relief he took a leave of absence from the Senate.

But for all that, comes an act of stupidity -- or fraud, depending on one's point of view -- and it wasn't even Brazeau.   It was someone I least expected and used to respect; MP Peter Penashue who also served as Harper's hitman dealing with the provinces and territories.    Once a respected leader of the Innu nation, in fact one of the people who created the autonomous region of Nunatsiavut in Labrador, Penashue was forced to resign this week over 28 illegal contributions he took for the 2011 election, including $10,000 from a regional airline and an additional $27,000 in "in-kind" donations from the same airline -- the latter, apparently unreported.

If the money was actually spent, then he would have been way over the spending limit for the district -- just over $84,000.   If the campaign took corporate donations then handed out receipts to individuals to get around the individual spending limit -- that would be even more illegal.

And the best part:   He wants to run in the by-election to replace himself; just as Sheila Copps did over the GST (although that was really a stupid promise to make anyway).

Yes, he did give the money back, but only because he got bailed out by the Conservative Party.   But that really isn't the point.   Taking money from whom you shouldn't knowingly and / or overspending beyond the limit is illegal.   It's illegal because it gives you an unfair advantage.  An illegal practice is punishable by up to five years in jail, and a concurrent ban from voting.   If the practice was motivated by corruption, it's five and seven respectively.

Besides, if you have any question at all about where the money's coming from you should put it in sequester until you get an answer.   And if you spent it and find out after the fact to try to give the amount back to the contributor, or if not possible, to the federal elections commission.

To wait more than a year after the election, though?    That's just wrong.   If I was running Elections Canada, I'd press charges.   And the law should be changed so that you can't run to replace yourself!


Finally things are really heating up again on the Korean Peninsula.   About 10 days after the Security Council passed Resolution 2094 against North Korea, the toughest sanctions ever in the history of the UN and even more draconian than those against Saddam Hussein during the Kuwait crisis, the North has engaged in one provocation after another, they said (again!) that the 60 year old ceasefire is over.    After a week of belligerence, today North Korea again test fired some missiles.

Many have said this is another "disarmament for aid" attempt.   It's time for the blackmail to end.    I said it before, and I'll say it again:    It's time once and for all to demand the Commies start feeding its people again, using its own resources to keep people alive instead of starving them for the purposes of militarization.   It must end its nuclear arms program once and for all.   And until the island is unified, it must begin the process of democratization and human rights including dismantling all of its prison and slave labour camps.

Even Mainland China has gotten fed up which is why they agreed to the resolution.    But they need to take the final step -- turn off the power to the North.    Nearly all of is used to run the nuclear weapons program anyway and if you do that, I think that then the North's regime's raison d'être will cease to exist or at least begin to.

Out of fear can come hope.   It's time to stop fearing the Kim clan and their posse of genocidal maniacs.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Devolution for NWT -- a start

I cannot agree too much with PMS' agenda, but today he took a huge step forward in signing a tentative devolution agreement with the Northwest Territories and five of the region's First Nations.   It could come into effect as early as next year.  Basically speaking, the territory will be able to operate more or less like a province in everything but name.  I think that in some respects the charter doesn't quite go far enough -- unlike a province which gets to keep one hundred percent of royalties from resource extraction and power production the NWT will get only half.   Even more ominous, the feds are still refusing to give up its one-third interest in the Norman Wells gas and oil fields.

Still this is quite a long ways from the period 1905 to 1970, when the NWT was a police state directly governed from Ottawa and the elected "council" was a joke.   Other than electing an at-large MP to the Commons, the residents there really had no rights at all other than habeas corpus.   And it wasn't until 1975 that all MLAs were locally chosen, or until 1980 that all the members of the Cabinet were directly elected MLAs -- until then and in both cases Ottawa still appointed hacks to make sure things stayed its way.

Compare this to the Yukon which immediately won home rule back in 1898 upon its secession from the NWT and with it a real legislature, although devolution did not come there until 2003.   (Nunavut, created in 1999 when it itself was partitioned from the NWT is in the process of devolution talks at present.)

Still, the principle that people should govern locally and not be governed from afar appears to be entrenched in this agreement; and while the feds could theoretically recede those powers back to itself unilaterally, practically it will be even more impossible than the status quo is now.   And as I've mentioned before, the NWT's consensus form of government (i.e. no parties, and the Cabinet has to present legislation that can command broad agreement up front) is a model for the "South".

Why is it a model?   Because somehow, out of all the diversity in the region, they've figured out a way to maintain the kind of sanity that the increasingly polarized Commons and provincial legislatures don't even want to broach -- including the kind of respect that existed through the 1980s that ensured more than 80% of government bills got unanimous consent.   Good luck with that today!

Having seven First Nations and nine native languages, besides English and French, as official languages helps in that direction but so does the climate and a sparsely populated land mass twice the size of Texas.   It only makes sense to keep it local as well as to get along or try.   Besides, why should Ottawa unilateraly decide, for example, if a winter only ice road should be replaced by an all-weather one, especially if it will drive down the huge cost of living up North?   Shouldn't that be a local choice?  (In that vein, the NWT is saying some of the upfront money will likely go to extending the Dempster Highway from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk, on top of $150 million Harper pledged earlier.)    Perhaps the agreement is in part a reward for having had make it work for so long.

I have never been able to figure out why we can't even try that.   Many local city councils in Canada, if not most, have no parties -- although councillors' affiliations are not really a state secret.   Would it be so hard if say a quarter to a third of a legislature were composed of true independents (with no current or past affiliations with any party and therefore no axes to grind) elected at large by regions within a province, and who could set terms that make proposed laws more reasonable and acceptable to all?

Maybe it's because that provinces' positions are fixed in the Constitution there is nothing further to devolve.    That doesn't mean they can't develop better ways to have a democracy.   Our brothers and sisters up North didn't need devolution for that -- and thankfully today's agreement doesn't change that.    Maybe there's a lesson there -- especially as all the territories eventually move their way to becoming provinces which will now be a much faster process than before.

And it will be a good thing when they truly and finally become part of the sisterhood of the provinces, and not the colonies they still officially are now.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Métis wuz robbed sez Supremes

Finally, one of the three pillars of Canada's aboriginal peoples -- the Métis -- have won justice.   They are owed a lot of money -- perhaps ten billion or even more.  And it's because of one thing.   Our constitution.

There's one thing about constitutions.   The way they're drafted can leave a lot to interpretation.  Some insist on an originalist viewpoint, that is interpret it only considering when it was written.   Others say that clauses have to be viewed with a broad focus in mind as time passes by, that nothing is set in stone -- the "living tree" concept.    Canadian justices have tended to look at the big picture, unlike some other countries.   But sometimes they focus on the original intent -- and it comes back to bite even the framers.   And for the second time in the last three decades, the court has set its sights on the Manitoba Act, 1870.

Many of us remember in the 1980s the then decades long battle between the province and the small French-language community and the province's official language act which proclaimed that English language to be the only official language and prohibited the government or cities from providing any services in French.   It took almost forever but in 1985, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in the "Manitoba Language Reference" (as "The Court", never revealing who wrote the opinion) that the province had no right to unilaterally repeal section 23 which required laws to be in English and French.

As a result, everything that the province ever did between 1890 to 1985 was illegal.   Not just the statutes and executive orders.   Every birth, every marriage, every death, every highway and house and building built during that time, all driver's licenses, all hunting and fishing permits, every parking ticket and moving violation -- the whole enchilada -- were all invalid because the contracts and documents were in English only too.   In effect, Manitoba was in a state of anarchy.   The high court offered a way out, giving the province three years to repass the laws -- which it did -- in a Canadian twist to the "doctrine of necessity."

Today, in a 6 to 2 decision (one Associate Justice, Marie Deschamps, apparently recused herself after oral arguments), the Court ruled in Manitoba Metis Federation v. Attorney General of Canada that a strict reading of section 31 of the Manitoba Act would make it clear that the province's Métis were deprived of a promise to get the best land in the province when the Red River Settlement agreed to be annexed (retroactively) by Canada.   While the descendants of the blending of natives and white settlers thought their children would keep what we now know as Winnipeg and the surrounding area, about 5700 square kilometres or 1.4 million acres, instead they got scrips for much less desirable land.   Over the ten years after the province was created, they were literally run out of town by the Whites.

Much more to the point, to the argument the feds made that the statute of limitations would have run out decades ago, indeed just a few years after Manitoba was created, the Court said that the fact that the feds' role in the deceit, intended or not, only came out well after the fact, effectively reset the clock to file a lawsuit, and that too was a deciding factor that tipped things in favour of the plaintiffs.  And in any case, the Métis' rights were in the Constitution before those of the Inuit and North American Indians were included in 1982 -- and the government's duty to carry out the "honour of the Crown" had been present all along and it had not done so.

Of course, the Métis don't want Winnipeg back, anymore than the Mississaugas want Mississauga.   But it's the principle that matters.   If we made a commitment to our First Nations then we had better damn well stick by them.   Which means we'll have to start land claims negotiations.   Let's just hope it doesn't take even more decades as it did with the Haida, the Nisga'a or the Gitxsan and Wet'suwet'en alliance.    The settlement needs to be fair and just, but it needs to wrap up in a way that satisfies all and in a reasonable period of time.

At the same time we need to settle the remaining land claims with the North American Indians.   If the Six Nations disgrace is any indication -- and remember, there are still 26 claims from that one band and by the elected council -- we could all be spinning in the wind unless this government, indeed all political parties, finally band (pardon the expression) up and say we'll get this taken of; so all Aboriginals feel they are truly part of the country we illegally occupied in 1497.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Arkansas: Crossing the line of decency

Arkansas has finally gone too far when it comes to women.   Really.   This is a new forward advance in the war against women and it's awful.   And it's on abortion.

If you've followed my entries here you know that I think abortion is absolutely despicable and that Canada should have some kind of line drawn at when restrictions kick in (Canada, of course doesn't have any) provided the debate is truly honest and not disingenous as the really out to the right Con backbenchers have attempted.

I reluctantly recognize that it is a right, though, and further to that right women should be given as many options as possible.   To deter abortions, I have also argued for sustantial increases in the child tax credits, making adoption expenses fully refundable (currently it's just a 15% credit with a cap) and ensuring that women have full access to as many pre-natal support programs for free or at very low cost.

The legislature in Arkansas has passed a law overriding the governor's veto banning abortions at just twelve weeks, in many cases past when many women even find out they are pregnant.   Further, it would ban an abortion if a heartbeat is detectible which can happen even before twelve weeks.  This is well short of the US Supreme Court's sense on this more than twenty years ago, when in the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision it allowed states to put restrictions at viability, between twenty and twenty-eight weeks (and many states merely enforce its laws at the median, twenty-four).   Medically viability means the baby has a chance in the incubator if there is a premature delivery -- and while medical progress may have pushed the line to an earlier point I doubt very much we've pushed it back even to a median of twenty.

There're only two reasons to do this.   One, to take away women's freedom to decide for themselves when to get pregnant or not.   Two, if they're the victims of incest or a rape, to legally eliminate the process which would allow women to try to purge the shame of being victims.

This isn't a game.   Women's lives and integrity are at stake.   And until real solutions are implemented that make abortion so socially undesirable that it's eliminated by choice (pardon the expression), it should remain a right.   The courts should strike this down.  The law is misogynist.  Plain and simple..

Monday, March 4, 2013

Free choice in communications? (Competition Tribunal says no)

To my surprise and dismay, the Competition Tribunal has approved Bell Canada's takeover of most of Astral Media's assets.   This comes some time after a similar buyout attempt was rejected.  Yeah, Bell will have to divest several cable channels -- namely  Family Channel (Read:  Disney Channel Canada), Teletoon (English and French), Teletoon Retro (English and French), Disney XD, the Cartoon Network, Disney Jr. (English and French), Historia, Séries+, MusiquePlus and Musimax.   The consent decree also forces Bell not to require cable and satellite companies to force them to carry other channels as a condition of carry premium networks TMN and SE.  

Big hairy deal -- especially since it means Canadian Regulators Totally Clueless will almost certainly approve the marriage (such that it is) now.

True, none of the channels show any news content per se except the French music channels.   But it is still a very sad day. Because it looks like CTV gets the radio stations -- and their news content; and that means less choice.   We shouldn't go back to the situation from even recently when FM stations were forced to play classical music on Sunday nights -- even heavy metal ones.   But where does national ownership lead us?

Because it was impractical for solely local outlets to provide the kind of programming that requires a national focus, even when affiliated as part of a loose network, local media meant just that -- local.      Close to the people.   Diversity of viewpoints, too, even locally.  Were it not for some rules which are more strictly enforced in Canada than in the US, there would be no local DJs.   And that can be crucial in case of a crisis.

We've seen in some cities in the States six or seven radio stations owned by a faceless corporations.   Remember about ten years ago when one town (Minot, North Dakota) had a gas leak, the Emergency Broadcast System was supposed to have been activated with orders for residents to clear the town but this didn't happen -- and years later the faceless corporation still hasn't apologized?  (Guess shareholders are more important than 6000 people in the sticks -- who gives a fudge if they died?)   No one did die, because the police got on their asses and told people to leave, door to door, but it was a close call.   And why did this happen?   All six stations were remotely programmed from head office -- just preprogrammed music, six different formats, on a remote control loop -- no DJs, just local commercials.  And no one even thought about breaking in for a special bulletin.

Can we expect that in Canada?   It's just a matter of time, really.

Maybe we do need a second national radio news broadcast every night to compete with CBC One's World at Six.  But having CTV News, or Rogers or Corus program it, would be as welcome as a shot in the head.    And besides, this arrangement allows Bell to sell package deals for advertising, on radio and television, while those who would want only one or the other would have to pay more per unit.   Shouldn't that be as illegal as not setting limits on carrying the movie outlets?

It's also worrying because in the areas where Bell has its incumbent telephone territory, it's rolling out fibre optic television, which as DSL internet uses phone wires, and introducing it in more and more cities -- my guess is that they're trying to get people off its satellite service.   Reports are its library of on demand programs is more vast than even cable.   But if you control the content of the on demand channels you already own, and you set conditions on competitors to put on their content, isn't that also anti-competitive?

Don't forget when the anti-Canada Quebecor bought the rah-rah Canada Toronto Sun, there was supposed to be a firewall between the two companies.   That lasted a month or so.  When ToSu bought the joke station "Toronto One" the agreement was the paper's newsroom wouldn't encroach on the station.   It took a couple of weeks for the station to start having its newscasts from the floor of the paper -- and that station quickly became SunTV and then Sun News.

This is pathetic.   And the CRTC should call the bluff.   Annul the marriage, all together.  Astral is worth selling, and Ian Greenberg deserves to cash in for building a company from nothing to a power player.   But surely someone not currently in the national game should get a chance.   Another voice would be welcome.   It's about choice.   Otherwise, the exodus to alternate online media and on demand content will continue unabated -- and if they're almost all American outlets, our voice will be gone all together.

For what it's worth, we're headed in that direction anyway, merger or no merger.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Charles McVety vs sex ed

I really have to hand it to some social conservatives who are so sexually repressed they recoil at the word sex.   I don't know if Charles McVety of the Canada Family Action Coalition is quite that regressed, but his playing on people's worst instincts would be comical were it not for what's at stake -- the kind of country that we want Canada to be.  Especially when it comes to personal choices.

Chuck, a televangelist, has make himself look like an idiot several times over.   He is certainly entitled to his opinion that gay and lesbian marriage is wrong.   He is definitely allowed to say that, too.   But it wasn't that long ago -- like, 2010 -- that he went on TV repeated the oft repeated lie that gays and lesbians prey on minors,  as if to say that only homosexuals are pedophiles.   Of course most reasonable people know that not to be true.  But you can't convince some people about that.

Two years ago, McVety railed against the idea of "gay-straight" alliances in schools, claiming they would force students to hear about oral and anal sex.   Of course the problem is, most kids know about it already.   They go on the Internet.   They talk to their fellow students.   Heck, in a lot of cases, their own parents have talked about their escapades into the back door, openly!

And what is so wrong with standing up for open discussion about sex, or about standing up for someone who is bullied because of their choice of lifestyle?   Some kids figure out they're gay by the time they're five or six even if they don't yet  know the word for it.

Now, the latest front.   Kathleen Wynne, the Premier of Ontario and the first openly gay chief executive of the province since its founding in 1791 as Upper Canada, now may finally do what should have done decades ago; updating the province's sex education curriculum.   Something that Pointy Head, Dalton McGuinty, should have done already while he was still Premier.  And naturally, McVety and his fellow regressives are whipping up a firestorm saying once again that this shouldn't be in schools, or if it is, that parents should have Power Of Veto ™
Why:   Three words.   Ignorance is bliss.

Where does that take us, though?

We only have to look in the States to see where abstinence only programs go when it comes to heterosexual sex amongst teenagers.   Higher rates of genital, oral and anal sex, higher rates of disease, higher rates of pregnancies.   In States where there is a frank discussion of the consequences?   Lower rates of disease, lower teen pregnancies.   And counter intuitively, the rate of people delaying their first time is actually higher than in the regressed states.

Because oral and anal contact inherently can be so much more dangerous, since there is often a lesser use of protection and in turn a much higher risk of exchanging bodily fluids through cuts, there needs to be education on reducing the risk.

Look, even the most progressive of progressives -- and I'm nowhere near there in the political spectrum -- would have to acknowledge that abstinence is the only way to stop the spread of venereal disease or a pregnancy.

But this is not an ideal world.   Kids have sex.   And they have it at younger and younger ages, because both boys and girls are starting to develop at younger ages -- mainly due to changes in our diets and in environmental factors.  Matter of fact, many girls are starting to develop at age 7 and boys at 9.   And their "first time" with someone of the opposite sex will probably be by the time they hit 13.  If they experiment with someone of the same sex, maybe earlier.

Even thirty years ago, which gives away my age (!), my classmates and I -- both sexes -- didn't start to develop until 12 or 13 and the median for losing the cherry was 16.   But we did talk about sex in the schoolyard.   Straight and gay sex.   And then as now, some of the chatter was based on facts but the rest on misinformation.   But the discussion in class, such as it was, was only about heterosexual sex.    For those in my class who were gay or lesbian and there were a couple, some use that did.

The rate of gays and lesbians in this country has likely stayed at the same rate for decades -- the difference is that now there's greater tolerance of the practice, more people who are LGBT feel comfortable in saying so.   They're not about to go back into the closet.   And as I have said previously, their families are just as valuable, just as vital, as "straight" families.

I have always thought that teaching kids values starts at home, but if those values are based on prejudice and misinformation there has to be a forum to present a more balanced view and without parental interference, so the kids can decide for themselves.  And practically the only place that can happen, is at school.

If one had to ask McVety, one would have to suppose he might say we should go back to the days when a "troubled" teenage girl had gone to an aunt -- i.e. the homes for unwed mothers -- and the father of the baby was not allowed to even have access to what he had a part in creating, let along being told where his girlfriend disappeared to.

Knowledge is power.   And the more we empower people, especially at a young age, the more we can push back at the holier than thous who claim they know better.   And even turn back the tide on disease and unwanted pregnancies -- as well as bigotry.  Premier Wynne should push forward, and not be bullied.   Straight people like me, who have an open mind, have "gotten used to it."  It's time those whose minds stubbornly closed, to get used to it as well.