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WTF Wednesday: Alaska caucus shares laugh over gay rights

Catherine McIntyre

A public opinion survey released earlier this month shows that 67 per cent of Alaskans think gay couples deserve some form of legal recognition. So, in a meeting of the Alaska House Majority Caucus February 15, Mark Miller, a reporter for the Juneau Empire newspaper, asked, “would the caucus support the idea of having domestic partnerships or civil unions open to same-sex couples?”

Cue laughter.

Nothing like a gay joke to prime Republican Law-makers for President’s Day long weekend.

By law in Alaska, LGBT couples do not exist—their relationships have illegitimate, bastard status in the eyes of government. People who identify as LGBT are exempt from hate crime laws and they’re not protected against housing and workplace discrimination.

After recovering from the knee-slapper of a question, the caucus justified the reaction, saying the idea of gay couples’ rights was so funny because it wasn’t on the agenda (lol, duh!).

Lance Pruitt, the House Majority leader Rep. says, “What’s important about this caucus is that we focused on the things that really allow people to have a great life.”

Ohhhhhhh. A great life! Which has NOTHING to do with personal relationships. Gotcha.

Aside from the caucus’ totally inappropriate reaction to the idea of better gay rights, it’s yet another example of the disconnect between elected officials and the people they supposedly represent. Silly Americans.

But wait! Here in Canada, we too send mixed signals about our stance on sexual identity and orientation. We tout ourselves as the leader of human rights and acceptance, but we have found loopholes (in true Harper fashion) through which to thread homophobia.

Since 1999, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has been funding Crossroads Christian Communicationsa Burlington, Ont.-based evangelical group with staunch views against LGBT rights, as in, they consider homosexuality and cross-dressing as “sinful” and “perverse” as bestiality and pedophilia (Crossroads recently had these opinions removed from its website). CIDA has given Crossroads more than $2 million for humanitarian work in Africa. Some of that money has gone towards HIV/AIDS education, and right now Crossroads is building a water filtration system in Uganda with $544,813 from CIDA.

Uganda, by the way, is notoriously homophobic. Since 2009, the Sub-Saharan country has been considering an Anti-Homosexuality Bill that, if passed, could mean the death penalty for homosexuals and jail time for people who don’t report anyone they know to be gay.

The international community has lambasted Uganda over the “Kill the Gays” bill. Amnesty International launched a campaign to stop the bill, and along with other Western nations, Canada dutifully denounced Uganda’s homophobia.  So why are we still supporting programs lead by homophobic organizations in a homophobic country?

Early this month, CIDA announced it will halt funding to Crossroads until it completes a review of the organization. Meanwhile, the Canadian government continues to justify funding Crossroads. Minister of International Co-operation, Julian Fantino stated, “We fund results-based projects, not organizations.”

Funding an organization’s projects, however, implies support of that organization’s values. Whether it’s building toilets that flush or exorcising the gay out of religious deviants, by giving Crossroads money, CIDA is backing the organization and what it stands for. Maybe Canada’s not laughing in the face of LGBT rights—just doing it behind their back.

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