Believe it or not – or perhaps it’s more a matter of like it or not – it’s been one of those seasons in queer Canada where there are not enough lawyers to go around. It’s all litigating, all the time, like some awful digital TV channel. Lawyers are the new celebrities – regular queers just sit back and watch ’em go.
- As this paper hits the stands, lawyers like Martha McCarthy (okay, she’s straight, but led common-law status, marriage and divorce legal cases for homos), Cynthia Peterson and Laurie Arron of the lobby group Egale Canada are locked in a room somewhere in the bowels of Ottawa reading over the Supreme Court Of Canada decision on same-sex marriage. It should be a short read, so these legal beagles will spend more time in front of the TV cameras than they will performing legal analysis
- Doing double duty, lawyer Douglas Elliott is involved in the Supreme Court marriage case, too, and less than two weeks ago held a celebratory press conference about winning Canada Pension Plan benefits for gay and lesbian widowers (turn to page 10 for more on that)
- Last weekend Egale Canada rounded up all the star lawyers with big gay hits – Joe Arvay (of the Calgary bathhouse raid and Little Sister’s bookstore censorship case), Frank Addario (of the Pussy Palace raid and Glad Day porn bust), Alan N Young (of dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford’s Bondage Bungalow), Laurie Arron (again), Brenda Cossman (who writes for Xtra and is on Pink Triangle Press’s board of directors), Noël St-Pierre (of Taboo strip club in Montreal) and others – for a big egghead session dedicated to figuring out how to challenge Canada’s sex laws in court. Imagine! A fire in that room would have set your civil liberties back decades!
So when the AIDS Committee Of Toronto held a Nov 24 panel at City Hall on Canada’s sex laws, it was mostly a handful of laypeople trying to get their heads around the topic. Sure, veteran activist and educator Tim McCaskell did a nice presentation on the bawdy-house laws – but would Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Abella meet his glance if she met him in a hallway?
A few of the attendees – most of them men of a certain age who know each other – stood up and asked, “Where are the people of colour?” “Where are the youth?” “What can I do to change the laws besides writing a letter to MP?”
All the wrong questions. What they should have been asking is how to get more lawyers there – young queers and people of colour would be sure to follow.