What's that? Why does Xtra need a Parliament Hill blog? We have same-sex marriage — doesn't that mean that all the hard work is over?
Well, no, not exactly. While marriage was a fight, it was by far not the most important one. You're hearing all these same arguments in the States right now, with the aftermath of Proposition 8 in California, and the 33 other states that have banned same-sex marriage. The thing is, same-sex marriage had a kind of sexiness to it that was easy to sell.
But there is a whole host of other fights that we need to look at, but most of them aren't "iconic" or "sexy." Some of these issues are things like the bawdyhouse laws, or enshrining rights for trans people with protection for gender identity and expression, or the blood donor ban for gay men. There is the issue of access to medical marijuana for PWAs, and stable HIV/AIDS funding for more than just vaccine research. And what about the questions about just what is happening to gay refugee claimants, where many are sent home with the helpful suggestion of butching it up?
And then there are issues that we need to keep an eye on, because they'll affect us. In the last Parliament, there were plenty of examples to choose from, especially the plan to rescind tax credits on film and video productions the government didn't agree with (and evangelist Charles McVety, who claimed credit for the provision in the legislation, had such gay films as Breakfast With Scot on his hit list). Or Ken Epp's private member's bill on protecting "unborn victims of crime," seen by many as a backdoor route to re-criminalising abortion. And let us not forget the effect that the age of consent law that was passed is going to have on the next generation of youth — not just queer youth, but straight youth who will be too reluctant to get proper information on their own sexual health because they think they're doing something bad or illegal.
But it's not just about the issues — it's also about the people. The upcoming 40th Parliament has an unprecedented number of out gay and lesbian parliamentarians across all four parties. (Yes Virginia, there is such thing as an out Conservative — she just happens to sit in the Senate). We have seven out parliamentarians, which is a definite sign that we're making progress in terms of visibility and getting our issues heard. We should rightfully be celebrating their accomplishments and paying attention to them as a community.
And who am I? I'm a freelance journalist here in the Nation's Capital, with a taste for politics. (Seriously — I'm the guy who can't wait for Politics with Don Newman to come on every day. It's like my political crack.) I've been writing for Capital Xtra for over four years now, and other national gay and lesbian publications for even longer.
I'm here to be your guide to the Hill, and the issues that matter to us as a community. I'll be hanging around the Press Gallery from time to time, looking in on what's going on in the Senate, checking out any committee hearings that touch on any of our concerns, and most of all, keeping you informed.
So let's get down to it — Parliament begins on Tuesday, and there's going to be plenty to talk about, from party members, to whips, to some hot bicameral action. It's going to be a fun ride!