Michael Cook

Tasmania’s absurd push for gay ‘marriage’

Michael Cook
By Michael Cook
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September 5, 2012 (Mercatornet.com) - The results of grafting two heads onto one government body became painfully clear in the Australian state of Tasmania last week. Labor Premier Lara Giddings and her coalition partner, Greens leader Nick McKim, jointly guided a same-sex marriage bill through the lower house on Thursday. It was the first time that an Australian house of parliament had passed such a bill.

This, said Ms Giddings, would erase Tasmania’s reputation as the “laughing-stock” of Australia. Mr McKim praised the bill even more rapturously: “Romans chapter 13, verse 10 says, ‘Love does no harm to its neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilment of the law’. We are here today to give full expression to love in the laws of our state.”

Even though Tasmania is an island state with only half a million people, this is a significant event. The bill’s fate in the upper house is far from certain. However, if it does become law, it will strengthen the case for same-sex marriage throughout Australia – and elsewhere.

But all the hugging and kissing in State Parliament was a cynical distraction from Lara Giddings’ dismal economic management.

On July 23, the Commonwealth Bank released its State of the States report. It found that Tasmania scored lowest in the country on five key indicators: employment, retail trade, population growth, construction work and housing finance. “Tasmania is underperforming other state and territory economies” said the bank’s chief economist, Craig James, “and arguably is the number one candidate of any regional income redistribution as the Federal Government seeks to share the benefits of the mining boom across the broader Australian economy”.

In other words, Tasmania is set to use the Federal government as an ATM.

Meanwhile, Ms Giddings is living on the other side of the looking glass. At the annual Labor Party conference a fortnight later, she fantasised about making Tasmania “one of the most dynamic small economies in the world, producing high quality niche products and services that are recognised and valued across the globe”. Her nominations for model investments? A museum, a golf course, and a luxury resort.

Somehow, in the mind of the leader of what was once a workers’ party, Tasmanian prosperity is coming a distant second to same-sex marriage. “Labor has had the courage to tackle difficult, complex and challenging areas where progressive action was needed,” Ms Giddings told conference delegates. “There’s no better example than our determination to end all discrimination… on the issue of marriage equality.”

With her party languishing at 23 percent in the polls, she announced five priority areas for social reform over the next two years: legalising surrogacy for same-sex couples, legalising gay marriage, legalising brothels, legalising euthanasia, and liberalising Tasmania’s already liberal abortion law.

This is an ambitious and radical agenda which calls for community consultation. A vigorous media is needed to query and probe the glib claims of lobby groups and a struggling government. It ought to be a golden time for sharp commentary and investigative journalism.

But in Tasmania the media is as sclerotic as the economy. The Mercury, a Murdoch tabloid, has a near monopoly on news in Hobart, the state’s capital.

None of the claims made by supporters of same-sex marriage has been scrutinised as they would certainly be in Mainland states. Instead, The Mercury has scathingly ridiculed opponents as bigots. The Polly cartoon says it all: Ma and Pa Kettle, pot-bellied, jowly, snarling and bewildered. In most cities, insulting its readers’ intelligence this way would have created a fearsome backlash – but The Mercury has monopoly power. 

The most damning example of journalistic complacency is the plausibility of Tasmania legislating for same-sex marriage. Under the Section 51 of the Australian constitution, marriage is a Commonwealth responsibility. So the State law will immediately head for the High Court – costing Tasmanian taxpayers millions of dollars. Even the Premier acknowledges this.

True, there is one lonely constitutional law professor who asserts that Tasmania’s bold move will survive. But other experts are sceptical. Professor Anne Twomey, of the University of Sydney, for example, writes:

“A Tasmanian law permitting same-sex marriage, even if operative, would do little more than facilitate holding a ceremony, drinking champagne and taking photos. It might confer on the parties to a same-sex marriage the status of ‘married’ for the purposes of Tasmanian laws, but it is most unlikely that they would be regarded as legally ‘married’ for the purposes of Commonwealth law or under the law of any other state…”

Instead of being a beacon of progressive intelligence, Tasmania will be a legal laughing-stock.

Another extraordinary claim made for same-sex marriage is that it will bring $100 million into the state if it becomes the first jurisdiction to allow same-sex couples to wed. Gay couples will flood into Tasmania, gay activists have claimed over and over again in The Mercury.

What is the basis for this extraordinary attempt to bribe struggle street Tasmanians?

A back-of-the envelope report by a Massachusetts academic, Lee Badgett. She estimated in February that the economic benefits of same-sex marriage in Australia would range between $161 million (“conservative”) and $742 million (“plausible”). Tasmania’s share would be $96 million. Did The Mercury analyse this key figure? Nope.

Tasmania’s incompetent government and amateurish leadership are often blamed on the Realpolitik of life in a coalition. Labor can only cling to power by snuggling up to Greens who think that Tasmanians can support their families by working as wedding planners or sherpas for overweight eco-tourists.

But Tasmanians have also been betrayed by their media. It’s bad enough living in a state with the highest unemployment rate and the highest suicide rate of any state. When journalists bask in Lara Giddings’ silken smiles and toss back her absurd rationalisations like a shot of scotch, they are betraying their responsibilities in the democratic process.

Where were the hard questions about denying children the civil right to have both a father and a mother, about whether same-sex parenting harms children, about the rights of people who object to schools teaching children about gay sex, about genuine community support for gay marriage, about social engineering, about whether gays actually want same-sex marriage?

The depth of The Mercury’s misgivings was revealed on Saturday. It ran a front page photo of local-girl-made-good Rachael Taylor, now a underwear model and Hollywood starlet. She gave the bill a ringing endorsement. “Well done Tassie! Well done!” she said.

Still, in the end, it is the politicians who make the laws.

An exchange in Parliament last Thursday between Labor Deputy Premier Bryan Green and Greens MP Cassy O’Connor tells you all you need to know about the depth of their concern. “It is not a big issue really, when it all boils down, is it?” he said. “No, it’s not,” she replied. “It’s just love.”

No wonder these guys can’t pull the Apple Isle out of its economic hole. They’re just too dumb.

Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet. This article reprinted under a Creative Commons License.


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Quebec groups launch court challenge to euthanasia bill

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

As announced when the Quebec legislature adopted Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, the citizen movement Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia, representing together over 650 physicians and 17,000 citizens, filed a lawsuit before the Superior Court of Quebec in the District of Montreal on Thursday.

The lawsuit requests that the Court declare invalid all the provisions of the Act that deal with “medical aid in dying”, a term the groups say is a euphemism for euthanasia. This Act not only allows certain patients to demand that a physician provoke their death, but also grants physicians the right to cause the death of these patients by the administration of a lethal substance.

The two organizations are challenging the constitutionality of those provisions in the Act which are aimed at decriminalizing euthanasia under the euphemism “medical aid in dying”. Euthanasia constitutes a culpable homicide under Canada’s Criminal Code, and the organizations maintain that it is at the core of the exclusive federal legislative power in relation to criminal law and Quebec therefore does not have the power to adopt these provisions.

The organizations also say the impugned provisions unjustifiably infringe the rights to life and to security of patients guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. They further infringe the right to the safeguard of the dignity of the person, which is also protected by the Quebec Charter.

In view of the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to protect all vulnerable persons in Quebec, they are requesting an accelerated management of the case in order to obtain a judgment before the Act is expected to come into force on December 10, 2015.


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Colorado baker appeals gvmt ‘re-education’ order

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By LifeSiteNews staff

A Colorado cake artist who declined to use his creative talents to promote and endorse a same-sex ceremony appealed a May 30 order from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to the Colorado Court of Appeals Wednesday.

The commission’s order requires cake artist Jack Phillips and his staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop to create cakes for same-sex celebrations, forces him to re-educate his staff that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act means that artists must endorse all views, compels him to implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and requires him to file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years. The reports must include the number of patrons declined a wedding cake or any other product and state the reason for doing so to ensure he has fully eliminated his religious beliefs from his business.

“Americans should not be forced by the government – or by another citizen – to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said the cake artist’s lead counsel Nicolle Martin, an attorney allied with Alliance Defending Freedom. “This is not about the people who asked for a cake; it’s about the message the cake communicates. Just as Jack doesn’t create baked works of art for other events with which he disagrees, he doesn’t create cake art for same-sex ceremonies regardless of who walks in the door to place the order.”

“In America, we don’t force artists to create expression that is contrary to their convictions,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “A paint artist who identifies as homosexual shouldn’t be intimidated into creating a painting that celebrates one-man, one-woman marriage. A pro-life photographer shouldn’t be forced to work a pro-abortion rally. And Christian cake artists shouldn’t be punished for declining to participate in a same-sex ceremony or promote its message.”

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In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to make a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted but that he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith. Craig and Mullins, now represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, immediately left the shop and later filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. The case now goes to the Colorado Court of Appeals as Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Craig.

“Jack, and other cake artists like him – such as those seen on TV shows like ‘Ace of Cakes’ and ‘Cake Boss’ – prepare unique creations that are inherently expressive,” Tedesco explained. “Jack invests many hours in the wedding cake creative process, which includes meeting the clients, designing and sketching the cake, and then baking, sculpting, and decorating it. The ACLU calls Jack a mere ‘retail service provider,’ but, in fact, he is an artist who uses his talents and abilities to create expression that the First Amendment fully protects."

Celebrity cake artists have written publicly about their art and the significant expressive work that goes into the artistic design process for wedding cakes.


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Prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner appeals her conviction

Tony Gosgnach
By Tony Gosgnach

TORONTO -- As promised, Mary Wagner has, through her counsel Dr. Charles Lugosi, filed a formal notice of appeal on numerous points regarding her recent, almost two-year-long court case that ended on June 12.

Justice Fergus O’Donnell of the Ontario Court of Justice rejected every application made by the defence – including for access to abortion center records, public funding, standing for a constitutional challenge and for expert witnesses to be heard – before he found Wagner guilty and sentenced her to five months in jail on a charge of mischief and four months on four counts of failing to comply with probation orders.

He further levied two years of probation, with terms that she stay at least 100 metres away from any abortion site. However, because Wagner had spent a greater time in jail than the sentence, she was freed immediately. She had been arrested at the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site on Lawrence Avenue West in Toronto on August 15, 2012 after attempting to speak to abortion-bound women there. She then spent the duration of the trial in prison for refusing to sign bail conditions requiring her to stay away from abortion sites.

Wagner is using the matter as a test case to challenge the current definition of a human being in Canadian law – that is, that a human being is legally recognized as such only after he or she has fully emerged from the birth canal in a breathing state.

Wagner’s notice states the appeal is regarding:

  • Her conviction and sentence on a single count of mischief (interference with property),
  • Her conviction and sentence on four counts of breach of probation,
  • The order denying public funding,
  • The order denying the disclosure of third-party records,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts on the applicant’s constitutional challenge concerning the constitutional validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts concerning the construction of Section 37 of the Criminal Code,
  • The probation order denying Wagner her constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion on all public sidewalks and public areas within 100 metres of places where abortions are committed,
  • And each conviction and sentence and all orders and rulings made by O’Donnell.

In the notice of appeal, Lugosi cites numerous points on which O’Donnell erred:

  • He denied Wagner her constitutional right to make full answer and defence.
  • He denied Wagner her right to rely on Section 37 of the Criminal Code, which permits “everyone” to come to the third-party defence and rescue of any human being (in this case, the preborn) facing imminent assault.
  • He decided the factual basis of Wagner’s constitutional arguments was a waste of the court’s time and that no purpose would have been served by having an evidentiary hearing on her Charter application because, in the current state of Canadian law, it had no possibility of success.
  • He misapplied case law and prejudged the case, “giving rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias and impeding the legal evolution of the law to adapt to new circumstances, knowledge and changed societal values and morals.”
  • He accepted the Crown’s submission that it is beyond the jurisdiction of the courts to question the jurisdiction of Parliament legally to define “human being” in any manner Parliament sees fit.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code is not beyond the powers of Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code does not violate the Preamble to, as well as Sections 7, 11(d), 15 and 26, of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • He denied Wagner standing to raise a constitutional challenge to the validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code.
  • He ruled that Section 223 of the Criminal Code applied generally throughout the entire Criminal Code and used it to deny unborn human beings the benefit of equal protection as born human beings under Section 37 of the Criminal Code.
  • He denied the production and disclosure of third-party records in the possession of the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site, although the records were required to prove Wagner was justified in using reasonable force in the form of oral and written words to try to persuade pregnant mothers from killing their unborn children by abortion.
  • He denied Wagner the defence of Section 37 of the Criminal Code by ruling unborn children did not come within the scope of human beings eligible to be protected by a third party.
  • He ruled Wagner did not come within the scope of Section 37 because she was found to be non-violent (in that she did not use physical force).
  • He ruled the unborn children Wagner was trying to rescue were not under her protection.
  • He denied Wagner the common-law defences of necessity and the rescue of third parties in need of protection.
  • He denied Wagner public funding to make full answer and defence for a constitutional test case of great public importance and national significance.
  • He imposed an unconstitutional sentence upon Wagner by, in effect, imposing an injunction as a condition of probation, contrary to her constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

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Among the orders Lugosi is seeking are:

  • That an appeal be allowed against conviction on all counts and that a verdict of acquittal be entered on all counts,
  • That Section 223 of the Criminal Code be found unconstitutional  and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, as well as the unwritten constitution of Canada,
  • That the sentence be declared unconstitutional and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the unwritten constitution of Canada or that a new trial be conducted, with Wagner permitted to make full answer and defence, be given standing to make a constitutional attack on Section 223 of the Criminal Code, with the admission of expert witnesses,
  • That the Women’s Care Clinic abortion site be made to produce third-party records pertaining to patients seen on August 15, 2012 (when Wagner entered the site),
  • And that there be public funding for two defence counsels at any retrial and for any appeal related to the case.

No date has yet been established for a decision on the appeal or hearings.

A defence fund for Wagner’s case is still raising money. Details on how to contribute to it can be found here.


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