Monthly Archives: July 2013

Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike.–Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

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While attitudes toward gay people have changed a great deal for the better in my lifetime, prejudice and stereotypes remain. There is one stereotype in particular that bothers me and kept me from coming out until later in life: that of the gay man as a predator from whom children must be protected. I am told I am good in my interaction with children and young people. I am gentle and soft-spoken and very easy going and children generally like me. Because of this, it was suggested that I consider a career in teaching by one of my mentors at Queen’s University. I was reluctant to go into teaching because of this stereotype. I was confronted with this stereotype and the prejudice against gay men as teachers in 1986, the year I graduated from Queen’s, when the Chairman of the Frontenac County Board of Education, in commenting on the amendment to the Ontario Human Rights Code which added sexual orientation to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination, was dismayed that he no longer had any legal grounds to refuse to hire a teacher if he knew he was dealing with an “obvious faggot.” Continue reading

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“I am a conservative Republican, but I believe in democracy and the separation of church and state. The conservative movement is founded on the simple tenet that people have the right to live life as they please as long as they don’t hurt anyone else in the process.” — Barry Goldwater

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In a previously published essay I discussed the life and career of Barry Goldwater, the Republican Senator from Arizona and his support of gays serving in the US military. Beyond this, he was in support for gay rights in all of US society. This support was based on his conviction that there be a strict separation between religion and state. Goldwater’s position on gay rights and the separation of of religion and state put him at odds with many conservatives, particularly the religious constituency known as the Christian right that supports the GOP and various socially conservative causes in the United States. The Christian right is composed primarily of the Moral Majority, renamed Moral Majority Coalition in 2004, the Christian Coalition of America, Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. The most prominent figures in the Christian Right are Jerry Falwell (deceased), Pat Robertson, James Dobson and Tony Perkins. Continue reading

Mallard hen with duckling

Sole survivor

By mid-July on the Rideau River this mallard hen has only one of her brood left. She will have started out with a brood of six to eight newly hatched ducklings in May-June, but ducklings fall prey to seagulls, snapping turtles and other predators very easily. Chances are the surviving duckling will not survive its first year of life. This is the reality in the natural world: 85% of the birds and animals born in spring do not last a year, but enough do last long enough to breed the following spring and perpetuate their species.

Photographed and posted by Geoffrey

You don’t have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight. — Barry Goldwater (1909-1998)

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The repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the United States is great news for gay couples who are employed by the federal government, particularly those who are serving in the US military. Interestingly, the ban on gays serving in the US military was lifted before the repeal of DOMA and the effort to lift this ban was supported by what you might think was a most unlikely advocate: none other than Barry Goldwater (1909-1998).  Goldwater was a staunch conservative, anti-communist politician whose career in federal politics began in 1952 as a Senator for the State of Arizona and presidential candidate for the Republican Party in 1964, continuing until his retirement in 1987. He was forthright and clear in his thought concerning gay rights in US society and gays serving in the US military and not in the way you may be thinking.  With regard to gays serving in the military he stated “everyone knows that gays have served honorably in the military since at least the time of Julius Caesar. They’ll still be serving long after we’re all dead and buried. That should not surprise anyone.” He added:

The conservative movement, to which I subscribe, has as one of its basic tenets the belief that government should stay out of people’s private lives. Government governs best when it governs least – and stays out of the impossible task of legislating morality. But legislating someone’s version of morality is exactly what we do by perpetuating discrimination against gays. (Lifting ban on gays in military should be conservative cause) Continue reading

Brown-headed cowbird

Trio of male brown-headed cowbirds

Three male brown-headed cowbirds perched in the treetops next to the Rideau River, June 30, 2013. The brown-headed cowbird is unusual in that it practices nest parasitism. Cowbirds do not rear their own young. The female lays an egg in another bird’s nest and the cowbird chick hatches and is reared by the other birds. It pushes the chicks of the host birds out of the nest so it does not compete for food. Some species of songbird have adapted to this threat in building dummy nests to lure the cowbird to leave its eggs, leaving them free to rear their own broods.

Photographed and posted by Geoffrey