Gay History 101: May 13, 2015

In 2005, Canada became the first country, outside of Europe, to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide with the enactment of the Civil Marriage Act.

History was never as straight as we are told. Recording our history means reporting the truth.

2005: On July 20 Canada became the first country, outside of Europe, to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide with the enactment of the Civil Marriage Act which provided a gender-neutral marriage definition.

Court decisions, starting in 2003, had already legalized same-sex marriage in eight out of ten provinces and one of three territories, whose residents comprised about 90% of Canada's population. Before passage of the Act, more than 3,000 same-sex couples had already married in those areas.

Most legal benefits commonly associated with marriage had been extended to cohabiting same-sex couples since 1999. The Civil Marriage Act was introduced by Prime Minister Paul Martin’s Liberal minority government in the Canadian House of Commons on February 1, 2005 as Bill C-38.

It was passed by the House of Commons on June 28, 2005, by the Senate on July 19, 2005, and it received Royal Assent the following day. On December 7, 2006, the House of Commons effectively reaffirmed the legislation by a vote of 175 to 123, defeating a motion of the Conservative minority government to examine the matter again. This was the third vote supporting same-sex marriage taken by three Parliaments under three Prime Ministers in three different years.

2010: On August 30 Fidel Castro gave a rather candid and surprising interview to a Mexican reporter touching on various issues, his health, his nemesis, the Internet, world economy and terrorism.

But, in what was the most stunning part of the interview, he surprisingly apologized for the mistreatment of homosexuals during his tenure. He described it as one of his most serious mistakes. He did not deny that homosexuals were forcibly marginalized from society, arrested, and sent to hard labor.

He admitted that those were actions of grave injustice. After the revolution homosexuals became scapegoats since they were considered to be against the new regime. According to Castro, he himself failed to address and correct the issue. He claimed that the responsibility was his alone. Ironically, it is also widely known that Fidel had several long time friends who were, and are, gay. In Cuba homosexuality was decriminalized in 1990 and since 2008 socialized medicine covers sex change operations.

1682: The Province of Pennsylvania, a Quaker colony, enacts legislation that makes sodomy by ‘ any person’ a non-capital offense. It is the first American colony to show such ‘ leniency.’

1942: The U.S. military issues further official prohibition against homosexuals in the armed forces.

1948: The Kinsey Institute publishes its ground-breaking study of sexual behavior in American men.

"My Old Kentucky Home" is a song written by Stephen Foster. It was published as "My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night" in January 1853. It is believed that Foster took inspiration from Harriett Beecher Stowe’s 1851 bestseller Uncle Tom’s Cabin and hoped to exploit its popularity.

In Foster's sketchbook, the song was titled "Poor Uncle Tom, Good Night" and each verse ended with the line "Den poor Uncle Tom, good night.” The song described originally an everyday scene on a slave plantation and was a beloved song in minstrel shows.

It became the official state song of Kentucky on March 19, 1928, by an act of the Kentucky legislature. In 1986, Japanese students visiting the Kentucky General Assembly sang the song as a gesture of respect, but Carl Hines (D-Louisville), the only black state representative at the time, was quoted as saying that the lyrics "convey connotations of racial discrimination that are not acceptable."

Within days, Hines sponsored House Resolution 159, which revised the lyrics to amend the second line of the first verse from: “Tis summer, the darkies are gay” to “Tis summer, the people are gay,” for all official state functions involving the performance of the song. It is surprising that nobody in Kentucky has put forth a resolution to also remove the word gay. Hallmark after all did just that. For the Christmas Season 2013 Hallmark changed the words of one of its holiday keepsake ornaments from: “Don we now our gay apparel” to “Don we now our FUN apparel.” in the song “Deck The Halls.”


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