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August to September 2007 News Archive

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OUTeXpressions enewspaper

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Same-sex unions growing at five times that rate of heterosexual ones in Canada

Outexpressions: by Michael F. Paré, Thursday September 13, 2007. Same-sex unions are growing at five times the rate of opposite-sex ones according to census numbers that also reveal, for the first time, the number of homosexual marriages in Canada. Some 45,300 couples, both common law and married, reported as same-sex in the 2006 census, up from 34,200. Those numbers represent a 33 per cent surge since 2001, while heterosexual couples grew by just six per cent in the same time period.

The historic Statistics Canada query on same-sex marriage, coming in the wake of Parliament legalizing such unions in 2005, revealed 7,465 homosexual marriages. That's considerably lower than numbers reported by the now-defunct advocacy group Canadians For Equal Marriage. The group, based on its own research of municipal records, reported last November that 12,438 marriage licences had been granted to same-sex couples since provincial courts began recognizing such unions in 2003.

The census relegated same-sex marriages to a write-in category under the questionnaire's 'other' box - a move that raised the ire of Egale Canada. The national advocacy group responded by urging its membership to list their relationships as husband and wife. Anne Milan, a senior analyst at Statistics Canada, stands by the accuracy of the census data but concedes the limitations of relying on the answers people provide.

"It's the first time that we've asked same sex marriage so it's really a benchmark number," said Milan, who added it's "difficult to say" what effect Egale's dissent had on the numbers. "Future census releases will allow us to compare the count and see what's happening."

The fact that the question was being asked at all shows that "people are getting on with their lives, which was fundamentally what the whole debate was about," said Michael Leshner, a lawyer and one of Canada's first legally married gay men. "It's really a debate that hopefully has run its course... We're just part of the boring middle class now," Leshner said.

According to the census, same-sex couples accounted for 0.6 per cent of all couples in Canada. That falls in line with numbers reported in the United States, New Zealand and Australia. More than half, or 54 per cent, of same-sex married Canadian spouses were men. Some nine per cent of same-sex couples had children, more commonly in female unions (16 per cent) than male ones (three per cent). Children were present more in same-sex married couples (16 per cent) than common-law ones (eight per cent).

Ontario became the first province to legally recognize same-sex marriage following a 2003 decision from the Ontario Court of Appeal. Similar decisions followed in British Columbia, Quebec, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon, and New Brunswick.

On July 20, 2005, Canada became the third country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, after the Netherlands and Belgium. Spain and South Africa have since legalized homosexual marriage as well.

"As my spouse Mike Starkel always says, we won. There's nothing they can do, we won," said Leshner.

Where Are You on Toronto's Gay Talent Map?

Outexpressions: Toronto, Friday August 24, 2007 by Michael F. Paré, -- Richard Florida, one of the most important urban thinkers since Jane Jacobs, is following her lead and coming to Toronto. Florida, considered by some as the guru of urban economic development, was recently welcomed to the University of Toronto's business school. Florida will settle into his role as the director of the Rotman School of Management’s new $120-million Centre for Jurisdictional Advantage and Prosperity in mid September. A position he was quick to accept after working at George Mason University in Virginia for only three years.

He's started a $120-million project at the University to research how wealth is created in urban settings made possible by a $50-million donation from the provincial government.

His groundbreaking 2002 essay, "The Rise of the Creative Class: Why cities without gays and rock bands are losing the economic development race" is followed this year by "There Goes the Neighborhood: How and Why Bohemians, Artists and Gays Affect Regional Housing Values", in which he writes:"As selective buyers with an eye for amenity, authenticity and aesthetics, locations where artists, bohemians and gays concentrate are likely to be highly sought after for their cultural amenities, desirable neighborhood character, and aesthetic quality of the housing stock."

In other words, Toronto has got good taste - and people know it. Florida considers Toronto as one of his favourite places and one of the more "creative" cities in the world.

He argues that if a city concentrates on embracing its bohemians through a dynamic and tolerant urban life, it will be economically successful. One of his eye-catching measures is the "gay index," where he says the more gay-friendly a city is, the more likely it is to be economically prosperous because of its open-mindedness.

Want to get a quick take on how your city or region is faring in the all-out competition for talent? Start by determining the percentage of gays that are in your population. The "gay index" is the leading predictor of a city's ability to attract and retain knowledge workers, claims Richard Florida, founder and director of the Software Industry Center at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University and professor of regional economic development.

It's not that gay employees themselves are critical for building a tech-savvy base of operations. It's that a gay population is a dependable indicator of the environmental factors -- tolerance, openness to diversity, and lots of urban-oriented amenities -- that are critical for attracting world-class workers.

The new institute will study how jurisdictions become magnets for companies and for people who provide the necessary talents needed for prosperity. One of the goals is to be able to inform public policy makers on the various things needed to create a truly prosperous jurisdiction.

"To have this kind of support, to have your financial support ... and to have a spectacular physical space to locate in, I couldn't be more grateful," Florida said.

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