Ken­ney re­grets com­ments on gay hos­pi­tal vis­i­ta­tion

Lethbridge Herald - - HEADLINE NEWS - Dean Ben­nett THE CANA­DIAN PRESS — ED­MON­TON

Al­berta’s United Con­ser­va­tive leader says he re­grets com­ments made in his ear­lier days about over­turn­ing a law ex­tend­ing hos­pi­tal vis­i­ta­tion rights to gay cou­ples dur­ing the 1980s AIDS epi­demic in San Fran­cisco.

Ja­son Ken­ney says, since then, his pub­lic record in Par­lia­ment shows he sup­ports do­mes­tic part­ner ar­range­ments and ben­e­fits for cou­ples re­gard­less of sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

Ken­ney made the com­ments af­ter a two-decade-old au­dio record­ing of him sur­faced re­cently.

On the record­ing, Ken­ney touts his role in or­ga­niz­ing a pe­ti­tion call­ing for a ref­er­en­dum to re­peal the city or­di­nance ex­tend­ing recog­ni­tion rights of het­ero­sex­ual cou­ples, such as hos­pi­tal vis­i­ta­tion, to same-sex cou­ples.

The or­di­nance was de­feated by a nar­row mar­gin in a ref­er­en­dum.

Ken­ney, who is a Catholic, says on the tape he be­lieves his ac­tions brought him spir­i­tu­ally closer to his church.

“Sure, there are things that I’ve done and said in my life that I re­gret,” Ken­ney said Thurs­day at the leg­is­la­ture.

“Is that (the San Fran­cisco com­ments) one of them?” he was asked.

“Sure,” he replied. “I can tell you in 2003, and ’04 and ’05 you can look at the Hansard tran­script and see me sup­port­ing do­mes­tic part­ner ar­range­ments for de­pen­dent cou­ples re­gard­less of sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

“That has been my long­stand­ing pub­lic view.”

Ken­ney and his United Con­ser­va­tives have an un­easy re­la­tion­ship with Al­berta’s gay com­mu­nity and have been de­nied per­mis­sion to march in re­cent Pride pa­rades.

The party is cur­rently de­lib­er­at­ing the fate of high­pro­file party mem­ber John Car­pay, who pub­licly com­pared the pride rain­bow flag to the Nazi swastika.

The United Con­ser­va­tives have taken is­sue with the prov­ince’s pol­icy man­dat­ing gay-straight al­liances in schools, par­tic­u­larly the law stat­ing that par­ents not be told if a child joins such a group.

Pro­po­nents say some kids who join the al­liances risk the wrath of their par­ents and that such a rule would ef­fec­tively spell the end of such groups.

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