"Something just snapped in this moment of utter irrationality."
Adovcacy News - Svend Robinson
April 16, 2004
Thank you, Svend Robinson
should wish Mr. Robinson well, and hope Friday's event will not derail a long
and devoted career in public service."
New Democratic Party Member of Parliament (Burnaby, British Columbia) Svend Robinson announced yesterday that he will be taking a medical leave from federal politics, after admitting that he stole a ring last week.
On this fascinating journey towards equality, we have had the occasion to meet and work with many people whom we admire: Svend Robinson is among them. Svend became Canada's first openly gay member of Parliament when he came out in 1988, after nine years in office. He has been an early and vocal supporter of equal marriage for same-sex couples, and he has been a tireless supporter for other LGBT issues, including most recently the champion of a bill to protect people from homophobic hate crimes (Bill C-250).
We were introduced to Svend Robinson when we began advocating for equal marriage in 2000. We have enjoyed working with Svend on several television programs, and we have met at parades and rallies in a number of cities in Canada. He kindly provided a "blurb" for the back of our book, Just Married.
Svend was highly effective in his defense of same-sex marriage in the House of Commons. You will find numerous postings through-out this web site about his activities (including a January 2004 piece, below). But perhaps his most visible contribution to equal marriage came as member of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights. He was a key voice of conscience speaking out against the hurtful and sometimes hateful language of people who spoke at committee hearings that were set up in response to our accumulating court victories.
It is stressful being out front, as any same-sex couple working for equal rights knows.
"This accumulated stress culminated last Friday in my engaging in an act that was totally inexplicable and unthinkable," Svend said, reading a prepared statement yesterday. "While attending a public jewellery sale, I pocketed a piece of jewellery. I did this despite knowing full well that the employees who were there recognized me and did so in a context where I had provided to them my full name and contact information in writing, and that the entire area was under electronic surveillance. Something just snapped in this moment of utter irrationality ... As you can imagine this has been a nightmare. I cannot believe that it has happened, but I am human and I have failed. I have felt such a sense of privilege and honour to serve my constituents in Burnaby and indeed people across Canada, and feel an equally powerful sense of sadness that I have let them down. As I deal with this issue, I hope I will have their understanding and support. "
Svend Robinson has made a lasting difference to the lives of millions, now and in the future through the protections and rights he helped enact. He fought tirelessly on behalf of gay equality and contributed significantly to the great advances we have made in Canada. Above all else, when we think of Svend, we appreciate how he continuously demands that gay people receive equal treatment and consideration, with all the rights and obligations that come with being a citizen, and all the strengths and weaknesses of a human being.
We hope to see Svend in Philadelphia later this month at Equality Forum, if his health and well-being allows, where he is scheduled to appear as a panelist at an International Gay and Lesbian Leaders Symposium.