By Tony Gosgnach
The InterimHe courted the Catholic and ethnic vote in his riding of Hamilton East, and has been praised in at least one Catholic publication for having “a passion for social justice.” But throughout his provincial political career, Dominic Agostino was also a solid supporter of the “gay rights” cause.
Agostino passed away at the age of 44 on March 24 after a bout with “liver cancer” following an episode of “pneumonia.” He had begun his political career as a separate (Catholic) school trustee at the age of 20, then moved to municipal politics before becoming a Liberal MPP in 1995.
He was reported to be an admirer of “Catholic” politicians such as John F. Kennedy and Pierre Trudeau – both of whom sought to separate their professed religious beliefs from their public service.
The Hamilton Spectator newspaper noted that Agostino was “secretive” about his health problems, even though those who knew him were worrying about his thinning physique and hoarse voice. Those present at his death refused to discuss the matter with the paper.
His funeral at a Hamilton Catholic church attracted a who’s who of the local, provincial and national political scene, including Hamilton Mayor Larry Di Ianni, provincial and federal cabinet ministers, backroom political organizers and journalists. Pro-gay and pro-abortion Premier Dalton McGuinty gave a eulogy at the service – a practice that is normally not permitted in Catholic churches.
The gay press also had words of praise in the wake of Agostino’s passing.
“For a decade, Agostino marched in (gay) pride parades in Toronto and Hamilton, one of the first politicians to publicly be seen at a pride celebration, and frequently spoke out on what he saw as inequities in the law regarding gay civil rights,” wrote the 365gay.com website. It quoted openly gay MPP George Smitherman as noting that Agostino “was like a brother” to him.
Hamilton’s View magazine noted that Agostino last year publicly called on the federal government to make same-sex “marriage” legal across the country, while Toronto’s gay magazine Xtra! credited him for supporting same-sex spousal rights ever since he became an MPP.
Another Toronto gay magazine, Fab, published an article by Montreal writer Eleanor Brown that purported to “out” Agostino as a homosexual himself.
“Agostino was also known in the Toronto gay club scene (he was a fan of fly (a gay nightclub) and was often seen there with beautiful men),” Brown wrote. She added that he appeared onstage during “gay day” at Canada’s Wonderland in 1997 and remarked, “I’ve been with someone for an hour, and only have another hour left.” Brown also noted that Agostino had a “partner” of several years who served as a pallbearer at the funeral.
A pro-family lobbyist told The Interim that he is concerned that Agostino may have advanced an agenda for reasons that he was not completely honest about.