Same-sex marriage

by Yule Heibel on June 30, 2005

Last summer I went to Saltspring Island for the wedding of a friend. She’s originally from Canada, but we met at Harvard in the late 80s. Now she lives in California. She and her partner came to BC to be married because same-sex marriage is legal here — was legal here last year, and is still legal today. BC has not gone down the drain because same-sex marriage was legalised. Heterosexual marriages still take place. Little children do not cower in fear that their right to marriage will be destroyed by same-sex unions.

To hear some of the critics of same-sex marriage, one would think the end of the world has arrived: The House of Parliament in Ottawa passed the same-sex marriage bill a couple of days ago, which makes those marriages legal in all of Canada (Alberta, Prince Edward Island, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories were holding out against them — no more). Canada is now the third country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage. See House passes same-sex marriage bill in the June 28 Toronto Star.

The article quotes Prime Minister Paul Martin:

“(This) is about the Charter of Rights,” Prime Minister Paul Martin said earlier Today.

“We are a nation of minorities. And in a nation of minorities, it is important that you don’t cherry-pick rights.

“A right is a right and that is what this vote tonight is all about.” [More…]

He’s quite right. I just hope that principle is kept firmly in mind in Ontario and everywhere in Canada by legislators and politicians considering the privatisation of the Canadian legal system. See the excellent article, Sharia Law Controversy, by Tarek Fatah for a look at the political funding dilemma that shapes the 1991 Arbitration Act. Please, let’s show the pernicious idea of faith-based binding arbitration as a substitute for Family Law Courts the exit!

It is about rights, and it is important not to cherry-pick human rights, as Martin says.

In the same-sex marriage debate, opponents use the same lame excuses about “moral decay” to try and stem the implementation of equal rights. After the House of Commons passed the bill on Monday, opponents to legal same-sex marriage invoked “moral decay” and projected the danger into the lives of their children:

“It’s a sad day,” said Charles McVety, president of the Canada Christian College.

“The great institution of marriage that has built this civilization and the foundation of our society has been defiled by our Parliament.

“And that is sad. It’s sad for our children. It’s sad for our grandchildren. It’s sad for the young people.

“I have a 7-year-old daughter. When she comes of age to be married, will we still have marriage as we know it?” [More…]

The institution of marriage built our civilisation? Um, I think pulling out one thing like that as the driving force behind history is …cherry picking!

Mr. McVety, your daughter will still be able to get married: this is not about truncating her rights. My friend has three sons, incidentally. If they don’t have a problem with their mother marrying another woman, why should the children of straight (scared) people? Will those children have problems because of the same-sex couples, or because their parents are phobic? Perhaps Mr. McVety’s daughter and my friend’s sons can have a conversation about that one day. Heck, they can even get married. It might do Mr. McVety a lot of good if he broadened his range of in-laws…


Doug Alder July 1, 2005 at 12:59 am

“he House of Parliament in Ottawa passed the same-sex marriage bill a couple of days ago, which makes those marriages legal in all of Canada ”

Not yet Yule. It still has to pass the Senate and it still needs to be signed by the Govenor General before it becomes law.

Yule Heibel July 1, 2005 at 2:27 am

Ah. But presumably it will pass.

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