Thursday, December 09, 2004

A Marriage Made in Heaven

I really hate to take on another big Alberta “grievance” so soon after the gun registry post but today’s Supreme Court decision is too important to ignore. Maybe I’ll even follow this up with my pro-Kyoto commentary if the Martin government ever decides to come up with some sort of plan for it.

As for gay marriage, I’m strictly against it. I feel that the definition of marriage must be changed, but it must be changed to the following:

1. No woman past menopause and no man with a low sperm count should be allowed to marry. Listening to conservatives today, I learned gay marriage is wrong because gay couples can not have children (and yet these same people are against gay couples adopting. Hmm…). In addition, any couple which fails to conceive within the first five years of marriage will have their marriage annulled.

2. Religious reasons are cited for opposition by those advocating the “traditional” definition of marriage. Given the numerous wives of key Old Testament figures, I therefore move that polygamy be made legal. I’m also hoping that the criminal code can be modified so that all who work on the Sabbath and commit adultery are stoned to death but this is a different discussion for a different time.

3. On the same vein why do we let atheists marry? Haven’t these godless heathens done enough harm as it is without destroying the blessed institution of holy matrimony?

4. Given the cry that marriage is a “traditional” institution and that modifications to it will lead us down a slippery slope to men marrying toasters, it’s paramount that we reverse previous changes to the “traditional” definition of marriage which have started us down this slope. Primarily, I have grave concerns about the move to allow interracial marriage. Likewise, I’m not keen on changes to the traditional voting definition so hopefully Mr. Cotler will move quickly to remove the franchise from women.

5. Given that we don’t want to “cheapen” the definition of marriage, why do we allow marriages by those who have already cheapened this institution by receiving a divorce? Or cheating on their spouses? Or forgetting their wife’s birthday?

Since this decision is now in the hands of such capable members of parliament as Tom Wappel, Dan McTeague, and David Kilgour, I’m confident we’ll finally get a definition of marriage all Canadians can live with.

On a serious note, if anyone knows of any good arguments against gay marriage, please post them in the comments section since I have never once heard a credible argument against allowing equal marriage. I’ve heard good arguments against Kyoto, against the gun registry, in favour of Missile Defense, even in favour of asymmetrical federalism. These arguments haven’t convinced me but at least they’re there. There has to be a reason 40-45% of Canadians oppose allowing gays to marry but, for the life of me, I have yet to hear a good reason. Surely one exists, right?


  • The only feasible argument I know of is that since "marriage" is defined as being between a man and a woman, allow homosexual couples who want to enjoy the same priveledges to enter into a "civil union" which confers all the same benifits of a "marriage" without actually being called "marriage".

    Actually, I fail to see why this reasoning is not used more often - it gets around all of the sticky human rights/equality arguements and simple targets the semantics of the thing.

    Thus the "tradition definition of marriage" folk should be satisfied (since marriage is still a man 1 woman thing) and the homosexual couples should be satisfied (since they get all the same rights as other couples).

    By Blogger Andrew, at 11:00 p.m.  

  • Sarcasm aside, I'd be interested in hearing a liberal's opinion about the idea of marriage as something that only makes sense if you have (or are planning to soon have) kids. (Including gay couples who adopt, and I don't see any reason why they shouldn't be allowed to.) I've been thinking about that idea lately, and I haven't convinced myself yet, but the idea still seems kinda interesting to me.

    Do you have an objection to the idea that marriage only makes sense when you've got kids, or are you just objecting to the hypocrisy that you perceive in conservatives?

    By Blogger Adam, at 1:52 a.m.  

  • Ooooh, i know some PERFECTLY good reasons.

    Prejudice. Bigotry. Intolerance. Hatred.

    I think that's reason enough.

    By Blogger DJC, at 9:22 a.m.  

  • The "civil union" idea is not adequate. If you need to give someone's rights a different name, then their rights aren't equal.

    The civil union idea works only if all marriages, as recognised by the state, are defined as civil unions. If religious institutions want to ring bells and change hats during their civil union ceremonies -- heck, if they want to call them "weddings" or "partnerings" or "joininations" or whatever -- that's their business.

    Let's take the civil institution back from the religious groups. About time that happened.

    Incidentally, I have to commend Martin for having the foresight to bring into the Supreme Court decision the question of religious institutions being forced to perform gay marriages. That whole straw man argument is now moot.

    Does anyone know of any specific Charter right that would be affected by gay marriage? (I asked my (CPC) MP but haven't heard back yet.)

    Sorry if this was a threadjack -- this is my first time reading this blog and I enjoyed the post very much.

    By Blogger M@, at 11:54 a.m.  

  • The problem with civil unions as I see it is that they come down to a "separate but equal" type law. You know, blacks can have their own schools and waterfountains so it's OK to ban them from the public system.

    I simply don't see the objections religious groups have since they're not being forced into this. If they're worried it will cheapen marriage, why not give special "Holy Catholic Marriage" licenses to those married in a Church, to "prove" their marriage is worth more?

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:18 p.m.  

  • Three thoughts:

    1. Why not polygamy? Seriously, not to be anti-gay, but (for the sake of argument) pro-polygamist. Why do we reject that cultural belief, present the world over? Why is it ok to impose a binary paradigm but not a heterosexual one?

    2a. I question the argument underlying the assertion "if you need to give someone's rights a different name, then their rights aren't equal." How so? It may be that I just don't see it clearly.

    While the phrase evokes discrimination, in this context does distinguishing really equate to discriminating, all else being equal? I was expecting the court to eloquently refer to submissions made before it to say that it does. It didn't.

    2b. To carry on the above thought, from a juridical perspective, the Court did reaffirm that rights cannot be adjudicated in the abstract; a rights infringement must be based on evidence.

    3. I like the idea of Canada broadening the institution of marriage. But, while I prefer that Parliament not do so, I don't see why it couldn't implement civil unions, per Vermont, France, Quebec, Alberta.

    By Blogger matt, at 1:47 p.m.  

  • Dear Calgary Grit,

    You may be interested in a recent collection of essays, entitled *Divorcing Marriage,* edited by D. Cere and D. Fallow, which proposes a number of objections to same-sex marriage, from multiple (and typically although not exclusively secular) perspectives. It includes articles by such respected figures as the ethicist Margaret Somerville and the legal theorist F.C. DeCoste.

    In my view, the essays collected there present the most cogent and articulate opposition to same-sex marriage available; it is worth noting that none of them appear to reflect the imposition of religion or the homophobia that many proponent of same-sex marriage attribute to its opponents.

    The book was published this fall by McGill-Queen's University Press.

    All best,

    S. Johnston

    By Blogger S. Johnston, at 2:19 p.m.  

  • Apparently some people still think "gay" means happy, and my first wife was totally against happy marriages. Perhaps we just need to re-brand the issue.

    By Blogger Dangle, at 2:36 p.m.  

  • CG

    I'm really looking forward to having two or more wives some day...what do they call that, polybigamy? I also find myself strangely attracted to certain unmentionable types and ages of humans and animals, so that would be really cool someday as well. Me, my husband, the 3 wives, (aged 12, 33, and 77), the goat and the hermaphroditic wheelchair-bound war-amp are gonna have a freaky time in bed! I hope to live long enough to see it, perhaps I should quit smoking! I wanna marry anything that's a mammal.

    By Blogger Skippy McPippy, at 3:12 p.m.  

  • Calgarygrit/M@:

    Continuing to play the devil's advocate, I fail to see how giving people the EXACT SAME RIGHTS but just calling the two types of unions something different is discriminatory.

    M@'s scenario is especially off-base. A better analogy would be to say that both white and black folk can drink from the same water fountain, however when a white person does it we'll call it slurping, and when a black person does it we'll call it drinking.

    When you start claiming that people have the right to apply a certain label to themselves you cheapen the whole concept of rights. A right is a set of priveledges that society allows you to enjoy. Labels and semantics have nothing to do with rights.

    By Blogger Andrew, at 4:14 p.m.  

  • Whoops - that was Calgarygrit's example

    By Blogger Andrew, at 4:15 p.m.  

  • One argument that made some sense to me was that many of the financial advantages of marriage were designed to encourage people to procreate and raise kids in a stable environment. Extending these benefits to a class of people that are largely childless defeats the purpose of these financial benefits.

    I'm no tax expert, but if that's the case, I'd support changing the tax code to favour married couples with children (both hetero and homosexual), and provide fewer advantages to childless couples (whether hetero or not). Obviously this would tend to favour hetero couples on average, but it would target the benefits more specifically to people actually raising kids.

    By Blogger dejour, at 4:39 p.m.  

  • Civil union does not work because it is a provincal responsibilty The only thing that can truely equal marriages in power is MARRIAGE. It is federally recognised and internationall recognised.
    Civil union simply will not have the same power as marriage does, it is legally impossible.

    I dont believe in a two tier marriage btw, if athiests can get married than why cant same sex couples?

    Furthermore, if one wants to respect freedom of religion in a true sense, same sex marriage would be allowed because some religous instituions do recognise such unions.

    By Blogger realwannabe, at 5:20 p.m.  

  • Also, the charter considers sexual orientation as a possible basis for discrimination. For example, a persons colout, creed, religion, race, sex, or any other constitutionall protected attribute can be considered a ground for discrimination.

    Whereas people are not naturally inclined to have polygamous relationship, and the charter does not consider discrimination for marriage can be based on numbers, or amily relationships, or species.

    By Blogger realwannabe, at 5:26 p.m.  

  • Good topic. I happen to stumble upon your blog about 2 hours after I wrote my blog for today on a similar topic. I hope you and any others look over mine if you get the chance.

    By Blogger treehuggingoat, at 5:37 p.m.  

  • What the hell is a 'civil union' anyway? I know that Montreal streets are icy, and the civic union there is anything but civil about it.

    Article 16 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), states that men and women of "full age" have the right to "marry". Of course this is just a silly United Nations document, but if it had said that men and women of full age have the right to "civil unions" then everything would be fine.

    But what happened is that Canadian secular law uses the term "marriage" in the same way as it would use "civil union", while religious organizations choose to define it a different way (even different religions define it differently among themselves) - "marriage" is (effectively) a synonym.

    By Blogger L. Miller, at 6:55 p.m.  

  • I think the idea of marriage and children can be summed up pretty easily. A man and woman being unable to conceive a child together is a TRAGEDY of nature. Two men or two women being unable to bear children together is the DESIGN of nature.

    Of course, that only applies if you think marriage is strictly meant to facilitate the raising of children. For those who think a "civil union" is somehow inferior, I don't know how you can believe that if a civil union has exactly the same rights and responsibilities as a traditional marriage. I think the gay activists aren't so much interested in having the same rights as a traditional marriage, instead, I think many in the gay community are DEMANDING that all people accept that homosexuality is no different than heterosexuality. If this were not the case, then a civil union would be perfectly it offers everything gay people say they desire.
    The fact is that many people of faith will never accept that homosexuality is "normal", or that gay marriage is as acceptable as a heterosexual marriage. Understandably, since the gay community cannot willingly achieve acceptance of their lifestyle from people of faith, they'll do the next best thing. They'll force the issue and rub it in the face of the religion that does not want to include them. In effect, asking for their partnerships to be sanctioned as marriages even though a civil union offers exactly the same rights that gays have not a call for equality. It's a call for revenge against those who do not accept them.

    That being an athiestic, don't care who you marry kind of main beef with the whole issue is the way the Liberals went about it. A complete lack of leadership, moral cowardice, and the hope that the court would get them out of a a perfect example of our current government's morals and principles. There are none.
    It's going to be fun watching Martin and his ilk squirm when this reaches the house. Here's my election will be called BEFORE the final reading of this Bill hits the house....and Martin will be on the fence during the campaign, trying to convince opponents of same-sex marriage that it is not a done deal vote Liberal anyway.

    Can't wait to see this.........I'm going to get a HUGE bag of popcorn and sit back and enjoy.

    By Blogger James Halifax, at 7:29 p.m.  

  • Having a two-tiered system -- hetero marriage and same-sex civil unions -- is indeed a possible case of "separate but equal" not really being equal.

    If we followed the civil union path, it is quite easy to imagine a province passing legislation that gives benefits to married people but not people in a civil union. Or a corporation could confer benefits to married employees but not civil union employees.

    That's a decidedly different outcome than the one we seem to be headed towards now.

    By Blogger Andrew Spicer, at 8:00 p.m.  

  • Exactly, so the civil union argument, how it is equals to marriage in all legal aspects, is thrown out the window. Next argument please.

    By Blogger realwannabe, at 8:46 p.m.  

  • James; You might be right about the election thing...this legislation might not pass until the end of 2005 and we could have an election before that. Considering Martin's never really been adamently pro-gay marriage, he's going to have a tough balancing act.

    I disagree with you on the "tragedy" point though. That argument rests solely on the assumption that marriage=children. As I was trying to point out, a lot of people don't get married to have children. If you want to say that only those interested in having children can get married, then fine - otherwise, it's discriminatory to deny marriage to gay couples.

    I'll look up those articles someone posted above because I've yet to see a good argument on how allowing gays to marry "cheapens" other marriages.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 10:08 p.m.  

  • To suggest that we shouldn't do something because it could be abused is, ultimately, an argument against doing anything at all. And hence a bad argument.
    For example, the idea that "if we followed the civil union path, it is quite easy to imagine a province passing legislation that gives benefits to married people but not people in a civil union" doesn't make much sense, for two reasons.
    1. To do so would almost certainly be against the Charter. I suggest you read Vriend.
    2. While the above likely makes anything else moot, what if civil union was defined as "a union which receives all the benefits of marriage" ? The envisaged distinction becomes much more problematic, and even moreso Charter-bait.

    Legalising gay marriage should be done, in my view, because it's the better thing to do. But I have yet to see (and this is petty of me) any argument which establishes how distinction equates to discrimination.

    By Blogger matt, at 10:34 p.m.  

  • But civil union is not a federal responsibility, the federal government would have no power over that and there would be no point of this discussion. Only marriage is recognized by other countries, not civil unions. Only marriage is recognized by the constitution as a federal responsibility, not civil unions. Every province will have to pass their own seperate laws to have that achieved. This could take forever since it might not even be possible to have all provinces to agree on this issue and define civil union in the exact same way as other provinces.

    And this is a moot point anyways, because most of the provinces have already had their marriage definitions changed to include homosexual couples. Nothing the House of Common can do can change that really since it gave up its right to appeal.

    By Blogger realwannabe, at 11:42 p.m.  

  • Canada is a signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rightsm in which Article 16 states:

    (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

    (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

    (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

    Marriage is an internationally recognized legal right, anything different than marriage would be discriminatory in legal terms, especially when Canadian couples travel aboard.

    By Blogger realwannabe, at 11:50 p.m.  

  • Realwannabe: three remarks below.

    1. Re. the international convention: has no bearing in this context, as it becomes a question of another country's interpretation of it's own private international law. That is, if a country doesn't permit gay marriage internally, it is unlikely to recognize the validity of a gay marriage obtained externally. For example, consider the cool reception many US gay couples married in Ontario receive in their home states.

    2. Re. a lack of uniformity amongst the provinces with respect to civil unions: if I understand you correctly, the argument is that civil unions would have a lesser status than marriage as the former is provincially administered, and that provincial administration has no guarantee of uniformity. I will concede it's possible that the administrative distinction can be construed as unequal treatment. But that's more a complication of living in a federal state with a division of powers. So, three things probably stop that aspect from making traditional marriage unconstitutional.
    a. Very simply, I don't know that it's necessarily a violation of a right to equal treatment. With respect to the delivery of government services (i.e. getting a marriage/civil union license) equal treatment does not always mean identical treatment.
    b. Any such violation would have to be based on evidence presented to the Court, and not imagined or potential scenarios. I don't think Canada has enough differential civil union treatment experience to make a compelling case.
    c. Even were such a violation found, Section 1 would might well save it (justifiable infringement in a democratic society given that it's a consequence of a federalism).

    3. Any province being "bad" in this sense (i.e. Alberta, although it already has some sort of civil union institution on the books, I believe) could be taken to Court itself on a Charter ground; similar to the above, what a province might do likely doesn't affect the constitutionality of what the federal government doe.

    By Blogger matt, at 9:30 a.m.  

  • Matt stole all my arguments - so I'll just say: "what he said". This country has lost it's will to compromise on anything.

    By Blogger Andrew, at 11:52 a.m.  

  • One final comment. The point that the discussion is entirely moot owing to the unappealed judgments in six provinces is entirely correct. Further, it will be a good thing when Cotler's legislation is imlemented.

    By Blogger matt, at 12:55 p.m.  

  • Well, I am of the position that civil union cant stand the test of the Charter. The high court states in its decision that ' Marriage and civil unions are two distinct ways in which couples can express their commitment and structure their legal obligations. Civil unions are a relationship short of marriage and are, therefore, provincially regulated. '

    By Blogger realwannabe, at 5:21 p.m.  

  • And what about other countries and states that already have legalised same sex marriage? They will surely recognise the legal status of these same sex married Canadian couples. And i also heard that some counties in New York recognize legally married same sex couples. Marriage is the only word that has legal meanning in this world, most countries might not recognise it. But one thing for sure, civil union is worthless outside of Canada whereas Marriage has more legal power.

    By Blogger realwannabe, at 5:31 p.m.  

  • One final comment, The chance that a Canadian marriage will be recognized in a foreign country is a lot greater than the likelihood that a Canadian civil union would be.

    By Blogger realwannabe, at 5:33 p.m.  

  • Belgium and the Netherlands, the only other countries that have gay marriage, and Oregon I think, certainly will recognize it.

    Other countries likely will not; certainly not those who have courts which have affirmed that marriage requires a heterosexual paradigm at its core, nor those whose legislatures/imams/etc. have condemned the notion.

    As to civil unions, Denmark France Vermont England Germany have name a few. The Supreme Court is correct when it notes that a civil union is a relationship that falls short of marriage: they're not marriage. But can be defined as equal to. If a province defines civil union as equal to marriage, where is the problem?

    The contention that "marriage is the only word that has legal force internationally" is completely incorrect.

    But this is all moot.

    By Blogger matt, at 10:10 a.m.  

  • To Calgary Grit:

    I agree that marriage today is not strictly limited to the production children, but traditionally, married couples were expected to have kids unless one of the two were barren or infertile. The marriage contract was a way to ensure that children would have the support needed to reach adulthood.

    I don't disagree with same-sex marriage, I disagree with the way we went about it. We cannot have one side demand all of their needs be met, while ignoring the needs of the other side who disagree.

    Why not a compromise? I think having both unions being called marriage is fine, but to appease those who oppose homosexual unions being equated with heterosexual unions why not allow for different marriage licenses? Perhaps, have a hetero marriage certificate display the symbols of a man and woman intertwined on the document, and for two men getting married, the symbols for two men being intertwined, and the same for two women.

    This way, the hetero's have something that shows a "difference" between the relationships...which is what they really want, and the gay couples have their union defined as marriage.

    The next big issue will be public servants who refuse to marry same-sex couples due to religious or moral beliefs. Will they be protected? Will they be fired. What about churches...will a gay activist take the church to court to have the charitable status removed? These are the points that should prove interesting to watch in the future.

    As I said earlier.......I'm not religious, and I think the only marriage anyone should be worried their own. This does not mean we disregard the legitimate concerns of those who oppose the Supreme Courts's decision.

    After all...I oppose the concept of the Supreme Court to begin with. I don't like the idea of appointed people deciding how the rest of us should live. Why should 5 of 9 people decide what the other 30 Million of us should believe? Imagine if the Supreme Court justices were flying to some type of conference or seminar...and the plane crashed. Now imagine this occurred after the Conservatives were in power. How long do you think it would be before every left-wing socialist type was marching on the Hill in order to have some sort of input into deciding who the new judges should be. What if Harper listened to the Social conservatives in his party...and appointed judges who were opposed to abortion. Would the Supreme Court's power be seen as beneficial under those circumstances?

    The power to decide how this country is governed, should be left to those we elect. Not those who want to make laws, but don't want to go through the dirty business of being elected by the great un-washed.

    By Blogger James Halifax, at 12:58 p.m.  

  • Matt, i've already told you what the problem is. (Civil union being totally worthless outside of Canada)

    By Blogger realwannabe, at 3:12 p.m.  

  • Another problem, if you really want me to get into it, is that separate but equal can never work. Why do gays and lesbians have to create a new institutions in order for their love to be recognised, what is it about their love that they can’t be accepted into the marriage institution, which , we will all know is the highest form of institution for any relationship? Why can’t we drink from the same water fountain? Different people subjected to different and distinguish institution demonstrates discrimination, that is what is wrong with civil union.

    By Blogger realwannabe, at 3:32 p.m.  

  • realwannabe: It isn't about love. It's about children. I agree that the conservatives seem to me like they're kinda hypocritical about this, but I still think there's a really important point there.

    Why do you value commitment? I like waking up every morning and knowing that my girlfriend is still with me because she chooses to be, because she hasn't found anybody better, not just because she made a promise. I'd be willing to give up that feeling for the sake of providing a stable household for my kids, but why would you give up that feeling if you can't have kids, or aren't planning to have kids for a long time?

    I'm completely in favour of allowing gay couples to get married and adopt kids, and I think it would be pretty silly to try to make a law saying that couples (gay or straight) can't get married until just before they plan to have kids. So I'm not talking about politics here; just about small-scale personal values. But my point is that if you're going to try to convince a conservative to see things your way, talking about how marriage is about "recognizing love" just shows them that you've missed the point. It undermines your position, because love is more meaningul when it's not promised, and commitment just for the sake of commitment just shows that you're scared that your partner will find somebody better. For a conservative, marriage isn't about recognizing love; it's about recognizing a sacrifice that you promise to make for the sake of your children. And I agree with them on that part.

    By Blogger Adam, at 4:43 p.m.  

  • Um, Homosexual couples DO have kids, one of which ways is through adoption.

    By Blogger realwannabe, at 6:52 p.m.  

  • Adam: I disagree completely with the following: "love is more meaningul when it's not promised, and commitment just for the sake of commitment just shows that you're scared that your partner will find somebody better.

    To me mariage is a celebration of one's relationship. It's not so much saying "I won't leave even if I find someone better" as "I can't conceive of someone being better". Obviously, people change. And marriages fall apart. And some are arranged. But, in the western romantic logic as to why one marries, it is to affirm one's relationship. Not to safeguard, but to celebrate.

    Now, I've just made realwannabe's case for him/her. That romantic celebration is precisely what gays want access to, where marriage is defined as the ultimate binary romantic relationship. And why I support it.

    That said, not everyone believes that. And they have a right to be heard; their view is not necessarily wrong. Certainly, Adam doesn't. Lots of cultures, who have arranged marriages, don't. And all the MP's who in 1999(ish) overwhelming voted to define marriage as the "union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others" certainly didn't. That view of marriage, call it "traditional", sees the core of what marriage is as having a certain form. Under this form comes considerations of procreation, etc. Otherwise, a relationship which deviates from that form, while it may be beautiful and worthy of celebration and public affirmation just as is marriage, is not the same thing as marriage, owing to that difference in form. And hence this view advocates a another institution to recognize a publicly affirmed romantic relationship which does not involve both a man and a woman.

    So, I don't see the debate as necessarily one involving breached rights (at least where a civil union option is available; if it is not, then absolutely a problem exists). It could, and in some cases may well, but need not, and not in Canada (yet). I see it as a social dialogue, where society has to decide how it conceives of marriage: a binary romantic relationship, or a formal heterosexual relationship.

    Now, if one buys the "definitional dialogue" premise, the next question is one of forum: should it be the courts, or Parliament? And, prima facie, that is precisely Parliament's job. They should do it.

    Realwannabe: please reread my posts. You have raised issues which have been answered. I talked "separate but equal" head on; scroll up and look at it.

    By Blogger matt, at 5:44 a.m.  

  • Well, I am telling you, Matt, distinguishing same sex couples from opposite couples through different institutions does equal discrimination. You haven’t answered my question. No one answered my questions, they are not necessarily rhetorical. “Why do gays and lesbians have to create a new institutions in order for their love to be recognized, what is it about their love that they can’t be accepted into the marriage institution? Why can’t we drink from the same water fountain?

    If marriage is an institution only made for couples who can procreate, old couples wouldn’t be allowed to married and infertile couples wouldn’t be allowed to married and couples who want to get married but don’t want kids wouldn’t be allowed to married. If that was the case, your argument about the “form” of marriage might have some merits but that’s not the case, so your argument is invalid.

    And just because the Supreme Court did not say that the traditional definition of marriage is unconstitutional, I want to say that 28 judges from across Canada in 6 different provinces and 1 territory has already struck down traditional definition of marriage as being unconstitutional. It is quite clear how the Supreme Court would have ruled if a court case on marriage is presented to them. Just because you don’t see civil union as a form of discrimination doesn’t mean your opinion is more correct than mine.

    PS: homosexuals have already won the right to adoption long time ago.

    By Blogger realwannabe, at 3:34 p.m.  

  • What's interesting is now that the Supreme court has ruled, how long until Mormons or Muslims are before the courts pursuing justification for polygamy? I'm a supporter of same-sex marriage, but I have to admit I have considerable discomfort with the idea of polygamy. But where's my justification for legally forbidding it now?

    By the way, Andrew at Bound By Gravity also has an interesting post on this today.

    By Blogger Janie For Mayor, at 4:53 p.m.  

  • Its simple, While homosexual couples can claim discrimination on the basis on equality right, people in polygamous relationship cannot. The charter considers the following as a possible basis for discrimination: a persons colout, creed, religion, race, sex, or any other constitutionall protected attribute can be considered a ground for discrimination.

    Discrimination against equal right is not based on numbers, or amily relationships, or species.

    By Blogger realwannabe, at 6:28 p.m.  

  • While I think realwannabe is right from a legal perspective, I personally have no problem with polygammy. I couldn't care less if a guy marries five women or a woman marries four men. It doesn't affect me at all unless it becomes a sort of tax fraud situation and I don't see that happening.

    So long as you don't make it specific to one gender (ie. only men can have multiple wives), I don't have a huge problem with it.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 7:41 p.m.  

  • I. Realwannabe, your questions have been answered. My last post was one long integral response. But, to be clear, I'm going to answer your questions one by one. In advance, please forgive me if in trying to be as obvious as possible I sound patronizing; bad habit of mine.

    1. "Why do gays and lesbians have to create a new institutions in order for their love to be recognized?"
    a. Civil unions exist in, at least, Alberta and Québec, and other countries. Their love is recognized by existing institutions.

    2. "What is it about their love that they can’t be accepted into the marriage institution?"
    a. This depends on whether one construes marriage as an institution which depends only on love, or one which depends on form . Hence the discussion in my earlier post construing this debate as society choosing between competing definitions of marriage: romance or structure.

    So, the trite answer is that their love is entirely beside the point, marriage having been explicitly defined only a few years ago as an institution between "a man and a woman" and not "two people in love".

    If Parliament changes that definition from the former to the latter, then fine. Further, I say good.

    But that is NOT what the discussion is about. Rather, it is whether Parliament must make that change (the alternative being that the Courts make the change for it). Regardless of my personal beliefs as to what Parliament *should* do, I believe it retains the option to choose between a traditional and expanded definition of marriage, provided gays and lesbians have an institution which affords them equal civil rights whatever the choice.

    3. "Why can’t we drink from the same water fountain?"
    a. arguing by analogy is not especially persuasive. All this does is repeat your question immediately above. Hence, see my response above.

    II. Polygamy. While I'm not sure if the Supreme Court has ever looked at it (not interesting in searching right now; someone else can at if they like), I suspect that to forbid it is an infringement of religious rights, protected under the Charter. Further, I suspect that the infringement would be justified under Section 1 as a reasonable limitation in a free and democratic society, one which has always adhered to a certain traditional form of marriage.

    If that form is put into question on the basis that marriage is only a consequence of love, and society has evolved beyond that traditional definition, then that limitation becomes much less reasonable.

    To justify the infringement the Court has to find good reasons to adhere to the binary aspect of marriage when the heterosexual aspect has been displaced. And probable arguments, like promoting an institution which provides a good environment to raise children, or a nuclear family being the foundation of society, were not considered especially persuasive with respect to switching the paradigm from heterosexual binary love to just binary love, and so shouldn't be considered persuasive in the case of polygamy. That would be quite the double standard.

    III. Some assorted notes:
    1. Re. "28 judges from across Canada in 6 different provinces and 1 territory": by definition, not all judges are not appointed equally. Nor does each court have the same policy role; the Supreme Court's task is different than that of a lower court. And there's a certain realpolitik slipstream effect, whereby lower courts and and even Courts of Appeal adopt or mimic the reasoning of the country's largest Court of Appeal, even though they're not bound to. Not to say that they're wrong per se, but I would note that only one of the Courts of Appeal in question (Québec) have a civil union provision in place. If it dealt with it, you've got a great argument against me. I just don't want to look for it now.

    2. "distinguishing same sex couples from opposite couples through different institutions does equal discrimination".
    WHY??? HOW??? This essentially comes down to the question of an onus of proof, which I submit lies on you. I suggest provincial laws which establish and define civil unions as equal to marriage, and you say that even if so they wouldn't be equal. That's fine, that's a valid opinion, and it is as equally valid as mine. But it's not a persuasive argument.

    For example, a persuasive arguments which might work in your favour is that marriage is in large part societal legitmation of a given relationship, and a different name regardless of juridical content would shirk on the affirmation content/effect and hence constitute de facto discrimination. You could argue that. I think, going back 2 years in my foggy memory, that's the evidence the Ontario Court of Appeal agreed with. I don't, as much of Europe has had the opposite experience (i.e. Denmark), and Canada has had little time as a whole to deal with the issue. It's the sort of evidence reasonable people, and judges, can disagree over.

    3. "institution only made for couples who can procreate" is something *I* never said. I alluded to it as a motivator for those who believe in the traditional definition of marriage while I was defending the traditional view as a reasonable one to hold, but never listed it or endorsed it as a necessary prerequisite (and in fact think quite the contrary; a childless marriage looks good).

    By Blogger matt, at 9:14 a.m.  

  • Well the House of Common never have to pass any same sex bill if they don’t want to, they can keep using the notwithstanding clause. They don’t have to do anything in any absolute term. I am just of the believe that if the Supreme Court has ruled , it will say Parliament MUST allow same sex marriage because I just don’t understand what exactly the form of marriage is and how it can not discriminate gay couples by excluding them from marriages. Marriage has evolved in a way that it *could* be accepted as just about love. And that because any heterosexuals in love *could* get married, why cant two persons of the same sex get married, there’s no substantial ground for differentiation or discrimination. The superficiality of the *form* would be different, but I don’t see how that is sufficient enough for discrimination. I don’t know why it would stand the test of the charter to say that it is of reasonable limit to prevent gay couples from marriage because these two people in love share the same sexual genital as opposed to different genitals. Because society allows so many “forms” of marriage and whereas people have different opinions of what marriages should be, I can’t understand how it would not be discrimination if homosexual couples can’t be considered as one of the “forms” of marriage.

    The idea that homosexual couples are not necessarily entitled to marriage as long as they have the same rights is like saying women do not necessarily have to be considered as a “person” as long as they have the same rights as men. The underlying idea always implies a level of hierarchy and discrimination, in my opinion. It’s not common to read opponents of same sex marriage (those who argue anything but “marriage” for homosexuals) argued that they are appalled and ashamed that their marriage is considered equal to gay relationships. Civil Union is constructed on the foundation of inferiority, and that’s how I interpreted it and I am adamantly opposed to that. t.

    By Blogger realwannabe, at 1:14 p.m.  

  • I can think of one argument against the vigorous pursuit of the SSM issue by the Gay & Lesbian lobby. Its a gift to the conservatives as the wedge issue that can win them seats in parliament or Presidencies of the United States. How many elections are the left of centres going to be willing to take it on the chin due to this issue?

    By Blogger Bill, at 4:45 p.m.  

  • Um don't think it is a wedge issue in Canada, if the Cons win an election, it will be strictly because of who is leading the Liberal party. And it is a democracy after all, the Cons should win one out of every five elections on average, not on the basis of their ideas but because Canadians want a change every now and then for a brief time until they realize that the Liberals are much better (usually takes one maybe two terms tops)
    This is not the States, we don't have Jesusland to the same extent, doubtful that the gays will become a major wedge issue, with Canadians from coast to coast being unable to sit down for supper because of man-on-man monogomy.

    By Blogger CDC for Life, at 8:26 p.m.  

  • "There has to be a reason 40-45% of Canadians oppose allowing gays to marry but, for the life of me, I have yet to hear a good reason. Surely one exists, right?"

    How's this: because gay couples already have all the substantive rights and entitlements of traditionally married couples, other than the "right" to force the rest of society to call their relationship a "marriage", which is never going to happen anyway. SSM proponents may get the courts and legislatures on-side with this "forced recognition" thing, but it will take more than the chastisement of a few justices and cabinet ministers to change the views of the "40-45%" (more scientific and reliable polling indicates it's closer to 65-70%) of Canadians who continue to regard marriage as inherently heterosexual. Indeed, the SCC has already carved out an exception for those who are marriage traditionalists because of religious belief.

    SSM proponents have tenatiously clung to their view that traditional marriage is "discriminatory" - why would anyone assume marriage traditionalists will not cling to THEIR view, irrespective of what the courts or legislatures say?

    I'm curious to hear what SSM proponents will do once they've achieved their great victory? Throw non-religious marriage traditionalists in jail? Haul them in front of human rights tribunals and demand sanction because they "just don't get it" or are "bigots"?

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  • Well, it's hard to respond to such thoughtful, devastating, substantive comment as "you're a bigot".

    How about "I know you are, but what am I"?

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  • Well in that case, you have nothing to worry about what us mortals do on earth. Now stop whinning.

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  • Apologies, I didn't have time to read through all the comments before posting mine. I just started my own blog - although not a member of the Blogging Tories, my present political thoughts are much more at home there than here (I did pass for a Grit for a stretch in my young life) - anyway, my brand new blog started off with a copy of Calgary Bishop Fred Henry's recent pastoral letter regarding SSM. It's rather long (and I want more traffic anyway), so you can hop over my way if you're at all interested in what rationale he gave. Perhaps after I read through the comments, I'll leave my own take on why SSM shouldn't happen (later though). In the meantime, cheers.

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