By now, most of you have heard the news that the more inclusive definition of marriage has won over the more traditional definition as existing solely between a man and a woman. Like many, I was disappointed to see how close the vote tallies were. Quite frankly, I’m appalled that so many MPs have such a lack of respect for our Charter Of Rights And Freedoms and the courts’ ability to enforce it. I’m pleased to see that my MP is not one of those.
It was interesting to see how this decision was presented in the various newspapers. Not surprisingly, The National Post broadcast their opinion of the vote with the negative banner headline “Traditional marriage defeated”.
It is amazing that many in Canada feel that the gay marriage ruling is a ruling against traditional marriage, as the National Post headline implies. Indeed, Stephen Harper said as much in the presentation of his bill:
“This position is also very dangerous because, no matter what the Liberals say today, the kind of mentality that would have traditional marriage declared illegal and unconstitutional would inevitably endanger actual rights that are enshrined in our constitution, not merely read in, such as freedom of religion.”
Mr. Harper makes it seem that marriage between men and women will be outlawed or marginalised once marriage is redefined to be more inclusive. He then went on to mention the oft-repeated false assertion that churches would be eventually forced to marry homosexual couples:
“The Liberals and the justice minister say today that they will not touch the ability of churches, temples, mosques and synagogues to determine their own definition of marriage but these are the same people who said in the last election that they would never consider touching the definition of marriage itself.
I ask you, Mr. Speaker, and members of the Liberal Party who agree with us in principle to think very carefully about this. If the Liberals and some of their front bench people now say that the traditional definition of marriage is illegal, immoral, discriminatory and racist, what will stop them? Why would they ever tolerate those who, through their religious institutions, believe otherwise?”
Churches in Canada have always been able to refuse to marry couples they do not wish to marry. Many churches will not marry those who are not members of their church, or those who have not been baptized. Some will refuse to marry couples if they do not approve of their character or their moral fibre, although this is often dependent on those performing the ceremony. Still others refuse to perform inter-faith marriages and some, although this is a very small minority, will not allow interracial marriages. Clearly, nobody is forcing churches to marry anyone.
On a related note, Svend Robinson introduced his bill to include homosexuals in the list of groups protected from hate crime. Thankfully, this one won by a comfortable margin of 141-110.
It’s interesting to note that when a similar issue was in front of the House in May of 1996, Stephen Harper voted against it, but voted for it this time around. Yet he attacked the PM on his change of heart since a 1999 motion almost identical to yesterday’s on the definition of marriage. The hypocrisy is mind-boggling.
On another somewhat interesting note, Progressive Conservative leader Peter MacKay endorsed Robinson’s bill:
Mr. MacKay told reporters that he supports Mr. Robinson’s bill because it modernizes laws that have not changed in 100 years.
MacKay voted yesterday to maintain the traditional definition of marriage, which has remained unchanged since the early 19th century. Sadly, the irony is lost on him.
It looks like Canada’s conservative parties will try to make gay rights an issue in the upcoming election. Brace yourselves if you think the hate being flung around in Ontario election campaign is bad. You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen the right-wing and the bible thumpers participate in some good, old-fashioned, religious, homophobic hate-mongering. Thankfully, Svend Robinson thought ahead with Bill C-250. Now those anti-gay marriage types will be rounded up and sent to jail. Problem solved!