Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I have to say I'm a pretty proud Canadian. It's a bit of a joke that lots of Canadians define themselves by the differences between our country and other countries, which, almost by default means "not the US." This may have more to do with our inferiority complex than actual differences. I like that we tend to be more liberal than other countries (even if that may only be perception now).

Apparently, though, with the election of Steven Harper, one of the things I truly see as something which sets us apart from other countries may no longer be. Word from this article is that now, after allowing same sex marriage for some time (the first marriage was in 2001, but same sex marriage has been sanctioned nationally since this December of 2004), the new government, well known for its right wing "Christian" members, will now re-open the debate on same sex marriage this fall. The previous government put the question to the Supreme Court of Canada which held that the current definition of marriage involving a man and a woman was discriminatory in its exclusion of gay and lesbian couples.

I like the idea that Canada has same sex MARRIAGE and not the lesser cousin of "civil unions." It's ironically the fault of many of the same conservative party who outright refused years ago to have civil unions that we have same sex marriage now. Had they agreed to allow civil unions at the time (ie something "officially equal to marriage") then there likely would have never been same sex marriage because the civil unions would probably wouldn't have been labeled discriminatory by the courts.

I know "opening the debate up" doesn't mean that same-sex couples won't be allowed marry. In fact, from what I understand a free vote in Parliament would still likely pass. I guess what bothers me is the fact that my fellow Canadians object to same sex marriage. It's not that they aren't entitled to their opinions, but that I see the issue as being fairly one-sided: discrimination on the basis of who you love is not cool, and as a "progressive" society we shouldn't even have to debate that.

I had it pretty easy as a kid. One of the things that I think probably made it easier for me was that I happened to have liked boys, which is, I guess, what society expects girls to do. But, I'd like to think that if I liked girls that I would have still met with society's approval and been allowed to marry the person I loved.

The opening of this debate again really seems like a huge step backward. I can't help but see the current "debate" about same sex marriage in a historical context. It wasn't too long ago that women just didn't have the "fortitude" (or however it was described) to be in the workplace, or that visible minorities couldn't do as good a job as their pastier counterparts. To me the debate is the same, the only thing that's changed is the "target."

We're planning our wedding right now, and I think of gay and lesbian brides an grooms reading that article and wonder what it would be like to be planning a wedding, not only worried about the usual photographer, what to wear, and who to sit beside whom, but that after everything there would be no guarantee that your wedding will actually result in you being married.

I'm not sure what else to say, other than I hope that my fellow Canadians and Parliamentarians will think twice about sending us back in time to a place where discrimination is sanctioned by government.


roro said...

Sing it, Heather! Great post. I read that article about the "free vote" and nearly threw up. I was talking to my girlfriend about it and she says "What's Harper going to do - fire the Supreme Court?" and then she laughed. And then she stopped laughing. 'Cause that sounds like something he would do.

Seriously, though - we were planning on getting hitched next year but now we're wondering if we should scoot down to City Hall and do it NOW! NOW! Before they won't let us do it anymore. I know it wouldn't happen overnight and I'd like to think it won't happen at all - but the paranoia remains. Effing Harper . . .

natalie said...

very interesting post Heather. i appreciated the insight and idea of "what if i had been born and liked the same sex." certainly food for thought.

Heather said...

roro: I nearly threw up too. Don't worry, (with what I know of consitutional law) he can't get rid of the supreme court, and really, a free vote in the house *if* it gets to that would probably still pass with the Bloc and NDP, and most liberals voting in favour of same sex marriage. What bothers me is that basic human rights are up for debate. Grrr.

As for girlfriend and you, I'd hate to see people having to change their plans for Roboharper... but if either of you want to wear the fancypants wedding dress it's cheapest to get them on ebay and I know a good photographer who will give you the negatives. :)

Hi Natalie! Thanks for stopping in, but I should say I don't claim to have any insight. I just think the shoe could quite easily be on the other foot.

Wes said...

I'm new to this site. Interesting stuff here, and I'm learning some stuff about Canada that I didn't know before.

I can't imagine how tough it would be for a same-sex couple to sincerely care for each other, be planning to get married, and then have that taken away. Wow.

Kristen said...

Here here. Politicians (US) try to ride the whole civil union thing like it's a huge step forward - and while it might be better than nothing, I think it's a lame excuse to use.

I do know many gay couples, however, who don't necessarily buy into the whole marriage thing due to its negative history. However, I do think that allowing gay marriages is a step in the right directions - providing choices to those who really don't have any great ones right now.

Thanks for visiting me. I love this topic.

Whinger said...

Thank you for writing this. Just when I think we're gaining ground....

Heather said...

Whinger: I totally agree on the "just when we're gaining ground sentiment. Too often progress seems to be one step forward, two steps back; even if it is just rumoured debate at this time it's still upsetting.