The Federal Government has announced legislation to legalize same-sex marriages by redefining the term “marriage”:
The landmark legislation will be drafted within weeks, then sent to the Supreme Court of Canada for fine-tuning and put before the House of Commons in a free vote by MPs months from now. But the prime minister made it clear Ottawa would not impose the new law on religious groups, who can still refuse to perform same-sex weddings. Canada would join Belgium and the Netherlands as the only countries allowing gay and lesbian weddings.
“What we’re doing at this moment might put Canada at the forefront of any solutions that exist,” Chretien said.
I guess I should join other bloggers such as Damian Penny on weighing in with my opinion on the subject, which is that this is one of the best pieces of legislation tabled by the Liberal government since . . . well, in a long time, anyway. And it’s long overdue.
I’ve heard a lot of BS arguments against allowing gay people to marry, usually by thinly-veiled homophobes who spout a lot of claptrap about “definitions” and whatnot. Some argue that it’s a slippery slope to allowing other forms of marriage, such as marriages involving more than one person. Others seem to be perfectly happy to restrict the right to marry to heterosexuals, perhaps afraid that if gays can marry, we’ll no longer be allowed to. I don’t know. I’ve thought long and hard trying to come up with some rational explanation for their objections, and came up with nothing. It’s not as though granting basic rights to someone else means that we have to give up any ourselves.
Especially considering no religious institution will be compelled to marry a same-sex couple, in much the same way that the Catholic Church won’t recognize or remarry divorced people. If you want to follow the tenets of a faith that discriminates, nobody’s stopping you, and there are plenty to choose from. Even Judaism discriminates broadly in who can be married in an Orthodox synagogue. But there are plenty of ministers (and even rabbis) out there who will gladly marry a same-sex couple, or else gay couples can be married in a civil ceremony. So why should the Federal Government be allowed to get in the way?
Marriage is essentially a contract. Sure, a religious marriage is considered holy, and any marriage is an affirmation of love and commitment. But why shouldn’t same-sex couples be allowed to have that love or make that commitment? And why shouldn’t they be granted the same privileges as heterosexual married couples?
I’m reminded of some of the arguments that were put forth before black people had the right to vote in the United States. “Voting is just for whites” or “Why would they even want to vote anyway?” or other ridiculous assertions like that one. Well, here we are again, in a time when we can no longer deny basic rights to 10% of our populations. Let’s end discrimination once and for all.