Gay marriage back in the news

I wrote previously on an almost identical issue, but that which needs to be said generally needs to be said again.

Apparently Conservatice Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants to re-open the debate about gay marriage. At present, it is legal for same-sex couples to get married in Canada. This is a good thing for precisely the same reasons that it is good that couples of different races can get married: it is a simple requirement within a just and equitable society. The fact that homosexuality makes some people uncomfortable is no excuse whatsoever for discrimination. Likewise, the existence of certain traditions about what marriage has meant to some people must not preclude a societal definition that is blind to arbitrary factors. Particular churches can decide for themselves what kind of unions they want to bless and what kind of ceremonies they want to host, but under the law there must be equality and the protection of minority rights.

I am entirely confident that we will look back upon this issue in fifty years time the same way we look back on racially segregated schools today. That is to say, we will see it as a matter where governments took an astonishingly long time to accept a policy that is obviously a moral imperative. Canada’s legal history with regards to homosexuality is certainly not a sterling one. As recently as 1967, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Everett Klippert could be jailed as a ‘dangerous sexual offender’ simply on the grounds that he was likely to engage in consensual homosexual sex with adults. He was still in prison until 1971: two years after the Trudeau government decriminalized homosexuality. (See the CBC Timeline)

As regards the Harper government, this is indirectly a positive development. His only hope of getting a majority government in the next election is to prove that the Conservatives can be trusted with one. People are rightly distrustful, because of exactly the kind of political currents that have led to this announcement. Now, we just need the Liberals to clean themselves up quite a bit, get a strong new leader, and turn themselves back into the best option Canadians can hope for at the federal level.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

10 thoughts on “Gay marriage back in the news”

  1. One of Paul Martin’s best moments as PM was defending same-sex rights as an equality matter under the Charter:

    The Charter was enshrined to ensure that the rights of minorities are not subjected, are never subjected, to the will of the majority. The rights of Canadians who belong to a minority group must always be protected by virtue of their status as citizens, regardless of their numbers. These rights must never be left vulnerable to the impulses of the majority.



    In light of the Mormon church lobbying Congress to ban gay marriage, I
    encourage everyone to contact their senators and rep. to let them
    know that you think Mormon Temple marriages ought to be banned
    constitutionally because those secret rituals are kind of creepy and
    not very much in keeping with traditional marriage.

    (This is a rhetorical argument to make a point, people. Don’t get too
    worked up about it.)

    For more info about this lobbying effort to ban Mormon Temple
    marriage (and to find your reps’ email address), go to

  3. Stenar,

    That strikes me as about the worst way ever of arguing for minority rights. While it might draw attention, on the part of Mormons, to when they were discriminated against, it is hard to understand how this kind of provocation would generate a good outcome, all in all.

  4. “Now, we just need the Liberals to clean themselves up quite a bit, get a strong new leader, and turn themselves back into the best option Canadians can hope for at the federal level. ”

    This kind of appeal would probably more effective if it least pretended to be non-partisan.

  5. I agree that this is a matter where the world will probably come around. The above arguments only work if you accept the (reasonable) premiss that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality and that those who are gay don’t deserve to be condemned by society for it. Those who dispute that will never accept an argument on the above grounds. That said, a general ‘minority rights’ argument can be effective against anyone concerned about discrimination. That’s what is being somewhat ineffectively demonstrated by the Mormon campaign mentioned in a comment.

  6. The Clinton years involved a tragic downward spiral on the morality front. Polling on the question of whether homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle in 1992, when Clinton was elected President, and now, shows that acceptance has increased substantially. In part because President Clinton supported ONLY a federal law to protect marriage, not a constitutional amendment.

    Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate dictionary defines marriage as “the mutual relation of husband and wife” and “the institution whereby men and women are joined in a special kind of social and legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining a family.”

    Of course, homosexual, lesbian or same-sex unions are not marriages Because marriage requires one man and one woman. But, Humpty Dumpty told Alice, in Wonderland: “A word means precisely what I want it to mean, neither more nor less.” So many homosexuals and lesbians are demanding that marriage be redefined to include their unions. They cleverly claim to be arbitrarily excluded. But it is they who are being arbitrary. They have found some success with some activist judges, but not with most voters.

    President Bush, human and therefore imperfect, remains much better than his predecessor or the alternatives offered by the Democrats in 2000 and 2004. Especially on fundamental moral issues.

    The message for all good people: support candidates who support marriage instead of mock it.

    A constitutional amendment will stop homosexual marriage from becoming the law of the land, reaffirm the fundamental values on which America was founded, and protect America’s youth and posterity.

    George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would be for it.

  7. I can’t tell if that comment is meant to be satirical or not…

    It’s quite absurd, but not really funny.

  8. “If we were to wake up some morning and find that everyone was the same race, creed and color, we would find some other cause for prejudice by noon.”

  9. One valid rebuttal might be: “But God doesn’t exist, and the government should not discriminate against gay people on the basis of some lady’s characterisation of the intentions of an imaginary being. You may disagree with me about the existence of God, but given that some people think there is a God, some don’t, and some think there is one but she’s fine with gay marriage, the government shouldn’t be picking sides.” Unfortunately, given the religious make-up of the American population, this argument may not be entirely politically effective.

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