Gay marriage back under debate


in Canada, Daily updates, Politics

Most annoyingly, it seems that Canada’s Conservative Party is trotting out gay marriage, which is presently legal in Canada, for new Parliamentary debate.

As I have written before, Parliament does not have the right to stop gay people from getting married. The right to not suffer discrimination supersedes the authority of Parliament to legislate, by virtue of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This is not a right that can be restricted in keeping with “reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.” While the Notwithstanding Clause could be used to nullify that legality, doing so would be profoundly illiberal.

The whole thing is likely to be a vote-loser for the Tories, since even Canadians who have problems with gay marriage now generally consider the matter settled. Hopefully, the Tories will take some well-deserved flak for this political theatre and all parties will realize that they should leave the matter as it stands in the future.

My previous entries on this are here: 1 February 2006 and 3 June 2006.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Tim L-G December 7, 2006 at 11:04 pm

I happen to disagree on the argument, though agree on the result. The short version of my point is that Parliament has the right to legislate a def’n of marriage however they choose and that a declaration that marriage is between a man a woman would not violate the equality rights in s15. My argument turns on s15 jurisprudence and application of the Charter. And I’ll get into it in a day or so (on my blog) once I’m into studying for Charter.

That having been said, I see no good reason to exclude homosexuals from the institution of marriage. Allowing gay marriage is good policy. Similarly, to exclude them is bad policy.

Sarah December 8, 2006 at 1:44 am

Personally, I hope this that will deter people from voting for Harper and his party, who are proposing exceptionally poor policy on a number of other issues as well (notably, the environment & Canada’s Kyoto commitments). On the other hand, the Minister for International Trade (supposedly the Vancouver representative in the Cabinet) wasn’t elected as a Conservative anyway, so perhaps bribery and deception will see them through. Bastards.

Milan December 8, 2006 at 4:09 pm


I would have written more comprehensive reasoning, but I was dragged out of the internet cafe by hungry relatives. I look forward to reading what you write on this matter.


The next election is certainly going to be an interesting one, though probably less so than if Ignatieff had won the Liberal leadership.

Edward December 11, 2006 at 5:16 pm

In a post in February, you wrote: “The way to do that may be to placate your socially conservative supporters with a few token gestures, while actually working to stay close to the political centre.”

I think Harper’s actually trying to do this. I think it would’ve been political suicide for him on the conservative right if he had failed to revisit the issue. There aren’t that all that many of them in Canada, but when they vote for you, it’s hard to ignore them. Easier to keep them than to convince new voters to vote for you.

That said, I wasn’t for re-opening the debate. But I think Harper did it with as little fanfare as he could. Now he can claim he tried but didn’t have enough MPs to his supporters on the right, and say that he didn’t do anything bad to the voters in the political center. It wasn’t pretty necessarily but I think he aquitted himself fairly well. It keeps with the theme of delivering on what he promised (which he seems very much at pains to do).

The next election will be fought on Quebec and the environment. I don’t see socially conservatism being a big theme. Harper’s going to have been PM for a year, and since nothing catastrophic has happened, any attempt to paint him as a woman-hating, children-eating purple monster will ultimately backfire on the Liberals – à la “soldiers in our cities” ads from ’06. Dion and the Liberals are going to have to attack Harper’s record, not the person.

Anonymous December 18, 2006 at 1:24 pm

Why is gay rights such a defining issue for so many liberals? The short answer is moral clarity. I would argue that the struggle to overcome official discrimination against minorities is the ethical autobiography of American liberalism. It is the narrative that explains, more than any other, the purpose of liberalism, past, present and future. The issue of gay rights fits perfectly into that narrative.

R.K. January 3, 2007 at 4:13 pm
. May 27, 2008 at 11:21 am

California Supreme Court rules for same-sex marriage

By Cory Doctorow on Civlib

Yesterday, the California Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that same-sex marriage is legal, on the basis of a strict-scrutiny analysis of the Constitution. This will make it essentially impossible for California to keep any kind of anti-gay-marriage laws on its books, and could lead to other states abolishing their laws discriminating against gay marriage.

. September 19, 2009 at 3:54 pm
. September 21, 2009 at 10:41 am

Gay Marriage Is Fading as ‘Values’ Focal Point
by Nate Silver @ 9:47 PM

It’s Mike Huckabee’s win in the presidential straw poll at this past week’s Value Voters’ summit that’s drawing the headlines. But this is every bit as interesting:

“Abortion ranked first among issues of concern to straw-poll voters, getting 41 percent of the vote, with protection of religious liberty second with 18 percent.

Opposition to same-sex marriage was third at 7 percent.”

Emphasis is mine. These are not the tea-partiers, who have a libertarian bent. This is a forum, rather, sponsored by the Family Research Council, an organization which continues to insist that homosexuality is curable and to link it to pedophilia. But the actual attendees at the forum — religious conservative activists from around the country — just don’t seem to be all that riled up about the prospect of two men getting married.

. July 29, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Lorne Gunter: Heterosexuals are the greatest threat to marriage

Lorne Gunter July 28, 2010 – 9:18 am

This month marks the fifth anniversary of the legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada. In that time the sky has not fallen in on traditional, opposite-sex marriage.

Or perhaps the more accurate thing to say is that same-sex marriage has not caused the sky to fall in on traditional marriage any faster than it was already falling before July 2005 when Parliament made same-sex marriage legal. Same-sex marriage has not sped up the deterioration of traditional marriage.

I disappointed many social-conservative readers half a decade ago when I wrote in favour of same-sex marriage, but at the same time won few friends among advocates of same-sex marriage. It’s not so much that I am in favour of same-sex marriage as I don’t see the harm in letting gays and lesbians marry. Heterosexuals have already hollowed out the institution of marriage so thoroughly that it no longer means what it once did and I see no great interest among heterosexuals in tightening up opposite-sex marriage.

Let me back up a step: Marriage can still mean a great deal, but only if the couple in the relationship make it meaningful to themselves. Governments lost interest in preserving the original significance of the institution decades ago.

There are, to my mind, two aspects to marriage: the personal-commitment side and the public-policy side. Most marrying couples are looking for love, stability, companionship, commitment and a nurturing environment to bring up children. If they can split the family duties in a way that is acceptable to each and have some fun together until death parts them, that’s a bonus. Governments have very little influence over whether marrying couples reach those goals, so most Canadians’ personal interest in the public-policy impact of marriage is negligible.

. January 3, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Just a dozen years after the Netherlands became the world’s first country to legalise gay nuptials, the global trend toward giving homosexuals full marriage rights seems to have gained unstoppable momentum. Same-sex marriage is now legal nationwide in 11 countries (see map), including Argentina and South Africa, as well as in parts of a further two. In Mexico it is allowed in the capital. In America nine states along with the capital have legalised it, mostly as a result of court challenges.

That said, in 78 countries—mostly in the Muslim world, Africa and other developing states—gay sex is still a crime, punishable by long prison terms and even death. Opposition against gay marriage remains fierce, particularly from churches, conservatives and some politicians. Rick Santorum, a former Republican presidential candidate, has described the legalisation of gay marriage as “a turning-point in American history”, saying it would do more to destroy the church and the family than any other movement. Others have gone further, talking of a “slippery slope” leading to a generalised acceptance of incest, bestiality, paedophilia and other horrors.

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