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January 17, 2006

Objections noted

Adam Radwanski has a different take (and at this time Comments Please has 161 comments thereon) on my "let's all get over SSM" post. It goes something like this:

There are no good arguments against gay marriage. Roger that. I am pretty much in full agreement. (Though I have argued in the past, basically on a dare, that if marriage represents society's acceptance of a relationship, and I think that's a valid argument, then it is significant that roughly half of the Canadian population does not accept any homosexual relationship as a marriage even if that lack of acceptance stems from bigotry or (in Radwanski's apt term) "visceral distaste". It will always be separate, no matter — and perhaps even moreso — if the government stubbornly insists that it isn't.)

Even if government can't legislate acceptance, "it can't hurt to set a positive example". Sure, but I think Stephen Harper's Conservatives would be doing that in a rather more coherent fashion with civil unions, which recognize the contribution stable homosexual relationships make to society without pretending that the entirety of the Canadian population is on board. (Of course, in so doing they'd be rolling back rights, which I agree is odious.)

This is our (mid-to-late 20s) generation's "rights battle", and we don't want to vote for someone who proposes to take rights away. I should have been clearer on just how much I wish Harper wasn't pursuing this. However controversially it was arrived at, same-sex marriage is the law. And however nebulous the distinction between the right to marriage and the right to every tangible benefit of marriage, Harper is proposing (having won a free vote) to take the former away from homosexual couples. When I suggest that people of my generation are worrying too much about it, it's not because I think same-sex marriage is unimportant. It's because I think it's more important that people do whatever they can to remove the Liberals from power.

Mr J.K. Nestruck objects on roughly the same grounds as Radwanski: rescinding rights sucks, he's sick of arguing about a stupid word, and he thinks it's ludicrous (and I agree) that Harper proposes to continue to recognize already established same-sex marriages. And I guess I have the same response: I hear ya, but it's way more important to ditch the Liberals. There's a small chunk of our national soul at stake in this election — I honestly believe that.

Let's remember that Paul Martin, our fearless alternative, won't go on record in support of gay marriage any more than Stephen Harper will. The choice isn't between a raving homophobe and a great emancipator. It's between a moderate conservative who's trying to appease his base and a completely unprincipled dumpling of a man, an unfathomable disappointment of a Prime Minister, whose position on any given topic — Iraq, missile defense, gay marriage — is designed for one purpose and one only: to win votes or maintain the ones he already has. And I say: don't let it work. Canada's worth the compromise, frankly, and if same-sex marriage is the right thing to do, then it's worth fighting for again.

Besides which, since Harper is proposing a free vote, ostensibly anti-Liberal voters for whom same-sex marriage is the dealbreaker should probably consider that it's far less important what the party line is than how their MP will vote. Peter Kent, for instance, has pledged to vote for same-sex marriage, so it seems to me that Trinity-St. Paul's voters, at least, are going to have to find a reason other than SSM not to vote Conservative.

Posted by Chris Selley at January 17, 2006 09:24 PM

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I agree: Ditching the Liberals is of paramount importance. Luckily, in my riding, the candidate who is most likely to topple the Grit incumbent is NDP, so I can have my SSM cake and eat it too. Er, you know what I mean.

Posted by: JKelly at January 18, 2006 01:45 AM

Are there any statistics on the utilization of gay marriages versus hetero couples?

Posted by: Geoffrey Wells at January 18, 2006 04:47 PM

One good argument against gay marriage is that Canadians don't want marriage diluted or transformed. I saw polls suggesting that most Canadians are against it although these polls don't get much airplay, mysteroiusly. I know the self-appointed enlightened intellectual blogger elite thinks it should be calling the shots, but we are a democracy after all and every voice counts equally.

Posted by: just at January 19, 2006 11:06 AM

Yes. All voices should count. And in the last election, when gay marriage was a major issue, more candidates supporting it than opposing it were elected. Subsequently, those MPs voted to change the marriage law. Democracy in action!

Posted by: Adam Radwanski at January 19, 2006 09:02 PM

Every cabinet minister (and every NDP) were FORCED to vote in favour of it.

Democracy in action, indeed.

Posted by: BANANADA at January 20, 2006 02:53 PM

A free vote will clarify the isue. No one will be able to say my party made me vote this way. As for polling, apparently it is a waste of time. Most people are ambivalent on the subject, thay don't want to hurt people's feelings. But I can remember when marriage was a duty, and we may be heading there again. Here's another thing, what is sex ,outside of marriage, was illegal? As a health precaution? The good of the many over hte few. There are too many variables in this, but marriage isn't a right, except in our watered down world.

Posted by: Mike Andresen at January 22, 2006 12:06 PM