the 2012 Summer Olympic Games have been awarded to London. I may be a naive chump, but I love the Olympics.
Archives for July 2005
in my absence during my move from Montreal to Ottawa was the passage in the House of Commons of Bill C-38, or the Civil Marriage Act, which fully legalizes same-sex marriage throughout Canada. My personal feelings on this are clear: I think this is a rare example of how the almost completely compromised Canadian political system can somehow manage to get things right in spite of its weakness.
I was shocked, however, by the ineptness of the Conservative Party in opposing the bill. I managed to watch some of the debate on TV and followed the stories in the papers about this, and what I found was disturbing. I found that not only do I disagree with the Conservative positions on most issues, but from an intellectual, tactical, and honesty perspective they are completely lacking when it comes to developing the potential to one day lead this fine country. That disturbs me because no matter what my feelings are about the Conservatives and their positions, I still acknowledge that for the current system to work it takes a credible opposition and the occasional change of government to work.
The official Conservative position was, of course, against allowing gay marriage. Nothing shocking there. What gives pause, though, is the argument they brought forward to oppose it. I don’t happen to agree with any of the common arguments against gay marriage, but even I will admit that some of the arguments are somewhat compelling and deserve further discussion in official and casual circles. The argument that the Conservatives came up with, however, is not of that kind. They hung their hat on a very simple, and completely dishonest and tangential issue: the freedom of religion.
The Conservative Party suggests that if CIVIL gay marriages are allowed, that amounts to forcing religious denominations to in turn perform gay marriage ceremonies and to sanctify gay marriage. Trouble is, of all the arguments they could have brought forward, they chose the least significant one, the one with the least weight behind it. Not to mention the argument that is specifically rebutted in the first few lines of the Bill itself.
For anyone to suggest that allowing civil same-sex unions poses any danger whatsoever to any religious group is quite simply a lie. It’s simple to deconstruct the lie. To suggest that marriage is primarily a religious issue goes against hundreds of years of Canadian history in which marriage was always a dual entity: a religious but also a civil matter. When one gets married in any church, mosque, synagogue, that specific act is a religious act. The state, however, doesn’t have and has never had any real interest in that. What the state considers marriage is something else entirely: it’s the signing of the legal marriage contract between two people. That is not in any way a religious matter, and just because weddings sometimes occur in churches doesn’t excuse anyone who wishes to get married from going through the state exercise in addition to any other ceremony they wish to hold. Conversely, no one who simply goes to the courthouse to sign the civil marriage documents in order to commit him or herself to another in perpetuity is obliged to then rush off to a church to make it “proper” – these are completely independent events with different legal standing, different aims or goals, and different responsibilities that flow from each.
So, that the Conservatives relied on a freedom of religion argument is disappointing because it was akin to arguing against the abolition of Christmas because you like winter. OK, Christmas happens to occur during the winter here in Canada, but it doesn’t happen BECAUSE of winter; the two things are purely coincidental.
The Liberals may be fat, arrogant and stupid, but with an opposition as inept as the Conservatives have proven to be, they’re still, sadly, the only viable option at the moment – and will be for the forseeable future.