And your point would be what, exactly?

"Put simply, we must always remember that separate but equal is not equal," he [Paul Martin] told the House of Commons, rejecting the proposal that homosexual couples be limited to civil unions.

I've been reading all of the stuff against same-sex marriages in Canada because I'm curious. I've also taken to writing letters because all of the arguments against granting homosexuals the right to marry fail to address the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which states that "Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination."

Take this column, which is more poorly written than most but which arrived on my doorstep on Saturday. It was printed on page 4 of The York Guardian. The columnist, Dave Barnett, fails to address the issue of equality before the law throughout the column. Instead, he throws out some red herrings, some questionable comparisons, and then resorts to scare tactics.

I am sure that some of us have been amazed at the Chinese government's efforts to suppress the news of the death of its former premier due to some embarrassing moments at Tiananmen Square. Yet we celebrate our freedom in a country where the government says that white is black and black is white.

Barnett has just compared the Canadian government's efforts to grant all consenting adults the legal right to marry to the Chinese government's efforts to suppress information. The Chinese government has systematically done anything that it could to deprive all of its citizens of civil rights. This comparison makes some logical sense to Barnett. Unfortunately, it makes absolutely no sense to me. The comparison's sole purpose is to scare people. The subtext here is "If we make homosexuals equal, heterosexuals won't be as special." Okay.

There are many things in society that we tolerate, but do not approve of. Take adultery, for example. It is wrong, morally, and only a fool would argue it does not cause irreparable harm to those who engage in the practice. But it is not a crime. We do not discriminate against people who commit adultery. You can't, say, fire someone because they are an adulterer.

Now Barnett compares homosexuality with adultery. Adultery, he argues is immoral and harmful to society. While he doesn't explicitly say the same thing about homosexuality, the comparison suggests that, in his opinion, homosexuality is immoral and harmful to society. That would be problem number one with this particular argument. There is no proof that homosexuality is harmful to society. And there is no proof that homosexuality is immoral except for some scattered references in the Bible. Since there is a separation of church and state in Canada, those biblical references don't come into play when discussing the legal (civil) right of homosexuals to marry.

Problem number two is that there is a huge difference between granting homosexuals the same rights as heterosexuals (equality again) and passing a law legally condoning adultery. There's no tacit approval of adultery here on the part of the Canadian government, there is, very simply, an unwillingness to legislate every aspect of the population's personal lives. Aha! There's another point of comparison in Barnett's argument: adultery is private. Homosexual sexual activity is also private. Why is the government getting involved then? It shouldn't be in our bedrooms. The government isn't involving itself in the private sexual part of same-sex relationships, but in the public, legal-rights part of marriage. In other words, it's guaranteeing ALL consenting adults the choice of legally marrying and being granted the rights and benefits that come with that status.

If this legislation passes, it will only be a matter of weeks before a challenge comes before the courts asserting the right of a same-sex couple to be married in the church and denomination and before the pastor of their choice.

This is a cheap scare tactic and nothing else. Bill C-38 protects churches from being forced to perform same-sex unions if they do not support them.

This whole debate has me depressed because I don't think that the Civil Marriage Act will make it to a third reading. Cheap scare tactics, questionable associations, and urge of the majority to hold onto its exclusive status markers are incredibly powerful. Barnett refers to "its [the Canadian government's] newfound love of minority rights and the equality argument." I don't think that this love is new nor do I think it's bad. What's so wrong about living in a society where white, heterosexual man = visible minority, homosexual woman? Nothing. But then again, I have no status to lose.


Post a Comment

<< Home