Today marks my final day as an intern at the CBC. It’s been fantastic. I couldn’t have picked a better place to intern – I’ve learned so much and had a good time doing it.
As some of you may know, I’m hopelessly addicted to coffee. It’s my vice and I’m proud of it. It’s hard for me to engage in an in-depth conversation about the events, ideas or people of the day without a sip of the java. It’s an addiction I’ve written about before on this blog, but I figure I’d talk about it again.
For those remotely interested, I’m no longer drinking coffee in the afternoon. I’m a strictly morning coffee drinker now, mostly because my body’s so sensitive to coffee’s effects that if I do drink it in the afternoon, I have a tougher time sleeping and it just makes me too wound up. So I’m gradually reducing my coffee intake.
GAY MARRIAGE: This is one topic I haven’t talked about yet but meaning to write about for sometime. I’m supportive of same-sex marriage because I strongly believe in the Charter and equality of citizens before the law. It’s no one’s place to dictate their own sense of morality onto others, therefore why tell someone they can’t get married just because you don’t agree with it? Who is a critic of same-sex marriage to say it “affects their sense of morality” if two people with the same sex want to get married?
There’s a distinct generational difference on this topic. My age group seems, by and large, very supportive of gay marriage. But I’ve been noticing that many folks in the Baby Boomer and earlier generations are very, very mixed on the issue, but generally tilt towards hostility on the idea. This isn’t very surprising. One elderly person I know said the idea of gay marriage is unacceptable to him, mostly because it “erodes our moral values.”
I have no idea what these “moral values” are. Getting married is a pretty traditional thing for couples, hetero or homosexual, to do. I also think it can be defined as a “moral act.” If anything same-sex marriage only reinforces traditional morals, not erodes it. Many folks I know think the whole concept of marriage is dead, for it doesn’t accurately reflect how relationships evolve and change. Official marriages are strictly a public affirmation of a private matter; marriages exist to provide order to property and sharing of assets. It’s a very new idea that marriage is also for “love.” Therefore, someone who is gay and gets married is actually supporting traditional societal functions, not eroding them.
If the argument is marriage is for a “man and a woman only,” there is no argument to begin with. Same-sex common law couples already are entitled to the tenets of heterosexual couples, i.e. spousal benefits, et al. So how does anything change if it becomes enshrined in federal law?
Moreover, I would remind some of these folks who think “moral values” are declining because of this that other “moral values” that spoke of intolerance and hate have long ago been banned in Canadian society: racism, sexism and other social evils have been rightly condemned and outlawed by the Charter. It was once “moral” to use the Church as a guide for how to live your life in Canadian society; the Church has openly espoused racist and sexist policies in the past, so how is gay marriage any different? Because you’re “uncomfortable?”
So let’s review: those who oppose same-sex marriage have no arguments to stand on from a legal point of view, really. The same benefits exist for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples, so having marriage is a largely symbolic act. Moreover, since most marriages are a voluntary action to be taken place in a Church (a place I most definitely don’t want my marriage to be taken place in), the State becomes the direct agent to recognize these unions. So how does that affect anyone beyond the couple? Nobody seems to give a lick now who gets married and divorced in heterosexual unions.
Also, if morality is really an issue in this debate, let’s get real here. To say “moral values” are what’s at stake is ridiculous. The only foundation for that argument from a religious point of view is from a theological perspective, i.e. The Bible. The Supreme Court ruling says a faith doesn’t have to marry a same-sex union. Kudos to the Supreme Court for striking this balance; I can’t say I envy how much work it would take to figure out how to balance competing Charter principles with each other.
Private actions like marriage can be recognized by the public state when you register the marriage, but the public state has a right to make that private action a public concern, i.e. giving out spousal benefits. It’s a social contract that exists for a reason, but these Church leaders think they can have it both ways. A State has a legal obligation to recognize the changing nature of a society and reflect that in its laws. Considering that homosexual relationships are part of that framework, you have to accept that every right and responsibility a straight person has in marriage exists for a gay person too. But in any case, the Church is not legally bound to do anything it doesn’t want to. So why fight it? To defend your own moral outrage for the rest of us? Thanks, but no thanks.
Really, Stephen Harper’s “moral crusade” is pure political grandstanding. He’s trying to use a wedge issue to drive up support for his party. But more so, this has a lot to do with ignorance and intolerance than moral outrage.
Just one last points: I want to address an argument that anti-same sex marriage folks trot out.
The Supreme Court shouldn’t be making laws – that’s what Parliament is for. Let’s have a national referendum!
Harper’s not entirely wrong when he says the Supreme Court should be making laws. We do elect Parliamentarians to make laws. But sometimes, the Court exists to push forth hot-button issues because it’s politically precarious to push “agenda-driven” issues in the House.
But a national referendum is bad, bad, bad. Supporters of this idea know exactly why they want to use it: a referendum will ensure the traditional definition of marriage will win. Why? How many folks in my age group vote? More importantly, how many people in a much more pro-traditional marriage supporting group vote? Question #1, not many, and Question #2, a lot. Older generations will come out in droves for a referendum like this. And same-sex unions will lose.