Wednesday, April 05, 2006

If Same Gender Marriage Has Negatively Affected You, Please Email The Supreme Court

I'm serious. Don't phone and don't write a letter. Send an email - right here. Why an email? Well, the telephone is so 19th Century and using the postal system is just downright ancient. If you are reading this, you have access to email. It, at least, has its origins in the 20th Century.

And, we are in the 21st Century, aren't we?

Today we hear that Stephen Harper is ready to roll back the rights of individuals and drop them back into the last century. He's going to drag Parliament, and us, through a same-sex marriage debate - again.

The prime minister says he'll keep his campaign pledge to hold a free vote in Parliament on whether to reopen the matter. But Harper has signalled it won't happen before the Commons breaks for summer vacation.
A quick replay of the old BetaMax and my permanent copy of the Throne Speech and... nothing. Not one mention of that particular "campaign pledge".

Harper can only be playing to the wingnuts in his party, because it's a sure thing he's not playing to the majority of Canadians. An Evironics poll, conducted just days before the last election, with 2,034 people responding to a question which asked if a Conservative government should bring back same-sex marriage for a vote produced:

Sixty-six per cent said No, while 30 per cent said Yes, said Keith Neuman of Environics.

Conservative supporters were more in favour but almost evenly split. Forty-nine per cent said the Tories should not have a new vote on gay marriage, while 47 per cent said they should.

Results were decisive among supporters of other parties: 77 per cent were against a new vote, while 20 per cent were in favour.
No ringing endorsement for Harper's statement there. Today's Voices feature of The Toronto Star has a long list of responses. While it does not provide a definitive result, the respondents in favour of NOT re-opening an already settled matter overwhelmingly outnumber those who would rewrite Canada's Civil Marriage Act.

Canada has had fully legal same-sex marriage for almost a year. In 2003, Bill C-23, an omnibus bill, cleared up 58 federal laws that discriminated against same-sex couples by providing the same rights as those held by heterosexual married and common-law couples. C-23 came into force with a retroactive date of January 1st, 2001.

So, we've had a year of legal same-sex marriage and, effectively, five years of equal benefits and rights extended to same-sex couples. How many people can actually say that the inclusion of gay and lesbian marriage has had any negative effect, whatsoever, on their own personal situation?

The only thing that can be accomplished by re-opening the same-sex marriage debate is to promote the idea of removing what is now held as an equal right from a minority group. And then what?

Will Harper go after C-23 and remove the equal treatment of couples under those 58 statutes? Is a woman's reproductive freedom next to go on the chopping block? If a right is removed from one distinct group, who decides who's next?

We'll have to wait until the Fall, according to Harper, to see whether same-sex marriage survives in Canada.

If his government survives.

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