Standing up for equal rights

Bill C-38 (The Civil Marriage Act) looks like it won't be passed until the fall. There is likely to be lots of debate among Canadians between now and then about whether this proposed legislation should become law at all.

I support same-sex marriage rights for many reasons. To me, marriage is a legal and civil institution - not a religious one. It would be frustrating and insulting to be told that I cannot marry the woman I love in a manner that is consistent with my beliefs.

I can only imagine how for a homosexual couple, it must be an even worse feeling to be told that you cannot marry the person you love at all.

I have heard a number of really bizarre arguments against same-sex marriage. Like the one that claims homosexuals already have the same rights as everyone else: they are free to marry any member of the opposite sex, just like heterosexuals. But isn't marriage actually about making a lifelong commitment to the person that you love? Homosexuals are denied this right, because the person they love is of the same sex. It amazes me how people who carry on and on about the "sanctity" of marriage are actually suggesting that homosexuals marry someone they don't love.

Or the one that claims that it violates one's freedom of religion to have to accept same-sex marriages. Here's a clue: your freedom of religion never gives you the right to encroach on the rights of others. For example, you do not have the right to prevent two Muslims from marrying each other just because it would contradict your Christian beliefs. Similarly, a same-sex couple should have the right to marry in accordance with their beliefs, whether you share those beliefs or not.

Another argument suggests that the purpose of marriage is to raise children, so it should be restricted to heterosexual couples because gays and lesbians can't reproduce. How ignorant! Same-sex couples can in fact raise children through adoption, artificial insemination, or a surrogate mother. Elderly people get married with no intention of bearing children. So do infertile heterosexual couples, who are just as incapable of conceiving as homosexual couples. Other married couples simply choose, for a variety of reasons, not to have children. That is their choice; there is no law denying marriage rights to a heterosexual couple who do not intend bear children. Why should the standard be any different for same-sex couples?

There is a concern that churches will be forced to perform same-sex marriages, even if that goes against their beliefs. However, this will not be the case. The Supreme Court of Canada has already ruled - unanimously - that this would violate the charter, and Bill C-38 specifically states that "officials of religious groups are free to refuse to perform marriages that are not in accordance with their religious beliefs."

It is true that the majority of Canadians oppose same-sex marriage. Should we put it to a vote? Well, did you know that until 1968, it was illegal in the state of Virginia for a black person to marry a white person? This was supported by the majority of the population of Virginia, and by all levels of the state government, but just because it was popular did not make it right. That law was eventually ruled unconstitutional. Similarly, in Canada, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms specifically exists to ensure that the rights of minorities are never taken away by the will of the majority.

No modern democratic society has ever held a popular vote on a question of fundamental rights.

You may find same-sex marriage weird, or unnatural, or even disgusting. You are free to hold these views, but you are not free to deny others equal rights just because it makes you uncomfortable. Same-sex marriage does not hurt you or anyone else in any way.

I am very much looking forward to living in a society where everyone is free to marry the person they love.

Comments

Susan said…
One thing to elaborate is the phrase "the sactity of marriage". Considering that almost 2/3 of marriages end in divorce, I don't buy that so many believe in its sanctity.
Sassan Sanei said…
Sanctity means holy or sacred.

Oh... it's a religious thing. Okay. Let's assume for a moment that everybody shares your religious beliefs, including all same-sex couples.

So why not just let them do whatever they want, and let God sort it out?

You know, strike them down with a bolt of lightning, banish them to eternal hellfire, that sort of thing. Let God deal with it, because it's none of your damn business.

Maybe after you've solved all of your own problems, you can start meddling in someone else's.

Back to your point. You're right, of course, that divorce is the greater threat to the "sanctity" of marriage. But you don't hear about protests against divorce laws. I think that is because people are simply using their religion as an excuse to be homophobic.

Just like their ancestors used religion as an excuse to keep slaves, torture innocent people, and burn suspected witches at the stake.

God must be really ashamed of these people, being so mean to others in his name.
Susan said…
Just to be clear, I wasn't saying that there is in fact santity in marriage. Like you, I don't view marriage as a religious thing. I just couldn't help but take a little shot at those who solely see it this way.

As for how God must feel about people being mean in his name ... you'd think he'd be used to it by now.

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