This topic has been all over the papers again this week, after the BC Supreme Court ruled that the definition of marriage used today (the union between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others) is unconstitutional. Perhaps the way it is worded does violate the Charter of Rights. I am no lawyer or constitutional expert, and therefore ill-equipped to judge the legality of it, but I have some basic questions about people’s reactions.
Why do people get upset about this?
Some, most notably the Catholic Church, have argued that this erodes the institution of marriage in society. How? Surely by making it more inclusive, it strengthens the union that marriage represents?
Some have argued that gay people are inappropriate role models to parent children. Wasn’t that battle fought and won years ago when virtually every province in the country allowed gay couples to adopt? And what about all the inappropriate models that are heterosexual? Is a loving happy gay couple a worse role model for children than say… Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson? Society allowed them to marry.
Some have argued that marriage as an institution is bound up in procreation, and the support and creation of families. This is a false argument. Marriage vows make no mention of children. They say things like love, cherish, honour, obey (the very traditional ones anyway!), be faithful… There are lots of childless (by choice) heterosexual couples. There are lots of gay couples with children. The institution of marriage is a pledge of love, fidelity, respect and support from one partner to another — it’s not a pledge to impregnate.
Why shouldn’t gay people be able to make the same vows and be recognized under the law in the same fashion as straight people?
The BC Court has struck down laws regarding the civil institution called Marriage. Gay people, provided this sticks, will be able to go to a Justice of the Peace in July of 2004, and get legally married. Nothing has changed in the religious institutions. The BC court ruling is a victory for gay people, but it’s only the first step. There are lots who would also like to be married in a church, and for the majority of churches gay marriages are going to be a very large step for them to take.
As a straight married guy, none of this affects me, except potentially if one of my children were gay, and then I would want that child to have all the rights I have. It makes me happy to see our society honouring the terms of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It makes me happy that a small minority of people (statistically, 10% of the population is homosexual), who had been previously excluded, can now participate in what I believe is one of the most important facets of mine and every individuals life.
What an important, albeit small, thing the BC Supreme Court has done.