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BC Legalizes Gay Marriage
July 8, 2003 10:35 AM   Subscribe

British Columbia joins Ontario as the second province in Canada to allow gay marriage. Not everyone is happy though.
posted by cyberbry (51 comments total)

 
The gay marriage opponents look more and more like they are only concerned about the usage of the word "marriage" in connection with two persons of the same sex living together as a couple and not about the fact it designates. Since the battle against homosexuality is clearly lost in most western countries, they now transferred the fight to the semantic arena. If a country passes a law allowing for a "community union" of any two person, regardless of sex, in such a way that this union is exactly like a marriage except for the name, I think most these homophobe groups wouldn't even notice.
posted by nkyad at 10:53 AM on July 8, 2003


I don't think you'll ever make everybody happy. You have a few options. The government could worry about the conservative opinion and ban gay marriages. This will obviously upset gay people. They could also legalize gay marriages in which case gay people are happy with the decision but the conservatives are unhappy. There's a third option too, the government could basically say they have no authority to say anything about marriage at all. This would probably upset conservatives as well.

The one worry I have over this is that there's a difference between allowing gay marriage and forcing a religion to take part in them. For instance I can't imagine my local Roman Catholic priest marrying a gay couple and I don't think that they should be forced to. They should be able to go down to the courthouse and get married however or go to a church that is amicable to gay marriages and get married there.

My personal leanings is that the government has no business endorsing or not endorsing relationships. If they are going to have a say then it should be such that it allows gay marriages.
posted by substrate at 11:00 AM on July 8, 2003


nkyad - I wish everyone would stop calling it a marriage for exactly that reason. Like I said before, I think most gay people would be happy to stop using the (arguably) religious term of marriage if it made the idea of legal unions for gays less threatening to religious objectors. Equal legal rights is the issue at hand, not religious acceptance.

Not everyone is happy though.

Hardly a newsflash - when have they ever been?
posted by widdershins at 11:03 AM on July 8, 2003


Substrate—If I understand it right the federal government will make provisions allowing churches, mosques, etc... from opting out of marrying same sex couples if they choose. Maybe someone else can clarify this. Yay BC!
posted by btwillig at 11:05 AM on July 8, 2003


The Dallas Morning News has surprisingly (to me at least) begun running announcements of civil ceremonies between same-sex couples in their Engagements, Weddings, and Anniversaries page. The first one ran this Sunday with a picture of two local women having a ceremony on a Mexican Beach.
posted by Ufez Jones at 11:09 AM on July 8, 2003


If the government is going to refuse to call gay marriages marriages, then it should stop calling straight ones such as well. As long as its consistent, I wouldn't have a problem with it.
posted by callmejay at 11:14 AM on July 8, 2003


substrate: I thought we were talking about what in my country is called "civil marriage", the legal facet of a marriage, which affects things like private social security, who inherits what and who keeps the children when one of the partners dies, etc. The problem with the government staying out of it is that in most countries there are a whole lot of things connected to a "family", defined as a married couple (specifically a man and a woman) and their offspring. For instance, if a lesbian couple has a son, when the biological mother dies the child can be taken away from his other mother (by grandparents, biological father and even more distant relatives). In some countries the laws regulating the inheritance may leave the surviving partner without anything. So, the government can deny these rights to gay people by simply "staying out of it".
posted by nkyad at 11:14 AM on July 8, 2003


The government could worry about the conservative opinion and ban gay marriages. This will obviously upset gay people.

And less obviously upset a whole bunch of not-gay people. While it doesn't directly affect us, there are some straight people who would strongly prefer that the government do the right thing. I don't see it as "just" a gay rights issue, I see it as the gay-centered manifestation of a basic human rights issue, and that's something everyone should be concerned about.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:18 AM on July 8, 2003


This is civil marriage, folks, not the religious ceremony...The rights and benefits don't come from the church/temple/mosque, but from the federal government...People who are opposed to gay marriage need to realize that...

Maybe as a protest those people opposed to gay marriage should decide not to partake in the many many governmental rights and benefits they and their spouses and families receive, and see how it make their lives better or worse.

Giving those of us who are gay and lesbian anything less than what other taxpaying citizens of the same country receives is inherently unfair (and in the US, unconstitutional as well). What does the canadian constitution say about equal treatment and protection?
posted by amberglow at 11:23 AM on July 8, 2003


nkyad, those are issues I hadn't thought of. A lot of that would seem to apply to common-law heterosexual couples as well. If not than I don't see that it should be any different for homosexual couples either, and if it is then there's discrimination going on. Basically I think there should be some mechanism to say who you've decided to spend your life with, but the government shouldn't necessarily be involved with regulating this. It could be something as simple as signing a notarized document stating your intentions. This document then would have legal weight to it in determining where children stay or go or how the inheritance is split up.

My problem with any actual government involvement in saying who gets to be married and who doesn't is that there's always somebody who will be left out. What about polyamorous (I don't know what word to use here, I was going to use couples but that's obviously wrong) groups? If there were three adults in this group and one pair of them had children and accepted the third as an additional parent what happens if the two biological parents die? Even with the addition of homosexual marriages this person would lose custody.
posted by substrate at 11:26 AM on July 8, 2003


Just to strengthen jacquilynne point above: I am not gay, but I think that at this point, a government refusing to extend the same rights for a gay couple it grants a straight couple is about the same thing as refusing inter-racial, inter-national or inter-religious couples the same rights.
posted by nkyad at 11:26 AM on July 8, 2003


amberglow, I've been out of Canada for 6 years now, but the equivalent of the Canadian constitution was a bit exclusive. Rather than saying that all people are created equal it listed groups that couldn't be discriminated against.
posted by substrate at 11:28 AM on July 8, 2003


amber: "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 and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability."
http://lois.justice.gc.ca/fr/charte/const_en.html

For the record, sexual orientation has been "read in" to this right..therefore although it's not explicity written, for all intents and purposes it's in there.

Also, none of the legislation in question has anything to do with "forcing" priests, etc. to perform these services. It's only dealing with marriage contracts in the legal sense. So stop worrying. ;)
posted by Adam_S at 11:30 AM on July 8, 2003


I've been following the decision in Ontario (since I live there) and I can say without doubt that no churches will be forced to perform marriages that go against doctrine. The government is issuing marriage licenses - it is still up the institution to decide whether or not those marriages will be performed there. Civil marriages were possible immediately. Some churches have followed suit.

I don't know of anybody who's seriously saying that churches should be forced to perform gay marriages.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 11:32 AM on July 8, 2003


substrate: one fight at a time, please, or else we will create a public health problem. The gay marriage problem is already causing a lot of stress in the conservative corners of society all over the world. Start talking now about polyamorous groups rights and we may have an epidemic of heart attacks in our hands... :)
posted by nkyad at 11:34 AM on July 8, 2003


Thanks substrate and Adam-- it seems that "sex" covers orientation pretty well. (You can't deny equal protection and benefit because of the sexes of 2 individuals applying for a marriage license, i think--along with that "every individual" part in the beginning)

Do you guys think any of the provincial governments will actually succeed in not having to perform gay and lesbian marriages?
posted by amberglow at 11:39 AM on July 8, 2003


Do you guys think any of the provincial governments will actually succeed in not having to perform gay and lesbian marriages?

Ralph Klein would like to believe so. He claims Alberta can opt out using the Notwithstanding clause. Marriage falls under federal jurisdiction so most observers believe he doesn't have a hope in hell of stopping it.
posted by btwillig at 11:47 AM on July 8, 2003


There's a third option too, the government could basically say they have no authority to say anything about marriage at all.

Michael Kinsley makes a case for Option 3.
posted by rushmc at 11:50 AM on July 8, 2003


Ralph Klein . Sorry, couldn't resist.
posted by btwillig at 11:58 AM on July 8, 2003


Oh great, more wedding presents to buy.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 12:06 PM on July 8, 2003


I hope Kinsley was kidding about that--taking away rights and benefits from people because of the social problems that come along with any issue is a mistake--a gigantic mistake.

He also brings up states' rights--something that Canadians luckily don't have to deal with when it comes to issues like this. Our struggle for marriage is going to be much more problematic. (Of course we still need employment and housing protections first, but we've never been able to define our own issues and timetables.)
posted by amberglow at 12:09 PM on July 8, 2003


I hope Kinsley was kidding about that--taking away rights and benefits from people because of the social problems that come along with any issue is a mistake

I think the discussion is about whether there are, in fact, "rights" and "benefits" involved.
posted by rushmc at 12:11 PM on July 8, 2003


I wish that the legislation in the UK (recently proposed) was applicable to all: straight, gay & lesbian. There is a real point about valuing equality here: if it's seen as for gays only, it will be discounted. If both straights & gays can have a 'civil union', and additionally some denominations also marry straights & gays - great.

I don't need a cheap, knock-off of what the A-list can have: I want the right to have what the A-list can have (mind you, the chance would be a fine thing..)
posted by dash_slot- at 12:14 PM on July 8, 2003


I think the discussion is about whether there are, in fact, "rights" and "benefits" involved.

Sure there are, rush. He goes into it himself, at length, knowing full well that it would never ever happen (the abolition of civil marriage). You don't make life harder for everyone just because some people don't want to give gays and lesbians equal rights.

As a matter of fact (in a large pdf i've linked to before), there are 1,049 rights, benefits and privileges contingent on marital status here in the USA.

and on preview, what dash said about knockoffs.
posted by amberglow at 12:28 PM on July 8, 2003


So in 1860 if you'd lived in the South, you would have been pro-slavery, saying "You don't make life harder for everyone just because some people don't want to give Negros equal rights"? Almost 100 years later, your argument (as I'm hearing it, perhaps I'm misinterpreting) was known as "Separate But Equal."
posted by rushmc at 12:43 PM on July 8, 2003


Well, I'm glad the BC Courts started allowing it right away. It'll be interesting to see the reaction. While Vancouver and Victoria are generally quite liberal, there is a large conservative portion of the populace in BC and I suspect there will be a kafuffle over this. That's right. A kafuffle.
posted by Salmonberry at 12:44 PM on July 8, 2003


I wish that instead of the FPP being this:

Columbia joins Ontario as the second province in Canada to allow gay marriage. Not everyone is happy though.

it was this:

Columbia joins Ontario as the second province in Canada to allow gay marriage. Not everyone is gay though.
posted by srboisvert at 12:47 PM on July 8, 2003


More gay news... COOL!

Future FPP prediction: Alberta joins British Columbia and Ontario as the third province in Canada to allow gay marriage. Not everyone is happy though. Discuss.
posted by Witty at 12:47 PM on July 8, 2003


It's British Columbia, srboisvert. Columbia is in a different continent.
posted by timeistight at 1:02 PM on July 8, 2003


Witty, you're so . . . witty. Why is it so difficult to not read something you are not interested in?
posted by archimago at 1:08 PM on July 8, 2003


GayFilter: Not everyone is happy though.
posted by bonehead at 1:17 PM on July 8, 2003


So in 1860 if you'd lived in the South, you would have been pro-slavery, saying "You don't make life harder for everyone just because some people don't want to give Negros equal rights"? Almost 100 years later, your argument (as I'm hearing it, perhaps I'm misinterpreting) was known as "Separate But Equal."

not at all...my argument is equal rights for all, not no rights for all...in 1860, it would mean that i wouldn't be in favor of taking away any rights for whites because some people didnt want black people to have rights...Kinsley IS saying that all the rights should be taken away for everyone.
posted by amberglow at 1:19 PM on July 8, 2003


More gay news... COOL!

Hey Witty -

It seems we both look forward to the day when this stuff is no longer Front page news. Me, I hope it's because it's cos we have promoted equality in the eyes of the law. This is a Human Rights issue: just as every other HR issue of the last 50 years (catholics in Northern Ireland, blacks in the Deep South, Tibetans in Tibet - whichever).

To mefites in general: Are you part of the solution? Or part of the problem?
posted by dash_slot- at 1:49 PM on July 8, 2003


To mefites in general: Are you part of the solution? Or part of the problem?

I'm always part of the solution. I dissolve easily.
posted by Stynxno at 1:58 PM on July 8, 2003


Being a bit of a beer monster, I could be part of the dissolution....
posted by dash_slot- at 2:09 PM on July 8, 2003


Oh come on Witty - maybe the weapons of mass destruction will turn up at a gay wedding.
posted by holycola at 2:23 PM on July 8, 2003


Human rights issue? Hardly.
posted by Witty at 2:26 PM on July 8, 2003


Kinsley IS saying that all the rights should be taken away for everyone.

You read him differently than I do. I think he is questioning the value of government sanction of any marriage, and I think this is a legitimate thing to question. Would things change under such a system? Certainly. But the argument can be made that the changes would improve the overall situation, as well as being more equitable to all involved. I think the use of the word "rights" in this case is inappropriate.
posted by rushmc at 2:31 PM on July 8, 2003


I think that what Kinsley means is "Kill them all and let the lawyers sort them out".

If there was no government sanctioned marriage, the courts (in case of children, for instance) and the market (in case of company health insurance, for instance) would have to decide what a partner (regardless of sex) is entitled to in a case by case basis. In time some general practices would become the norm.

I think this proposal has two flaws: it throws away thousands of years of tradition and legal precedent (for straight married couples) and it dissolves the battle front into a myriad of small town/small company cases (for the gay movement). In the end, it would create more short-term problems than its apparent rationatility is worth.
posted by nkyad at 2:52 PM on July 8, 2003


Human rights issue? Hardly.

Do you wish to substantiate this? Are gay people not human? Is marriage not a right? Is marriage not fundamental and important enough to become a "human rights issue?"

It is sexual apartheid, Witty. Some people get the full complement of rights and protections, and others don't. Do you really not get that? Or does it just not matter to you? Or do you actually think that one's rights as a citizen should be contingent upon whether or not they choose to take a ride on the baloney pony?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 3:23 PM on July 8, 2003


Easy there big fella. dash_slot chose (catholics in Northern Ireland, blacks in the Deep South, Tibetans in Tibet - whichever) in which to compare. In that sense, I wouldn't call this a human rights issue... no. Homosexuals aren't being enslaved, tortured, or victims of genocide. Gay pride events aren't turning into riotous disasters where the military is called in, etc. Marriage IS a right, sure. So "get married" then.
posted by Witty at 4:01 PM on July 8, 2003


...take a ride on the baloney pony?
Thanks, Big Straight Guy! Worth the thread for that quote alone!
posted by dash_slot- at 4:10 PM on July 8, 2003


Homosexuals aren't being enslaved, tortured, or victims of genocide.

Nor, it could be argued, were women - before they were granted voting rights and technical 'equality' with men.

You don't have to be dead, hurt or in chains to be dispossessed.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:13 PM on July 8, 2003


It seems we both look forward to the day when this stuff is no longer Front page news

I am beginning to think that there are people who look forward to when there are no FPPs at all.

As for missing the British that goes with the Columbia earlier - doh! bad! bad! mouse! Though having been there (and being Canadian) it seems more Columbia than British.
posted by srboisvert at 4:26 PM on July 8, 2003


Witty, go learn something about the effects of oppression. (Page design sux, but the links are legit.)

BTW, these sections of the Genocide Convention might provide some food for thought:

Article II: In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. 

Article III: The following acts shall be punishable:

(a) Genocide;
(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
(d) Attempt to commit genocide;
(e) Complicity in genocide. 
posted by stonerose at 4:49 PM on July 8, 2003


Is marriage not a right?

No, it's a custom.
posted by rushmc at 5:01 PM on July 8, 2003


I'm extremely proud of Ont. & B.C. and impatiently await the R.O.C to show the quality of their humanity and follow suit. I'm also thankful that Witty is firmly entrenched on the other side of the 49th :p
posted by zarah at 5:29 PM on July 8, 2003


Nor, it could be argued, were women - before they were granted voting rights and technical 'equality' with men.

Fine. But voting isn't a human right. Marriage isn't either. So you call what you want I guess, I just disagree.

Thanks for the info stonerose, but I still don't see where the denial of gay marriage fits into this definition of genocide.

I'm also thankful that Witty is firmly entrenched on the other side of the 49th :p

As if no such Canadian exist.

posted by Witty at 8:54 AM on July 9, 2003


Though having been there (and being Canadian) it seems more Columbia than British.

Didn't get to Victoria, then?
posted by timeistight at 9:42 AM on July 9, 2003


As if no such Canadian exist.

Hey, I'm just glad you're staying put, doing your part to make America the greatest nation on earth. *doh* Of course they exist, but luckily they're a much derided minority with very little influence.
posted by zarah at 3:52 PM on July 9, 2003


No, it's a custom.

One with legal implications, at that. And one around which a corpus of rules and rewards has evolved in the modern nation state. They even have laws protecting it. Kind of like a right.

What if it were a religious "custom"? Can the state choose not to legally recognize your marriage because you had a Hindu or Jewish ceremony? No, of course not. But everybody has to get all freaky because of residual God nonsense that should legitimately play no role in policymaking.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 5:59 PM on July 9, 2003


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