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If we do not step forward, then we step back.
February 17, 2005 3:05 PM   Subscribe

Address by Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin on Gay Marriage. Taking the bull by the horns, Mr. Martin speaks to the House of Commons regarding Bill C-38, The Civil Marriage Act:
"This question does not demand rhetoric. It demands clarity. There are only two legitimate answers – yes or no. Not the demagoguery we have heard, not the dodging, the flawed reasoning, the false options. Just yes or no."
One of the finest speeches from a Canadian politician in memory, and an important read for Canadians and Americans alike.
posted by Jairus (168 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
"The people of Canada have worked hard to build a country that opens its doors to include all, regardless of their differences; a country that respects all, regardless of their differences; a country that demands equality for all, regardless of their differences.

If we do not step forward, then we step back. If we do not protect a right, then we deny it. Mr. Speaker, together as a nation, together as Canadians: Let us step forward."

posted by Jairus at 3:06 PM on February 17, 2005


we americans hate you for your freedoms and your clear-thinking politicians.

and your ability to elect them.

any time you want to invade us, feel free.
posted by tsarfan at 3:12 PM on February 17, 2005


No joke.... canada needs to anex a warm portion of the us or a tropical island.... you couldn't beat me back.
posted by sourbrew at 3:14 PM on February 17, 2005


* jealous American *
posted by xmutex at 3:16 PM on February 17, 2005


"Check against delivery"

Well said, Mr. Martin. Well said.

*ahem*
posted by S.C. at 3:19 PM on February 17, 2005


So help a clueless American out here -- what's up with the notwithstanding clause? Can the Canadian government really override the constitution just by announcing that that's what they're doing? Or are there subtleties to it that I'm missing?

(Confusion aside, I loved the speech. Thanks for the link.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:19 PM on February 17, 2005


canada needs to anex a warm portion of the us or a tropical island

Cuba
posted by PurplePorpoise at 3:20 PM on February 17, 2005


can I have dual citizenship, too?

great speech, thanks for the link. all Canadians should be very proud -- the battle for equal rights is a noble, beautiful thing.

*(looks for his old "CANADA" maple leaf t-shirt)*
posted by matteo at 3:26 PM on February 17, 2005


nebulawindphone, the notwithstanding clause allows Parliament or a province to declare any law temporarily "notwithstanding". It was added when the Constitution Act was hammered out in the 80s, as a final compromise to provinces who otherwise wouldn't sign on.
posted by Jairus at 3:26 PM on February 17, 2005


Put simply, we must always remember that “separate but equal” is not equal.PM Paul Martin.

I used this argument, many times to vociferous opposition from gay people in UK blogs, when the Labour Party introduced civil unions for homosexuals over here late last year. It saddens me that we never had the political muscle, the clarity of our beliefs in freedom & equality, nor the nerve to hold out for what is right and fair. I applaud the PM and hope he carries the day. Canada will be proud on the glorious day when discrimination is removed, and her example will inspire us to reform the flawed UK law before the decade is out.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:28 PM on February 17, 2005


That was awesome.

The second argument ventured by opponents of the bill is that government ought to hold a national referendum on this issue. I reject this – not out of a disregard for the view of the people, but because it offends the very purpose of the Charter.

The Charter was enshrined to ensure that the rights of minorities are not subjected, are never subjected, to the will of the majority. The rights of Canadians who belong to a minority group must always be protected by virtue of their status as citizens, regardless of their numbers. These rights must never be left vulnerable to the impulses of the majority.


Canada! Fuck yeah!
posted by jimmythefish at 3:28 PM on February 17, 2005


I was clearly drunk when replying. The notwithstanding clause allows Parliament or a province to declare any law temporarily free from the restrictions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms., which is then "notwithstanding".
posted by Jairus at 3:29 PM on February 17, 2005


What a fantastic speech! It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy and proud to be a Canadian.
posted by orangskye at 3:38 PM on February 17, 2005


big up to canada. nuff respect.

whenever i hear about canada -- or other countries -- doing progressive, sensible, caring things, i look at the u.s.a. and say what sam jackson's character said to robert deniro's character in jackie brown: what happened to you , man? yo' ass used to be beautiful.
posted by lord_wolf at 3:42 PM on February 17, 2005


I've never liked Paul Martin. He's always come off as a bit of a slimeball to me. Today, however, he earned a lot of points in my book. Kudos to you Mr. Prime Minister!
posted by pookzilla at 3:45 PM on February 17, 2005


sourbrew: Could I interest you in a spot in Turks and Caicos?


posted by anthill at 3:45 PM on February 17, 2005


Interesting speech. I used to hear people speak like that in my America. Ah...the good ol' days.
posted by j.p. Hung at 3:46 PM on February 17, 2005


The notwithstanding clause is section 33 of the Charter. Parliament or a provincial legislature can, with this clause, enact legislation notwithstanding the constitutional protections of the Charter -- a way of making what would otherwise be unconstitutional, legal. It came into place because of some politicians' belief that Parliament, not the courts, should be supreme, and that courts should not be able to override decisions of Parliament.

The way it was written, however, makes it clear that it's a bit of a poison pill: any provision enacted under section 33 expires five years later, which means that at least one election must be held in the meantime. Presumably, the government that enacted such a law could be defeated, and in the current political climate, where Charter rights are held paramount and the notwithstanding clause is widely considered to be an admission by the state that it's taking your rights away, it probably would be. The notwithstanding clause has never been used federally; it's been used a few times provincially.
posted by mcwetboy at 3:48 PM on February 17, 2005


This is one of the best speeches I've ever read.

I was particularly struck by the honesty of the following:
Four years ago, I stood in this House and voted to support the traditional definition of marriage. Many of us did. My misgivings about extending the right of civil marriage to same-sex couples were a function of my faith, my perspective on the world around us.

But much has changed since that day. We’ve heard from courts across the country, including the Supreme Court. We’ve come to the realization that instituting civil unions – adopting a “separate but equal” approach – would violate the equality provisions of the Charter. We’ve confirmed that extending the right of civil marriage to gays and lesbians will not in any way infringe on religious freedoms.

And so where does that leave us? It leaves us staring in the face of the Charter of Rights with but a single decision to make: Do we abide by the Charter and protect minority rights, or do we not?

To those who would oppose this bill, I urge you to consider that the core of the issue before us today is whether the rights of all Canadians are to be respected. I believe they must be. Justice demands it. Fairness demands it. The Canada we love demands it.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 3:49 PM on February 17, 2005


What an amazing speech. How delightful to see a government leader who really believes in rights and freedom. I haven't seen that in a major US politician in my lifetime.

In all seriousness, it sounds like Canada has become more 'American' than the United States.

I'm so pleased that there remains a country with the good sense to elect brilliant people. You guys rock.
posted by Malor at 3:50 PM on February 17, 2005


No Matteo, you cannot have dual citizenship if you are American. Canada doesn't really care (luckily for me) but the US does not recognise your right to carry a US and A.N.Other passport.
posted by fingerbang at 3:50 PM on February 17, 2005


It is a deeply weird feeling to see my rights being defended by the government of a foreign country, while my own home state (Georgia) and nation are busily attacking them for political gain. Weird, and incredibly sad.
posted by BoringPostcards at 3:50 PM on February 17, 2005




posted by matteo at 3:55 PM on February 17, 2005


And this will all be whittled down to a 5 second "yes or no" sound bite on tonight's news, regardless of its power to perhaps change peoples mind. The leadership vacuum in democracies must be due to the cartoonish cut-outs we are used to seeing. This speech reminds us that some of the politicians do rise above from time to time and speeches like this actually engender respect and the willingness to be led.

Not that I will actually vote for my local decrepit Liberal, mind you.
posted by Rumple at 4:02 PM on February 17, 2005


It's been a while since I've heard or read something a politician has said (any politician) without instant reflex scoffing. It's a refreshing feeling.

Wow. Agreeing with a politician. Who would have thought I'd see the day.
posted by Bugbread at 4:05 PM on February 17, 2005


It seems that one of the -against- reason was that priests of some religious would have been forced to marry people of the same sex..indeed

“The guarantee of religious freedom in section 2(a) of the Charter is broad enough to protect religious officials from being compelled by the state to perform civil or religious same-sex marriages that are contrary to their religious beliefs.

If that's the root of the problem, do the same in the U.S. and the religious zealots could continue to voice their extremist religious opinion YET there would be no arguing about priest being forced to do something against their religion.

On a tangent: if the logic of "not against your faith" extends to , say, pharmacists and gynecologists (not mentioning guidance counselors and other people involved with sexual education or choices based on sex) we could have doctors suddendly refusing to perform some operation because (for instance with Witness of Geneva) their faith says that they can't do something.

Sometime we may see that faith coud be used to weasel out of uncomfortable positions or dangerous decisions or even worse out of accepted responsability.

On preview: OH CANADA, OH CANADA :) Till the next time somebody in Canada does a Cretien thing :)
posted by elpapacito at 4:05 PM on February 17, 2005


Ehm substituite Geneva with Jehova :) My bad
posted by elpapacito at 4:06 PM on February 17, 2005


We would risk becoming a country in which the defence of rights is weighed, calculated and debated based on electoral or other considerations.

That would set us back decades as a nation.


Ouch.
posted by underer at 4:08 PM on February 17, 2005


A further clarification of the application of the notwithstanding clause:

It cannot in fact be used on any law. As it states in 33(1):

Parliament or the legislature of a province may expressly declare in an Act of Parliament or of the legislature, as the case may be, that the Act or a provision thereof shall operate notwithstanding a provision included in section 2 or sections 7 to 15 of this Charter.

So laws that go against the Charter protections outlined in the sections regarding Fundamental Freedoms, Legal Rights and Equality Rights can be enacted using 'notwithstanding', such law being subject to the limitations mcwetboy listed above.

Laws pertaining to Charter protections covered by sections on Democratic Rights, Mobility Rights, Official Languages of Canada, Minority Language Educational Rights, etc. cannot use 'notwithstanding'.

The Charter in entirety is worth a read.
posted by lirio at 4:09 PM on February 17, 2005


What's wrong with Canadian politicians and their schizoid half-foreign speeches?!

Bilingualism snark aside, I did notice that he delivered almost all of his verbal crescendos and ovation-eliciting rhetorical flourishes in English, and relegated French mostly to various transition passages and historical and/or judicial expositions. Was this normal, or was he purposely trying to play to a wider TV audience for this occasion?

His piece was great as an essay, and still pretty darn good as a speech. Now just substitute "constitutional amendment" for "notwithstanding clause" and have Bush ask the simple yes or no question of... ahh dammit, that's too obvious. But Martin did address his opposition in a remarkably candid and issue-focused way that's sorely lacking in American oratory and politics at large. A shame, that. What a clear way to frame the debate as a very fundamental civil/minority rights and government jurisdiction issue instead of the American tactic of lobbing "we're here, we're queer" versus "save traditional marriage!" rhetorical Molotovs at each other.

Applause, eh.
posted by DaShiv at 4:10 PM on February 17, 2005


Bravo!
Up to this moment, Martin has been a lame-ass PM, embattled in the embarrassment of the sponsorship scandal, minority government, and the stagnancy of his own party.
I have been gaining more and more respect for him in the last few weeks on this debate, but this has finally won me over.
Bravo!
posted by Quartermass at 4:20 PM on February 17, 2005


Wow. This is stirring stuff. Well done, Canada and well done, Mr. Martin.
posted by jackiemcghee at 4:23 PM on February 17, 2005


It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy and proud to be a Canadian.

Me too! And I echo all the comments about this speech warming me over to Paul Martin. I, too, have always thought him kinda meh until now.
posted by Robot Johnny at 4:25 PM on February 17, 2005


Martin voted for gay marriage before he voted against it!
posted by anthill at 4:26 PM on February 17, 2005


Okay, this just proves my point about Canada being more of a philosophy then an actual place.
posted by berek at 4:31 PM on February 17, 2005


That brought tears to my eyes, and made my respect for Mr. Martin skyrocket. I can't remember the last time I felt so proud to be a part of this amazing country, where the rights of my family and friends are actually defended by the man we elected. I look forward to celebrating the weddings of all my friends, queer and otherwise.

I must also say, it saddens me so much (in a state of humanity sense) to see members of other nations responding with envy or awe. This is the nation I was raised in, and this is the kind of thing I was brought up to believe, any religious inclinations aside. It saddens me to think that other countries don't uphold what is fast approaching a federally recognized basic right up here.

In all seriousness, it sounds like Canada has become more 'American' than the United States.

malor, Canada has always been different than the United States, which has historically taken the 'assimilation' view regarding its immigrants. I can't help but think that is affecting our paths right now in many things. Long live the mosaic.
posted by dazedandconfused at 4:33 PM on February 17, 2005


Yaaay! This has made me immensely happy.

I live in Michigan, I was just wondering if any of you Canadians out there would be interested in purchasing my home state. Maybe you could even fix Detroit. We promise we'll be good. We're a blue state, too!
posted by Baby_Balrog at 4:43 PM on February 17, 2005


Beautiful.

i've said it before and will say it again:
Canada: the America we should be.

And it's tragic that we to your south are going backwards in terms of rights and liberties and equality.
posted by amberglow at 4:43 PM on February 17, 2005


dazed: it's what many of us down here were brought up to believe too, but things got fucked along the way.
posted by amberglow at 4:45 PM on February 17, 2005


metteo and finger bang, yes the states does now allow dual citizenship. i'm a dual canadian/usian citizen.

(homeland security kept turning me away last year so i had to get my citizenship to visit friends in sf)
posted by Aleph Yin at 4:47 PM on February 17, 2005


No Matteo, you cannot have dual citizenship if you are American. Canada doesn't really care (luckily for me) but the US does not recognise your right to carry a US and A.N.Other passport.

Actually, fingerbang, that's no longer true - I'm an ex-pat Canuck holding dual Citizenship and two passports, both Canada and US. I know that it's ok because once on coming back into the US, I accidentally handed the border guard my Canadian passport before giving him my American one. It's been legal to have dual-citizenship for about ten years.
posted by dnaworks at 4:50 PM on February 17, 2005


Add my name to the list of Canadians who feels inspired by the words and actions of Paul Martin for the first time ever. This is indeed a proud moment for my country.

Like the t-shirt says: Canada kicks ass.

(And like a true Canadian, I express my patriotism in hushed tones. It's politeness, not lack of conviction.)

posted by gompa at 4:52 PM on February 17, 2005


The NHL cancellation will ensure this isn't the top story today, but I hope I'm wrong about that, as this bill is far from a done deal. Virtually all western MPs will vote against it, as will a number of liberal backbenchers. If this bill does pass, it'll be thanks to the Bloc and the NDP voting along with Liberal MPs who are mostly in Ontario and Quebec.

I sure hope it passes.
posted by Salmonberry at 4:55 PM on February 17, 2005


Martin gave this speech? Mr. Shipping Magnate? Of the Run-As-NDP, Govern-As-Conservative Liberals? As others have mentioned, this is starting to change my opinion of him.

As a US citizen, I'm once more shamed by the slow, steady, stately march towards fairness for all of our neighbour.
posted by QIbHom at 5:00 PM on February 17, 2005


makes me wonder, reading this in Amsterdam;
what's all the fuss about ?
i mean: Canada makes a choice, a wise one as we dutchies know, and Mr. Martin delivers the message brilliantly.

but is this _really_ an issue in your everyday american life, dear folks out there ?

yeah, alright, i did read all those *same-sex-marriage-discussions* on MeFi, i just can't grasp the atmosphere in your great land overhere.
posted by Substrata at 5:15 PM on February 17, 2005


<excuse="he grew up there">
Baby Balrog: You know, throwing in Detroit isn't really sweetening the deal. I say we give Detroit to Ohio and try to sell 'em the rest of the state.
</excuse>
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:16 PM on February 17, 2005


Bilingualism snark aside ... Was this normal, or was he purposely trying to play to a wider TV audience for this occasion?

He has to because we have the two official languages which are entrenched in the Charter (which guarantees equal status to both English and French), so all speeches are like that.
posted by squeak at 5:24 PM on February 17, 2005


for many of us gay and lesbian Americans living in couples (the US kind), it is, Substrata--and for their children (an estimated 6 to 14 million) living in what is now unrecognized as a real family--legally, unless special legal papers are drawn up (and even those don't cover all the 1000+ laws and they don't confer the rights straight couples automatically get--the words "spouse", "husband", "wife" etc are found all throughout our laws and regulations--state and federal and local).

The broader issue of equality and civil rights affects every American, straight or gay. Freedom to Marry has a lot more info on it all.
posted by amberglow at 5:26 PM on February 17, 2005


I'd say it definitely affects families with children daily, and couples without children everytime they need to interact with the systems of sociert (hospitals, aging, housing, benefits, courts, employment benefits, insurance, property, etc....)
posted by amberglow at 5:29 PM on February 17, 2005


oop-society
posted by amberglow at 5:29 PM on February 17, 2005


Pierre Trudeau deserves much credit for this.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 5:30 PM on February 17, 2005


thanks Amberglow
FtM is quite a resource.
posted by Substrata at 5:37 PM on February 17, 2005


squeak: I knew about the official bilingualism part; I was wondering if he had delivered all of the most emotionally and rhetorically evocative parts of the speech in English instead of French on purpose, possibly because there's a larger Anglophone television audience he's aiming at (soundbites beyond Canada?) than the Francophone one. I had read the speech first before playing the video, and oddly enough he hit every highlight I had noted in English during his speech.

IMO quite a bit of his structured point-by-point response to his opposition got lost during the speech compared the way it was nicely broken into paragraphs on the page, but it was more than made up for by the compelling earnestness of his delivery. I had to turn it to audio-only because I got tired of watching his head bob up and down over his notes and his glass of water though -- too distracting.
posted by DaShiv at 5:43 PM on February 17, 2005


w-g p: Thanks for that link to the clip of Trudeau's famous 1967 statement "there's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation." Fascinating to consider this in light of the current debate, almost 40 years later.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 5:46 PM on February 17, 2005


Excellent speech. Sad that our president wants to move us in the exact opposite direction.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:48 PM on February 17, 2005


DaShiv, it probably also has to do with the fact that the Bloc Québécois has already stated that they are in favour of the bill. The group that Martin is trying to win over are the folks out west, who are anlgophone by and large. Politically it makes sense to make your big argument in the language which the majority of your targets understand.

Similarly, the leader of the Bloc, Gilles Duceppe, addressed the House on this issue in English yesterday, something which the reporters claim he almost never does.

This is big stuff.
posted by lowlife at 5:58 PM on February 17, 2005


fingerbangm wtf? I hold dual US and Canadian citizenship. I used my Canadian ID to get my US passport.

It is true that if, as a US citizen you apply for citizenship in a country the US doesn't like you can lose your US citizenship, but they stopped doing it automatically in the case of every other citizenship in the mid 1980s. Which is to say my mom got her Canadian citizen when I was in grade six, right after they changed the rules to allow for it.

In summary, US-CDN is fine, US-Syria could be trouble, especially if you try to get the Syrian second. But if you're an "other" citizen who gets US you're fine to keep both 100% of the time, and if you're born as both you're fine 100% of the time.
posted by tiamat at 6:03 PM on February 17, 2005


DaShiv he's a politician, what else can I say? ;)

Your prolly right about the portions of the speech being in English for "sound bytes" for foreign media markets though it I think it might have been more for us who are out west. (only about 20% of the population speaks French on the whole and even less in the Western half of the country).

on preview: lowlife just covered what I was going to say about the west and the Bloc.
posted by squeak at 6:07 PM on February 17, 2005


Those Canadians better watch out. The terrorists hate freedom.
posted by mullingitover at 6:09 PM on February 17, 2005


Wow, amberglow. You're in a gay and lesbian couple? What's in it for you? Just pretending to be straight? ;)
posted by graventy at 6:12 PM on February 17, 2005


I am large, I contain multitudes. : >

When is the final decision/ruling/whatever expected?
posted by amberglow at 6:22 PM on February 17, 2005


And this will all be whittled down to a 5 second "yes or no" sound bite on tonight's news

Rumple, did you just listen to the national news on CBC radio? The story wasn't even mentioned! Even though a gaffe made by Martin regarding Syria received extensive coverage.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 6:27 PM on February 17, 2005


Can we trade presidents, please? I'd like a president who stands up for the rights of every citizen
posted by fleener at 6:39 PM on February 17, 2005


Hopefully, the first step in freedom in America will begin in Canada.
posted by Arch Stanton at 6:44 PM on February 17, 2005


Up to this moment, Martin has been a lame-ass PM
I wasn't too thrilled with Martin becoming PM either, especially after his hostile takeover of the liberal party. But I disagree with your statement - Martin has impressed me with his performance so far.

Case 1: The New Deal for Cities will finally give municipalities a cut of the gas tax, so that they can invest in green transit.

Case 2: Martin has been spending a lot of his time working the diplomatic circuit, trying to drum up support for a new UN mandate - the Responsibility to Protect. (which I first encountered in Lloyd Axworthy's amazing book). The idea is this: a state is not entitled to respect for its sovereignty if it does not live up to its responsibility to respect the human rights of its citizens. It's a stirring idea, and I'm glad he's championing it.
posted by Popular Ethics at 6:46 PM on February 17, 2005


Fuck yeah. That was an amazing speech. I love Canada.
posted by chunking express at 6:47 PM on February 17, 2005


Thanks for posting this, Jairus! I was thinking about it, but I thought it might be too presumptuous of me.
Privately, though, I was trying to get every American I speak to regularly to read it.
posted by blacklite at 6:54 PM on February 17, 2005


Many of us have been wondering if the this bill would bring down Martin's government, since neither Martin or same sex marriage is particularly popular. I must say, however, this is the first time I've ever seen Martin display any passion. I think it might actually help his standing. It was a very good speech-- nuanced, non-threatening, and drawing clear distinctions between Canada and Bush's U.S. Hell, I would have liked it even if I weren't for same sex marriage.

BTW, bilingual speeches are very practical, since there are always two people, one French, one English working in tandum. It gives the interpreters a break, since even the most experienced wear out in a manner of minutes. Politicians usually save their best material for their own language, but it makes both linguistic groups feel important. I find that it helps my French to listen to the voice-overs.

Nice to read some good news for a change. Thanks Jairus.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 6:58 PM on February 17, 2005


Makes me proud to be a ('straight') Canadian . . . though ashamed to be Albertan (Premier Klein will be using the same NW clause to suppress the bill at the provincial level). Going to be a lot of American flags going up in Calgary over this one.
posted by biochemicle at 7:16 PM on February 17, 2005


Before I could even process the content of the speech, I just marveled at the fact that there countries where politicians can both speak in complete, grammitcally correct sentences and also say something with clarity in a definitive way. Where can we get one of those? I didn't like the choice between Candidate Who Don't Know How Kinstruct Word-Connecty-Things and Candidate Who Categorizes The Overall Intended Content Of His Intended Thought With Verbose But Partially, Or Perhaps Wholly Unclear Constructs Of English Grammer.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:17 PM on February 17, 2005


Lately, I've found it amazing that here in Canada, we have no legal separation of church and state, yet the government is obviously going to the appropriate lengths to ensure that this time, the freedoms of the religious institutions are not subject to the responsibilities of the state. Yet in the US, lately, the legal separation seems to be fading fast.

Also, as an Albertan, I've always been fully supportive of this law and hope to hell it passes. Klein is excelling at making us look bad on this issue, but there are a lot of us in this province (conviniently surrounded by provinces in which gay marriage is legal!) who are behind this 100%.

On Preview: biochemical: I thought that the federal government ruled that wouldn't be allowed?
posted by fossil_human at 7:20 PM on February 17, 2005


Turtles all the way down:

It wasn't on the news today because it was on the news yesterday. That's when they delivered their speeches (Martin, Harper et al.) They report things the day they happen. That's why they call it "news." And they did devote quite a bit of time to it--Newsworld carried it all live.
posted by SoftRain at 7:25 PM on February 17, 2005


Thanks for the background regarding the Bloc Québécois, lowlife and squeak. I hadn't considered how language becomes politics much more acutely in a bilingual country.
posted by DaShiv at 7:26 PM on February 17, 2005


fossil_human: Nope, they can't, as far as I know. Quebec would never have gone for the notwithstanding clause if the federal government could pass laws that disallowed provinces from enacting it.
It's actually quite odd to me that we have something like that and yet the provinces still manage to be fairly similar in a lot of ways.
I'm Albertan, too, and I wish we could do something about Klein.
Incidentally, if anyone's interested, here's the text of C-38, since I just checked it to see if it mentioned the notwithstanding clause.
posted by blacklite at 7:27 PM on February 17, 2005


I blush.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 7:29 PM on February 17, 2005


And since we're talking about the Bloc, here is M. Duceppe's speech, along with the following comments and replies.

The specific place where he was speaking English was right here in response to a question from a Conservative MP.

"Mr. Speaker, the member certainly missed something in history, which is the evolution of society, and I am sure of that."

I really like Gilles. I wish we could vote Bloc in Alberta. ;)
posted by blacklite at 7:30 PM on February 17, 2005


If the Charter is not there today to protect the rights of one minority, then how can we as a nation of minorities ever hope, ever believe, ever trust that it will be there to protect us tomorrow?

Exactly. I'm proud of Paul Martin today.

canada needs to anex a warm portion of the us or a tropical island

Cuba


YES! I have been saying this for years....of course, I would never turn down a chance to live in Turks and Caicos either.
posted by LunaticFringe at 7:32 PM on February 17, 2005


For those who are wondering, the bill is probably going to pass.
posted by Jairus at 7:35 PM on February 17, 2005


fossil_human:

How does Canada not have legal separation of church and state? Freedom of religion is enshrined in our constitution; the Charter mentions God, but it also mentions plurality. Also, we've never had a national religion. There's nothing to separate.

(Sorry for the posting twice, didn't pay attention on preview, etc.)

On topic: This is good.
posted by SoftRain at 7:36 PM on February 17, 2005


applause.
posted by LouReedsSon at 7:38 PM on February 17, 2005


canada needs to anex a warm portion of the us or a tropical island

Cuba


Canuba anyone?

posted by Robot Johnny at 7:41 PM on February 17, 2005


For those who are wondering, the bill is probably going to pass.
According to that article, the Senate defeated a bill in 1988? I didn't realize it had ever defeated anything. I was looking for information on this very subject just the other day, too.

To not derail the thread entirely, it does seem to me that the Senate could very well vote no on this, but would they? I think it might cause riots. I mean, they're so useless most of the time, until something like this comes along and they want to contradict the elected House...
posted by blacklite at 7:41 PM on February 17, 2005


Makes me consider changing my rule that I won't vote liberal as long as it's illegal to watch foreign pay TV in Canada... Consider.
posted by shepd at 7:45 PM on February 17, 2005


IT'S NOT ILLEGAL TO WATCH FOREIGN PAY TV IN CANADA AUGHASFGDFGSDG
posted by Jairus at 7:52 PM on February 17, 2005


DaShiv - may have been because Martin's an anglophone and I've found his French very workmanlike and non-expressive. I mean, it's good, but I think he would be better able to really get emotional, important parts across in English.

This is definitely a high point for Martin, who I've never liked either. And the same debate made Harper look bad, so it's all good. :)
posted by livii at 7:53 PM on February 17, 2005


Fucking great speech. I never expected something so clear and strong to come out of Ottawa. J'aime le Canada
posted by blackturtleneck at 7:55 PM on February 17, 2005


I have never felt more proud of my country or our politicians than after I read that speech. If this doesn't pass, there will be hell to pay.
posted by nightchrome at 8:00 PM on February 17, 2005


In all seriousness, it sounds like Canada has become more 'American' than the United States.

I always liked the "idea" of America, but I imagine a lot of different groups in the United States would argue that this idea has been more of a goal than a reality ever since the republic was founded. The irony is that the tyranny that the revolution was supposedly freeing itself from ended up becoming much freer before the United States did.

I'm definitely no fan of the Liberals (Green or NDP for me, usually) but this is definitely something that makes me proud to be Canadian.
posted by Kleptophoria! at 8:03 PM on February 17, 2005


Wonderful speech, wonderful post.

Thank you, Jairus.
posted by AlexReynolds at 8:24 PM on February 17, 2005


It is funny to hear all the love. Martin is the lessor of three evils. He more or less staged a coup in the liberal party and destroyed the party leadership nomintation process. Up to his neck in sponsorship scandal coverup. Lackluster electoral performance when the country was handed to him on a platter by the other nincomparties.

It is a good speech - kudos to the writer for using all the best material from the trudeau years - but all he is really doing is getting in front of a wave of social change and legal interpretation and pretending to be leading it.

Lets see how we do on trade issues, government accountability, health care and missile defense.
posted by srboisvert at 8:29 PM on February 17, 2005


Can I be proud to live in a country that's next to Canada?
posted by xthlc at 8:51 PM on February 17, 2005


srboisvert, I don't get that impression at all from the speech. It sounds very much like Martin knows that he's not leading the movement (indeed, referencing his own opposition to it mere years ago), but that he's doing the right thing.
posted by Jairus at 8:55 PM on February 17, 2005


Before people get carried away complimenting Martin (regardless of your feelings on Bill C-38), read these articles. Compliment Canada, but please, don't give Martin a shred more credit than he deserves. If he though he stood a better chance of re-election on the other side of C-38, the issue would never have been raised.
posted by loquax at 9:07 PM on February 17, 2005


Socially, this is awesome.

Politically, I'm glad to see that Mr Martin was able to take a stand on an important issue—the first time is always exciting.

It is perhaps unfortunate timing that the Economist published a piece on him today labelling him "Mr Dithers"; a rather accurate title so far. This speech is a good start, Mr Martin, and you've got my attention. You'd better keep it up.

SoftRain: freedom of religion is enshrined, yes, but do keep in mind that our head of state is also the head of the Church of England. That's where church and state come together for us. Nothing practical ever happens because of it, but the connection is still there.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 9:14 PM on February 17, 2005


I don't think anyone is going to deny that a politician will always be a politician. Which is to say, always on their own side and nobody else's. But if, in the process, he can do some good and stir up emotions about freedom and equality and such in an otherwise apathetic populace, I say go for it.
posted by nightchrome at 9:16 PM on February 17, 2005


Just ditto-ing all the Americans who can't believe how ignorant and backwards the US is in some ways compared to much of the Western world.

I live in Michigan, I was just wondering if any of you Canadians out there would be interested in purchasing my home state. ... We're a blue state, too!

A blue state that on the same day it went for Kerry also passed an anti-gay marriage law by 2-1.
I'm a Michiganian whose paternal great-grandparents hailed from Ontario and Quebec. I've been wishing I could find a job in and return to "the homeland" for quite awhile now. For many reasons. Sheesh, even the national anthem is a thousand times better than the old English drinking song 'Merika's got.
Meh, mebbe I'll start my Canadian transition by getting a Maple-leaf shirt like someone mentioned above.
posted by NorthernLite at 9:39 PM on February 17, 2005


but all he is really doing is getting in front of a wave of social change and legal interpretation and pretending to be leading it.

Isn't that what Lyndon Johnson did in the 60s? If he didn't get so heavily involved in Vietnam, I'm sure he would've been thought of as one of the great presidents for having the Civil Rights Act passed under his leadership.

Leading it or not, Martin is fighting for it from the most public and powerful office in Canda. That counts for something.
posted by Arch Stanton at 9:55 PM on February 17, 2005


SoftRain: freedom of religion is enshrined, yes, but do keep in mind that our head of state is also the head of the Church of England. That's where church and state come together for us. Nothing practical ever happens because of it, but the connection is still there.

True dat. Actually, if you read the Queen's Coronation vows, there's a fair amount of stuff in there about "maintaining the Law of God" and the "Reformed Protestant faith as established by law", and some people on the anti-gay-marriage side are suggesting that bill C-38 be rejected because of this. Makes me a little uncomfortable, really, realizing that the legal apparatus for a restrictive theocracy is still in place, even though (post-1867) tradition and modern attitudes reject the excersize of this power. But then really, if you accept the principles of democracy, how do you justify even having a monarchy? You can't really say that "All men are created equal--oh, except for Jug-Ears and the lady from the penny, they're Super Extra Special and we should all be thankful they don't want us beheaded."
posted by arto at 10:11 PM on February 17, 2005


I was thinking about Trudeau's famous 1967 statement "there's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation." Isn't the logical extension of that idea the withdrawal of government from performing marriages? If the state is not concerned with who your partner is, why should it be concerned with the status of your relationship with that person?

I have to admit that before reading the speech, I had thought that this (govt. getting out of the marriage biz) was the best compromise. Martin convinced me that this response would be extreme.

I didn't vote for him, but today I'm impressed.
posted by ironisokratic at 11:09 PM on February 17, 2005




I'm so sorry. I couldn't help myself.
posted by Evstar at 11:13 PM on February 17, 2005


Hey Jairus...

READ THIS. Specifically... ...if you’re paying a fee to a foreign DTH satellite broadcaster ... you’re likely breaking the law.

As a technicality, you're right, Jairus. That's why the RCMP says likely. The only way Jairus is right that I can stretch my mind around is that taking a telescope and watching a US citizen's TV across the border is A-OK. If you think that makes me incorrect, so be it.

Sorry for the derail, but Jairus and I dealt with this on IRC and I didn't expect the BIG FUCKING CAPS reply here. Good God.

BTW: Canada's lack of state + curch separation is part of the BNA, the founding act of Canada, and cannot be fixed. It specifically states that the government *must* fund catholic schools in Ontario for eternity.
posted by shepd at 11:35 PM on February 17, 2005


SoftRain: What shepd just said.
posted by fossil_human at 8:00 AM on February 18, 2005


ironisokratic -

"I was thinking about Trudeau's famous 1967 statement 'there's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.' Isn't the logical extension of that idea the withdrawal of government from performing marriages?"

No. Marriage doesn't, legally, have much to do with the bedroom these days. It's one of the two sole means (along with adoption) of establishing a family relationship with non blood kin. Family relationships are currently a fundamental part of such things as immigration law, child welfare laws, medical law, inheritance law, and a ton of other things.

For government to get out of the marriage business, one of two things would have to happen - 1) all legal power and obligations in these areas would have to rest with family-of-origin relationships, which is unfortunate news for anyone who would like to establish a life with their partner rather than their parents, or 2) the entire current legal system would have to be thrown out and rewritten in such a way that family relationships became legally irrelevant, which is unfortunate news for anyone who would like to, say, raise their own children. Neither seems particularly practical to me.
posted by kyrademon at 8:39 AM on February 18, 2005


I wonder if I can get my mother to watch this and change her mind about the issue.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:34 AM on February 18, 2005


What Quartermass said. I have always viewed Martin with disdain, esp. considering just how he finally became PM. I still view the guy with a great deal of skepticism, but hey, this is a great speech, and I'm glad to see that he is doing the right thing on this issue.

I hope that Harper's comments of the last few days will wake people up as just what an ignorant, shameless fool he is.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:52 AM on February 18, 2005


Wow, holy blue state love-in.

Howdy folks. Newbie here. The comments on this thread are interesting and eloquent, if a little -- sorry -- homogenous. It seemed to me an alternative viewpoint surely would be welcome. Specifically, the perspective of a Canadian conservative agnostic who happens to be engaged to a Jehovah's Witness (yep, I'm one of a kind, baby).

Before I'm swarmed by a pitchfork-wielding mob, let me say I'm entirely sympathetic to gay -- and any minority -- rights. It's just that I feel though inequalities can and must be corrected or compensated for, true equality cannot be fabricated where it simply doesn't exist. (Though that obviously doesn't stop contemporary liberals from trying)

Without scouring through the speech and listing what I believe are its flaws and inconsistencies, I'll just list a few of my views. First, I don't believe that marriage is a fundamental human right in that it is equivalent to free speech, property ownership, freedom from tyranny etc. To me it is a social right (or even priviledge), not a fundamental one. As a result, the state is completely free to confer it upon whomever it sees fit. If we disagree with the decision of the state in sufficient numbers, that's what elections are for.

Second, and here I belie my true conservative nature, Mr. Martin makes reference that much has changed in the five years since he voted for the traditional definition of marriage. My response is, what, exactly? And whatever that is, is it sufficient to completely overhaul what has been a fundamental building block of our society for, uh, ever? Even if truly equal gay marriage is the right way to go (and it may well be), aren't we rushing things just a bit? Especially since a significant majority of Canadians haven't come around to the idea, I'd like to see a lot more -- civilized -- debate on the issue before potential revolutionary and irreversible "progress" is forcefed to the majority.

It seems to me the solution is for the state to extricate itself from the marriage business entirely, and leave it to the churches. Let all non-denominational unions be "civil".

And no, I don't see it as discriminatory along the lines of racial segregation. To reference my personal situation above, if my proposal were implemented, that would mean I would be confined to a heterosexual "civil union". Does that deny me any rights, priviledges or responsibilities? No. Would I feel somehow second-class? No. I would live perfectly happily with my wife, within the terms society has set out for us.

And I can't for the life of me understand why this is such a big deal to others, no matter their sexual preference.

Oh, and the Charter of Rights doesn't make a single reference to sexual preference. It's been "read in" by coughunelectedactivistcough judges. And the Supreme Court specifically ruled that it was Parliament's issue and the SC wanted nothing to do with it. If you believe otherwise, you've been talking to a Liberal.

Sorry for the length. Nice site you cats have here.
posted by raider at 11:44 AM on February 18, 2005


And no, I don't see it as discriminatory along the lines of racial segregation.

Welcome, Raider. Please do me a favor and explain the above statement of yours with a non-emotion based reason, since the remainder of the paragraph in which you wrote it goes off onto a different topic.

Honestly, I am still waiting for one reaon that is independent of time and emotion AND is supported by peer-reviewed research for why gay marriage should be prevented. By this I mean reasons such as the following are not valid (IMO):
- this is how we always did it (time)
- the Bible/Koran/Torah says it's an abomination (emotion)
- it's bad for the children (peer-reviewed research)

I do not have any issue with your suggestion that governments back off marriage entirely in favor of civil unions, but since that's not happening any time soon that I can see letting same sex couples marry is the right answer.
posted by billsaysthis at 11:59 AM on February 18, 2005


...aren't we rushing things just a bit?
There are existing families and couples who need the protections and rights marriage confers--today--not next year, not in 10 years, but today (they've actually needed them all along, but government is only now catching up to the realities these families face.)
posted by amberglow at 12:08 PM on February 18, 2005


Hello billsaythis. What, you want a non-hysterical argument? What fun is that?

OK, my point was that racial segregation denied rights such that people's lives were directly and substantively affected. Seperate but equal civil unions, for all I can see, do not. (My personal example was intended to deflect any accusations of hypocrisy)

Respectfully, this issue is strictly abstract and semantic, is it not?

And I think I agree with you that not a lot of damning evidence exists (though if it did, why would the effects on children, pro or con, not be valid?). To my admittedly limited knowledge, not a lot of supporting evidence exists either. Which is exactly why I'm in favour of letting our collective foot up of the gas for a while before we fundamentally change our society in a way that can't be undone. Let's DO the research and examine it, and the evidence we both seek may very well point to same-sex marriage being the obvious way to go.

I just don't understand the lust to LEGISLATE ABSOLUTE EQUALITY NOW NOW NOW, especially when it pretty much already exists.
posted by raider at 12:25 PM on February 18, 2005


Someday I will have grandchildren and I will tell them that I was already 24 when same-sex marriage became legal across Canada, and they will be convinced that I am from the Dark Ages. It's a nice thought. Yay Canada! :)
posted by heatherann at 12:28 PM on February 18, 2005


Amberglow,

I realize there are people who would like this to happen immediately. Sorry if this sounds cruel or dismissive, but it's not like they're being denied oxygen.

From my perspective, the five years in which Paul Martin experienced his 180-degree epiphany are a blip in the context of society's history, and maybe taking another five to make sure we're doing the right isn't a bad idea.
posted by raider at 12:30 PM on February 18, 2005


It seems to me that the fundy people are seeing the writing on the wall, getting started with Covenant Marriages, so they will have something they can exclude gays from when marriage is allowed.
posted by Iax at 12:32 PM on February 18, 2005


Respectfully, this issue is strictly abstract and semantic, is it not?

Perhaps you're unaware that, though gay marriage is not legal in all provinces, there are already gay couples across Canada? Many with children, and without the inheritance rights or many other rights that marriage offers, including the right to be involved in medical decisions if their partner is on life support? It's not abstract at all for them, it's daily reality.
posted by heatherann at 12:33 PM on February 18, 2005


er, right thing
posted by raider at 12:33 PM on February 18, 2005


Heatherann,

I think I made clear that I'm very much in favour of seperate-but-equal unions which would provide all the the things you listed. And doing it immediately.

It's just that the friggin' word "marriage" evokes such strong -- and polar -- passions, I think we should address the rights immediately and think about the semantics for a while.

Thanks for the sarcastic condescention, though!
posted by raider at 12:37 PM on February 18, 2005


But its been shown that "seperate-but-equal unions" are anything but.
When they have been enacted they have much less rights then an actual marriage. Thats why people dont want them.
posted by Iax at 12:39 PM on February 18, 2005


Iax

I hadn't heard of the "Covenant Marriage" thing. You seem to find it offensive. Not that I've put a lot of thought into this, but it seems to me maybe a good idea. Let 'em have their little club, and everyone's happy?
posted by raider at 12:42 PM on February 18, 2005


raider, it's that civil unions can't give all the rights and protections that civil marriages already give, so why create another thing, and then have to write over 1000 new laws? (that's what we have in the US--over 1000 laws and regulations that specifically mention spouse, marriage, married couples, etc)

Why not just give the people who need the same rights and protections the same rights and protections? It's fundamental, and much easier than the civil union route. For us in the US, only Vermont gives civil unions, and that only covers some state laws, not even all of them. It's not at all equal to civil marriage, and covers nothing federally at all. How is it separate but equal?
posted by amberglow at 12:44 PM on February 18, 2005


i'm with you on the Covenant Marriage thing--as long as they don't try to make it state or federal law--that's strictly a religious thing, and not a civil thing.
posted by amberglow at 12:45 PM on February 18, 2005


Iax

But its been shown that "seperate-but-equal unions" are anything but.

You're obviously more knowledgeable on this than I am. But why would it be impossible to enact just that? Take the same piece of legislation, run a search-and-replace to change "marriage" to "civil union". In fact, I believe that is exactly what Stephen Harper is pushing for. (Which, incidentally, is more progressive than the stand Paul Martin took five years ago. And today Harper, and I, are demonized for it. Wacky times.)
posted by raider at 12:47 PM on February 18, 2005


you're not demonized for it, but that's a massive undertaking (think local, state, and federal laws and regulations), and how does it make life better for people? By taking away civil marriage for all citizens? Is that really a plus?

Most countries' histories are about expanding the access to equal rights, not the other way around--i don't think removing marriage from civil law would be fair to all the straight Canadians.
posted by amberglow at 12:51 PM on February 18, 2005


If civil unions are exclusionary regarding any rights, then I would be all for changing their definition and paramaters such that they bestow all the rights and responsibilities of a "marriage".

Is there anyone left who actually wants to deny gays rights? It's just that damn m-word!
posted by raider at 12:52 PM on February 18, 2005


I suppose that my fear is that if we grant marriage but pronounce it "civil union" just to avoid semantics, then we're granting "separate but equal" status, and then it will be harder to grant plain old equal status. I think the point is to change the idea that gay relationships are like normal relationships except that they're gay and therefore abnormal and inferior, to an idea that gay and straight relationships are both normal and should be called the same thing and granted the same rights. What is the point of granting every right except the right to pronounce it the same way? The way that we name things greatly influences how we view them.

There are politicians, and then there are female politicians; there are couples, and then there are gay couples. The naming practices reflect ideas about what is normal and what is inferior or unexpected. If we're going to make straight partnerships and gay partnerships the same under the law, why wouldn't we call them the same thing? I know that many people find it threatening to use the same word for both relationships, but I can't comprehend why.
posted by heatherann at 12:52 PM on February 18, 2005


covenant marriage

raider, it would be possible, i agree. But I think amberglow covered the problems with it.
I am not a lawyer, but I bet it would be more complicated than enacting a law saying civil union = same rights as marriage. They would probably have to change all those 1000's of other laws/regulations. And rights would probably get lost along the way.
posted by Iax at 12:54 PM on February 18, 2005


If a massive bureaucratic undertaking was all that stood in the way of a solution that allows everyone equal rights while simultaneously respecting others' (hypersensitive?) sensibilities, then I'm all for it. Government spends my money on a lot dumber things.
posted by raider at 12:56 PM on February 18, 2005


Hey, this is fun! I had a feeling I could stir up a hornet's nest in here. Got my five bucks worth already!

Thanks for the chat, but I don't want to dominate this thread going in circles. Newbie and all, you know.
posted by raider at 1:00 PM on February 18, 2005


It is nice to see a different point of view in this thread raider - even though I disagree with you completely. Thank for your putting your ideas out there in a relatively non-inflammatory fashion. (Excepting the coughunelectedactivistcough judges and the If you believe otherwise, you've been talking to a Liberal. bits, but hey, nothing's perfect!)

I question two specific points you've raised:

I don't believe that marriage is a fundamental human right
Frankly, this is a statement of mis-direction (perhaps unintentionally). The issue is not whether the right to marriage is a fundamental human right - that could be argued forever. In fact, using varied cultural norms and historical examples almost anything could be challenged as a 'fundamental human right'.
What this speech and this bill say is that this is a right protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms - specifically "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".
Argue that protection shouldn't be in the Charter if you'd like, but that is what is on the table, not the abstract concept of 'fundamental human rights'.

is it sufficient to completely overhaul what has been a fundamental building block of our society for, uh, ever?
Could you expand on how marriage is enshrined as a 'fundamental building block of our society'? In one paragraph you're outlining your belief that marriage is not a fundamental human right, in the next you list marriage as a fundamental building block. How do these concepts co-exist?

Hoping to keep the conversation civil and relevant.
posted by lirio at 1:10 PM on February 18, 2005


you're not dominating, raider : >

if it's just that M-word, then what's the big deal? (that's something those of us on the pro-marriage-for-all side don't understand)
posted by amberglow at 1:13 PM on February 18, 2005


Come for the Fjords. Stay for the moral chaos. [direct link to .mov]
posted by terrapin at 1:19 PM on February 18, 2005


Raider,

It's just that the friggin' word "marriage" evokes such strong -- and polar -- passions, I think we should address the rights immediately and think about the semantics for a while.

I agree with addressing the rights immediately but do you really want the government arguing semantics? That's what lawyers are for and they've already stated their claim in favor of gay marriage.
posted by blackturtleneck at 1:20 PM on February 18, 2005


Oh... Canada!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:34 PM on February 18, 2005


Oh, OK...

Hello lirio. Hmm... I think I mean that human rights are by definition universal, while a society's pillars or building blocks or whatever aren't necessarily. Just as reproduction isn't universal (and no, I'm not using that as an argument against gay marriage!), neither is marriage.

Other cultures have other pillars (polygamy, anyone? matriarchal/patriarchal societies) but that doesn't make them universal or fundamental human rights. It's just their way.

Sorry if that seems convoluted or inadequate.

And sorry, I haven't even read the speech word-for-word but I'm intimately familiar with Martin's arguments over the past few weeks and months, but he seems keen to portray gay marriage as an existing, Charter-protected (and therefore fundamental) right that would be stripped away without this legislation. Though there are many arguments in favour of gay marriage (and it seems I essentially agree with you good folks), that, to me, is backwards and a misdirection.
posted by raider at 1:37 PM on February 18, 2005


Oh, and in the unlikely event anyone cares, here's Harper's rebuttal in Parliament:

http://www.conservative.ca/documents/20050216-c38-sh.pdf

Whatever your views, it's hardly knuckle-dragger material. He proposes e-q-u-a-l-i-t-y. So do I.

Cheers.
posted by raider at 1:45 PM on February 18, 2005


Ugh. Harper's rebuttal is a giant flaming attack on Martin, and has very little to do with the issue of gay marriage itself.

"Let us not forget it was the Liberal Party that said none is too many when it came to Jews fleeing from Hitler!"

Knuckledragger.
posted by Jairus at 3:14 PM on February 18, 2005


Not only can a US citizen be a citizen of another country as well -- a dual citizen can even work for the National Security Agency.
posted by WestCoaster at 3:44 PM on February 18, 2005


Regarding this whole "marriage as a fundamental building block of civilization":

Which civilization's definition of marriage are you talking about? Most people who bring this up seem to be implying that our modern conception of marriage has existed since the beginning of human society. Sorry, but it's relatively well documented that the definition of what's a marriage has changed significantly over time.

There have been times in human history where the government didn't get involved in marriages. They were the domain of religion. I don't think it's particularly likely we're ever going to go back to that state of being, but at least it has the effect of the government treating everyone equally, which, after all, is what this debate is about.

There have been times in human history where Christian churches blessed same-sex unions. Did they call them marriages? I have no idea. Were they recognized by the government? As far as I've read, the government didn't get involved at that time. But if what you're arguing is that the types of relationships that the church recognized over a millenium ago should be recognized by governments today, why exclude these kinds of relationships, which have been around (and blessed in various churches) for quite a long time? Because *your* church doesn't like it?

This whole debate reminds me of a quote that probably never actually happened: "if english was good enough for god, then it's good enough for me." While I can't provide convincing evidence that someone actually said this, the whole "our society is based on these religious values, which haven't changed for 2 millennia" argument doesn't hold much water for me.

Like people have said before, this isn't about fundamental human rights, unless you believe that equality is a fundamental human right.

But whatever, you can disregard my opinion anyways. (Not like I want to get married anyways... Although I think my mom does. Do you really want to take that away from her?)
posted by grae at 4:08 PM on February 18, 2005


You guys better not let us annex you: Border talks called `disturbing': "What they envisage is a new North American reality with one passport, one immigration and refugee policy, one security regime, one foreign policy, one common set of environmental, health and safety standards ... a brand name that will be sold to school kids, all based on the interests and the needs of the U.S.," she said.

Appalling.Whither Canada?
posted by amberglow at 4:11 PM on February 18, 2005


I read Paul Martin's speech and I found it well argued, cohesive and persuasive. Transparency requires that I say that I already supported the pro-SSM side of the debate - but like many others in the thread, I'm no Martin fan in general.

I read Stephen Harper's speech, and to me it seemed opportunistic, muddled and dishonest. He used a variety of arguments, apparently designed to appeal to any section of the Canadian electorate where he hoped that he might find some support.
posted by pasd at 4:16 PM on February 18, 2005


Jairus,

I'm not sure how familiar you are with Canadian politics. While I agree that the comment you posted is certainly not relevant to the current debate, it is certainly relevant re: recent Liberal (the political party, not the ideology) tendencies to wrap themselves in not only the Canadian flag ("if you disagree with us, you're unCanadian!") but the banner of all that is good and moral. Alternative viewpoints need not apply. Whether I agree with their position or not, the attitude pisses me off. And while I'd never try to score political points with injustices that happened generations ago, I don't mind pointing out to Liberals that they don't have a monopoly on social justice.
posted by raider at 4:33 PM on February 18, 2005


A debate on equality rights isn't the forum to throw mud at other politicians. Harper is showing that, again, he just doesn't get it.
posted by Jairus at 4:45 PM on February 18, 2005


Canadian Gay Marriage Bill May Die Next Week-- is this so?
posted by amberglow at 4:47 PM on February 18, 2005


Grae,

I think you're disagreeing with me. If so, sorry, but I won't comment on most of your post because you obviously haven't read or grasped my arguments. I'll just say that:

this isn't about fundamental human rights, unless you believe that equality is a fundamental human right

That's just simplistic, brother. You seem young; you'll learn that life is more complicated. That's not a knock against you. I'm just saying that, contrary to your rather inflexible position, morals and norms are subject to constant revision and progress. Anyone to pretends that they have The Ultimate Answer to any societal dilemma will in time learn that things change and what once seemed so right now seems wrong.

I sincerely hope that you enjoy a satisfying civil union that is in every way but verbiage equivalent to a marriage. And maybe some day even neanderthals like me (just ask Jairus!) will come around.

But again, I really don't see the problem.
posted by raider at 5:02 PM on February 18, 2005


I sincerely hope that you enjoy a satisfying civil union that is in every way but verbiage equivalent to a marriage.
why in every way but verbiage? if it's just verbiage, then it shouldn't matter if us gay folks use it too.
posted by amberglow at 5:08 PM on February 18, 2005


raider, let me clarify something for you. in the charter we have "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"
essentially, when any law refers to any gender/race/ect, treat it neutral.
for example, if a man is allowed to become a judge, but a women isn't, that's gender discrimination, if a man is allowed to marry a women, but a women isn't, that's also gender discrimination, both equally contrary to the charter.

as an aside, unless you are hoping to marry your same sex partner (or want an excuse not to) i don't see why you should have any say in this, it doesn't affect you in the least and doesn't infringe apon any of your rights or freedoms. if for example there was a cannibalistic religion that wanted to exercise their religious freedom by eating your child, i could understand your opposition as somebody would be trying to trample your(and your sons) rights with their own.


in response to those advocating government stop performing marriage altogether, i'd much rather see them remove the legal status of marriage from religious institutions(let them have 'holy matrimony' or 'covenant' or whatever ceremonial thing the please) and have only legal institutions be able to confer the legal status of marriage apon consenting adults.
posted by Aleph Yin at 5:41 PM on February 18, 2005


It would probably do you well, raider, to take this bit to heart:
"This question does not demand rhetoric. It demands clarity. There are only two legitimate answers – yes or no. Not the demagoguery we have heard, not the dodging, the flawed reasoning, the false options. Just yes or no."
You've presented only dodging and flawed reasoning, and "separate but equal" is the falsest of options, in that it is not equal and will not be separate.

As for personal opinions on Paul Martin, I think he's a very savvy businessman, and it appears that he is dedicated to continuing Canada's social mores. I'm still wary, but it looks more and more likely that he may have the vision and the ability to express that vision, that will make Canada more Canadian than ever.

I love our nation's concern for social well-being. We rock!
posted by five fresh fish at 5:41 PM on February 18, 2005


Raider, I appreciate your good sportsmanship since other threads on this topic have devolved quickly into inanity. Still, just from a pragmatic perspective, which do you think is more likely, A or B?

A) Your suggestion that goverment get out of the marriage business and any couple can be joined in a civil union which has all the rights and protections currently obtained through marriage
B) Pretty much the rest of us, that government sanctioned marriage be available to any (adult, consenting) couple.

The idea, to me, that any government bureaucracy the size of Canada's or America's is capable of finding every single statute, regulation, treaty and so forth which references marriage is not in the realm of our shared reality. To accept further that during all this search & replace updating of all the necessary documents and their passage by the appropriate legislature could be accomplished without politicians getting their sticky fingers on such must pass bills without trying to throw in a boatload of unrelated amendments is making me laugh. You sound like a reasonable, intelligent person, you cannot tell me you aren't rolling on the floor over this too.
posted by billsaysthis at 6:23 PM on February 18, 2005


Guys, it's Friday night, and it's one against, uh, apparantly the population of metafilter. So forgive me if I don't address all your issues.

First, Amberglow,

if it's just verbiage, then it shouldn't matter if us gay folks use it too

Consider the converse. I'm not one of them, but what's wrong with a traditionalist who says, "You've got your rights victory. You're equal. Cool, I endorse it. Could you just leave us our terminology and call it a compromise?"

What is wrong with this?
posted by raider at 6:36 PM on February 18, 2005


A traditionalist doesn't want gay marriage--not because of the word "marriage"-- but because they think marriage is for straight people--it's not about the word, but about the heritage of the institution, and their privileged status. Gay marriage would make us more equal to them, which they do not want--at all.
posted by amberglow at 6:52 PM on February 18, 2005


The more I read about this, the more I wonder if it's about people wanting self-esteem administered to them rather than achieving it themselves.

As I said in my first post, religiously speaking, I'm in engaged and in the same boat as you cats. But I DO NOT HAVE A PROBLEM with being categorized differently but equally.

What's with the "gimme, gimme, gimme... we must have what those guys have!"? Can anybody explain that? Seriously.

I'll bet anybody that I'll be back here in August, after I've been married, and tell you guys the same thing: It's not that big a deal! It's a civil union! My life is still great! Let them have their m-word! I AM EQUAL AND HAPPY!
posted by raider at 7:20 PM on February 18, 2005


raider, we're all brought up to want to get married--not to get civilunioned or commonlawed or anything else. that's true for all of us--straight or gay.
posted by amberglow at 7:26 PM on February 18, 2005


It's about people having the legal right -- and the hundred years of settled cases to back it up -- to administer to their loved ones in times of health crisis, to receive survivor benefits, to be considered as full equals, to etc.

You don't get this without full right of marriage (aka "civil union," a term that no one uses in real life).
posted by five fresh fish at 7:27 PM on February 18, 2005


Amber,

... if I may call you Amber (I just feel we're so close!). I think you're divining arguments where they don't necessarily exist. There's equality, then there's activism. Watch your balance, if you care.

Re-reading that, I sound like a jerk (what expletives can one get away with here? Help me out). To answer your question, yes I do feel that heritage is very important. And yes, it makes me sad to see tradition being trampled in the name of political correctness. There's a way to satisy all who aren't hell-bent.
posted by raider at 7:37 PM on February 18, 2005


pasd,

Finally, something I can agree wholeheartedly with:

He used a variety of arguments, apparently designed to appeal to any section of the Canadian electorate where he hoped that he might find some support.

You're right. Harper deliberately pimped his party to ethnic groups in hopes of gaining an audience that heretofore the Liberals have owned. I expected better. I also still agree with his fundamental argument.
posted by raider at 7:47 PM on February 18, 2005


5 Fishies,

You don't get this without full right of marriage (aka "civil union," a term that no one uses in real life).

Says who? Why not?

Of course it could happen. It's currently proposed before Canadian Parliament as a compromise to the kneejerk scandal-distraction bill we're currently occupied with. Just liberate yourself away from the Natural Governing Party and you'll see.

Realize you've gotten all you want, folks! Take your victory and run; it'll help you win the next battle ( a little free tactical advice for ya).

There's no doubt you'll get exactly what you want. Just be polite, and the increments will be smoother.

One-issue absolutists raise my hackles. And I'm being diplomatic!
posted by raider at 8:35 PM on February 18, 2005


Realize you've gotten all you want, folks!
That sounds very Jim Crow of you, raider. What's wrong with treating people equally?
posted by amberglow at 8:37 PM on February 18, 2005


I don't know who Jim Crow is.

There's nothing wrong with treating people equally. I agree 100%

Assuming that's accomplished, is it impossible to throw the traditionalists a bone and let them have their m-word? ALL ELSE IS EQUAL. IS THIS NOT GOOD ENOUGH?

Or is there no compromise?
posted by raider at 8:48 PM on February 18, 2005


Raider -

I would not have a problem with the government being only empowered to grant civil unions to all couples, gay or straight, and leave "marriage" a legally meaningless but religious significant word that was reserved for religious ceremonies.

But as long as there is a legal entity called marriage, then yes, I want to be able to get a marriage, not just a civil union.

Why is it "just" a civil union, if the two words legally mean the same thing?

Because words have meaning. Words color people's perception. What is your reaction to a couple telling you they got married? What is your reaction to a couple telling you they registered as domestic partners? Is it different? Why?

It is not a matter of having "self-esteem administered" to me. I have plenty of self-esteem. No idea what this would have to do with that. What I want is the ability to look you in the eye and say, "You, me . . . the love we have for our partners, what we share with them, what we want from our lives. It's the same. There is no difference." - without your being able to say, "No it isn't. They're different things. That's why there are two different words for it. And yours isn't as important. You 'just' have a civil union. But me - I've got a marriage." And people would do just that.

Do you think it would be good if adopted kids had to be called "nonblood kids" by their parents? How about if interracial marriage was still legal, but it was called a "miscegenation ceremony" instead of a marriage? Do you really think these things wouldn't matter?

We want the word because words mean things. To be frank, if it didn't mean something you wouldn't have a problem with our using it.
posted by kyrademon at 8:51 PM on February 18, 2005


(To put one part of that more succinctly - you ask why we are so concerned over such a little thing as a name. I ask you in turn, if it really is such a little thing, why on earth do you care whether we want it or not?)
posted by kyrademon at 8:59 PM on February 18, 2005


Kyrademon,

Bless you. Finally, someone who is speaking my language. You make a lot of good points and I'll address them all, but maybe tomorrow as my soon-to-be-wife wants me to come to bed. So I'll just comment on this:

without your being able to say, "No it isn't. They're different things. That's why there are two different words for it. And yours isn't as important. You 'just' have a civil union. But me - I've got a marriage." And people would do just that.

I think bigots will think what they think, whatever the term. Sad but true. And maybe legislation would help push them in the right direction. But the vast majority of people would (do?) happily embrace gay couples, no matter what the term.

Your point about introducing yourselves is by far the most salient I've read today. All I can say is, I consider myself to be under the same umbrella and the rain doesn't bother me a bit.

Be strong.

Cheers
posted by raider at 9:25 PM on February 18, 2005


Kyra my dear,

(To put one part of that more succinctly - you ask why we are so concerned over such a little thing as a name. I ask you in turn, if it really is such a little thing, why on earth do you care whether we want it or not?)


I don't blame you but I've been answering these questions all day. None of mine have been answered to any reasonable extent. I'm tired.
posted by raider at 9:35 PM on February 18, 2005


Raider, I can wait until tomorrow but please review my previous comment, I certainly did respond directly to your distinction between civil unions and marriage though you could have have easily missed it among all the others. Succinctly, I'd suggest to you that the difference comes down to practical matters, that your search and replace idea couldn't possibly work in a modern federal legislature and bureaucracy.
posted by billsaysthis at 9:40 PM on February 18, 2005


I think I did respond, my friend, even if not directly. I know I intimated that any bureacratic expense is worthwhile if it helps smooth such ruffles. Cool? Not cool?
posted by raider at 9:53 PM on February 18, 2005


Tired? The night is yet young! It's only . . . dear lord, it's after one AM.

Looking forward to the continuation of this chat. I'll look through your posts tomorrow to see if there are any questions I can try to field.
posted by kyrademon at 12:06 AM on February 19, 2005


If that's the root of the problem, do the same in the U.S. and the religious zealots could continue to voice their extremist religious opinion YET there would be no arguing about priest being forced to do something against their religion.

This is absolutely already the case. Churches are not required to perform any marriage they don't want to perform. Most churches have some kind of review process to confirm that the couple is ready to marry. Some churches won't marry divorcees (although if the marriage is officially 'annulled' it's okay). Churches cannot confer legal rights - they can't marry people legally who don't have a gov't license (though they can perform 'commitment ceremonies' etc), but they can refuse to marry people for their own religious reasons.

The reason churches don't want the gov't to recognize gay marriage is because it will be another way they're left in the dust. If gay marriage becomes a normal part of society, the churches will look arcane and prejudiced (which of course they are). Bob Jones U. eventually ended up allowing interracial dating (but only recently); it will just take time before the church catches up with the society. A lot of young christians, who have grown up in a world where homosexuality is kind of part of the cultural background, have much less intense reactions against gay marriage, and in another 20 or 30 years, it'll probably be a minority opinion even among the very religious.
posted by mdn at 5:47 AM on February 19, 2005


I don't blame you but I've been answering these questions all day. None of mine have been answered to any reasonable extent.

That's because none of your questions/statements have been reasonable, or even salient.

For instance, you think "civil union" ought to be a good enough word for those who get a legal-and-not-religious marriage. Yet when have you ever heard anyone ask "are you civilly unionized?" or state "yes, we're civilly united"?

It just doesn't happen: people -- even unmarried people like my lifepartner and I -- use the term "marriage" because it's the only word that is socially acceptable and adequately descriptive of the relationship. All other words just create more questions, unwarranted assumptions, and bias than is reasonable.

The church lost ownership of the word "marriage" the day the government required all married couples to sign a legal document. Get over it. It can not be reclaimed.

Personally, I think "marriage covenant" is an excellent term for a religious marriage. The churches can make hay with that term, everyone else can have an ordinary marriage, and we'll all be happier.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:18 AM on February 19, 2005


I know I intimated that any bureacratic expense is worthwhile if it helps smooth such ruffles. Cool? Not cool?

Raider, I'm sorry but I don't that answer is congruent with the real world. Worthwhile isn't the criteria, if it was I think I'd agree with you and be happy, but this is the real world and so I do not believe both bureaucrats and politicians would be able to successfully deliver a "change words and nothing else" set of legislation. Accordingly, I believe we need the courts to deliver what politicians will not and that is a practical equality.
posted by billsaysthis at 12:35 PM on February 19, 2005


Kyrademon, thank you for the apt analogy of adopted children. Forcing a distinction between an adopted child and a birth child's relational terminology should seem ridiculous on the face of it to most people. Their legal relationship to their parent should not be expected to change from Province to State to Country, either. It gets right to the heart of the matter, which is our ability and right to form familial bonds with people of our own choosing-- or, as we used to say south of the border, the Pursuit of Happiness.
posted by obloquy at 3:33 PM on February 19, 2005


I'm impressed with the speech. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the PM stood up to introduce this bill. But I'm not celebrating yet. We're in a minority governement and this will be a free vote (for everyone but the cabinet ministers) so we're still a long way from getting this particular right extended to all Canadian couples. If you're a Canadian, please contact your MP and voice your support for this bill.
posted by raedyn at 7:35 AM on February 24, 2005


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