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Thursday, January 27, 2005

The pink triangle side of the street 

Government to introduce same-sex bill next week
Well, I've been blogging in support of gay rights and gay marriage since I began this blog last March. Now we're reading news stories about how some Conservatives and some Catholic bishops are saying the nation needs more time -- specifically, their arguments are two: first, that civil unions are good enough for now and second, that the government should use the notwithstanding clause for just five years, by which time either more people would support gay marriage (from its present 60 percent in favour, to maybe 70 or 80 percent?) or else we would have elected a Conservative government and so signified that a significant majority are now opposed to it; either way, the argument seems to go, the decision wouldn't be as difficult or divisive as it is today.
What is wrong with these arguments? Well, on civil unions, seven provincial supreme courts have already ruled that these are not good enough, and does anyone think the Canadian Supreme Court would overturn these decisions? Not.
Second, charter rights are not a popularity contest. We elect governments to lead, not to follow. Look at what is happening now in the United States. Eleven states voted against gay marriage in November. Now, they didn't vote to hate gay people, or to discriminate against them, or to ignore their civil rights -- but that is exactly what is starting to happen. The wording of the state referenda was broad enough to deny gay couples any civil union rights, and states like Michigan are now moving to change their state employee benefits to reflect this -- if they did not change their benefits, somebody could and would sue them to do it, I would think. And I noted with dismay that even the recent fight over Spongebob was refuted, not by a ringing or even muted expression of solidarity with gay people, but rather by the assertion that the disputed video didn't actually support gay people at all.
The whole thing just underscored how gay people are being increasingly targeted all over the States in response to the message of the gay marriage vote. This message is that it is OK to discriminate now against gay people in every way, and that even innocuous attempts to promote tolerance can be branded as part of some insidious "gay agenda" - like No Name Calling Week in schools.
Like it or not, gay marriage has become symbolic -- the whole issue of civil rights for gay people has become wrapped up in this issue. Thus, anyone who opposes gay marriage has moved to the pink triangle side of the street along with James Dobson (now known as SpongeDob Stickeypants) and the Matthew Shepard revisionists.
The basic issue is neither difficult, nor divisive -- do gay people deserve the same civil rights as straight people? Yes? Then support for the gay marriage legislation is how that belief must be expressed. Its defeat would signlal nothing less than a return to pink triangles thinking.

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