Saturday, 9 June 2012

My 2005 open letter to Canadians on the same sex marriage debate.

I wrote this piece in the Spring of 2005 .... sent it to everyone of my Political representatives ..... never got a response. Funny how we just can't seem to move past this ........... still opposition here and the US is embroiled in it. When do we STOP being so willing to throw away perfectly great people? 

Dear Fellow Canadians,

 For months now I have read with fascination the various opinions and arguments on the same sex marriage debate.  Obviously this is an issue that has gripped Canadians and challenged their very core beliefs.  This debate has played out in a non-violent, relatively respectful manner.  BUT enough is enough.  This country, this world, has ‘far bigger fish to fry’, as my paternal grandmother used to say. 

I can’t imagine what she would have thought of all this, the world of her day was governed by set morals and social conventions and that was that.  Looking back at her time (she was born in 1905) it seems a narrow, oppressive time.  After all, in her lifetime she saw Chinese Canadians, First Nation peoples, and ‘oh yeah’, WOMEN get the vote.

I remember a story about my Grandmother that is rather relevant.  She was an accomplished cake maker, and she baked a beautiful wedding cake for a couple in Nanaimo sometime in the 60s.  She did it despite much harsh criticism from neighbours and townsfolk.  You see, it was an interracial couple: one white, and one Chinese.  Many disagreed with their marriage celebration, luckily the law did not.  After the wedding they bought my grandmother a modern kitchen scale as a Thank-you.  It remains in my mother’s kitchen to this day, a tangible reminder of doing the right thing, even if it means going against the morals and conventions of the day.  By today’s standards we think, how can that be?  It wasn’t THAT long ago!  But I’m sure this same scenario played out in countless towns and communities across Canada in the 60s.  Historians caution us not to judge past cultures by our modern one, but let’s face it: we do.  How then, will the Canadians of the future judge us and this debate over same sex marriage?

I am, happily, in a very traditional heterosexual marriage.  I have even chosen to put my career on hold while I stay home to raise my 1, soon to be 2 children.  Allowing same sex couples to legally marry does nothing to my marriage.  It does not improve, nor diminish its status.  We chose to marry rather than live common-law, we choose to have a joint bank account, we chose to raise children, I chose to take his name, and I choose to clean the bathrooms, because he chooses to do the laundry and the dishes.  WE define our marriage, not the government.  We simply chose to include a legal marriage in our relationship.  So I feel the redefinition of marriage to include same sex partnerships can’t “impoverish” marriage, people do that, not laws.  If we truly want to nourish marriages and families, we can shore up our eroding social services, and expand and advance the rights of children.

The arguments against same sex marriage set forth by religious groups are passionate and well intentioned.  These groups are, of course, entitled to their opinions.  It has already been stated that no religious body will be forced to perform same sex marriages, so to be frank; it is really of no consequence whether or not they endorse them.  They can choose to participate or not, but they must realize that their arguments are being used to validate the sentiments of those who have much hate in their hearts.  This debate has many sides, but there is no room for bigotry and hate in this, or in the laws of this country.

It seems to me that many Canadians who oppose this, really only object to the word marriage being applied to same sex couples.  They really aren’t against homosexual unions or rights.  It might seem a fair compromise to propose a new word, but extend all the other rights and responsibilities of marriage, just not call it marriage.  After all it’s just a word, right?

Women did not get the vote until 1918, and despite some limited opportunities Canadians of Chinese, Japanese, East Indian, and First Nation heritage were not given the vote until 1960, and could not exercise that right until the 1963 election.  Now, let’s pretend the right and responsibility of the vote was granted, but not the word.  I can not imagine my husband going to ‘vote’, while I went to exercise my ‘equal choice’.  Can you imagine the election results divided into ‘votes’ versus ‘equal choices’?  Imagine the politician’s post election comments.  Different but equal IS NOT EQUAL!  I would ask that all those who are really just opposed to the word marriage being redefined to “let it go”.  I believe that no reasonable person really believes that this change of definition opens the door to incestual marriage, polygamy, or people marrying their pets.  It’s time to do the right thing.

The government may need to push this through before the Canadian people feel ready.  This will ensure that human rights continue to advance in this country.  Let us not forget that certain foreign interests are spending like crazy to exert their political will in this country and it makes it difficult to decide this issue for ourselves as Canadians.  If the bill fails, how will it look in the future?  If the bill passes and this issue is used to force an election, a real possibility with this minority government, then history will record that our 21st Prime Minister was ousted over the same sex marriage debate!  What will that say about us in our time?  How will history judge us?

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