It's time for opponents of same-sex marriage to get over it

Friday, December 17, 2004


Written by Scott Piatkowski

Now that the Supreme Court of Canada has weighed in on the subject of same-sex marriage, the end is finally in sight for a battle that has pitted human rights against bigotry. You might think that assessment is a bit harsh. After all, surely there are opponents of same-sex marriage who have reasons other than pure hatred for opposing the rights of lesbians and gay men to marry. If so, I’ve yet to hear those reasons.

There are those who contend that the Bible tells them that same-sex relationships are wrong. Jesus apparently had a lot to say about a lot of subjects, but he somehow never got around to expressing an opinion on homosexuality. If trying to stop two people of the same sex who happen love each other from having a relationship (legally recognized or otherwise) was so important for Christians, wouldn’t the son of God have said so? Moreover, the Ten Commandments don’t say anything about the subject either.

It’s true that another section of the Bible does speak about what an “abomination” it is for two men to lie with one another (it says nothing about two women hooking up), but the same section also warns against other abominations such as eating shellfish, planting more than one kind of crop, and wearing blended fabrics. For the same reason that I don’t believe in taking disobedient children to the gates of the city and stoning them to death, I don’t believe that it makes sense that today’s society should be bound by a text just because some people consider it to be “the literal truth”.

What about the argument that same-sex marriage somehow undermines the institution of marriage? Those who advance this argument never explain exactly how an institution can be undermined by allowing more people to become a part of it. Doesn’t increased demand usually increase the value of something? Are we supposed to believe that, across Canada today, thousands of heterosexuals are saying to each other, “Damnit, I still love you, but now that our gay neighbours are getting married, I want a divorce.”? Britney Spears can marry a friend in a drunken stupor and have the marriage annulled two days later, and people can get married to perfect strangers on TV reality shows, but it’s gay marriage that’s supposedly undermining the sanctity of marriage? Give me a break!

Then there are those that invoke “tradition” as their excuse for hating the idea of same-sex marriage. A caller to CBC’s “As It Happens” last week was fairly typical of this genre. He claimed to have no trouble with gay relationships, as long as the word marriage – which he called “a heterosexual word” – isn’t used. While I have no means with which to measure the sincerity of this particular individual, I do know that most people advancing the “marriage in everything but name” argument are liars. That’s because many of those opponents are on the record as opposing this more limited measure when it was on the table over the past decade. For example, bigoted MPs like Randy White, Tom Wappell and Pat O’Brien not only voted against recognizing civil unions, they also voted against including sexual orientation in the human rights code and against protecting gays from hate crimes. The reality is that those now arguing for civil unions as an alternative to recognizing gay marriage simply oppose any advancement in gay rights. They’ve fallen back on something that they never supported in an attempt to stop something that they dislike even more.

But, the word marriage has always meant a union between a man and a woman. How can we change that now? Well, the fact is that it also used to mean a union between a man and a woman of the same racial and religious background. We somehow got past that change in definition without society crumbling. Definitions of words change all the time and no one cares (A phone used to refer to something with a dial, with a handset connected to the base. Cordless touchtone phones are still phones, and no one stopped making phone calls when they were introduced.)

Of course, the real danger is that, once same sex marriages are legally recognized across Canada, people will be marrying their pet iguanas and sisters will be marrying their brothers. Or, at least, that’s how the slippery slope argument goes. What most people fail to realize is that the term “slippery slope” actually refers to a common logical fallacy, not to a legitimate form of argument. If polygamy and beastiality are the inevitable result of two men or two women getting married, then explain why they didn’t result from countless men and women getting married.

Ultimately, it comes down to this: opponents of same-sex marriage don’t like gays, they don’t want to think about sex acts that they find kind of icky, and they simply don’t like the idea of gay marriage. To modify an old Pride Parade chant, “They’re here. They’re queer. They’re getting married. Get used to it.”

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