Joe to Kevin, Elaine to Anne and Lizzy of Westminster sending her regards (via our journalist turned monarch overseas, Adrienne Clarkson). Reverend Brent Hawkes of the Metropolitan Community Church in Toronto recently took the progressive step that no one else seemed to have the balls to take--he presided over the first two legally legitimate gay marriages in Canada.
Well, perhaps "legally legitimate" is a touch hasty as they both need to be recognized by Mike Harris' regressive Conservative government, a turn of events which is about as likely as Stockwell Day giving the toast to the grooms. The advantage this time out for our newlyweds is in the courts.
We can bet that the WASP-laden Ontario provincial cabinet is squirming while they contemplate the honeymoons, but thankfully we have legislation and a judiciary that takes precedence over squeamish politicians. The Marriage Act of Ontario permits any adult to be married and obtain a licence if a "publication of banns" (a declaration of the intent to wed allowing for any legal challenges to the union) is presented to the community of worship, a requirement that has been met in both these cases. In their defence, the Ontario government's objection is based on federal, not provincial, legislation. The federal law is not prohibitive of same sex marriages as it makes no reference to gender at all. It refers to the marital parties as "persons" throughout and prohibits marriage solely on the grounds of specific blood relations.
If Harris and his boys want to snuff out blissful unions they will have to do so on the grounds that homosexuals do not qualify as "persons." While this may seem farfetched, I regrettably admit it is a distinct possibility. The socially conservative elements of Canadian society are not quick to accept change, especially if it means allowing "those people" the same rights as decent Christian folk.
I am outraged and fairly amazed that this debate must still be argued. We embrace freedom, we embrace equality and we love to flaunt our global compassion and commitment to human rights. Would Mr. Harris intervene and keep a woman from voting or a black man from
living freely? I hope not, not in the "true north, strong and free."
Canadian law no longer draws lines based on skin colour or chromosome differentiation; why should they care about sexual orientation? We all agree that banishing racism and sexism are obvious progressive paths to take. This is the next step; it's that simple.