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The Tyranny of Same-Sex Marriage

by Paul Albers

December 2, 2004

New Brunswick MP Rob Moore's private member's bill (Bill C-268) is similar to two previous bills that have come before Parliament in the past decade asking for a vote in support of the traditional definition of marriage. The first bill passed easily and the second one was defeated by only five votes. The result of a third vote is hard to predict following the Liberal's electoral losses.

The Liberals wanted avoid the issue for as long as possible, so the House of Commons Procedure and House Affairs Committee has declared that Bill C-268 is 'non-votable'. As Moore accurately stated: "The Liberals have at every turn tried to deny democratic input on this issue."

The reason may be that the government knows there is no democratic way that same-sex marriage can become law, the support is not there. Polling data on the issue doesn't look all that different if you are examining Canadian or American results, yet when the Americans had the chance to express their preference they overwhelmingly sided with the traditional definition of marriage. Over 40 states have democratically passed bans on same-sex marriage, and in 13 of those states the public had a direct say through ballot initiatives.

If you examine the results from the 11 states that had this issue on the ballot earlier last month, it's clear to see that those voting against same-sex marriage are not just church-going Republicans, but a much broader group that crosses nearly all demographic lines. The only votes held in Canada also had a significant number of Liberal parliamentarians support the traditional definition of marriage.

For advocates of same-sex marriage, a democratic victory is out of reach and accepting the will of the public is out of the question. The only option left is to use dictatorial methods like harassment, intimidation, open defiance of the law, and judicial fiats.

Four years ago, Proposition 22 was put before Californian voters in a legally binding referendum. The proposition, which stated, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California," sparked a heated campaign.

During that campaign, opponents pressed for an IRS investigation into the tax-exempt status of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This was motivated by both the $3 million donated by the Church and the significant contribution made by individual Mormons after the Church urged them to donate their own time and money to seeing the proposition pass.

The actions of the Church were well within IRS guidelines, but the attempt to harass and intimidate them forced the Church to devote time and resources in their own defence and potentially discouraged other groups not willing to take the heat.

When the votes were cast and counted, an overwhelming majority (over 61 percent) ratified the proposition, and every single county other than six San Francisco Bay counties passed it. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom refused to accept the democratic result, however. He defied the law in February this year and ordered marriage licenses to be issued to same-sex couples.

The Canadian government has engaged in its own arm-twisting. Prior to the federal election, officials of the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency met with religious leaders opposed to same-sex marriage. These leaders were warned that taking a stand on the issue would be viewed as a partisan act that would endanger their tax-exempt status. No similar warning was given to religious leaders who supported the government's position however.

In every case in Canada and the United States, where same-sex marriages are allowed, it is only because a handful of judges have forced it into the law books. Prime Minister Martin seems happy to continue the trend. If all things go as Martin wants there will be no direct public voice and elected officials will only have the chance to cast a vote after the courts submit a reference activists can use to intimidate any MP who would opposes it.

Gay activists like to justify their actions by claiming that this is a human rights issue, so the courts should decide instead of the people and their rulings should be respected. What they fail to account for in Canada is that the Supreme Court of Canada has already stated "marriage is by nature heterosexual" (Egan v. Canada). Where is their respect for that ruling?

Some proponents of redefining marriage have asked just how the change will impact that religious, traditional family down the street. They aren't going to instantly transform into homosexuals or seek a divorce because of a change in the law, so why oppose something that won't affect them?

That is a very low standard by which to measure right and wrong by, but even against that benchmark, same-sex marriage comes up short. If same-sex marriage is declared a constitutional right, family members risk the nightmare of being dragged before a Human Rights Tribunal if they refuse to consider and treat a same-sex marriage as being every bit as real and valid as their own. They will have that threat hanging over them even if their views are based on religious convictions, making them prisoners of conscience in a nation that has made it unconstitutional for them to live their faith.

Some have already had to choose between their convictions and their careers. British Columbian marriage commissioners were told last year that they must agree to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies or find a new job. Twelve commissioners resigned, unwilling to violate their conscience for a paycheck. Now the same sequence of events is playing out in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

It is not hard to envision a future where people are excluded on the basis of religion from becoming elected officials, teachers, police, and civil servants if this trend is allowed to continue. If same-sex marriage is passed against the public will, it will require further tyranny to prevent its reversal. In that sense, same-sex marriage is very much a human rights issue, and if human rights really do win out, there will be no redefinition of marriage.

Paul Albers is a freelance columnist living in Ottawa

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