Thoughts on culture, education, and having been a Canadian in the US
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Proposition 8

Keith Olbermann’s comment on the passage of Proposition 8 in California is worth watching.

In Canada, we’ve seen a major transition over the last decade in terms of how Canadians view this question. In response to court rulings in Canada that saw the marriage laws in Canada as violating the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the minority Liberal government of Paul Martin (yes, the other Paul Martin) introduced Bill C-38, otherwise known as The Civil Marriage Act. This bill redefined marriage for legal purposes in Canada as “the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others.” This bill passed in the House of Commons 158-133, so it clearly was not unanimously supported. Most of Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party, for instance, voted against this bill. It’s significant, though, that many Canadian MPs and their constituents saw this as an important bill that should be passed. (this site offers some good background on the history of these issues in Canada.

Three short years (and two Canadian elections) later, my sense is that the vast majority of Canadians would not be in favour of revoking these rights and, in fact, see this decision as clearly the right and honourable thing to have done. Many of us are proud of our country for having finally made this decision. Those who opposed this bill have seen that the sky has not fallen. It has not threatened the institution of marriage in Canada. If anything, it has made it stronger. It has finally given same sex couples the same rights and opportunities that heterosexual couples have taken for granted for as long as anyone can recall. Ultimately, this is a simple question of basic human rights. Nothing more, nothing less.

In a week where we should be looking at how much America has changed, how much hatred and bigotry has been left behind, it’s a shame that we also have to be reminded of how much further the country has yet to go before all of its citizens can truly be the holders of equal rights.

Postscript: Some further surfing turned up this 2007 survey which found that 62% of Canadians polled would support adding sexual orientation to the equality rights section of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

1 comment

1 Ana { 11.12.08 at 1:13 pm }

Prop 8 is just wrong.
Thank you for the video, although I’m gay I wasn’t that concerned of how awful is the fact that Prop 8 ‘won’. Maybe that’s because I live in Spain and here gay marriages are fully legal although that’s quite recent and there are still lots of people against it (parts of my family included unfortunetly).
Maybe you know Tegan and Sara, they’re a Canadian band. They’re twins and gay (both of them) and before the elections they told them everybody to please go and vote and to vote no to Prop 8 and now they’re doing kind of demostrations… especially Tegan because she lives in Los Angeles now but anyway, what I wanted to say is that I can’t belive what happened with Prop 8. I mean, I thought that everywhere it would be like this:
– Gay marriages are legal
– Some people complain
– Less and less people complain
– Gay marriages are NORMAL.
But I just can’t believe a country like USA and moreover, a state like California banned something as natural as being able to have the same rights for love as straight people have.