More thoughts on Stephen Harper and Same-Sex Marriage
I watched the boring debate last night and fortunately, I didn't have to wait long for a section on same-sex marriage. Here are some of my thoughts on Stephen Harper and SSM.
1. Have a look at Stephen Harper's language on same-sex relationships:
Our party position is to support the traditional definition while supporting similar rights and benefits for all other equivalent relationships.What exactly does similar mean? Exactly the same? Somewhat different? I would certainly like to have this clarified. Even before SSM passed in the House of Commons, gay people had all the sames rights and benefits as straght people except for one: Timing. All of the court cases on SSM were based on timing - the fact that straght people derive the benefits of marriage immediately after marrying. Gays had to wait. So, the court cases were fought over timing, more than anything else. So, Stephen Harper's statement is somewhat curious.
I would also like to ask Stephen Harper whether similar rights and benefits extends to having gay couples adopt children.
2. I firmly believe that there is no way for SSM to be overturned except via the notwithstanding clause. The reason is simple: Sexual orientation is a protected class under the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. This means that gay people, under the Charter, CANNOT be deprived of any of the same rights as straight people. I actually beieve that Parliament, and not the Courts, must make law. However, we must recognize that if Parliament votes to take away SSM, it clashes with the Charter, and the Courts will overrule Parliament.
3. I don't understand the Conservative insistence that we have a free vote on SSM. The plain fact of the matter is that they CANNOT force the other parties to vote freely on this issue. So, if the Conservatives win the election, and there is yet another vote on SSM, it seems likely that Jack Layton will tell his MPs to support SSM, and Paul Martin will probably have his front bench support SSM as well. Are we to have a continuing series of votes on SSM because the vote wasn't 100% totally free???
4. Stephen Harper has said that if SSM is overturned, he would still recognize existing Same-Sex couples. This would mean we would have three clases of people - straight married couples, gay married couples grandfathered from the first passage of SSM, and gay civil unions. Does anybody really believe the Courts would support the existence of three different classes of 'marriage'???
5. Lastly, I doubt that the Conservatives will get a majority. That being the case, it is highly unlikely that the votes are there to overturn SSM.