I Say “Good Thing!”

Last night, Canada became the third country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Bill C-38 passed third reading in Parliament, meaning that Senate approval and royal assent — both formalities — are the only steps left for the bill to become law.

Once again, Conservative and Leader of the Opposition Stephen Harper is trying to suck and blow at the same time. Last month, he had no problem cozying up to the Bloc Québécois in his attempt to defeat the Liberals’ budget (and consequently toppling the minority government), all the while denying that such cozying up was occurring. But this month, he’s insinuating that the passage of the same-sex marriage legislation lacks credibility because it’s supported by the Bloc, arguing that the majority of federalist MPs are opposed to this legislation. So, it seems, “Bloc MPs are the legitimate representatives of Quebec voters,” but Quebec voters aren’t legitimate by virtue of sending Bloc members to Parliament.

Despite the reservations I expressed a while back about the whole project, I am happy today the bill has passed. It bugged me to see social conservatives ignore that the legislation was worded to protect religious freedom by clearly stating that no church, mosque, synagogue or temple can be forced to perform a same-sex marriage. Yes, on the grounds that love is love is love, same-sex marriages should be allowed; however, despite the societal myth that’s been constructed, marriage has traditionally been more about regulating property rights than about love.

I know a lot of gay and lesbian couples who today, while they’re also happy the legislation has passed, are no more interested in marriage than when it wasn’t an option to them. Indeed, there hasn’t been a torrent of same-sex marriages in recent years in places where they’ve been legal (all provinces and territories except Alberta, PEI, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories). In fact, the gap between what ought to be and what people ultimately want for themselves is rather striking.

I do believe that, with time, people in general won’t give a shit about same-sex unions, just as they don’t about interracial unions. To be sure, some people out there still object to the latter, but generally it’s just accepted as a fact of life. In Canada today, instances of racial discrimination are tougher to identify because they’ve become more covert; I suspect the same fate is now reserved for gays and lesbians.

I still think an opportunity was missed. I still think the political thrust should have been to remove governments from marriage and have them grant the right to civil unions for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples, leaving marriage as an optional, religious institution. But what is done is done. Now I just hope those who advocated so fiercely for SSM aren’t going to make pests of themselves and waste time antagonizing religious sects that avail themselves of their right not to recognize SSMs.