Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Same-Sex Marriage

Same-sex marriage in California: the trap closes?
by Colby Cosh
Friday, August 13, 2010
Don’t look now, but a twist has materialized in the legal epic of same-sex marriage in California. When U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker struck down the statute implementing the anti-SSM Proposition 8, even sophisticated observers began imagining the familiar capillary process whereby a quarrel migrates upward through increasingly mighty appellate courts.
But wait! Remember what the style of cause was in this lawsuit? That’s right: Perry v. Schwarzenegger.
The plaintiffs were two gays and two lesbians seeking California marriage licenses. The defendants were state officials obeying the dictates of Prop 8, as unwilling legislative automata, from the Governator on down. Those officials have no intention of appealing Walker’s ruling. Indeed, they barely presented a defence of “themselves” in the first place. The advocates of Proposition 8, whose clumsy evidence Judge Walker treated like a speed-bag in his decision, weren’t parties to the suit and didn’t ask to be. They were mere interveners. So how can they obtain standing to appeal?
This wrinkle didn’t come to the attention of the general-interest press (or to me) until yesterday, when Walker addressed it in his handling of a request for a stay of his decision. The rule is that federal appeal courts, under Article III of the Constitution, can only hear legitimate, non-hypothetical “cases” and “controversies”. This means that intervenors and other observers have to meet a high standard in order to take a decision to U.S. Circuit Court without the aid of one of the original parties—aid that will certainly not be forthcoming in this instance.
Traditionally, in order to gain standing, non-parties have to show that they have suffered a concrete, specific injury as a result of the decision being appealed. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out in 1997 that “An intervenor cannot step into the shoes of the original party unless the intervener independently fulfills the requirements of Article III.” In no case that reached the U.S. Supreme Court has this happened.
The strangest quirk of all is this: the issue that will decide the feasibility of an appeal by private citizens advocating Prop 8 seems like the same one that came before Judge Walker in the first place. Namely, does the existence of same-sex marriage cause meaningful harm to anybody? Judge Walker, having found that it does not, is naturally skeptical of the interveners’ ability to proceed. But what’s going to happen if the 9th Circuit turns those interveners away? Is it quite fair for the judiciary as a class, having thwarted California’s voters, to say “Judge Walker’s ruling that gay marriage doesn’t hurt anybody is impervious to appeal on technical grounds, because gay marriage doesn’t hurt anybody”?
Me, I’m no bleeding-heart small-D democrat. But to the opponents of gay marriage, and perhaps even to unpersuaded moderates, this might seem like sharp dealing. It is one thing for the judiciary to block the will of the majority: hey, welcome to the U.S.A., tenderfoot. This, however, is a case where the judiciary may not only end up obstructing the volonté générale, but elbowing it good and hard in the vitals. Somehow, in California, a majority vote against same-sex marriage will have led directly to the near-permanent entrenchment of same-sex marriage.
This sort of counterintuitive outcome could surely lead to a backlash outside California. Who knows?—it might even create the impetus for an anti-SSM affort at constitutional amendment. The Democratic character of the Congress is a poor assurance of safety for the five (shortly to be six) states which have full, legal gay marriage. That institution still has never won a referendum in the U.S.; its win-loss record stands at 0-31. And the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies nationwide constitutional “full faith and credit” to same-sex marriages, was opposed by just 14 Senators and 67 Representatives not so long ago (1996).
Time and history are on the side of gay marriage. (This is especially true if it represents some sort of fatal Spenglerian decadence.) But it is unclear just how much of each will be needed.
Same-sex marriage in Canada
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
On July 20, 2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world and the first country in the Americas to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide with the enactment of the Civil Marriage Act. Court decisions, starting in 2003, each already legalized same-sex marriage in eight out of ten provinces and one of three territories, whose residents comprised about 90% of Canada's population. Before passage of the Act, more than 3,000 same-sex couples had already married in these areas. Most legal benefits commonly associated with marriage had been extended to cohabiting same-sex couples since 1999.
The Civil Marriage Act was introduced by Prime Minister Paul Martin's Liberal government in the Canadian House of Commons on February 1, 2005 as Bill C-38. It was passed by the House of Commons on June 28, 2005, by the Senate on July 19, 2005, and it received Royal Assent the following day. On December 7, 2006, the House of Commons effectively reaffirmed the legislation by a vote of 175 to 123, defeating a Conservative government motion to examine the matter again. This was the third vote supporting same-sex marriage taken by three Parliaments under three Prime Ministers in three different years.
Same-sex marriage by province
Same-sex marriage was legally recognized in the provinces and territories as of the following dates:
10 June 2003: Ontario
8 July 2003: British Columbia
16 March 2004: Quebec
14 July 2004: Yukon territory
16 September 2004: Manitoba
24 September 2004: Nova Scotia
5 November 2004: Saskatchewan
21 December 2004: Newfoundland and Labrador
23 June 2005: New Brunswick
20 July 2005 (Civil Marriage Act): Alberta, Prince Edward Island, Nunavut territory, and the Northwest Territories
Note that in some of these cases, the marriage was in fact legal at an earlier date (for example, the Ontario ruling held that marriages performed in January 2001 were legal when performed), but the legality was questioned. As of the given dates, the legality was authoritatively established.
The decision by the Ontario government to recognize the marriage that took place in Toronto, Ontario on January 14, 2001, makes Canada the first country in the world to have a same-sex marriage (Netherlands, April 2001 and Belgium January 2003.)
Same-sex marriage was originally legalized as a result of court cases in which provincial or territorial justices ruled existing bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Thereafter, many gay and lesbian couples obtained marriage licences in those provinces; like opposite-sex couples, they did not need to be residents of any of those provinces to marry there.
The status of marriages for same-sex couples created in these jurisdictions existed in somewhat of an interim legal capacity. According to the Constitution of Canada, the definition of marriage is the exclusive responsibility of the federal government—this interpretation was upheld by a December 9, 2004 opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada (Re Same-Sex Marriage). Until July 20, 2005, the federal government had not yet passed a law redefining marriage to conform to recent provincial court decisions. Until the passage of Bill C-38, the previous definition of marriage was binding in the four jurisdictions where courts had not yet ruled it unconstitutional, but void in the nine jurisdictions where it had been successfully challenged. Given the Supreme Court ruling, the role of precedent in Canadian law, and the overall legal climate, it would have been highly unusual for any challenges in the remaining four jurisdictions not to result in the legalization of marriage between same-sex individuals there as well. Indeed, federal lawyers had ceased to contest such cases and only the Alberta provincial government remained officially opposed, threatening to invoke the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which many law experts argued would not have actually worked.
Ralph Klein, former premier of Alberta, later recanted, and Alberta now allows same-sex marriage providing no government officials or marriage commissioners who oppose same-sex marriage are forced to perform them.
Bill C-38, introduced on February 1, 2005, by Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, legalized across Canada marriage between persons of the same sex. Although supported by the Martin government, it was subjected to a free vote by backbench MPs in the House of Commons. Defeat of the bill in Parliament would have continued the status quo, and incremental legalization on a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction basis would likely have continued via court challenges. This trend could have been reversed only through Parliament passing a new law that explicitly restricted marriage to opposite sex couples notwithstanding the protection of equality rights afforded by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or by amending the Canadian constitution by inserting the clause "marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman", as was recommended by several conservative groups and politicians. Given the composition of the House of Commons at the time, the passage of such a measure would have been very unlikely. Alberta Premier Ralph Klein proposed putting the question to the public at large via a national referendum, but this was rejected by all four party leaders.
On June 17, 2003, Prime Minister Jean Chretien announced that, the Government will present the bill, which would allow same-sex couples to marry. A draft of what would become Bill C-38 was released on July 17, 2003, by the Minister of Justice, Martin Cauchon. Prior to its introduction, he submitted the bill as a reference to the Supreme Court (Re Same-Sex Marriage), asking the court to rule on whether limiting marriage to heterosexual couples is consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and if same-sex civil unions are an acceptable alternative. On December 9, 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the marriage of same-sex couples is constitutional, that the federal government has the sole authority to amend the definition of marriage, and the Charter's protection of freedom of religion grants religious institutions the right not to perform the marriage ceremonies of same-sex couples if they so choose.
Court rulings
In 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in M. v. H. [1999] 2 S.C.R. 3 that same-sex couples in Canada were entitled to receive many of the financial and legal benefits commonly associated with marriage. However this decision stopped short of giving them the right to full legal marriage. Most laws which affect couples are within provincial rather than federal jurisdiction. As a result, rights varied somewhat from province to province.
In 2002 and 2003, court decisions in the superior courts of three provinces then required the federal government to implement full same-sex marriage within the next two years.
The federal Liberal government had sought leave to appeal the constitutionality of these rulings to the Supreme Court of Canada, though as above the government in June 2003 indicated that they would stop appealing.
Ontario decision
Main article: Same-sex marriage in Ontario
In 2003, the couples in Halpern v. Canada appealed the decision, requesting that the decision take effect immediately instead of after a delay. On 10 June 2003, the Court of Appeal for Ontario confirmed that current Canadian law on marriage violated the equality provisions in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in being restricted to heterosexual couples. The court did not allow the province any grace time to bring its laws in line with the ruling, making Ontario the first jurisdiction in North America to recognize same-sex marriage. The first same-sex couple married after the decision were Michael Leshner and Michael Stark. Consequently, the City of Toronto announced that the city clerk would begin issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples. The next day, the Ontario attorney general announced that his government would comply with the ruling.
The court also ruled that two couples who had previously had a wedding ceremony in the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto using an ancient common-law procedure called the reading of the banns would be considered legally married.
On September 13, 2004, the Ontario Court of Appeal declared the Divorce Act also unconstitutional for excluding same-sex marriages. It ordered same-sex marriages read into that act, permitting the plaintiffs, a lesbian couple, to divorce.
British Columbia decision
Main article: Same-sex marriage in British Columbia
A ruling, quite similar to the Ontario ruling, was issued by the B.C. Court of Appeal on 8 July 2003. Another decision in B.C. in May of that year had required the federal government to change the law to permit same-sex marriages. The July ruling stated that "any further delay... will result in an unequal application of the law between Ontario and British Columbia". A few hours after the announcement, Antony Porcino and Tom Graff became the first two men to be legally wed in British Columbia.
Quebec decision
Main article: Same-sex marriage in Quebec
Michael Hendricks and René Leboeuf, the first same-sex couple to legally marry in Quebec On March 19, 2004, the Quebec Court of Appeals ruled similarly to the Ontario and B.C. courts, upholding Hendricks and Leboeuf v. Quebec and ordering that it take effect immediately. The couple who brought the suit, Michael Hendricks and René Leboeuf, immediately sought a marriage licence; the usual 20-day waiting period was waived, and they were wed on April 1 at the Palais de justice de Montréal.
Given the populations of Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec, more than two-thirds of Canada's population lived in provinces where same-sex marriage had been legalized after the Quebec decision.
Yukon decision
Main article: Same-sex marriage in Yukon
On July 14, 2004, in Dunbar & Edge v. Yukon (Government of) & Canada (A.G.), 2004 YKSC 54, the Yukon Territorial Supreme Court issued another similar ruling with immediate effect. Rather than reproducing the Charter equality arguments used by the other courts, the Court ruled that since the provincial courts of appeal had ruled that the heterosexual definition of marriage was unconstitutional, it was unconstitutional across Canada. The position was strengthened by the Attorney General's refusal to appeal those rulings. It further ruled that to continue to restrict marriages in Yukon to opposite-sex couples would result in an unacceptable state of a provision's being in force in one jurisdiction and not another.
On August 16, 2004, federal justice minister Irwin Cotler indicated that the federal government would no longer resist court cases to implement same-sex marriage in the provinces or territories.
Manitoba decision
Main article: Same-sex marriage in Manitoba
On September 16, 2004, Justice Douglas Yard of the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench declared the then-current definition of marriage unconstitutional. The judge said that his decision had been influenced by the previous decisions in B.C., Ontario, and Quebec. This decision followed suits brought by three couples in Manitoba requesting that they be issued marriage licences. Both the provincial and federal governments had made it known that they would not oppose the court bid. One of the couples, Chris Vogel and Richard North, had legally sought marriage in a high-profile case in 1974 but had been denied.
Nova Scotia decision
Main article: Same-sex marriage in Nova Scotia
In August 2004, three couples in Nova Scotia brought suit in Boutilier v. Canada (A.G) and Nova Scotia (A.G) against the provincial government requesting that it issue same-sex marriage licences. On September 24, 2004, Justice Heather Robertson of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruled the then-current law unconstitutional. Neither the federal nor the provincial governments opposed the ruling.
Saskatchewan decision
Main article: Same-sex marriage in Saskatchewan
Two couples brought suit in Saskatchewan for the recognition of their marriage in a case that went to trial in mid-October 2004. On 5 November 2004, the judge ruled that a Charter right to same-sex marriage existed and that the common-law definition was discriminatory, thereby bringing same-sex marriage to Saskatchewan.
Newfoundland and Labrador decision
Main article: Same-sex marriage in Newfoundland and Labrador
Two lesbian couples brought suit on November 4, 2004 to have Newfoundland and Labrador recognize same-sex marriage. As with the previous decisions, the provincial government did not oppose the suit; moreover, the federal government actually supported it. The case went to trial on December 20 and the next day, Mr. Justice Derek Green ordered the provincial government to begin issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples, an order with which the provincial government announced it would comply.
New Brunswick decision
Main article: Same-sex marriage in New Brunswick
Two same-sex couples brought suit in April 2005 to request an order requiring the government of New Brunswick to issue same-sex marriage licences. This was granted in June 2005.
The Progressive Conservative premier of New Brunswick, Bernard Lord, who personally opposed same-sex marriage, pledged to follow a directive to provide for same-sex marriages from the courts or from Parliament.
Proceedings in the Northwest Territories
Main article: Same-sex marriage in the Northwest Territories
On May 20, 2005, a gay male couple with a daughter brought suit in the Northwest Territories for the right to marry. The territorial justice minister, Charles Dent, had previously said that the government would not contest such a lawsuit. The case was to be heard on May 27 but ended when the federal government legalized same-sex marriage.
Discussion in Parliament, 1999–2003
The shift in Canadian attitudes towards acceptance of same-sex marriage and recent court rulings have caused the Parliament of Canada to reverse its position on the issue in recent years.
One recent study by Mark W. Lehman suggests that between 1997 and 2004, Canadian public opinion on legalizing same-sex marriage underwent a dramatic shift: moving from minority-support to majority support and that this support was the result of a significant shift in positive feelings towards gays and lesbians.
In 1999, the House of Commons overwhelmingly passed a resolution to re-affirm the definition of marriage as "the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others". The following year this definition of marriage was included in the revised Bill C-23, the Modernization of Benefits and Obligations Act 2000, which continued to bar same-sex couples from full marriage rights. In early 2003, the issue once again resurfaced, and the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights proceeded to undertake a formal study of same-sex marriage, including a cross-country series of public hearings. Just after the Ontario court decision, it voted to recommend that the federal government not appeal the ruling.
Civil status is of provincial jurisdiction in Canada. However, the definition of marriage is a federal law. On June 17, 2003, then Prime Minister Chrétien announced that the government would not appeal the Ontario ruling, and that his government would introduce legislation to recognize same-sex marriage but protect the rights of churches to decide which marriages they would solemnize.
A draft of the bill was issued on 17 July. It read:
1. Marriage, for civil purposes, is the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others. 2. Nothing in this Act affects the freedom of officials of religious groups to refuse to perform marriages that are not in accordance with their religious beliefs. The draft bill was subsequently referred to the Supreme Court; see below.
On 16 September 2003, a motion was brought to Parliament by the Canadian Alliance (now the Conservative Party) to once again reaffirm the heterosexual definition of marriage. The same language that had been passed in 1999 was brought to a free vote, with members asked to vote for or against the 1999 definition of marriage as "the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others." Motions are not legislatively binding in Canada, and are mostly done for symbolic purposes. The September vote was extremely divisive, however. Prime Minister Chrétien reversed his previous stance and voted against the motion, as did Paul Martin (who later became Prime Minister) and many other prominent Liberals. Several Liberals retained their original stance, however, and thus the vote was not defined purely along party lines. Controversially, over 30 members of the House did not attend the vote, the majority of whom were Liberals who had voted against legalizing same-sex marriage in 1999. It was speculated that they had ignored the vote on the wishes of Chrétien, who did not want to have the symbolic importance of the moment undermined by his own party. In the end, the motion was narrowly rejected by a vote of 137-132.
Debate prior to C-38's introduction
On December 9, 2004, Prime Minister Paul Martin indicated that the federal government would introduce legislation expanding marriage to same-sex couples. The government's decision was announced immediately following the court's answer in the Reference re: Same-Sex Marriage reference question.
The Parliamentary bill caused rifts in the House of Commons, especially among the governing Liberals. Many Liberal MPs indicated that they would oppose the government's position in favour of same-sex marriage at a free vote. The majority of each of the Liberal Party, New Democratic Party, and Bloc Québécois voted in favour of the bill; the majority of the Conservative Party voted against the bill.
In 2000, Alberta had amended its Marriage Act to define marriage as being between a man and a woman. The law included a notwithstanding clause in an attempt to protect the amendment from being invalidated under the Charter. However, the amendment was invalid since, under the Canadian constitution, the definition of marriage is a federal right.
Complicating matters, Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper indicated that a Tory government would work to restore the prohibition on same-sex marriage if Parliament voted to do so in a free vote.
Following the court decision on December 9, Premier Klein suggested that a national referendum be held on same-sex marriage, a measure Prime Minister Martin rejected.
Same-sex marriage in the 39th Parliament Main article: Members of the 39th Canadian Parliament and same-sex marriage The Conservative Party, led by Stephen Harper, won a minority government in the 2006 federal election. Harper had campaigned on the promise of holding a free vote on a motion regarding restoring the traditional definition of marriage. If the motion were to pass, the government would draft a bill to restore the "traditional" definition of marriage. This bill would then have to be passed by the House of Commons and the then Liberal-dominated Senate. The Senate traditionally does not vote against bills that have been approved by the House of Commons.
A news report from CTV on May 31, 2006, showed that a growing number of Conservatives were wary about re-opening the debate over same-sex marriage. One cabinet minister stated he just wanted the issue "to go away", while others including Chuck Strahl and Bill Casey were undecided, instead of directly opposed. Peter MacKay noted that not a single constituent had approached him on the issue, and Tory Cabinet Minister Conservative MP Loyola Hearn was against re-opening the debate. On June 2, 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was asked by a reporter about the issue while he was in Montreal. He responded that the vote on whether or not to open up debate over same-sex marriage would take place sometime in the fall.
On December 6, 2006, the government brought in a motion asking if the issue of same-sex marriage should be re-opened to support the traditional definition of marriage. This motion was defeated the next day in a vote of 175 (nays) to 123 (yeas). Prime Minister Stephen Harper afterwards told reporters that he "[didn't] see reopening this question in the future".
Since September 2003, military chaplains have been allowed to bless same-sex unions and to perform these ceremonies on a military base.
Survivor benefits
On December 19, 2003, an Ontario court ruled that survivor benefits for Canadians whose same-sex partners died should be retroactive to April 1985, the date the Charter of Rights came into effect. The federal government appealed. On March 1, 2007, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the federal government must pay Canada Pension Plan benefits to surviving same-sex spouses. Initial news reports indicated that the court limited retroactive benefits to only 12 months' worth, but in fact, some survivors may be entitled to benefits dating back to 2000.
Same-sex divorce in Canada
As of 2009, a married couple can only file for divorce in Canada if at least one spouse is then residing in Canada and has been for at least one full (continuous) year when the divorce is filed.
On September 13, 2004, a lesbian couple known as "M.M." and "J.H." in Ontario were granted Canada's first same-sex divorce. Their initial divorce application had been denied based on the fact that the federal Divorce Act defines spouse as "either of a man or a woman who are married to each other". However Madam Justice Ruth Mesbur of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that the definition of "spouse" in the Divorce Act was unconstitutional.
In June 2005, a lesbian couple in British Columbia, whose names cannot be released, obtained a similar ruling.
Bloc Québécois MP Richard Marceau, who has advocated in favour of same-sex marriage, requested that Justice Minister Irwin Cotler add a provision to the same-sex marriage bill altering the Divorce Act to permit same-sex divorce. Section 8 of the Civil Marriage Act amended the Divorce Act to permit same-sex divorce.
Church and State
Based on the 2001 census, three main Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) represent 80% of the Canadian population. All three have texts that have sections interpreted by some to declare sexual relations between people of the same sex as forbidden and sinful. For example, the Koran (7:80-81, 26:165) and the Bible (Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26-27, I Timothy 1:9-10, etc.) are frequently interpreted to explicitly forbid homosexuality. (see related article, Homosexuality and religion).
In July 2003, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Canada protested the Chrétien government's plans to include same-sex couples in civil marriage. This is significant because Catholicism has a larger number of adherents in Canada than any other religion or denomination, with 43.6% of the population identifying themselves as Catholic. The church criticisms were accompanied by Vatican claims that Catholic politicians should vote according to their personal beliefs rather than the policy of the government.
Amid a subsequent backlash in opinion, the Church remained remarkably quiet on the subject, at least in public, until late 2004, when two Catholic bishops clearly stated their opposition to same-sex marriage. The Bishop of Calgary, Frederick Henry, in a pastoral letter urged Catholics to fight against the legalization of same-sex marriage, calling homosexual behaviour "an evil act". Bishop Henry's letter also seemed to urge the outlawing of homosexual acts, saying "Since homosexuality, adultery, prostitution and pornography undermine the foundations of the family, the basis of society, then the State must use its coercive power to proscribe or curtail them in the interests of the common good." Two human rights complaints were filed against Henry soon afterward under the Alberta Human Rights act, one of which was dropped at the conciliation stage.
The largest Protestant denomination in the country, the United Church of Canada, offers church weddings to same-sex couples and supports same-sex marriages, testifying to this effect during the cross-country Justice Committee hearings. Unitarian Universalist congregations also solemnize same-sex marriages, as do the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and the Metropolitan Community Church. Some progressive Jewish congregations and some within the Anglican Church have also supported same-sex marriage.
The Hutterite Brethren spoke out against same-sex marriage in a letter written to Prime Minister Martin in February 2005. The group has historically not involved themselves with politics.
The Humanist Association of Canada, which endorses a non-theistic, non-religious ethical philosophy to life and full separation of church and state, has been supportive of same-sex marriage. Local affiliate groups of the Humanist Association offer officiancy (marriage commissioner) services across Canada.
Representatives of the World Sikh Organization testified before the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in favour of the Civil Marriage Act.
Michael Coren on Canada's biggest mistake: Gay marriage
by Marni Soupcoff
Posted: April 15, 2008
What makes the national mistake of legalizing same-sex marriage unique in Canadian history is that to even discuss the issue is considered by many, particularly our elites, to be at the very least in extraordinarily bad taste. Although this is a valid and vital debate about social policy, anyone critiquing the status quo is likely to be marginalized as hateful, extreme or simply mad. Social conservatives aren’t just wrong, they’re evil.
Left: Michael Coren
The discussion, we are told, is over. Which is what triumphalist bullies have said for centuries after they win a battle. In this case, the intention is to marginalize anyone who dares to still speak out. In other words, to silence them.
It’s important to emphasize that this is not really about homosexuality at all, and has nothing to do with homosexual people living together. Opponents of same-sex marriage may have ethical and religious objections to homosexuality, but they are irrelevant to the central argument. Which is not about the rights of a sexual minority but the status and meaning of marriage.
Indeed, the deconstruction of marriage began not with the gay community asking for the right to marry but with the heterosexual world rejecting it. The term “common-law marriage” said it all. Marriage is many things, but it is never common. Yet with this semantic and legal revolution, desire and convenience replaced commitment and dedication. The qualifications, so to speak, were lowered.
And one does indeed have to qualify for marriage; just as one has, for example, to qualify for a pension or a military medal. People who have not reached the age of retirement don’t qualify for a pension, people who don’t serve in the armed forces don’t qualify for a military medal. It’s not a question of equality but requirement. A human right is intrinsic, a social institution is not.
The four great and historic qualifications for marriage always have been number, gender, age and blood. Two people, male and female, over a certain age and not closely related. Mainstream and responsible societies have sometimes changed the age of maturity, but incest has always been condemned and, by its nature, died out because of retardation.
As for polygamy, it’s making something of a comeback — and here begin the objections.
Whenever this is mentioned by critics of same-sex marriage we are accused of using the slippery-slope argument. Sorry, some slopes are slippery. Polygamy is an ancient tradition within Islam — and was in Sephardic Judaism and some Asian cultures. When the precedent of gay marriage is combined with the freedom of religion defence, the courts will have a difficult time rejecting it.
At the moment, the Muslim community is not sufficiently politically comfortable to pursue the issue; and the clearly deranged polygamous sects on the aesthetic as well as geographical fringes of Canadian society cloud any reasonable debate. But the argument will certainly come and the result is largely inevitable. If love is the only criterion for marriage who are we to judge the love between a man and his wives?
The state, though, should have a duty to judge and to do so based on its own interests. The most significant of which is its continued existence, meaning that we have to produce children. As procreation is the likely, if not essential, result of marriage between a man and a woman, it is in the interests of the state to encourage marriage.
Of course lesbian couples can have an obliging friend assist them in having a baby, and gay men can adopt or have an obliging friend have one for them, but this is hardly the norm and hardly going to guarantee the longevity of a stable society. Just as significant, it smashes the fundamental concept of a child being produced through an act of love. The donation of bodily fluid by an anonymous person, or that obliging friend again, is an act not of love but of lust, indifference, profit or a mere, well, helping hand.
For the first time not only in Canadian but in world history we are purposefully creating and legitimizing families where there will be either no male or no female role model and parent. Anyone who speaks of uncles, aunts, communities and villages raising children has no real understanding of family life. Single-parent families exist and are sometimes excellent and, obviously, not every mother/father family is a success. But to consciously create unbalanced families where children can never enjoy the profound difference between man and woman, mother and father, is dangerous social engineering.
We made a terrible mistake, and may not appreciate the full consequences for a generation. We allowed emotion to obscure logic and belittled anyone who appeared out of step with the current fashion. To marry without good reason in regrettable, to divorce good reasoning from public policy is a disgrace.
— Michael Coren is a writer and broadcaster.
Biblical Arguments Against Gay Marriage
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.
Preached at South Valley Church, Phoenix, Oregon, March 10, 2004
Sermon Summary: The gay marriage debate has become a contentious issue on the national scene. The intensity of arguments against gay marriage is matched, and sometimes surpassed, by the emotionally charged arguments for it. The Bible, however, is very clear on the subject and leaves no doubt about God's position. Come and see.
There are non-biblical reasons for taking a stand against gay marriage:
1) thousands of years of traditional, male-female marriage, across numerous cultures and religions.
2) The public health catastrophe among homosexual men.
3) Numerous studies showing the importance to children of a father and a mother.
• But today let’s look at biblical arguments against gay marriages.
• These Scriptures may be meaningless to unbelievers.
• But these are the biblical reasons that should drive us who hold to the Word of God and resist the acceptance of same-sex marriages.
1 Corinthians 6:9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
(1) God defines homosexual offenders as among “the WICKED.”
• Ephesians 5:11, KJV And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
• The Christian’s duty is to reprove, not to ignore, that which God calls wicked.
(2) God lists “homosexual offenders” among those who HE determines will “not inherit the kingdom of God.”
• No “TOLERANCE” there. No bowing at the altar of “DIVERSITY” there.
• No endorsement from heaven of homosexual churches there.
• No platitudes about the LOVE of God embracing all lifestyles and behaviors, including gay marriages.
Genesis 13:13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were SINNING GREATLY against the Lord.
Genesis 19:4-5, 11-13, 24 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom — both young and old — surrounded the house. [5] They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have SEX WITH THEM.” ... [11] Then [the messengers from God] struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door. [12] The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here — sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, [13] because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that HE has sent us to DESTROY it.” ... [24] Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah — from the LORD out of the heavens.
(3) Homosexuality incurred God’s destructive judgment upon an entire city.
• Rampant homosexuality was a major contributor to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.
• I think San Francisco has not yet been judged because of the God-fearing Christians living there among the sodomites.
(4) The men of Sodom were said to be “SINNING GREATLY” because of their MEN having SEX with MEN.
• Other sins of Sodom are listed in Scripture, but this is the one that the Bible features as their great sin — the one that incurred God's wrath against their city.
• Bible-believing Christians cannot just look the other way and say that same-sex marriage is simply a “personal choice.” Not when God defines the participants in homosexual conduct as "sinning greatly".
• Christians cannot fall for the modern mantra that it’s not our business what people choose to do “behind closed doors”. The biblical arguments against gay marriage do not leave Bible believers the option of simply ignoring conduct that God is seen to have judged severely in the Bible record.
• God specifically says that homosexual conduct is “sinning greatly,” and Jesus came to save us from our sins.
Jude 1:7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and PERVERSION. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
(5) God labels Sodom’s sin as “sexual PERVERSION.”
• Societies (again, ancient Rome) that remain in perversion are doomed — Remember SODOM!
Romans 1:18, 24-28, 32 The WRATH OF GOD is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.... [24] Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the DEGRADING of their bodies with one another. [25] They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator — who is forever praised. Amen. [26] Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for UNNATURAL ones. [27] In the same way the MEN ALSO ABANDONED NATURAL RELATIONS WITH WOMEN AND WERE INFLAMED WITH LUST FOR ONE ANOTHER. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their PERVERSION. [28] Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.... [32] Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
(6) God’s Word identifies husband-wife relations as “NATURAL relations” and HOMOsexual relations as “UNNATURAL ones.” God defines same sex marriages, therefore, as "unnatural" relationships.
• Again (27) God calls this “PERVERSION” that receives a “DUE PENALTY.”
(7) God’s word also condemns “APPROVING of those who practice [homosexuality].”
• That is why we need judges and legislators who will show their DISapproval of same-sex marriage and will rule and legislate against gay marriages.
Matthew 19:4-5 “Haven’t you read,” [Jesus] replied, “that at the beginning the CREATOR ‘made them MALE AND FEMALE,’ [5] and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?
(8) Jesus resolved the gay marriage debate once and for all — GOD made them “MALE and FEMALE ... a MAN ... [and] his WIFE". I see this as one of the most compelling biblical arguments against gay marriage. Jesus Christ Himself referred back to the biblical creation account and confirmed God's intent that marriage is to be between a man and a woman.
1 Corinthians 6:11, KJV And such WERE some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
• There is hope and forgiveness for all sins and all sinners who will repent and come to Jesus.
Summary of Biblical Arguments Against Gay Marriage
1. God lists “homosexual offenders” among “the wicked” (1 Corinthians 6:9).
2. God lists “homosexual offenders” among those who He determines will “not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9).
3. Historically, homosexuality has incurred God’s destructive wrath upon an entire city (Gen. 19:4-5, 11-13).
4. God’s word defines the men of Sodom as “sinning greatly” because of their men having sex with men (Genesis 13:13; 19:5).
5. God calls Sodom’s sin “sexual perversion” (Jude 1:7). Societies that remain in perversion (Sodom, Rome...) are on the road to destruction.
6. God’s word identifies husband-wife relations as “natural relations” and homosexual relations as “unnatural ones” (Romans 1:26-27) and “perversion” (vs. 27).
7. God’s word also rebukes those who “approve of those who practice” homosexuality (Romans 1:32).
8. Jesus settled the marriage issue once for all, declaring that God had made them “male and female ... a man ... [and] his wife” (Matthew 19:4-5).