3 min

Bitch slapping hurts

Moral arguments turn politicians into liars

Now that Leviticus – which prohibits the eating of pork, as well as male homosexuality, all you Bible-thumping bacon-lovers – has trumped the Canadian Charter Of Rights And Freedoms in this country’s same-sex marriage debate, it’s worth examining the lies and hypocrisy that have been trotted around since our dear Pope whipped Liberal backbenchers into their current purgatorial frenzy. When divorced and living-in-sin Ontario Premier Ernie Eves talks about morality, it’s clear things have gone off the rails.

The debate, sadly, is no longer about the word “marriage.” Those who argue this are telling a lie, just like the one about this debate not being about equality. The religious right in this country has lived through Viagra, meat on Fridays, Sunday shopping, birth control, Internet pornography, divorce, single-parent families, artificial insemination, the absence of prayer in public schools and, most notably, the recognition of straight common-law relationships without any of this goofy referendum talk. Only the topic of homosexuality has triggered this militant reaction, these free votes in legislatures, this political waffling.

The truth is, some people don’t like homosexuality. They believe gay and lesbian people are inferior and believe bequeathing same-sex marriage constitutes approval. Yes, it’s a hateful, unchristian position, but there are no other ways to explain all the coded rhetoric. For prime-minister-in-waiting Paul Martin to suggest as a compromise that marriage could be offered to the religious, while straight and gay non-religious people would get civil unions – Hey, let’s discriminate against an even larger number of Canadians so we don’t give in to the fags and dykes – shows how low our politicians will stoop to nurture their constituents’ prejudices. Though alternative types of relationship recognition have in the past seemed appealing, it’s clear they’re now being offered out of veiled malice.

Of course, to be surprised that gay and lesbian people don’t consider themselves inferior is to cast oneself as Rip Van Winkle. Over the past few decades, gay and lesbian Canadians have won the right to have sex, protection from discrimination, the right to common-law status and, in some provinces, the right to adopt children. The time-warped complainers seem to have missed it all. Whether same-sex couples get the word “marriage” today, tomorrow or never is not going to return us to some heterosexual golden age. Looking at the sheer pragmatics of it, denying the word marriage now will lead to more queer visibility because if there’s one thing gay and lesbian people can recognize, it’s a slap in the face. From what I’ve seen, gay and lesbian people are prepared to slap back.

I admit that no one likes to be told the world is changing around them against their will. It makes people anxious and nasty. Here’s what same-sex marriage opponents need to tell themselves so they can sleep at night.

“It’s sad that other people don’t believe exactly what I believe and it’s sad that they’ll go to hell for their perverted sex lives. But they’ve been told about the consequences and it’s their own business now. Government recognition of their partnered relationships does not mean it approves of them. It might even mean that it disapproves of promiscuous singlehood. I will take action myself to protect the institution of marriage by flaunting my happy heterosexual family to every homosexual I see and give them the name of a counsellor if they want to convert.”

This is going to sound fabricated for the sake of making a point, but it’s true: I have a moral problem with gambling. I think it creates social apathy by giving people the false impression that their lives can change through the buying of tickets, it draws its jackpots predominantly from the poor and it causes addiction, which can lead to criminal behaviour. I’m appalled that governments spend millions of dollars a year on advertisements encouraging people to gamble. Unlike opponents of same-sex marriage, I can produce evidence of gambling’s ill effects on society.

While millions of Canadians scratch tickets and ratchet slot machines, I don’t. And I can sleep at night. If our parliamentarians put fairness ahead of prejudice, they will, too.

Paul Gallant is Managing Editor for Xtra.