Just when Stephen Harper thought he could turn his attention to urban voters and try convincing them he’s not a scary extremist after all, his core supporters have lobbed another grenade his way.
Social conservatives are demanding that Harper’s Conservative government — fresh off a losing vote to reopen the definition of marriage — appoint a Royal Commission on marriage and the family.
A coalition of three groups — The Institute of Marriage and Family Canada (an arm of Focus On The Family Canada), the Institute for Canadian Values, and the Canadian Family Action Coalition — wants a close examination on a wide range of issues from child care to family tax policy and gay marriage. (The first two groups are Ottawa-based, while the third is in Alberta.)
Joseph Ben-Ami, founder of the Institute for Canadian Values, told a Canwest journalist, “I think the prime minister, and I think the Conservative party, have to spend some time looking at the relationship it has with social conservatives, and I think there’s some damage that has to be repaired, some fences that have to be mended.”
We and we and we are family
The traditional definition of family continues to take it in the ear as the justice system builds on case law putting the child’s interests ahead of cant and ideology. The latest major development comes from The Ontario Court of Appeal which on Jan 2 ruled that two lesbian parents (the biological mother and her lover) and the biological gay father can all be on the birth certificate of their five-year-old son.
Social conservatives were outraged and predicted further redefinition of the family.
Fundies losing US hold
Even the US, the fountain of renewal for Canadian social conservatives, is turning away from their religious extremists.
A study of results of the November US mid-term election finds that bans on same-sex marriage are quickly falling into disfavour in states with a lower percentage of “born-again” Christians. Arizona voters rejected a ban during the election.
And though same-sex bans passed with an average support of 64 percent of voters in states holding referendums, that was down from 71 percent in 2004. Better still, the National Gay And Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute predicts marriage bans will fail in many states that have not yet held a referendum on the issue.
And more good news: Unlike in the 2004 election, there’s no evidence that having a marriage ban referendum on the ballot in 2006 helped the Republicans elect any more Senators.
Premarital sex “normal”
As scientists and social scientists continue to study the real world, they find, Oh surprise!, that it’s nothing like the Bible-thumpers would have us believe. The latest discovery has to do with premarital sex.
More than nine out of 10 US residents, both men and women, have had premarital sex, according to a study by Guttmacher Institute of New York. According to the study of 38,000 people (including 33,000 women), published in the December issue of Public Health Reports, 99 percent of respondents had had sex by age 44, and 95 percent had sex before marriage.
Numbers like this make it clear that the Leave It To Beaver lifestyle was never a US reality.
“This is reality-check research,” said study author Lawrence Finer. “Premarital sex is normal behaviour for the vast majority of Americans, and has been for decades.”