How many times have you seen the adjective landmark used in reference to “decision” or “legislation” or “case” to do with gay and lesbian legal rights?
Aren’t you getting tired of that impotent little word? I rolled my eyes last month when landmark accosted me yet again from the headlines when the Ontario Superior Court ruled that the traditional definition of married couple was unconstitutional, but they’d give civil servants two years to figure out how to change the pronouns on the marriage certificates. Landmark indeed. Then the big bad federal government predictably stomped all over the bold bright adjective of our future, and landmark limped quietly away again.
Can we please find another word? Did people seriously believe that gay marriage would become reality in Ontario without a Supreme Court ruling? Or at least, a riot or two? This is the last great gay legal cause and I just don’t feel like hefting a placard on behalf of my kind. I hefted enough placards in my 20s. Let the kids do it.
But then, it’s difficult to get a self-righteous hard-on over a cause as unsexy as marriage. No wonder I don’t see too many 20-somethings beating down the chapel doors. Better the hot and horny horde of young, gay do-gooders should work off that excess energy on the dancefloor and in bed. It’s a much healthier choice.
Sadly, this is a job for those born into the era of landmark’s rise and adjectival fall which began in 1969 when Pierre Trudeau made it legal for us to fuck in Canada, while our southern queer cousins threw beer bottles from the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, mounting their own loud and thoroughly American gay rights movement.
But we Canadians persistently, if quietly, inched ahead when it came to achieving legal rights. In 1977, Quebec became the first province to include sexual orientation in its Human Rights Code.
In 1995, the Supreme Court ruled that all provinces must include sexual orientation in their human rights codes. Alberta balked, but the Vriend decision in 1998 forced the province to read in sexual orientation, if not actually print the words in the act. PEI and the Northwest Territories have since followed suit.
In 1978 the new Immigration Act struck homosexuals off the inadmissible list. The next year, the Canadian Human Rights Commission recommended that sexual orientation be added to the Canadian Human Rights Act, begetting nearly 20 years of landmark bills that were forged and then fizzled, until finally, Bill C-33 earned its exalted adjective when it was passed in 1996, adding sexual orientation to the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Then Bill C-23 passed into law on April 11, 2000, giving same-sex partners the same social and tax benefits as hetero common-law couples in this country.
And now comes all this marriage business. Do we really want to go there?
Think of the implications, ladies. You would have not one, but two mothers of the bride at the ceremony. And who decides which best man is best, boys? I see divorce on the horizon before you even cut the cake.
This right to marry is being fought, perversely, by those who are already hitched, their youth gone, their kids growing or grown, and their parents shrinking before their very eyes. This is their last chance to torment aging relatives over what they could possibly need for the kitchen now that they are 35, 45, 55. Isn’t it all just a little ridiculous?
No, I will not force my friends and family to squander yet another summer long weekend on a wedding, if, in five years or so, the Supreme Court rules in our favour. And that is one big if, pregnant with premature landmark potential.