What Stephen Harper won’t tell you about same-sex marriage

It’s time for the PM to speak out, writes Adam Goldenberg

On June 11, 1963—fifty years ago this week—Governor George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door at the University of Alabama to keep two black students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from entering.

Five months earlier, in his inaugural address, Wallace had proclaimed “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” His one-man barricade in front of Foster Auditorium was one of many last stands.

Hindsight is cruel to those who choose the wrong side of history, but sometimes, the villains find their way across the tracks; Wallace’s bigotry had a short half-life, and “segregation forever” was not. By the end of the 1970s, he had apologized, and in his final campaign for the Governor’s Mansion, Wallace was the choice of more than ninety percent of Alabama’s black voters.

Wallace’s story is worth telling because all civil rights struggles are fundamentally alike; there is always someone barring the schoolhouse door, standing between citizens and the civil institutions to which they seek access on the same terms as everyone else. If George Wallace can pivot on that threshold, then anyone can.

Stephen Harper can, too.

This is not a perfect analogy, of course. The Prime Minister is not a racist. He has, however, been a different kind of segregationst—one who once stood in a doorway, pleading for exclusion as equality closed in.

On June 10, 2003—ten years ago this week—same-sex marriage became legal in Ontario.

“It is our view that the dignity of persons in same-sex relationships is violated by the exclusion of same-sex couples from the institution of marriage,” the province’s Court of Appeal declared, in Halpern v. Canada. “Accordingly, we conclude that the common-law definition of marriage as ‘the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others’ violates [Section] 15(1) of the Charter.”

Other courts—in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia—had reached the same conclusion, but they had stayed the effect of their respective rulings to give Parliament time to respond. The Ontario Court of Appeal decided not to wait; same-sex marriage arrived in Ontario that same day.

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien was surprised by the ruling, but one week later the Government of Canada announced it would not appeal Halpern to the Supreme Court. In retrospect, the rest was just a matter of time. The Civil Marriage Act passed the House of Commons on June 28, 2005.

Enter Stephen Harper.

On the first day of the 2006 federal election campaign, the Conservative leader promised to put the Charter rights of gay Canadians to a free vote in Parliament. Harper’s position had been that civil unions would be a suitable substitute – “separate but equal,” you know – but the fact remains that just a simple majority could have been the beginning of the end of marriage equality.

The Conservatives won the election. The vote happened. But the majority of MPs had already moved on.

Stephen Harper soon did the same; the most the Prime Minister has since said on the subject is that he does not plan to say anything at all. “We have no intention of further opening or reopening this issue,” he said last year.

That is a mistake. Because, for the Prime Minister, one simple thing remains to be said.

For a leader who has so recently advocated for second-class citizenship for some Canadians, silent acceptance will never be the same as support, and indifference will always be a pathetic substitute for tolerance. Besides, tolerance itself is insufficient where equal rights are concerned.

So Stephen Harper should come right out and say it: I was wrong.

The legal effect would be nil, but that is hardly the point. Every gay teenager who is struggling to come out, every parent who is struggling to accept a gay child, every pastor or rabbi or imam or municipal counsellor or community elder who has ever stood in a pulpit or at a podium and preached anything less than total love and acceptance would hear the Prime Minister say what, for a decade, he has not — that all Canadians deserve every ounce of equal citizenship, and, in Canada, bigotry will never belong.

He has already almost certainly assured himself an historical footnote, as the last prime minister ever to oppose marriage equality, and the last federal party leader ever to fight an election on a promise to put the equality of Canadian citizens to a vote in the House of Commons. He should not let that be the end of the matter.

True, he has kept his promise not to reopen the issue. But if you think that “he may not support gay marriage, but he has not banned it, either” is an adequate reply, then replace “gay” with “interracial” and say it aloud.

Yes, his government has taken some laudable steps to promote LGBT rights and protect LGBT people around the world, but this only makes the Prime Minister’s omission harder to explain. Symbolic gestures matter, and Stephen Harper knows it—just ask the two new pandas at the Toronto Zoo.

The politics of Stephen Harper’s silence are easy to understand, of course; admitting his belated support for marriage equality would only stand to alienate the most extreme conservative voices in his own party. But tell that to George Wallace. Tell that to David Cameron, who is hosting Harper at the G8 Summit this week, and who has risked his own leadership to back marriage equality. Sure, there may still be bigots in our midst, but that only makes it more important for the Prime Minister to speak up.

They have a word for that: leadership.

Of course, there is one possibility that I have left unsaid: Stephen Harper might still believe that gay people are not entitled to the same rights as everybody else. That would certainly explain his refusal to say otherwise. If that is not the case, he should deny it. If it is, he should look up and wonder why, after a decade, the sky has yet to fall.

This has been a week of anniversaries in whose clashing images — of blocked doorways and tied knots — is reflected the long trajectory of history’s bending arc. Equality buoys us all, and we all have reason to celebrate.

So does Stephen Harper.

Adam Goldenberg is a Kirby Simon Human Rights Fellow at Yale Law School, a former Liberal speechwriter, and a contributor to CBC News: The National. Follow him on Twitter at @adamgoldenberg.




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What Stephen Harper won’t tell you about same-sex marriage

  1. This comment was deleted.

    • Typical con response, nothing about the issue, just an attack on the messenger for one sentence taken out of context. The writer made it clear (Harper’s favourite word) that Tubby is not a racist, but that’s not good enough for you, well tough pitubees whiner. The analogy (you can look that word up in a book called a dictionary) is fitting.

      BTW – you do know you just ran a drive-by slur at Deano?

      • Wallace is one of the most vilified characters in American history.

        It was not an accident that the author dedicated the 1st quarter of his article about wallace, meanwhile the headline is about Harper.

        Of course he is drawing a link between the two and trying to paint harper with the same brush. Only a leftie twit would try to argue otherwise.

        • I guess to follow your logic, Harper must be one of the most vilified characters in Canadian history. Sounds right to me.

          • To follow logic, one should first understand it.

            But if you think Harper is the worst PM Canada has ever had, then you’ve clearly not got a chance.

      • Tubby? once again a personal smear by the vicious uneducated left.

    • I’m not sure how you determined he’s not a racist.

  2. Interracial marriage affirms marriage. Man, woman, children. Gay marriage trys to turn it into something it is not.

    • Well they said the same thing about interracial marriage David. Within my lifetime.

      In fact there’s an uproar going on right now over a Cheerio’s commercial for just that reason.

      Marriage has taken many forms….the most traditional kind is polygamy.

      If you don’t like gay marriage….don’t marry a gay. Simple as that.

    • Marriage is when two people declare that they want to commit to a life together because they love each other.

      Love and commitment affirms marriage, discrimination and intolerance is the antithesis of that.

      • 2 people really – there are many readers of this forum who would gladly throw all limits out the window, marriage with small children, animals – whatever!

        If we draw the limit at gay marriage – then please explain why that line is any different from straight. If we stop at polygamy, then why is that line any different from child marriage (look at the countries that allow polygamy, see how young the girls that they marry off are!).

        It takes all kinds of weirdos to make the world go round I suppose, but
        do we really want to import all the crap from the rest of the barbaric
        world into Canada!

        • ah, the famous pedo-bestio-polygamous bogeyman arguement. I was wondering which ignorant would have the honour of posting it first. Congrats Frenchie !

          • Well Jebus, perhaps you would also do me the honour of explaining what defines a marriage for you, to whom it applies, AND justify it.

            Please be specific, as I truly await enlightenment from your awesome intellect.

          • Stop digging F77, you’re making a mess.

          • IT’s only because so much sh#$ is spread around by the lefties here.

            If you want things a little neater, why don’t you answer the question then?

        • There’s an element called informed mutual consent that your inane comment totally ignores.

          Stop with the baseless, idiotic fear mongering.

          • Mutual consent – really?

            As long as we can all get along, then good to go?

            Is there a number involved? If so why?

            What age implies consent, recall – various states and provinces have different age requirements -so whose do we take and why?

            What about culture, do we force our views on people who arrive from other countries and cultures, where their views on marriage are ‘a little different’ from ours. What if they were married before they arrive, do we unmarry them?

            Please explain what drives your logic, I’d really like to know.

          • You seem to have dimly grasped that informed mutual consent implies adulthood on the part of both parties.

            It’s amazing how some people seem so outraged by “activist” courts and oversized, intrusive, meddlesome governments, until they’re looking for some authority who’ll impose their own sanctimonious morals on everybody else, including “outlawing” their marriage to each other, as consenting adults.

            So, in this case, I assume you’d have trouble with consent by anyone who is 16…or 18……or even 21. Perhaps you’d like the government to set an age of majority at, say, 110.

            I can’t rebut your comments about newcomers from other cultures because I don’t understand what your point is.

          • Why both parties and not all parties??
            What age and why? You tell me?

            You can’t rebut points that you know you don’t have answers to, cute!

          • Do you have all these pseudo-legalistic questions about heterosexual marriage, too? If not, why not?

        • Channeling Bill O’Reily is never a good idea.

          But I apologise for leaving the word “consensual” out. Two adults over the age of majority are able to give consent to partake in a relationships. People under that age are unable to do so by law.

          As for polygamy and the marriage of truly young children to old men, it’s odd how the same people who are against same sex marriage are usually the perpetrators of those arrangements – namely the religious. Jews, muslims, hindus, christians all make excuses when abusing the young, yet the first line out of their mouths over SSM is “think of the kids.” There are no bigger weirdos than those who demonstrate that kind of dissonance.

          • The law – really, that is your argument. We have the law to protect the young children.

            As I recall, the law 10 years was that gay marriage was not allowed. Somehow that got changed.

            No, no bigotry on display here. You’ve no problems claiming all jews, hindus, christians justify abusing children.

          • If you’re going to base marriage on fertility, you cannot help but favour young women.

          • Really, how young?
            Is a marriage just about fertility, if so then why gay marriage.

            You see, there are many logical inconsistencies here. IF you are going to pick a side(s), then please at least understand why and explain it.

          • I am not the one asserting that reproduction is a essential element of marriages.

          • Well, you did mention fertility as a reason, not me. Besides, regardless of whether you agree with it or not, my question is still valid.

          • Go back and read, if indeed you know how and please point out where I said all jews, hindus etc justify it. I didn’t I said jews, hindus etc. all justify it, a slightly different meaning than the one you preferred.
            But as you went there, how many catholics still have great faith in their church even though it has been shown that the current leadership covered up the mass abuse of children by their clergy? How many jews think it is okay to mutilate the genitals of infant boys? How many muslims excuse the abuse of girls and women under shariah law? How many hindus happily acquiesce to caste system?

            If one remains a part of any one of those faiths while those atrocities are allowed to be ignored then one is culpable. The standard you walk by is the standard you accept. Being a member of those faiths and ignoring their faults means you accept them.

          • Absolutely agree.

          • The Catholic church in the developed world is having issues with getting its youth to remain in the church. I would think that the whole priest molestation crisis has quite a bit to do with that. You only have to look at Newfoundland to realize that the Catholic church does not have the same influence that it once had.

          • And Ireland and Italy for that matter too.
            Hypocrisy tends to make people doubt one’s moral authority I guess.

          • Yes and also young people in countries with democracies don’t seem to follow with the same blind acceptance of rules anymore which is of course a VERY good thing.

          • That’s quite a statement you make there, standing by and being considered culpable.
            It is in complete and utter contradiction to everything the left says about muslims and their linkage to terror.

            So in this case, you can paint all catholics with the same brush, but not muslims. Why, well it is clear your logic ends with the typical leftie hypocrisy.

            Not a surprise really.

          • You are mistakenly assigning arbitrary tags of your own making to me. Sorry if I don’t fit into your preconceived world view.

            Go back and try and read what I wrote, I grouped the hypocrisy of all the faiths together and didn’t separate out catholics from muslims etc. If this is going to be anything like a discussion you really should read what I wrote, not what you wish I had written.

            Standing/Passing by and being culpable….. Now clearly I’m not a follower of any iron age prophet but didn’t he actually have a parable about crossing over and passing by and being culpable? I believe that was quite a statement too.

            I’ll say again if you are prepared to ignore a certain behaviour, then you accept that behaviour. Actions speak louder than words.

          • That’s a hell of a brush you wield – think carefully about applying it though – you’re likely to get some coverage on yourself.
            After all, the article is about slagging harper and painting him with the same brush as wallace in order to make the point.

            But the point seems clear, no-one really knows what harper can be hiding and there is clearly no answer to what marriage should be anyways.

            So, Harper should come out and say it is OK, but no-one else seems to really under why! Why is gay marriage OK, but not polygamy, or child, or animal – no-one knows, but all they do know is that harper is wrong.

            Face-it, this is just another hit piece, that much should have been obvious to anyone as soon as the comparison with wallace was made.

          • I’m a fallible human being and make no claims to the contrary. That’s why I don’t insist on throwing up arbitrary impediments to the happiness of others. Two consenting, adults want to get married? I say, “why not?” They happen to be of the same sex. I say, “so what?” They’re grown ups, they both agree to the deal, they love each other.. have at it.

            Who am I, in my creaking, opinionated, overweight, imperfect self to say otherwise? Who am I to say love shouldn’t out?

            People who aren’t willfully ignorant do know the difference between those proposals you list and it revolves around the idea of informed, understood, mutual consent.

            The law is there to protect those who would be victims from those would victimise them. It is not there to regulate the actions of informed, consenting adults in private.
            Children cannot give consent by law and animals cannot consent at all so marrying in both cases would be illegal and as such they are a red herring in this conversation.

            Polygamy does throw up some flags in the area of consent, but given it’s strong historical showing it does have a track record that means it cannot be dismissed immediately. The religious seem very keen on polygamy, now and in the past, in fact there are many stories of polygamous holy men in the bible that most of them hold so dear.

          • We do allow parents and guardians to give consent for adolescents under the age of 18 years, in Canada, to marry. I am not commenting on the advisability of this fact, I am just pointing out that it is true.

          • True and those parents that do allow their adolescent kids to marry are usually inspired by religious belief.
            Which again undercuts Frenchie’s point about the poor persecuted religious folk who are all about the children.

          • Hmm yes, sadly their children are often reproducing in their adolescent years due the parent’s strict stance on abstinence and refusal to be realistic about birth control instead.

        • What side of the line are you on in regards to married heterosexual men bonking their children’s babysitter?

          • I would like to know what defines a marriage, and what that definition is the law versus other definitions.

            It is a simple question really, but apparently no-one here can really answer it.

            You can divert the point with all sorts of barbs and red-herring, but can you really answer the questions.

            ‘Consensual’ isn’t an answer.

          • …why that definition… not what

          • Marriage is actually a property agreement. A contract. The bows and the flowers dress it up…..but property is what it’s about.

            Polygamy is the traditional marriage….Rome had soldier marriages, made em fight better…..middle ages got into big property with people being married without first meeting, or to unite 2 kingdoms, or kids of 3 and 4 being married….to same age or older. For awhile there, women were property!

            Lots of kinds of marriage, but property is the current version.

          • I believe marriage is a willing commitment between mature persons who legally join together in a mutually beneficial relationship for the purpose of providing a safe and satisfying home with whatever financial and social arrangement they decide best suits them.

          • Sometimes it is female and male coaches and their adolescent protege as well. Very disturbing also.

        • To compare gay marriage to someone marrying children or animals is just grasping at straws. Men and women have been allowed to marry throughout history, but has anyone ever argued that would just open up the door to fathers marrying their daughters? No. Crawl out from under your rock Frenchie, the weather’s great.

          • So, it is clear from all the posts here that there is no line, no limit. No-one can tell me any logical rationale that defines what marriage is. You can certainly direct hate towards me, this is never a problem for the left.

            But when it comes to any probing about why you define marriage as you do, it clear that there is little to it.

            So, as this piece writes – what has Harper left to tell us about gay marriage it would appear not much as there is no-one willing to listen.

          • You and your field of straw men are going no where.

            Try this one on. Marriage is a contract between two people. As it is a contract both must be of an age and mental ability to make an informed consent before entering into that contract.

            No children, no animals, no religion.

            As a contract *it cannot be created under duress,

            *both parties must have the capacity to understand what they are entering into,

            *the contract needs to have an object or purpose,

            *and the promise made must be serious and each obligation assumed by one of the parties must have a corresponding promise made by the other party.

            As for how many can be involved in a marriage, that is determined by the moral standards of society, which is why I left it for last.

            Our society deems that 2 is the proper number for a marriage contract. Some want to argue that this is a religious rule, and they may be right, but today it is the norm. Society has determined the number to be two and it has been put into law that way.

            If you want to argue that gay marriage is an affront to God be my guest, but if you start to make legislation based on what your religion says you may be discriminating against other religions believe.

            Some religions allow for arranged marriages and for multiple partners in a marriage. If the law based on society says no, there is no issue, if the law is based on a religion then there is an issue.

            Harper is trying to keep his social conservatives at bay by not welcoming gay marriage and he is trying to keep the social progressives at bay by not arguing against it. He’s trying to ride two horses at one time which usually ends badly for the rider.

          • Our society used to deem that it was 2, a man and a woman.

            That has changed.

            So why is 2 still sacred, as many have pointed out – polygamy can also be a traditional form of marriage.

            I am not making any arguement for or against gay marriage. I simply want to know why gay marriage is now OK, and what definition we will use 10 years from now.

            Ask any gay who wanted to get married in the past how much suffering they felt, do we now repeat this with other forms of marriage or do we learn a lesson? If so, then what forms the basis of the limits of a marriage. I don’t mean the end result, such as common property, pensions etc. I mean, who can get married, who can’t, and what is the basis for making that exclusion?

            AS I said before, it is clear that no-one is willing to make a clear stand on this. As for Harper, damned if he does (he’ll be a dictator ramming down his beliefs), damned if he doesn’t (not showing leadership).

            SO WHY KEEP GIVING HARPER GRIEF ABOUT IT??? We don’t know what we want, so how the hell to expect him to? Unless you’re prepared to accept his definition, its probably best to shut up.

          • I thought I made it clear, if you choose to not understand then that’s your issue.

          • All you’ve made clear is that you’ve not read my questions, can’t answer them, or have no idea what you are talking about.

        • The relationship that two adults have in a consenting romantic relationship is fundamentally the same regardless of the sex of the participants involved. Adding extra people to that relationship changes the dynamic of it. The relationship dynamic in a child marriage is not the same as the dynamic in a marriage between adults.

        • Marriage: Two adults in a loving, committed relationship, which they have publicly declared and is recognized by society and the state.

          The only change from what opponents think of as “traditional marriage” is ‘Two Adults’ has replaced (and encompasses) ‘One man and one woman’.

          It’s limited to TWO adults so polygamists, children and animals are (still) legally excluded.

  3. So he’s not a racist, fine, but is he a bigot of the anti-gay variety? I hesitate to apply such a label, but he does appear quite uncomfortable on the subject. Some speculate that it’s because of his religious beliefs. That may or not be, but perhaps it’s enough that he does not actively do things to hurt gay people or deny them equal rights. No doubt some people would like more, but that’s not likely to happen. As for saying him saying he was wrong? Get real, this is someone who won’t admit being wrong about anything.

  4. I need to recommend a book called, “A Divine Revelation of Hell” by Mary K. Baxter, which you can even read online by googling it. You can jump to chapter 13 if you want.
    If truth hurts, covering up the truth will hurt even more.

    • This is really not the place to try and sell a book of fairy tales

      • Yes, as you struggles with enough delusions as it is I can see your fear of falling under the sway of ‘another’

        • LOL this from the guy who talks to his ‘invisible friend’

          • If only it was just a conversation. It’s when he starts following his sky faerie’s commands that I worry.

          • Agreed….the sky faeries commands are big on smiting

          • Really, this is all you got – my invisible friend.

            Surely you’ve more hate to display than that – don’t worry, I can take it – maybe its therapeutic for you.

          • LOL You’re absurd.

        • Award winning irony F77. You have topped yourself with that one.

    • What an odd book from someone with some real problems.

  5. This comment was deleted.

    • What a crock of poop.

  6. Ah! Looking for another reason to bash Harper. Gay are still hurt. Harper makes it worse. Oh my, what can we do.

  7. If I am not mistaken, the ruling in Divisional Court also had immediate effect and the court of appeal ruling was not unique or first on that count.

    A bigger issue might be whether Harper has gay MPs who are hiding their orientation. yes it is 2013 and one’s sexual orientation should not matter, but that’s all the more reason any gay CPC MPs should come forward. If they exist and they do not (or if they are making “it gets better” videos while still not having the guts to admit they are gay), they raise the ugly spectre that it’s not personal privacy driving their decision, but fear that donations from the prejudiced rural folk they kowtow will dry up, and that money from bad people is more important to them than the well being of a long oppressed minority

    • Harper has several gay cabinet ministers. The party does it’s best to keep the knowledge from the SoCon voters, but then they’re a naive lot anyway.

      In any other party it wouldn’t matter, but with Cons it does.

  8. What a nothing column. Just an excuse to go after the Harper. The issue is done, it’s here to stay and I’m glad for that. Harper has no issue with gay people (they are in his caucus and at the cabinet table after all). Why don’t you stop looking for bogeymen where there are none. Move along folks, nothing to see here. And oh yeah, I’m gay, before you ask.

  9. Most African nations have legislated against homosexuality. Is the LGBT community secretly racist as they apparently think that the lesser African intellect can’t quite compute their lofty ideals for society?
    Or perhaps the LGBT lobby is the colonial fascist elephant in the room that requires by coercion the unquestioning acceptance of what most of human history, the three majority world religions, and the majority of the population of the present world would consider to be perversion?
    Can’t have it two ways Mr. Goldenberg.

    • Oh dear it’s sad when one of the knuckle draggers tries to get all sophisticated and practice some critical theory.

      If you are going to analyse such a problem it is a really good idea to try and research properly and in an unbiased manner first Peter. The African nations that have legislated against homosexuality have done so as you correctly point out through an appeal to religious belief. The proponents of such a policy are passing legislation against a naturally occurring innate trait and it would make as much sense as trying to outlaw being female, black or all people under 5’6″. Fascist dogma is being used by people to try and deny what is a fact of nature and that rarely ends well. Lysenko in the USSR tried something a while back and millions died. Religious belief like any strictly held political beliefs are prone to extremism and totalitarianism; being blue eyed, male or gay is a fact and doesn’t vary depending on belief.

      Oh and the appeal to the majority at the end is a fallacy, but you knew that right ?

      • Yes I do know the fallacy–and I agree it doesn’t make a good argument. You win there, and there goes raw democracy as an arbiter of truth.

        So lets abandon for argument any sort of revelation from God and go with your “naturally occurring innate trait” ethics. What if serial killing was a naturally occurring innate trait? Or pedophilia? So what if something occurs naturally–it just so happens that we all know that that in all sorts of cultures all sorts of vile things spring up naturally. Subjugation of and violence against women, child abuse, human trafficking, gun violence, child labor and exploitation, racism and slavery to name a few.

        Our human condition is such that all sorts of naturally occurring behaviors are bad things. So who decides what “natural occurring traits” are good or bad?
        It seems we first distinguish between traits and behaviors; traits are intrinsic and morally neutral (eye color, height, skin tone, ethnicity, birth defects, etc.) To discriminate here is pure hatred, as in apartheid and the Nazis. But behaviors are different (freely chosen actions) and always regulated by society (stealing and child abuse for examples). I might possess the natural innate tendency to desperately want things owned by other people, but does that make the act of stealing ethical?
        So again, simple question: Who decides which behaviors are A-OK? You? Or me? Heads or tails? Stephen Harper? Justin Trudeau? I am not in favor of any of the preceding, myself included, but in your view who decides?

        • How is committing to someone in marriage NOT “A-OK”?

        • This has been covered elsewhere in detail, but basically any consensual behaviour between mature adults must be treated differently than behaviour between non-consenting adults or those who by law cannot consent.
          Paedophillia and rape are crimes because of the non-consent issue. Heterosexuality and homosexuality are usually not crimes because both involve consenting adults. To legislate against the behaviour of two adults behaving in a mutually consensual manner in private, society has to have some pretty good grounds.
          In other words the law is there to restrict any abuse of others not the consensual behaviour of two grown ups.

    • The fact that South Africa has equal marriage kind of negates your ‘point’.

  10. Has Bob Rae apologized for letting his NDP MPP’s in his majority government in Ontario vote against gay right in the nineties?

    Has Jean Chretien apologized for not legislating gay marriage, and letting the courts do it for him? Has Chretien apologized for not apologizing for the aboriginal residential school scandal?

    Has Bill Clinton apologized for blocking UN action on the genocide in Rwanda?

    Has Tony Blair apologized for the fabricated intelligence and his support of the Iraq War?

    Has Barack Obama apologized for double-tapping the first responders to his drone missile attacks?

    • Ah I see, it’s okay because some others did it and they never got called on it. That stopped working with my mum when I was 4.

    • How clever – Harper can never be criticized for anything.

  11. Interesting points, but to counter, I do believe the Prime Minister understood fully that Parliament was not going to overturn gay marriage when he took it to a vote. He had to manage the expectation of his munificent right flank and I can’t help but think the vote itself did much to solidify these rights in the minds of many Canadians. I’m not sure he wasn’t trying to do us a solid. So now he’s that uncle in the family who doesn’t say much about it, but we think he’s changed his mind because his actions kinda show it. As a happily married gay man, I’m okay with that. I think the issue for Prime Minister Harper is he is playing old politics trying to appease the aging right side of his party, and I’m pretty sure that for this reason, it will be curtains for the Conservatives by next election. The issue is not whether he’s moved on, it’s whether the country is moving on.

    • What may be acceptable in an elderly uncle takes on far worse shades when he’s the foremost policymaker in the country.

  12. I might be among the last people in the nation who’d ever join Harper’s fan club. But I must say that if openly endorsing gay unions is something that would require him to betray his own personal or religious values, I have no problem with him just staying silent on the matter and keeping it off his party’s social policy agenda.

    IMO, that’s more acceptable than uttering something that, coming from him, would be contrived, ingenuous and hypocritical. There’s already more than enough of those qualities in public discourse these days.

    • I am fully in favor of gay marriage and abortion (as everyone likely knows). My parents however are not. They are not bigoted though because my mom’s best friend growing up was a gay cousin (although in the 1930′s he didn’t come out). I am sure their beliefs are largely a product of their upbringing and “old ways” which are best left to pass on with their generation.
      I count my daughters very fortunate. Their friends who are gay came out in school and were easily accepted. I can hope that the next generation will be even better in Canada for men and women who are gay and lesbian in terms of acceptance. I have great optimism that we will NEVER go backwards. I am also okay with Mr. Harper keeping silent but should the “backbench” try to reopen the issue of gay marriage, I hope he will step up just like he did with sex-selection abortion and shut them down. I know many believed his actions were a violation of free speech but I believe theirs was a back door attempt to take us backward in our civil liberties and I don’t want to see that happen in this country.

      • Agreed. Totally. Thanks.

  13. More, More, More. Everything we asked for is not enough.

    When Clinton signed the two most homophobic bills into US law (DADT and DOMA) it was seen by the gay community as wonderful. They celebrated “small steps”.
    Conservative bigotry against the gay community? No, it is actually your bigotry against Conservatives.

    • You either forgot of simply ignored the political climate of the day. “D”oMA was signed to prevent an attempt from the (f)right-wing at a nation-wide Constitutional change (‘amendment’ implies making it better) to forever prevent equal marriage from happening, because Hawaii was about to pass equal marriage.

      • Nonsense. I forgot nothing.

        He said, in a clear voice, that he defined marriage as one man and one woman.

        Your point is that his heart was in the right place. I ask that you give the same benefit to Harper.

        • If Mr. Harper HAD a heart, I’d consider that POV.
          Until then though …

  14. The real bias is in limiting marriage to only two people. No party leader has come out in support of this. Love is not always limited to one person. Yet, i don’t hear EmilyOne or her partners on the left coming out for this. it is biased to limit marriage to simply two individuals. I live with two ladies. A lady might live with numerous partners. Where are the left-wingers to support my right to a lifestyle? i am a heterosexual polyamorous male but they disregard my relationship because i don’t bankroll many of their leftist causes. They also ignore unborn children and pretend that they are playdoh. The sad truth is that many leftists are on the wrong side of history. Some day, it will reach even their minds that unborn children have rights(something the modern left disregards much like slaveholders refused to admit that blacks were people). It will also enter their heads that civil rights apply to everyone whether straight, gay, polyamorous, unborn, or otherwise. Some of us remember that all people are born equal not just those that are the left’s flavor of the decade. In addition, i want honest debate. if someone disagrees with my lifestyle, i rather hear it than have them play politically correct word games. i want Justin to support my lifestyle but i would respect him more if he took a position based on his actual beliefs rather than expediency. As for Cameron in Britain, whats not for a leftist to like? He claims to be a conservative but governs like New Labour(pro-abortion, pro-gun bans, anti-death penalty, pro-high taxes,soft on crime, politically correct on the war on terror, and supportive of the big bureaucracy of the EU). No wonder the UKIP is stealing voters away from him. Some of us at least are keeping it real. I am a pro-life libertarian polyamorous man. I believe in maximum freedom and that government should only intercede when absolutely necessary. To me, abortion is knocking off a defenseless child whose crime is to show up at an inappropriate time. Therefore, i support limiting to only a few instances like life of the mother, rape or incest(not on demand and not for social economic reasons). I also support the death penalty and other tough on crime policies because i think law and order are one of the few recognized rights of government. Otherwise, i am fine with people doing what they want as long as they don’t harm others. You want pot. Well, i don’t care one way or another. Legalized prostitution fine but let the people of each province decide if any restrictions should be imposed.

    • Sorry, but I will take the word of the myriad women (and children) who have escaped polygamy over yours any day.

  15. How typical: first you want tolerance, then that’s not good enough. So you move on to acceptance, then that’s not enough. Finally you demand universal endorsement and celebration, showing no “tolerance” whatsoever for those with dissenting beliefs. Pot meet kettle. George Orwell’s little piggies now run the farm.

    • I “tolerate” those who oppose equal marriage because of their beliefs by pointing out that I am not a member of their church. And, by pointing out that even though I am allowed to marry, THEY are too. In fact, I’ve never tried to prevent that from happening. The reverse cannot be said.

  16. “The politics of Stephen Harper’s silence are easy to understand, of course; admitting his belated support for marriage equality would only stand to alienate the most extreme conservative voices in his own party. ”

    Same reason he said the charter is divisive… because maybe there’s some votes in it for him.
    I still can’t get my head around the fact that a sitting Canadian PM refused to acknowledge a part of the constitution that he doesn’t like, as being worthy of national celebration.
    It’s astonishing really ; specially as he has no plan to fix it. That’s the day I finally said this guy has no right to be PM. We are a nation under law; not a nation of personal whims, grievances and opinions. …even if they’re the PMs.

    • With the Charter we are not a nation under law; we are a nation under the whims, prejudices, and personal preferences of Supreme Court justices.

      • And what exactly do you think we were under before the justices? Under the whims, prejudices and so forth of politicians.
        Actually in both cases we’re still under the rule of law. All the charter has done is put into the hands of the people ( if they can afford it) and out of the hands of capricious pols. Judges don’t in any case make law. At worst they interpret it. Still preferable to the politician doing it, no matter the party.

        • “Under the whims, prejudices and so forth of politicians. ”

          The politicians are elected and democratically accountable; the judges are not.

  17. Race is not a behavior; homosexuality is. It’s a false equivalence and defective analogy.

    • No it’s not a false equivalency.
      Homosexuality is an innate trait of a person. Religious belief like political belief is a choice and can be changed at a whim. Sexuality on the other hand is something you have no real choice over.

      • “Homosexuality is an innate trait of a person.” Well, if homosexuality is, so is pederasty. What rights inexorably follow from that for pederasty?

        • Again mutual consent, the age of majority and acting on one’s desires decides what is and what isn’t legal.

          Anyone under the age of majority cannot give consent by law so such relationships are not consensual. As pointed out below sometimes parents can give legal consent for their young kids to marry but that is usually very rare and is monitored.

          Homosexuals are not pederasts because homosexuality involves adult relationships, not adult – minor relationships. In much the same way that an adult having sexual relations with a minor of the opposite sex is a crime, so is an adult having sexual relations with a minor of the same sex.

          An adult who has sexual relations with a minor of either sex is a paedophile and a criminal, not a heterosexual or a homosexual. These latter terms are usually reserved for legal relationships.

          Why is this so hard to understand?

          • “Again mutual consent, the age of majority and acting on one’s desires decides what is and what isn’t legal.”

            Now you are no longer arguing based on innate trait. You are now arguing based on adult mutual consent, and legality, not intrinsic human rights.

            What about a brother and sister who want to marry. Should that be legal? Meets your criteria.

          • Well the innate trait is the starting point, but it cannot be considered in isolation from the law because the law determines who can and cannot give consent. The innate quality for homosexuality is an attraction to the same sex, just like the innate quality for heterosexuality is an attraction to the opposite sex. Acting on those attractions is only deemed acceptable in society if there is consent on the part of both people involved. Society has deemed that it is impossible for some people to give consent. As adults are fully able to give consent all consensual adult sexual relationships should not be restricted unless there is a damn good reason to do so. Appeals to religious direction are not good reasons.

            Paedophilia and rape are crimes for the same reason, they don’t involve proper consent from all the involved parties. See the point there?

            As for incest, I believe they did marry for a while hence the poor state of European royalty and the requirement for an outside source to intervene. In fact that is one of the many problems with isolated religious branches, the gene pool gets awfully shallow. On a biological basis close relatives procreating is not a good idea and should be avoided. As to whether the law should prohibit siblings from marrying again this whole area involves the idea of consent. Could a younger sister truly give consent in a marriage to an older brother or to her father? I doubt it very much.
            So from a public health standpoint and a view that makes one believe that proper consent could rarely be given, my initial thought would be no, but I’m open to arguments to the contrary.

          • What about two brothers, then? Meets your criteria.

          • Well they certainly won’t be procreating so my reservations are down by one less objection. But the consent concern would still apply as one brother is usually more in charge.

            Let me pose you a thought experiment now:
            A boy and a girl, both twin siblings are separated at birth. They meet up later in life and fall in love. They get married and have three really healthy kids. One of the kids gets sick after a contagious disease hits and needs a transplant. On doing the blood work the hospital realises that the parents are twins and tells them.

            Now is this case of incest enough for authorities to break up the family because incest is wrong? Or do circumstances come into it?

          • “one brother is usually more in charge.”

            That’s generally true in all relationships, and is certainly not a basis for forbidding marriage.

            Re: thought experiment — I would hope that personal revulsion on the part of the twins would be sufficient. In any case, “hard cases make bad law”.

            The point is, you have moved from asserting a right equal to that of race, to adult legal consent, and then made it subject to societal interests. None of these moves is necessary when it comes to race. Which supports my point that the race analogy is defective.

          • Yes it is and if the relationship is such that one partner is completely intimidated and threatened by the other I would argue consent isn’t possible.

            Personal revulsion? Seriously? A loving family one minute and all that is gone because of a societal taboo. What if they decide to stick together for the kids? Does society have the right to separate them from their kids and each other. Remember they are blameless.

            It wasn’t that long ago that people of a different race and even sex were considered property, so race and sex hasn’t always been as clear cut as you insist. Race is the same as gender and the same as sexuality in terms of it’s innateness and all have been subjected to control by law. All three also have the added quality of being impossible to quantify. Mixed race people belong to what race? Hermaphrodites belong to which sex? And so on.

            Just because you think race is a settled concept and sexuality hasn’t doesn’t make it so. It’s a lot more complicated and fluid than you give it credit for.

          • “sex hasn’t always been as clear cut as you insist.”

            On the contrary, you are the one neatly dividing persons into heterosexual/homosexual designations, which you claim are innate, and presumably, immutable.

            It is precisely because of this that I reject these categories and believe that marriage ought to be defined biologically and not based on trendy notions of sexual orientation.

          • Explain what you mean by biologically, because last time I looked marriage isn’t a biological construct yet sexuality is.

            You say it should be between a man and a woman yet agree that there is no neat way to define those categories which is why you reject them.

          • Holy crap….for one thing, the boy and girl are merely brother and sister. The fact that they are twins is irrelevant. They have come from two separate eggs.
            Next: I think I saw this on Oprah! (They stayed together)
            The truly unacceptable thing about siblings procreating and marrying, etc. for society is twofold. #1: is that they have been raised as brother and sister and therefore, a romantic entanglement is forbidden and distressing. #2: is that there is the genetic concern that if there is some sort of abnormality…a recessive gene that causes illness …BANG…it will present.
            In this case, #1 has not occurred and #2 did occur but it could not have been predicted. Therefore, if they can live with the fact that they are biologically closely related and they work that out….who is to say they shouldn’t stay together? Would the marriage be null and void….good question?

          • Life isn’t simple and anyone who offers simple answers to complex issues is likely to be wrong.
            Anyone who insists that religion can provide the answers is even more wrong.

          • Because the ONLY purpose of marriage in the eyes of the law is to establish legal kinship where none existed previously. Brothers and sisters already have kinship established in law and hence the incestuous have no need of marriage.

            How many times does this need to be explained to you?

          • I believe you only have to look to nature to understand why incest is not a good idea. If you look at Gorillas and Chimps you will see that members of the family are sent away (male teenagers in the case of chimps) to avoid incest because incest causes all kinds of genetic issues. However, it has recently been discovered (you can google this) that there is no significant genetic risk in procreating with one’s first cousin despite what was falsely believed for many years.

          • The ONLY purpose of marriage in the eyes of the law is to establish legal kinship where none existed previously. Brothers and sisters already have kinship established in law and hence the incestuous have no need of marriage.
            Try again. Do better.

          • It seems to me that gay marriage is about a lot more than establishing legal kinship, things like societal approval, etc. What if two sisters want their love recognized as “equal” to others’? You’re acting as their judge and jury, putting them down, but what if they want to be equal too?

          • But “society” DIDN’T “approve” of inter-racial marriages back in 1967. So much for your “it’s about societal approval” nonsense.
            I’ve answered the incest poppycock more than enough times. They already have kinship established in law and thus have no need of marriage.
            If you don’t get it, it’s not my problem.

        • You equate loving, committed, consenting, adult, human relationships to child-molestation, and then wonder why you are not believed!?!?!

          • Who equated it? I merely pointed out that the “innate trait” argument doesn’t cut it.

          • Everyone who speaks of “pederasty” in a discussion of marriage is comparing the two.
            Thanks for asking.

      • Boo!!!!

  18. Oh ffs’ get your dna checked.

  19. The negative comments & attitudes are astonishingly uninformed. Consider: religious beliefs are based on faith; not facts. And, beliefs have consequences, when directed against significant segments of the population. The “must be treated with respect” parts of religious teaching falls on deaf ears, but the degrading & defamatory parts take hold in smaller groups fueled by testosterone, an uncivilized upbringing, & elected officials seeking the votes of oppositional constituents; to name but a few. To wit: Following the torture & murder of a 21 year old gay college student in Laramie, Wyoming a few years ago, his grieving mother said she didn’t blame the young killers of her son so much as society for giving them permission to do so. The steady flow of venomous hatred from many right wing religious groups; disguised as ‘morality’ &’religious doctrine’, is the direct source of the violence & bloodshed directed at homosexual citizens/taxpayers. Additionally, in “our home and native land”, criminologists tell us that about 100 gay men are murdered in hate crimes across Canada, every ten years. I am not suggesting that this is the aim of any religious entity , Christian or otherwise, but from where else would the general populace acquire such abysmal perspectives? From a personal observation based on decades of experience with our western societies & the vagaries of ‘liberty’.; I am an expert in nothing. But with youth but a distant memory; you pick up a few insights.
    Par example : I do not believe for a moment that the opposition to same-sex marriage has, or had; anything to do with nuptials & marital benefits , & is simply a more palatable (to many), version of hatred, bigotry, & exclusion. To those who say there are tired of gay rights & issues being “thrown in their faces”, I extend a caveat……LGBT citizen taxpayers have a long way to go. These will be ‘issues’ for generations to come as long as religious, political, & social attitudes lead to unspeakable violence.

    • Well said, Hugh. I haven’t read a better and more concise commentary on this topic in a long while.

  20. While it is true that gay rights is a constitutional issue and all citizens are due equal recognition constitutionally, the civil rights links between gay rights and the rights of many other previously disenfranchised groups is sometimes weak at best. To lump them all into the same group is probably convenient. It’s definitely lazy. And it is wrong. It ignores certain historical issues other groups (e.g. women, African-Americans, Natives) experienced and some still have not overcome.

    I’ll probably get roasted but here goes (and you may notice that I am not arguing against gay marriage, which I support. I’m just arguing for a wee bit of perspective, which is important to some groups who are probably not white uber liberals who have shaken off the burden of their heritage and their history)…

    The right to vote=participation in our democracy. Restrictions on who you can marry doesn’t equate to suffragettes or blacks in the US.

    Jim Crow=outright and systematic violence against blacks in the US. Restrictions on who can marry don’t even come close to Jim Crow. There are no trees in our public squares with gays hanging from them. No restaurants that refuse to serve gays. No entrances to public buildings for gays. Gays were not robbed of their land after reconstruction. Gays can vote…and white gays had the vote from the dawn of democracy.

    However, I do understand that historical perspective is not a requirement here.

    • Here here! well said perfectly!

  21. What a ridiculous piece of drivel. There are many legitimate reasons lately to be worried about where this government is going. Supposed fiscal responsibility promised but not delivered, a “tough on crime” agenda that may actually increase crime are two major questions.

    Gay marriage and gay rights aren’t one of them.

    To draw an anology between the PM and Wallace is, well, ignorant. To suggest that a PM who reigns in disperate opinions on abortion and gay rights in particular to assure that those rights are maintained is, frankly, an accomplishment.

    Think about it.

    If Justin Trudeau or Thomas Mulcair speak on gay issues – for the most part, they are preaching to the choir.. the hard core right ignores them completely.

    However – when the darling of the right, Stephen Harper says, “We will not open the debate on gay marriage or abortion” – well, the right has to listen – and the message is – the debate is over.
    If you can’t win Harper over, you have no hope with the rest of Canada.
    Be happy already.. the country, including the Conservative government – has accepted (if not entirely embraced) the reality of equal rights for homosexual people.

    This article is simply a sad example of pseudo-journalism mongering at the edges of hate speach against those whose religious principals are, as yet, out of touch with modern values. Which is their right (at least for the moment).

    Let it go already.. and if you want to attack Harper, well, do some research on criminology and then ask why minimum sentences will make us safer, and why, when Alan Rock sought to benefit from fanning irrational public fear in instituting the conservative-hated gun registry – it’s ok for the conservatives to play the exact same game with the “tough on crime” agenda.

  22. Same sex marriage, or “marriage equality” as it is deceptively termed, is a contradiction in terms. It has nothing do to with “civil rights” or real equality, but is a just another demand among many demands made by a tiny minority group of shrill self-obsessed narcissists just to make a point. Most Canadians have not “moved on” from this issue; they didn’t care back in 2005 and they don’t care now. The nation is half asleep as usual. Aliens could invade us tomorrow, but as long as they don’t interfere with Hockey Night in Canada or Don Cherry’s eloquent discourse, nobody will care.

    Stephen Harper gave Parliament a free vote on this issue, and lost. He is no better and no worse than any other crook on Parliament Hill. But please Mr. Goldenberg, don’t try to make him into the monster he isn’t.

  23. The Conservative Party has left it’s base and travelled to the level of political expediency.
    One Day in the near future, Harper and his band of Red Tories will pay the ultimate price for their insanity.

  24. It’s very simple.

    If he speaks out either way, he is going to lose voters.

  25. Laureen Harper is gay and lives with her female partner …… THIS IS WHY Harper will forever oppose gay marriage

  26. It is sad to hear the knee-jerk attitudes towards “lefties”, which one assumes is directed at liberal or moderate points of view. I am neither liberal nor conservative. It depends on the issue. But perhaps the best examples of liberal perspectives come from south of the border. ironically.Liberals created the Constitution with liberty, justice, & equality for all; including freedom of religion, which was viewed with disdain by many of America’s earliest settlers. Liberals got women the vote, & African-Americans the vote, & passed the Voting Rights Act.Liberals ended segregation , created Medicare , & Social Security, lifting millions of elderly out of poverty. The passed the Clean Air & Clean Water Acts. Conservatives opposed every one of these measures.The same essential perspectives hold true for Canada ; including equality; viewed with disdain by the religious right.

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