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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope

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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gay marriage didn't destroy marriage in Canada

It's been five years since Parliament legalized gay marriage, and according to Lorne Gunter "in that time the sky has not fallen in on traditional, opposite-sex marriage". He writes in today's National Post Same sex unions didn't kill marriage:
This month marks the fifth anniversary of the legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada. In that time the sky has not fallen in on traditional, opposite-sex marriage.

Or perhaps the more accurate thing to say is that same-sex marriage has not caused the sky to fall in on traditional marriage any faster than it was already falling before July 2005 when Parliament made same-sex marriage legal. Same-sex marriage has not sped up the deterioration of traditional marriage.


There are, to my mind, two aspects to marriage: the personal-commitment side and the public-policy side. Most marrying couples are looking for love, stability, companionship, commitment and a nurturing environment to bring up children. If they can split the family duties in a way that is acceptable to each and have some fun together until death parts them, that's a bonus. Governments have very little influence over whether marrying couples reach those goals, so most Canadians' personal interest in the public-policy impact of marriage is negligible.

Government's interest in sanctioning marriage has mostly been in registeringwhat churches and couples have already sanctified. It could be argued that the state can bolster the family. By creating the legal framework around marriage it can keep marriages intact and ensure children are raised by their birth parents together, all of which has a beneficial impact on social problems: Crime goes down, along with alcoholism, addictions, poverty, dropout rates, spousal abuse and so on.

But states no longer search for the right marriage laws and hadn't tried to for decades before Same-sex marriage became an issue.

For instance, the move to give common-law relationships the same standing in law as traditional marriages started in earnest in the 1960s. By the time the same-sex marriage debate began in the early 2000s, common-law couples had for two decades had nearly all the same legal protections as married couples regarding pensions, communal property, income taxes and insurance awards.

Long before gays and lesbians began insisting on equal marriage rights, heterosexuals had stripped marriage of its public-policy special-ness. More importantly, we heteros were in no hurry to put that humptydumpty back together -- to make divorce more difficult, for instance, or strip those living together of their spousal rights.


So why aren't all those opposed to Same-sex marriage in the name of defending marriage for the good of children, not fighting common-law relationships every bit as energetically?

Over the past five years, same-sex marriage has done nothing to harm the personal-commitment side of heterosexual marriage and no more to harm the public-policy side than we heteros had been doing for decades.


The Rat said...

I don't think gay marriage has hurt "the family" but I do think that government sanctioning of marriage, the definition of marriage being set by the charter, has taken government into areas it should not go. I don't want my government sanctioning plural marriage where abuse is the basis of the relationship, nor do I want incestuous relationships given the approval of the government and therefore the people. I believe consenting adults should do as they please, even so far as incest between consenting adults (gross I know but with birth control the main societal objection is moot). What I don't believe in is government saying any relationship is OK. Why should I care if the government "approves" of my marriage, or anyone else's?

Anonymous said...

We don't know the answer to that question yet actually. Maybe in 20 years time when we look back and realize that nobody gets married that worrying about a small number of people that had no need to get married in the first place and peeing on the majority that continues to breed our very existence was a mistake. I can make the same argument re: employment equity or immigration. Nobody has been hurt, but is that so? Many have been and suffer in silence but more importantly is the change being engineered on society and does anybody know where we are really going? Would anybody admit even if they knew? Well I do know and maybe I need to start saying it out loud. (real conservative)

Eric said...

Sorry, real conservative - I fail to see how allowing gay couples to marry means that "many have been hurt" and straight people are "suffering in silence". How does it hurt straight couples or make them suffer if gay couples are allowed to marry? It hasn't changed the nature of straight marriage one bit.

Anonymous said...

I predict that 30 years from now the people will mcok the flat-earth knuckle dragging gay mamebr that laughed at 3 or more person having equal rights to the status or marriage.

If 2-Persons of same gender can get married, then why not 4 or 5 person if they conscent and turely love each other.
Oops,is only 2010 and I'll have to wait until the Gays enter the 21st century and accept equal marriage for all people,not just those obsessed with being naked on Yonge street in front of children each july.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, little would happen in only five years. Gay marriage has introduced a systemic change to our understanding of family units (mother, father, kids). Marriage is suddenly about "couples" linking up, rather than an essential foundation for building family units. I think this is a profound change. It is the next generation and the generation after that will reveal its impact. I do expect the significance of marriage to decline significantly and a strong family structure to be undermined.

I realize that gay marriage has not been the only thing contributing to this, but I think it represents a final blow to the institution. Our connection to the traditional understanding of marriage has been severed, and that will for sure change our society.

Anonymous said...

Many have been hurt because a purposeful existence with commitment and a contract has been reduced in status, stature, and value. Marriage existed to create the family unit and to enshrine it and to protect it. What we have done with social engineering (not just gay marriage btw), it attack it so much that it is in danger of not existing in future. So tell me this: if straights stop getting married is it going to be a big thrill for gays or will all the fun have gone? (real conservative)

threenorns said...

Ridiculous. There is an ocean of difference between two consenting adults agreeing to marry each other and incest.

Regarding plural marriage: if it's good enough for the bible, it ought to be good enough for the religioso types. So why is it frowned upon now?

Make up your mind: you can't cherry pick what is and isn't acceptable based on the bible or some non-existent "tradition" (marriage, until very recently, was strictly a legal arrangement that united estates and ensured succession - peasants didn't get married; they just shacked up, hence the term "common" law. It also explains why virtually all the nobility had lovers. Half the time they wouldn't be able to pick their spouse out in a crowd of three.