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.
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: