Same-Sex Marriage: Let's Make a Change
By Justine Poirier
Image source: Flickr.
The groom is restlessly attaching his tie. His eyes appear bright and he smiles timidly while taking a last look at himself in the mirror; he feels nervous. Outside, on a sunny and mild day of August, everybody is smiling and laughing, showing off their most beautiful dresses and suits; The violins begin a romantic serenade and the future grooms walk slowly towards the altar. The two men are ready to say yes and nothing can prevent them from joyfully tying the knot. In Canada, same-sex marriages are legal since 2005 by the enactment of the Civil Marriage Act. Nevertheless, the inhabitants don't entirely accept this privilege. Fortunately, the growing population of Canada, especially young people, has the power to change and erase negative biases towards homosexual rights.
For those who line up behind the multicolored flag, same-sex marriage is a victory. Canada occupies the rank of the fourth country in the world and the first in the Americas to legalize same-sex marriage. Former controversial Prime Minister Paul Martin, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, introduced the matter and it was passed by the House of Commons as Bill C-38 on February 2005. The same year, the Senate recognized the Bill and it received Royal Assent. The following year, a majority successfully reaffirmed Bill-C-38, defeating the Conservative government request to examine the matter again. It was the third vote supporting homosexual marriage, with different governments and Parliaments, in three different years. This phenomenon proved the solidarity of Canadians for homosexuality. Later on, many groups and organizations supporting homosexual rights, providing help and guidance with newly acquired privileges and battling against discrimination and homophobia started to multiply. Groups like PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) '' promote the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, their families and friends through: support, to cope with an adverse society; education, to enlighten an ill-informed public; and advocacy, to end discrimination and to secure equal civil rights.'' (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Canada. http://www.pflagcanada.ca/en/index-e.asp.) Nonetheless, despite all the promotion and the people's effort to convince the population to move forward, the older generations still have trouble accepting same-sex marriages and homosexual rights.
On the contrary, people against same-sex marriage and equal civil rights for homosexuals have their minds set in stone; In their opinion, and often according to their religion, homosexuals should not own the legal right to marry and start a family. For them, it is against the will of God and all their moral principles, values and beliefs. Homosexuality has always been part of our society, but this sexual orientation surfaced in Canada in the 1960's. In 1965, the Canadian authorities arrested Everett George Klippert for having sexual relationships with men. The psychiatrists labeled him as a sexual offender and the court condemned him to 6 years of prison; nobody reacted to his case. In the 1970's the police raided many gay bars, clubs and restaurants in order to ''clean'' the city for the coming of the Olympics. A decade later, the majority of the population still didn't accept homosexuality as part of the society. People forced many gay businessmen and restaurant owners to shut down their businesses on The Main (St-Lawrence blvd) and the same owners were chased out the famous district. Most of the victims reopened their restaurants and bars on St-Catherine Street, between Berri and Papineau. This area slowly became the homosexual scene of Montreal and more and more gay, lesbian and transsexual people took refuge in this part of town. In 1980, the area officially transformed into Montreal's Gay Village. Furthermore, few groups such as the American Family Association and the Traditional Values Coalition started to denigrate same-sex marriage and homosexual rights on the premises that it is against the will of God and all moral values. Their mission is ''to inform, equip, and activate individuals to strengthen the moral foundations of American culture, and give aid to the church here and abroad in its task of fulfilling the Great Commission.'' (American Family Association, http://www.afa.net/Detail.aspx?id=31)
Despite the opposition's attempt to obliterate homosexuality from our society, a great sign of hope remains for Canada. Progress has led the Canadian youth to not be blind and to militate for what they believe: one's freedom to love anyone, to live comfortable with his sexuality and one's freedom to express himself. Today, young people refuse to be treated differently and to be discriminated against. The youth takes action and carry on in the name of the past generations. Indeed, gays, lesbians and transsexuals do have the same civil rights as the rest of the population; they shall not be isolated and taken away their fundamental right to love and start a family. Although scientists are trying to prove that two persons of the same sex are not able to raise a sane and healthy child, so far, they could not prove anything. Times are changing and the future has arrived. Divorce is now a popular practice and less and less people tend to get married. The youth is aware, wise, loud and proud; limited and straight minds will no longer dominate the society and there will be a time, soon, where homosexuality will be a battle of the past.
Finally, for Michael Hendricks and René Leboeuf, the first legally married homosexual couple in Quebec, the Bill C-38 became a giant step forward. In April, the happy couple celebrated their 7 years of marriage and 38 years of common life. The pair became famous for its advocacy of same-sex marriage in Canada and was actively involved in the fight for Canadian gay rights. After a lifetime of struggle, their dedication finally paid off. It is now our turn to honor Hendricks and Leboeuf's perseverance and commitment and say thank you for the great achievement and victory they passed on to our generation as a legacy. Let's make a change.