Saturday, July 02, 2005

Respect

The last few days have been difficult for me, politically and philosophically speaking, because I have in a sense turned my back on my political home. It has left me angry and irritable, and I have written some things of which I am not terribly proud. I haven't gone back to delete anything, because in its own way that would be a lie. But I need to make clear one very important thing.

Some of this I said already, in my update below, but it is worthy of its own post.

I do not believe that opposing same-sex marriage, or equal marriage, means one is bigoted or homophobic. I do not believe that Stephen Harper and the Tory party are bigoted or homophobic. I do not believe that religious Canadians who oppose SSM, in keeping with their faith, are bigoted and homophobic. Sadly the tone of my recent commentary on this topic has been occasionally offensive and, frankly, thoughtless.

A great number of people, for whom I have the deepest respect, sincerely hold religious views which do not allow for the word "marriage" to be applied to gay or lesbian relationships. These people are, by and large, not homophobic--although to be fair some of them are homophobic.

I accept and believe that opposing SSM for religious reasons, and even secular reasons, does not make one a homophobe. I appreciate that the "conservative" approach to social change, with which I generally agree, mandates a "go-slow" response to SSM. I am personally of the opinion that allowing gay marriage is, honestly, an unqualified good. But I have enough modesty to accept that it is not necessarily a bad thing to take one's time about nearly unprecedented social change, and people who want to take their time about such things are not to be condemned for their caution.

In my own defense, I would like to make three specific points.

One, although I respect the religious (and secular) objections of the many fair-minded Canadians who oppose SSM, I cannot agree with any of the anti-SSM analysis I have read. Allowing SSM is a simple matter of human decency. In my opinion, the objections to SSM that centre on its deleterious effect on "the family" are utterly hollow. I have no clue whether a fair reading of the Canadian Charter would oblige government to allow SSM, but that is neither here nor there. This isn't about the Charter. It's about human rights. Equal marriage is the right thing to do--and, in my opinion, it is one of the necessary steps towards normalizing homosexuality in the eyes of society and the law. Probably people who do not view homosexuality as normal are afraid of exactly that. These people are wrong. This is my opinion.

Two, I continue to believe that by opposing SSM with a unique intensity, Stephen Harper and the CPC have made a massive strategic error. In my opinion, even Canadians who are uncomfortable with SSM are unlikely to vote against something they believe to be a Charter right. As I said above, I don't know whether SSM should actually be considered a Charter right... but this is about politics, not reality, which means it is about perception. I believe that a large majority of Canadians would view Harper's idea of revoking equal marriage, after it is assented, as a violation of people's rights. I think this will cost the CPC at the polls. I also am disgusted at the way the CPC's opposition to SSM has led them to go soft on a hundred policies I agree with, in order to fight for one that I cannot abide. Harper could have fought the "good fight" against SSM, accepted his loss, and moved on--and I would still today consider myself a Tory. But his determination to revoke SSM, which seems more important than allowing freedom in health care or opposing Liberal spending, means I cannot vote Tory in the next election. I am sorry about this, but it's no good. Sure George Bush is anti-SSM, and more anti than Harper. But at least if you vote for Bush you get a war of liberation that I wholeheartedly support! A vote for Harper gets me... what, exactly? A ringing NO! to something I support, and a whole lot of maybemaybemaybe on things that matter. Forget it, buddy. Not gonna happen.

Third, a request. Those of my friends and readers who sincerely oppose SSM, I would ask a small favour. Please: when you come across bloggers and writers who are overtly homophobic in their opposition to SSM, please make it clear that they do not speak for you. The failure to reject homophobia among the anti-SSM crowd has done a lot of harm to the anti-SSM message, in my opinion. Those of us who support SSM, in particular those of us who are otherwise Tory supporters, do not appreciate being told we have been fooled by the CBC, or that we are in thrall to the Liberals, or that we are libertines (and don't start with the libertarian = libertine bullshit). I do not enjoy reading, after the passage of C-38, that "fudge-packers" should "rejoice". I do not appreciate being told that I am an idiot for supporting SSM, or that I haven't read enough about it, or that I haven't thought about it deeply enough. I do not enjoy being lumped in with drug addicts or hippies.

That's it. I'm not writing about this any more.



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