I grew up expecting certain rights as a Canadian citizen, but when I came out at 23 in the early 1990′s, I lost a lot of my legal rights.
It was legal to fire me, deny me housing, not promote me and a lot of other things that ither minorities have legal protection against in the form of human rights complaints and non-discrimination laws.
But gays and lesbians were excluded for consideration, and that the obvious lack of protection and need for it, should have been a no-brainer amendment. But religious and discrimination had already lost so many battles against women, ethnicities, less than fully able bodies or mental ability, that the battle to suppress gays and lesbians wasn’t and isn’t ending easily.
Over time and court cases, rights were returned to me one by one from the most basic rights up to equality under the law and ability to engage in marriage.
It’s funny, through the 1990′s all while denying gays and lesbian the ability to common-law (2000) or married (2003/04) – welfare would recognize gay couples because a couple both collecting got less money than 2 single roommates.
The government of Canada, federally and provincially, had it both ways – not recognizing us as individuals or couples when it suited and recognizing us when it disadvantaged us.
So my personal experience has been to live in a secular democratic society where I was legally lesser than other citizens because of my sexuality. Which is why I say that human rights are a legal fiction, with no reality or force in society.
The rights we gays and lesbian have as citizens are dependent on the goodwill of the public and worse, politicians who do the right not the popular things.
With little awareness that the reason there’s anti-discrimination and minority protection is BECAUSE THE MAJORITY CAN’T BE TRUSTED TO BE FAIR.
If we collectively could, there would be no reason to spell out human rights, they would just exist inalienable without question.
If there’s not a more fragile basis for social inclusion, then I don’t know what is.
So having had to fight, court case by court case, person by person and then couple by couple, for each getting closer to the same rights as anyone else – having our employment and housing protected from discrimination, being able to serve in the military and finally, being able to access the same legal protection for our families as any other family.
The fact of the discrimination of gays and lesbians should be an automatic trigger to be includes as a prohibited ground of discrimination – because there is no reason to discriminate against anyone because of their membership in an identifiable group within a population.
It really is that simple.
I have a different perspective on rights and an analysis of individual vs couple vs group vs social rights than anyone who always had the full rights without question.
if you think about it, the people who are against gay marriage should actually be more against atheist marriage but they don’t try to say marriage is religious so atheists and agnostics can’t get married.
Because we do not question that heterosexuals off all creeds and beliefs are entitled to marry – so why should it be a question if anyone can marry the person that they love?
Modern Secular democracy has said, marriage is 2 people, exclusive of others.
With the Individual being the unit of social consequence – and that is the promise of secular democratic nations – then it is the individual who makes the decisions and choices for their lives.
Not families, not tribal or religious elders, not the King of the land and not anyone other than the person who has to make personal soveriegnty decisions.
To be able to do that, one must first be aware of and understand what their legal rights are.
People who are existing in closed religious communities or ghettoized immigrant subcultures are having decisions made for them as a matter of tradition, without any understanding that this is not the basis of Canada or America.
It should be appalling to anyone that in Canada and the US or any secular democratic nation, that there are people being raised with no awareness of their rights just for being citizens, and limited or no participation in the wider society.
Just closed religious communities – in the case of Bountiful, BC - closed means that only the church group populates the town and everyone you see is related and living the same way as you – no mixing, no diversity and no multiculturalism.
You have to understand it from THEIR experience, not assume that what’s normal for you is normal for everyone.
There is no difference between Bountiful and Jonestown.
Both communities are being operated by a man who has control over every aspect of the lives of the community from who gets to be married and get into heaven to who gets re-assigned or excommunicated.
Religious leaders have never responded well to threats against their control of their flocks – and that is the true danger of religion – people handing their personal sovereignty over to another who has very different interests at heart.
If religion can convince you that sex that makes you feel good, even when it’s just you, is bad – then there is nothing that you won’t beleive. It is really that simple.
Marriage being between 2 people in a secular society with multiculturalism, diversity and every citizen knowing their rights and being socially capable in the mainstream society – there’s enough people to go around for everyone to have a chance for pairing up, and no one is double or twentytuple dipping.
Work and play well with others and don’t take more than you need.
How can anyone object to that as words to live by?
The recent polygamy ruling in BC Supreme Court is leading to interesting discussions about polyamory vs polygamy.
Polyamory are people who engage in open relationships or may be in a relationship with simultaneous partners.
Polygamy is a religious or cultural practice to demonstrate how successful you are to be able to support multiple wives or in the case of Mormon, to have at least three wives in order to enter the highest level of heaven.
Polygamy is harmful to women, children and younger men. Women are arranged or assigned, depending on the cultural context – and if in a secular democratic nation – then this is occuring below the radar, hidden – making it even harder for victims of abuse to seek out help from the police or social agencies – because part of the social contract they are living under is a religious one – where women and children have no voice and are chattel.
This is why the BC Supreme Court ruled polygamy as harmful.
It’s okay to raise your children in whatever beleifs you want – but children have to meet social development targets to be able to function in the larger world, outside of the home.
The danger of closed communities are that the world outside the home is no different from the world inside the home – and children need to learn that home is normal for them, but not neccessarily normal for society.
Children have to learn that there are rights and freedoms that they have just for being members of the society. Bodily integrity, non-interference, no abuse, for example.
To develop as fully functioning social beings, children have to know what’s normal across the society and be able to compare, make informed decisions about how they want to live. Most importantly, children need to know that there is help and protection if they need it – because anyone who’s abused by their parent or with their parent’s consent – need to know that they are not alone, that what they are experiencing isn’t okay – that no one is deserving of being molested or beaten or under/over fed or have their psychological development impaired.
Allowing closed communities to openly operate is a breech of the social contract that the Canadian Government has with it’s citizens. The Charter of Rights guarantees the freedom to choice a religion, but the right of equality supercedes religion.
The right that women, children and young men have to equality is not trumped by the religious freedom of those who seek to impose inequality on others.
I am debating an American on a forum, and I want to share some of that:
Polygamy can be beneficial to some women. Women who want a career and children often feel guilt free leaving their children home with a sister wife who loves the children like a real mother rather than a babysitter. Women who want to stay home and not work feel guilt free. There is a special feeling of security and acceptance when part of a close group. Some women prefer sharing tasks and responsibility of motherhood and family.
polygamy can work if it’s entered into by choice – by consenting of age adults who are socially capable and competant
not people raised in closed communities and don’t know any better
not teens assigned to the grandpa guys who molested them and be part of his harem
women who have careers are not the kind of women that men who are into polygamy want to have in their house
polygamy as practiced by the mormons is harmful in many ways, not the least of which is the high birth defects and infant mortality rates from in breeding
polygamy as practised by other cultures – well, here in Canada, we have a court case about a man who honor killed his first wife and three of his teenaged daughters, keeping the second wife and their son (who helped in the murders)
so, there’s yet to be a case made to allow polygamy – because where polygamy is part of the culture – it’s driven by showcasing your wealth by flaunting how many wives you can support
or it’s about religion oppression of youth – girls and boys – since the geezers in charge have to rid themselves of the surplus boys
pretty much the same way that African chiefs sold off the excess young men to European slavers – to stop anyone challenging their power
women who have careers are not the kind of women that men who are into polygamy want to have in their house
I disagree. In Utah, there are many families who practice polygamy who are not part of the big polygamous groups. The men do not abuse children. The men do not exile the young men. The families keep to themselves. The husband and wives support the family via work and investments rather than government programs. They do not live in closed communities. They practice polygamy because of their religious beliefs and for no other reason. The men are not practicing polygamy for power or sex. Many of the women DO have careers outside the home. They raise their children to have careers and to be successful. Religious beliefs are the only difference between them and non polygamous couples.
Personally, I would not practice polygamy. But, I did have the occasion to meet several polygamous families who were not part of the large groups. The women felt the pros outweighed the cons.
So you’re saying that mainstream mormons are illegally engaged in polygamy just under the radar – despite having agreed as a condition of becoming a state within the US, to give up the practise?
and that is somehow more moral than the handful of closed communities who exist in dark ages mentality
Clearly, this is why people don’t want a mormon president
polyamory, consenting adults who are making a choice because that’s where their emotional connections brought them to be – and all parties are consenting – leading to multiple party marriages
is different than religious polygamy, and if modern mainstream mormons are doing polygamy to secure their place in heaven, then it’s still down to religious brainwashing and glossing over adulterous behaviour with a religious veneer to sanctify the sin
“I have concluded that this case is essentially about harm,” Chief Justice Robert Bauman wrote in the decision that was handed down Wednesday morning in Vancouver.
“More specifically, Parliament’s reasoned apprehension of harm arising out of the practice of polygamy. This includes harm to women, to children, to society and to the institution of monogamous marriage.”
But he suggested the law shouldn’t be used to criminalize minors who find themselves married into polygamous unions.
The decision follows 42 days of legal arguments from a wide variety of groups interested in the constitutionality of Section 293 of the Criminal Code.
I wrote a while back on why gay marriage has nothing to do with polygamy.
So when I read the part about the Chief Justice’s saying that polygamy was a threat to the institution of monogamous marriage – I had to be cheered.
Gay marriage is monogamous marriage – two people exclusive of others – this is why there is no legal reason for America to fail to allow gays and lesbians to marry the people that they are already spending their lives with, building homes and families, communities. All the social behaviors that are in the interest of society and have historically been encouraged.
Gay marriage is already the law of the land in Canada and gay marriage was not the slippery slope to legalizing polygamy or any of the scare tactics, such as marrying animals or objects that the religious right wants people to think that gay marriage will usher in.
Because none of those things follow – gay marriage is not a feel good free for all throwing out the social morals with the bathwater – it’s more a shoring up of marriage than tearing down.
After all, how much can gays and lesbians really change marriage when it’s marriage that we have wanted to have – it’s because we do value what marriage stands for – forming families and building community capacity – it’s putting down roots.
The important part of this decision for Canada – and the part that religious people need to pay attention to if they live in secular democratic societies:
Freedom of Religion does not trump the principles upon which secular democratic nations are based in:
- the individual as the social unit of consequence
- Equality of the members of society is the foundation upon which all other rights flow
- Freedom of Religion does not include a guarantee of non-interference if the practices of the religion of choice are harmful or undermine equality
- Separation of Church and State means that the church stays out of government and that the government will stay out of church concerns, only insofar as the practices are not socially harmful
People may no longer use religion as the justification for harming or oppressing vulnerable people.
The BC Government has yet to decide if they are going to now apply the law to Bountiful and any other under the radar polygamy; which, if it doesn’t, is a rather large waste of tax payer money for the concluded trial and the previous trial that failed to secure convictions because of the religious defence raised.
If we are not going to enforce laws intended to reduce harm and promote an equal society, then there’s no point in having such laws or claiming equality as a prime condition of being a citizen.
There are real people being harmed in Bountiful – women, young men and children.
This is not something that a society that claims to care should be tolerating never mind making it possible through tax payer’s money.
The BC Government has been supporting the Bountiful community through education funding when the schools teach the religion of the town and not the same curriculum of BC schools. Especially considering that this religion teaches that the government is evil and that it’s good to squeeze as much money as you can from them – so the various wives claim welfare as single mothers – and a man with 20 wives, with 19 of them claiming welfare, that’s a lot of money fraudulently obtained if the residents of Bountiful consider their marriages to be genuine.
So it’s time for the government of BC to enforce the laws of the land, end the harms being done in Bountiful – including trading brides with polygamy communities in the US in an attempt to delay the eventual collapse of the gene pool of these closed communities.
Enforce the laws and end generations of harmful practices: Equal access and treatment under the law means enforcing the laws of the land, not just legislating them.
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