National Affairs Rory Leishman

The proponents of traditional marriage in the United States suffered a major setback as voters backed the legalization of same-sex “marriage” in all four states that held referenda on the subject in the November elections. This brings to 10 the total number of states that have legalized same-sex “marriage” either by referendum, legislation or judicial fiat. Meanwhile, since 1998, voters in 30 other states have entrenched the traditional definition of marriage into their state constitutions. With pressure now on voters and legislators in these states to reverse course, Bradley Miller, associate professor of law at the University of Western Ontario, has published a timely article “Same-Sex Marrige Ten Years On: Lessons from Canada” in Public Discourse, a publication of The Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey, in which he admonishes our American cousins to consider the troubled consequences of Canada’s longer experience with the legalization of same-sex “marriage.”

To begin with, Miller notes that the judicial and legislative enactments of same-sex “marriage” in Canada have not only changed the law, but also fostered a “new orthodoxy” of homosexual equality which insists that “same-sex relationships are, in every way, the equivalent of traditional marriage” and that “anyone who rejects the new orthodoxy must be acting on the basis of bigotry and animus towards gays and lesbians.” In conformity with this ideology, governments, human rights commissions and the courts have progressively restricted the historic rights and freedoms of dissenters who persist in the reasonable belief that parents and children thrive best within traditional marriage defined as the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman.

Miller observes that conscientious marriage commissioners were among the first victims of the new orthodoxy in that they have have been denied the right to refuse to preside over same-sex weddings. He also cites the plight of religious organizations like the Knights of Columbus in Port Coquitlam, B.C., which was fined more than $2,000 in 2005 by the province’s human rights commission for refusing to rent its hall to two lesbians for their wedding reception. Human rights commissions have also harassed everyone from the Catholic bishop of Calgary to lowly lay preachers who speak out publicly in defence of the traditional principles of marriage and sexual morality. While Parliament, to its credit, recently revoked the “hate-speech” provisions of the federal human rights act, human rights commissions on the provincial level retain their full powers to fine and silence anyone who dares to dissent from the new orthodoxy of homosexual equality. Miller warns: “As long as these tools remain at the disposal of the commissions – for whom the new orthodoxy gives no theoretical basis to tolerate dissent – to engage in public discussion about same-sex marriage is to court ruin.” Under the pretext of protecting homosexuals from bullying, public schools across Canada – and even some Catholic schools – have begun to indoctrinate students with the ideology of “gay pride.” In several provinces, parents no longer have a right to withdraw their children from these classes. Furthermore, Miller notes: “The new curricula are permeated by positive references to same-sex marriage, not just in one discipline but in all. Faced with this strategy of diffusion, the only parental defense is to remove one’s children from the public school system entirely.” Who has benefited from the legalization of same-sex “marriage”? Have Canadian homosexuals eagerly embraced the institution? Not at all. As Miller points out, the 2011 Census of Canada found just 21,015 same-sex “married” couples in the entire country.

Statistics Canada, that bastion of political correctness, no longer gathers divorce statistics. Nonetheless, judging from data in The Netherlands and elsewhere, there is reason to apprehend that same-sex marriages are so exceptionally prone to breakdown that they are liable to aggravate the already lamentable fragility of all marital unions in Canada. Meanwhile, gay rights advocates in the United States continue to insist that the legalization of same-sex “marriage” will have no adverse consequences. Voters would be better advised to heed Miller: “The effects of same-sex civil marriage in Canada-restrictions on free speech rights, parental rights in education, and autonomy rights of religious institutions, along with a weakening of the marriage culture-provide lessons for the United States.”