Same-Sex Marriage: The Canadian Solution
Exclusive Commentary published by WorldNetDaily on May 21, 2008 as Sacrificing our children for same-sex ‘marriage’
Explaining its recent decision to legalize same sex marriage, the Supreme Court of California rightly refrained from offering any judgment about it as policy; rather, the court limited its consideration to the constitutional validity of same-sex marriage. But like Canadian same-sex marriage advocates, it erred when it compared the ban on same-sex marriage with the U.S. ban on interracial marriage that was overturned in 1948.
The issue is not about who is allowed on the ‘bus’; the issue is who is driving it. Few would allow the blind or otherwise incapacitated to do this job. Though marriage performs many functions, it is also society’s premier institution for conceiving and nurturing children, and this involves gender specific roles. The bus being the family, then, who should be its designated driver?
The argument placed by counsel for the Government of Alberta before Canada’s Supreme Court in 2004 on this issue is even more to the point. Any change to the opposite sex requirement of marriage is a change to the nature of marriage itself, he said. Equality guarantees are not a vehicle for remaking fundamental social institutions in an effort to manage questions of social status and approval. Only by elevating incapacity to inequality does the gay marriage movement make any sense.
In other words, interracial marriage doesn’t change the institution. Same sex marriage does.
Unlike Canada where parliamentarians muddled and the Supreme Court decided the issue, Californians may soon have the opportunity to decide this issue for themselves. With a sufficient number of signatures, an Amendment to the Constitution banning gay-marriage will appear on the ballot in November’s elections. A look at the larger picture and how same-sex marriage is playing out in Canada will prove illuminating for anyone concerned about this issue.
Not long ago, Lord William Rees-Mogg lamented in The Times how British liberties were being orphaned in the controversy over the Catholic Church’s refusal to arrange adoptions for same-sex couples. As Jacques Barzun observes in From Dawn to Decadence, while the traditional family has not disappeared the variants are becoming traditional themselves: children lacking one or another biological parent exist in single parent families, blended families, families rearing grandchildren and homosexual couples with a child, adopted or not. “Out of these situations arose two novelties”, he writes, “the day care center and the semi-orphan.”
Orphan is a word that has also appeared in Canada where the Charter of Rights and Freedoms sanctions religious freedoms and, according to a Supreme Court reference in 2004, same-sex marriage. Opposition to same-sex marriage in Canada nonetheless continues. While most support the right of homosexuals to seek and to have their unions ratified in law (civil unions were never an option for Canada’s same-sex marriage activists), opposition is more generally coalescing around the right of children to be raised, as nearly as possible, by their biological parents.
Canada’s leading spokesperson on this issue is Margaret Somerville. Somerville, a bioethicist and Samuel Gale Chair in Law, is also a professor in the faculty of medicine at McGill University in Montreal. She reminds us that, under international law, marriage confers the right to found a family. In Canada, this means same-sex couples can adopt children as well as access reproductive technologies for this purpose even though a growing body of evidence reveals that the adult children of any arrangement that departs from traditional family norms are disadvantaged, including the children of divorce and donor conceived children. Notably, a meta-study undertaken by Swedish scientists and published in the March 2008 edition of Acta Paediatrica, confirms that children need fathers as well as mothers.
The key here is the adult children of such arrangements. While most studies focus on the seemingly benign or at least manageable effects of non-traditional arrangements on children and adolescents, longitudinal studies reveal a different picture of what happens when they mature. At the University of California in Berkeley, for instance, psychologist Judith Wallerstein demonstrated in a 30 year longitudinal study how the first group have difficulty as mature adults finding suitable partners and then sustaining their relationships. Writing in The Legacy of Divorce, she explains that they lack the role models most effectively secured by a child’s married biological parents.
Likewise, Margaret Somerville’s numerous articles discuss how members of the second group (who refer to themselves as ‘genetic’ orphans), experience intense feelings of abandonment by the donor parent. Meanwhile, Kay Hymowitz’s Marriage and Caste in America demonstrates the role played by fragmenting family structures in rising inequalities. This on top of evidence that young men who grow up without fathers seek to have their approval and authority needs met by joining gangs.
How adoptive same-sex couples might navigate this minefield is anybody’s guess given that opposite-sex couples have themselves performed so miserably.
In any case, equating homosexual and heterosexual relationships is challenging enough though in Canada, activist judges and legislators are deploying all of their creative talent to find a way. Gays and lesbians, for instance, cannot be husbands and wives or mothers and fathers, at least not in relationships with each other. The Canadian solution? Change the language. Orwellian legislation at both provincial and federal levels has removed the words ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ from Canadian law where we are all ‘spouses’ now, while The Civil Marriage Act supplants the term ‘natural’ parent with ‘legal’ parent. More recently, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the Three Parents Case involving a sperm donor and two lesbians. Now, any number of ‘parents’ will effectively be allowed on a child’s birth certificate.
The consequences of such changes seem not to have occurred to anyone. What, for instance, does the son of two lesbian mothers learn about what it means to be a husband? What does he learn from a two-day a week Dad, or one he will never meet, about what it means to be a father? And that’s before issues concerning precedents for legalizing polygamy and other polyamorous relationships arise.
If Canadian children are being orphaned by these new arrangements so too, are Canadian liberties. Though churches are exempt from performing same sex marriages, other religious freedoms are on the defensive. Education and adoption are provincial responsibilities and while no ‘test’ cases have arisen around adoption by gay parents from Catholic agencies, faith and parent groups in British Columbia went to battle with their Ministry of Education which recently gave two gay activists unprecedented oversight in curriculum development. A course for Grade 12 students on Social Justice will be optional but courses discussing sexual diversity will be mandatory for everyone.
Citing the UN Declaration of the Rights of Child guaranteeing parental oversight on such matters as well as freedom of religion guarantees under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Catholic Civil Rights League is winning the campaign to allow parents to remove their children from these controversial classes but a letter from Sean Murphy, its western regional director, to his member of Parliament on the matter of same sex marriage, is most to the point: “…The Civil Marriage Act and court decisions leading to it were imposed without any evidence of what effects they might have … France, in contrast, studied the matter and arrived at a very different conclusion. In fact, a review of the Nuremburg Code (1947) and the Declaration of Helsinki (1983) demonstrates that politicians and judges have initiated a massive social experiment that violates almost every ethical standard normally applied to human experimentation. Worse: the subjects of this experiment are the children of this country, whose interests have been sacrificed to those of adults.”
In the same vein, Frederick C. DeCoste, a University of Alberta legal theorist and authority on the judicial climate of pre WWII Germany argues that totalitarianism results when the law and the customs of civil society part company. The primacy of civil society, which includes the homosexual community, he writes in his essay What’s the Charter Got To Do With It?, is violated when the state, through legal imperialism, becomes “the source, and not just the custodian, of rights and duties”. Today, equality is the “value on which the social-engineering state acts.”
For Californians, the danger exists in deferring to a celebrity and intellectual class that has decreed that same-sex marriage, as well as a host of other family arrangements, is acceptable. Yet by habitually defaulting to the minimally optimally and trying to accommodate them all, we virtually guarantee the minimum not the optimal for our children.
More than human rights activism or equality legislation, science is promoting much needed understanding of homosexuality, whose biological basis it is closer than ever to establishing. And while it is understandable that progressive societies should want to redress historic wrongs endured by homosexuals, it is a profound mistake to attempt to do so by passing laws that are divisive or that re-arrange social institutions.
Science too is teaching us about the needs of children which, by no accident or miracle of understanding, coincide with the received wisdom of the ages articulated in our customs, traditions and, yes, our religions. Our countries need fewer not more orphans and that means a family bus, now lurching dangerously off the road, that is driven by mothers and fathers.
MARGRET KOPALA’s column on western perspectives appears every other week.