Friday, December 10, 2004

What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

In today's Globe and Mail, Lorna Dueck admiringly quotes from the book Divorcing Marriage that the advent of same-sex marriage will "deflect... marriage from the support of children to the mere affirmation of sexual commitment between adults." When I read stuff like that I just have to slap myself on the forehead and go, "Dude, where have you been the last fifty years?" There are just certain arguments that social conservatives make where you feel like they must live in a vacuum where they've never heard of divorce or adoption or met a happy gay couple or an unhappy heterosexual couple and there is no access to cable television.

A lot of supporters of gay marriage find social conservatives hateful. I've seen that side. I covered an anti-gay marriage protest last year where one pastor railed against gays and their "AIDS parade" and said that SARS was punishment for Torontonians wicked behaviour. The organizers of the rally were embarrassed by this, but the crowd cheered almost as loudly as they had for the previous speakers.

For the most part, however, I don't it really has to do with hate. I often find them admirable, these modern Don Quixotes. I find all traditionalists touching as they struggle to ressurrect Golden Ages that never existed. I think it's very human.

On the other hand, as a person who grew up in a "non-traditional" home, living mostly with my mother, I find their obsession with "traditional" families a little, well, obsessive. (They remind me a bit of ardent vegans who insist that there is only one ethical and healthy way to eat.) After all, my sister and I turned out quite well. At least I don't think we're any more or less buggered up than the people I know who grew up in nuclear families.

In high school, I'd say about half my friends had divorced parents. I also knew about five kids who had a parent came out of the closet while they were in high school. Seven years on (Good god, has it been seven years?) I can't see any correlation between the parental structure at home and how they turned out. (The people I knew who eventually came out as gay generally came from the more traditional families, now that I think about it.)

In short, I'm not convinced by any of these "But what about the children?" arguments because my first-hand experience has shown them to be pure bunko.

I've always felt that the issue of same-sex marriage was a bit of a funny one for marriage-lovin' conservatives to be opposed to. As a child of divorced parents, I was originally sort of ambivalent about the whole issue of same-sex marriage because I am sort of ambivalent about marriage in general. But to see people fighting for the right to get married – well, it makes the whole concept seem a little more worthwhile. I’m less ambivalent about it today.

Same-sex marriage isn't erosion; it's evolution. To me, yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling is the beginning of a rebuilding of an institution (and I'm talking about secular marriage, not religious marriage) that hasn’t made a lot of sense since the 1960s. Because the concept of marriage hadn’t changed with the times, it fell to bits. I grew up in a time when it was cool to say that marriage was bogus and paternalistic. The introduction of same-sex marriage makes the institution relevant again. I can’t speak for everyone, of course, but I can speak for myself: I will be more likely to get married after same-sex marriage is fully legalized in Canada than I would have been otherwise. Isn't that what social conservatives want?

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