Monday, December 19, 2005

Same-sex marriage reality check

We were washing dishes after a pre-Christmas lunch, when my grandmother started telling me what she thought of Stephen Harper. He's the only federal leader who is sticking to his principles, she told me. "Marriage is between a man and a woman," she told me. "That's what a marriage is." Gays and lesbians can have unions, she said, but they can't have the word.

Back in the 1960s, my grandmother was a school nurse. She helped start the sex ed program in what used to be called the Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal. She still has some of the old textbooks. They seem funny and dated now -- I've brought them out to amuse visiting friends. It's easy to forget how revolutionary they were at the time.

When I was going through my first round of sex ed, in grade 5 or maybe 6, my grandmother asked me if I had any questions that weren't being answered at school. I asked her how gay men had sex. She explained the mechanics of it to me matter-of-factly, no trace of judgement in her voice.

My grandmother now lives in Ottawa South. She met Conservative candidate Allan Cutler at the mall and told him she was behind him. The other three members of my family in Ottawa South -- all 60 + -- plan to vote for him as well.

Anyway, my point, and I have a point, is this: All this talk about how Harper's legally-baffling position on same-sex marriage will kill the Conservatives in moderate, tolerant Ontario is a not necessarily based on reality. It killed their chances with me, certainly, but not with my moderate, tolerant Ontario relatives.

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