Thursday, April 14, 2005

When no one wins

Babble on.

Chris Selley at Tart Cider takes on the issue of lesbian nuptials and an auxilliary Catholic organization (also addressed, pro and con, here and here) and comes up with a very balanced post.

My take on this story has always been this: if Ms Smith and Ms Chymyshyn were screwed out of some money, or if they wanted to seek damages for breach of contract, then let them take it to small claims court or whatever other court was appropriate.

Indeed. But that most reasonable avenue wouldn't have satisfied the flagrant activist bent of this particular couple. This stunt is quite obviously intended to stir a pot that requires no stirring.

In fact, it's worth spelling out just how much Stephen Harper and his scaaaary Conservatives are going to roll back gay rights in Canada:

A Conservative government, led by Stephen Harper, would propose legislation similar to the proposals outlined below:

1) Maintain the traditional definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

2) Provide the same rights, benefits and obligations to all couples.

3) Provide substantive protections for religious institutions.
We will recognize the rights of other couples, while maintaining the traditional definition of marriage. Same-sex couples who have already been married have been granted certain rights, which we would respect. (Emphasis by Babbler)

But enough of that - back to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal:

Paragraph 42 of the Knights' defence reads as follows ([TC's] emphasis):

The Respondents denied the Complainants the Hall because they do not rent the Hall for uses that are contrary to core Catholic beliefs. With respect to same-sex unions, the Knights' standard of conformity with and support of Catholic belief precludes the Hall where it is to be used to promote, solemnize or celebrate same-sex unions. The standard would not, for instance, apply to deny the Hall to a person simply because he or she is homosexual.

Maybe Port Coquitlam's gay square-dancing club will test that theory in the future, but for now I'm inclined to take the Knights at their word.

This is not, as Jonathan Dursi tries to spin it, a case of the KofC using religion as an excuse to treat someone shoddily. In fact, I'd go so far as to say the true shoddiness is the way the honest folks at this KofC hall have been treated by the couple in question. I know if I was volunteering my time to a church auxilliary organization, I would certainly not appreciate being used purely as an adversary of convenience by someone pushing their own agenda as these two women have.

The state can legislate tolerance, but it cannot - and should not even attempt to - legislate acceptance. This case has already hurt the gay-rights cause more than it has helped. Moderate Canadians may be sympathetic to the plight of homosexual couples, but they will not appreciate this obvious attempt to pick a fight with an organization that seeks only to provide service to the community. Moreover, this case will not force the Knights, or any other church-affiliated organization to accept gay marriage - I'd bet good money the group would nail its hall doors shut before it allowed that.

If Ms Smith and Ms Chymyshyn win this battle in court, the victory will be a pyrrhic one.

Babble off.


At 9:25 a.m., Blogger Mark said...

Right on, babble.

At 9:29 a.m., Blogger Chris Selley said...

Harper's position blows my mind. If he's going to "provide the same rights, benefits and obligations to all couples," then he believes that gay marriages and straight marriages are the same thing. There's no way around it: government doesn't give married people anything except rights, benefits and obligations. If he believes gay marriage would be harmful to society, then he should be opposed to civil unions. If not, he should move on. We're debating a *word* here — it's asinine.

At 10:29 a.m., Blogger rick mcginnis said...

Chris -

He's not moving on because he - and many so-cons - believe that we have to define at least where the government can call something a legal union and where religious groups are allowed to bestow or withhold their blessing. Where that that definition is allowed to pass into law as a muddled, inexact group of terms is where we'll see trouble - expensive, divisive trouble - not far down the road.

Hell, I've been arguing this one into the dirt just a couple of posts down. Go take a look there - it probably won't satisfy you (it doesn't seem to satisfy anyone on either side) but it might expand the debate a bit from its rather claustrophobic state.

At 12:39 p.m., Blogger Chris Selley said...


Churches have free discriminatory reign as it stands — from whom they'll marry (or christen or confirm or give communion to) to whom they'll let in the door. Does any of this discriminatory power derive from the current Marriage Act? I can't see how, so likewise I can't see how changing the Marriage Act would change the nature of your problem, that is, a left-leaning judiciary impinging (now and/or in the future) on church rights.


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