If marriage is right, how do we define it?


Mr. Boyce’s letter in the July 15 issue of Nunatsiaq News, which criticizes my July 8 letter discussing whether marriage should be considered a right or a definition, was in some ways a breath of fresh air for me.

Mainly, because it proved that open, honest democratic debate is not entirely dead in our country. It is the debate that the Liberals, including our own MP, recently denied the Canadian people.

Mr. Boyce (of Ontario) is indeed correct, (I just looked it up myself) Article 16 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) states: “Men and women of full age have the right to marry and to found a family. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society. So, marriage is a right. Maybe this answers the question I raised two weeks ago? Sort of, but let’s dig a little more.

Since marriage is a right, then we have to define it. The UDHR does not do this. Considering it was passed in 1948, and the concept of “gay marriage” was about as alien as the Beatles at the time, we can be fairly certain that the writers meant heterosexual marriage.

But legally, the intentions of the writers are not permissible unless they are explicitly stated. Mr. Boyce argues that if you are born homosexual, and under the UDHR you have the right to get married, then obviously you have the right to marry someone of the same sex.

Fair enough. However, I feel that Mr. Boyce’s statement “people don’t choose to be gay” is prejudiced against those who do choose to be gay. Not all homosexuals claim to have been born that way. Sweeping generalizations that stereotype any group are inappropriate. Similarly, he stated that polygamy is a choice, normally cultural, and that no one is “born polygamous.”

I think many, if not most, of the one billion Muslims and Sikhs (and others) of the world would disagree. Based on my studies of the religion and my interview with an Imam, in Islam polygamy is generally considered more natural and civilized than monogamy. One Canadian Islamic writer stated that adultery is so common in the West because it is natural for men to have more than one wife. Devout Muslims, I think, would also strongly disagree that polygamy is cultural: they would view it as the God-made natural order. They would be strongly angered by Mr. Boyce’s comparison of polygamy with theft and murder.

This raises the question: is Canadian society persecuting the Muslim and Sikh minorities by not allowing Muslim and Sikh men to openly marry multiple (full age) wives, even if those wives freely, on the basis of their faith, agree to share a husband? If a new religion developed where women were to have multiple (full age) husbands as part of God’s “natural order,” would we be persecuting adherents of that faith as well?

Mr. Boyce clearly limits the definition of marriage as being between two people, and is willing to impose his monogamous beliefs on others. What makes him so right and Muslims and Sikhs so wrong?

But getting back to how people are born… saying someone is “born homosexual” makes me as uncomfortable as saying someone is “born heterosexual.” Babies and very young children do not have sex drives, nor is there any objective scientific evidence for a “gay gene” (the concept itself is illogical because homosexuals normally do not reproduce, and so their genes would not be passed on.)

Dr. Kinsey’s research in the 1940s and 50s showed that about 10 per cent of the male population is homosexual and most of the remaining 90 per cent are bisexual. Note, however, his biased research methods led to the loss of his research grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. Regardless, his research contributed significantly to the 1973 American Psychiatric Association decision cited by Mr. Boyce. There is also considerable evidence of a widespread quiet persecution within the APA in the years leading up to 1973.

As I read multiple discussions of this APA persecution, I found it very reminiscent of what is being perpetrated on Canada’s fundamentalist churches today. For example, in 2000, the B.C. Christian News was banned from transit stations throughout Vancouver. During a conversation with a Canadian gay rights activist recently, I was told that all churches that refuse to marry homosexuals should have their charitable status removed, because they do not follow the beliefs held by most Canadians.

The Anglican Bishop of Vancouver, between 2000 and 2003, fired or removed several dozen priests who did not support same-sex marriage, and forcefully closed at least two churches in the diocese who challenged his opinions. The gay and lesbian lobby last year accused Statistics Canada of encouraging homophobia, because StatsCan (June 15, 2004) released a national survey that showed only about 1 per cent of the Canadian population is homosexual.

As I write this, I wonder what persecution I shall now have to endure for exercising my right to free speech.

The manner in which the House of Commons recently redefined marriage has shown that our elected officials, though they have “the power to limit which choices are legal and which are not,” are more likely to bow to the pressure of an effective lobby group than engage in open, honest debate. Mr. Boyce is naïve to believe that polygamy is beyond the realm of legal possibility. A well-organized lobby could apply the same pressure as the same-sex marriage lobby, and win the same results, especially now that the definition of “marriage” is not static.

Canada has redefined its fundamental societal unit based on a secular and morally relativistic philosophical argument of “equality” that is, at best, both questionable and inconsistently applied, in an environment that restricts and persecutes open debate.

Peter Scholz

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