Last night, Canada took a giant step toward legalizing Gay marriages. It passed through the House of Commons by a 158 to 133 vote. Now all that is required for it to become law is a perfunctory nod from both the senate and the governor general. We will be only the third country, after The Netherlands and Belgium to legalize Gay marriages, and that makes me pretty darn proud.
I do understand the reluctance of many to embrace this change. Marriage, after all, has a certain history and certain connotations. But we simply can't continue to shackle equal opportunity and equal treatment by hiding behind tradition. In Canada, Gay marriage has already been de facto legalized in most provinces by Supreme Court decisions. Discrimination against minorities simply does not legally conform to our Charter of Rights.
The world changes — sometimes even for the better. Most modern, developed nations are becoming more inclusive towards all sorts of minority groups, and I don't think many bother to argue that it is a bad thing. Just this past week, for example, in the case that inspired the film, Mississippi Burning, an 80-year-old Arkansas Klansman, Edgar Ray Killen, was sentenced to sixty years in prison for the infamous murders of of the three civil rights activists way back in 1964.
Just as many still do, I once had my doubts about Gay marriage. I wondered why it was so important in an era when hetero marriages are failing by the bucketload and when all sorts of couples are opting to live in common law relationships? My daughter, however, gave me the answer by pointing out the fact there is no relationship that is equivalent to marriage. Living together is not the same. Therefore, everyone should have the right to enter into such a union.
Of course, she was right, for I have heard this very theme preached in evangelical churches. I have heard them preach that only marriage provides true commitment, that it actually gives people a greater freedom to be themselves in a way that no other relationship does. I say, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If you make that argument for hetero couples, then it must apply to Gay couples as well. You can't make the argument selectively. You either believe it or you don't.
It's a difficult leap for many, but it's the right thing to do. Of course, this will not affect hetero couples in any way. They'll get married as they always have done and be just as happy and not feel at all besmirched by the fact that a Gay couple across town may be also be reciting their vows. Let's put away our fears and embrace this progressive development in a spirit of generosity and inclusivity.