The Brandon Sun’s editorial, printed on Wednesday, Aug. 27, remarked that: “A community-minded paper needs to not only reflect all elements of that community, but also lead and provoke discussion about controversial topics that require a better understanding.”
Gay marriage is one such topic.
On Saturday, Aug. 23, the Sun featured a story about a newly married gay couple, describing them both as being funny, confident, well-educated, beautiful women — in love. The pictures submitted with the article indeed captured the beauty of the young women and their words displayed their resolve in venturing on a difficult path for themselves.
One’s compassion is invoked by this. But it is also prudent to remember that a “human face” can be put to almost anything and, sometimes, the “human face factor” provides a refuge for beauty-destroying ideas.
Ideas such as: “Marriage is mainly an arrangement for the benefit of adults; that children do not need both a mother and a father; and that alternative family forms are just as good as a husband and a wife raising kids together. That philosophy of marriage, moreover, is what our children and grandchildren will be taught in school. They will be required to discuss marriage in those terms. Ordinary words like husband and wife will be replaced by partner and spouse. In marriage preparation and sex-education classes, children will have to be taught about homosexual sex. Parents who complain will be branded as homophobes and their children will suffer.”
Harvard legal scholar Mary Ann Glendon wrote those words 10 years ago, and today they are a growing reality.
Glendon went on to say that, “Religious freedom, too, is at stake. As much as one may wish to live and let live, the experience in other countries reveals that once these arrangements become law, there will be no live-and-let-live policy for those who differ. Gay-marriage proponents use the language of openness, tolerance and diversity, yet one foreseeable effect of their success will be to usher in an era of intolerance and discrimination the likes of which we have rarely seen before. Every person and every religion that disagrees will be labelled as bigoted and openly discriminated against. The axe will fall most heavily on religious persons and groups that don’t go along. Religious institutions will be hit with lawsuits if they refuse to compromise their principles.”
The Kevin Kisilowsky case (the Christian minister whose marriage commissioner’s licence was pulled because he refused to perform same-sex ceremonies) shows that this type of discrimination is already in play.
So contrary to the words spoken by one of the young ladies featured in the Aug. 23 article, that, “It’s such a small part of who we really are,” redefining and restructuring our foundational social relationships is no small matter for any of us.
The Brandon Sun’s editorial is right to provoke this discussion, as a debate this important should not be confined to the back rooms of the court, but should be publicly deliberated in the full light of day. We need a better understanding of what marriage really is before we set out to replace that foundation stone called marriage with something else.
In the end, “what we have come to call the gay marriage debate is not directly about homosexuality, but about marriage. It is not about whom to let marry, but about what marriage is.”
What, then, is marriage?