’Phobes have their say
|SOCIETY CRUMBLES? All Barbara McDowall and Gail Donnelly want to do is get married.(Image by Michelle Gosse)||
story by John Sinopoli /
Nov 15 2001
After a break during last week’s same-sex marriage court case, REAL Women president Gwendolyn Landoldt sat herself in the seats reserved for the homo couples and wouldn’t budge until she was removed by the manager of the courtroom’s seating plan.
Yep, the rightwingers were in top form all through the five days in the Divisional Court of the Ontario Superior Court Of Justice, as they did their best to thwart the 10 couples fighting for the right to marry.
The opponents of queer coupling talked a lot about marriage’s connections to baby-making, money and religion — but never about love.
Along with witnesses brought in by the federal government to testify to the heterosexual nature of marriage, The Association For Marriage And The Family and the Interfaith Coalition On Marriage And The Family were granted intervenor status in the cases. West coast branches of both organizations also appeared during the same-sex marriage court case in British Columbia this fall.
The case presented by the lawyers for the 10 couples melted down to one idea: Not allowing same-sex couples to marry is discrimination based on sexual orientation and is therefore unconstitutional.
The anti-gay marriage arguments were more, er, interesting. The most coherent points were based on fear of the unknown.
Roslyn Levine, lawyer for the federal government, argued that no other country besides the Netherlands allows same-sex marriage, and therefore Canada shouldn’t.
When asked by Justice Robert Blair what negative effects same-sex marriage could have, Levine, answered: “We don’t know what they are. I know that sounds lame.”
David Brown, representing the Association For Marriage And The Family In Ontario, testified that “a same-sex couple, through an act of sexual intimacy cannot conceive a child.”
Justice Blair asked Brown about invitro-fertilization. Brown said that a couple who did that has “conceived a child, but that is not procreation.”
Brown brought out a dictionary to point out that the word “marriage” does not include same-sex couples. Associate Chief Justice Heather Smith then asked Brown to look up “reproduction” in his dictionary; the dictionary used gender-neutral terms in its definition.
Brown said people who are against same-sex marriage are the real victims in the case.
“Canadians who don’t wish to accept gays and lesbians as equals might be described as bigots or hateful,” Brown told the court.
Brown also argued that the definition of marriage in 1867 was “the union of one man and one woman.” He didn’t mention that the 1867 definition also includes the words “for life” until Justice Blair reminded him.
Peter Jarvis, representing the Interfaith Coalition, told the court there are many religious people in Canada who won’t accommodate same-sex marriage.
“These people are people of good conscience. What is going to happen to them? They may be marginalized,” argued Jarvis.
One of the Coalition’s expert witnesses, Rabbi David Novak, said the Jewish tradition rejects homosexual relations as sinful and that rabbis will not perform same-sex marriages. He concluded that if same-sex marriage were legal, it would turn Jews into a community opposed to the values of Canadian law, leading to discrimination against Jews.
Other points by the opposition:
• Stephen Michael Cretney, a professor at the University Of Oxford said the English model of marriage used in Canadian law is a Christian-based model, which does not include same-sex relationships
• Dwight Gerard Duncan, a US law professor, said same-sex marriage is rare and that almost every culture in the world resists it
• Stanford N Katz, a US law professor, said marriage is about a commitment to procreation
• Evelyne Lapierre-Adamcyk, a Quebec demographer, said same-sex marriage isn’t wise because we don’t know how many homosexuals there are in Canada
• Steven Lowell Nock, a US professor of sociology, said same-sex parents should not be allowed to raise children
• Edward Shorter, a history of medicine and psychiatry professor at the University Of Toronto, said marriage is about procreation, and that same-sex marriage will destroy what little strength there is in the institution of marriage.
• Robert Stainton, a philosophy professor at Carleton University, said there is no proof that same-sex marriage will help fight homophobia
• Katherine Young, a religious studies professor at McGill University said legalizing same-sex marriage will increase the divide between men and women, and make men’s identify problem worse; she didn’t specify what this identity problem is.
There are 10 couples asking the court to knock down laws preventing them from obtaining marriage licences.
Eight were refused marriage licences by the City Of Toronto. They are Barbara McDowall and Gail Donnelly, Tom Allworth and Al Pittman, Hedy Halpern and Colleen Rogers, Michael Leshner and Michael Stark, Michelle Bradshaw and Rebekah Rooney, Dawn Onishenko and Julie Erbland, and Carolyn Rowe and Carolyn Moffatt.
Two of the couples — Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell, and Elaine and Anne Vautour — were married in a ceremony earlier this year at the Metropolitan Community Church Of Toronto. Though the proceedings followed the ancient Christian tradition of reading marriage banns for three Sundays before the ceremony, the Province Of Ontario refused to register the nuptials.
Also last week, Quebec couple Michael Hendricks and René Leboeuf were in court in that province, also fighting for the right to marry.