Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Misconceptions and Ignorance - The Underpinnings of Intolerance

Two of the more vocal opponents of same-gender-marriage (SGM) have taken one last swing at the topic just before the last debates and voting on bill C-38 take place. Of whom do I speak? No, not Stephen Harper, Jason Kenney or Rob Anders. I speak of the Sun Newspapers' Bishop Fred Henry, and Ted Byfield.

I'll give Bishop Henry a modicum of credit - he's at least attempting to enumerate the nature of the "harm" that he believes that SGM will do to society. In a nutshell, his argument boils down to the notion that children's rights to a stable, identifiable family will be violated. Of course, the Bishop's reasoning is predicated, as it has always been on the "potential" to have children. In today's diverse world, there are a plethora of ways that a couple may come to have children - whether it is a result of sexual intercourse, adoption or surrogate parents. I won't go into the number of Same Gender couples I know of where one member or the other has offspring as a result of some past relationship.

The tragedy of that past relationship isn't that it failed, but rather that societial pressures are often the reason the homosexual person entered into it in the first place.

Of course, Bishop Henry goes on to argue
"Given that stable and exclusive homosexual coupling is the exception rather than the norm, to connect homosexual coupling with children's welfare or with a stable environment for children is nothing if not dishonest."

I find it sad that the Bishop's own sense of intellectual honesty doesn't allow him to recognize the fact that heterosexual couples can be just as unstable as any other. Affairs happen all the time; abusive couples happen; spouses walk out on their partners for a myriad of reasons. When the statistics show that nearly 50% of all marriages end before the vows of "'til death do us part" expire, it's damnably difficult to argue that heterosexual couples are inherently stable. (and goodness knows, I've seen enough "stable" marriages that were so screwed up that any offspring were going to be seriously troubled as adults - and they have been!)

Sadly, the Bishop goes on to make the following statements:

Even if we concede that the social-science evidence is sometimes ambiguous, we know that two parents are better for children than one.

Families with both mothers and fathers are generally better for children than those with only mothers or only fathers. Biological parents usually protect and provide for their children more effectively than non-biological ones.

I'd love to know where he gets his "facts" from. So far, he's making a lot of very bold assertions, but he has yet to put forth any kind of credible evidence to reinforce them. (Whether there is any clear evidence is debatable - the number of homosexuals raising children is a small fraction of a small population. Making any kind of meaningful population study would be extremely difficult. The evidence I have been able to track down is mostly anecdotal in nature, but suggests that the outcomes for children raised by same-gender couples are little different than those of heterosexual couples.

Of course, while Bishop Henry at least attempts to be reasoned - if sadly underinformed - Ted Byfield continues to show the knuckle-dragging narrow-mindedness of someone whose mind has long ago closed to any new information.

First, he dredges up the saw used repeatedly about how the bill constrains religious freedoms:

Nothing in it will interfere with freedom of speech, they say, or with the rights of churches to refuse to marry gays, or the rights of Christian schools to teach the biblical injunctions against the practice of homosexuality, or the right of churches to read passages from Scripture condemning homosexual activity.

Yes Ted, allowing the gay couple down the street to be legally recognized as a married couple really affects your religion. Uh-huh. I agree that there will no doubt be a number of challenges along these lines that Churches will encounter in the coming years. However, given the fact that the Roman Catholic Church's stance on ordination of women has been left alone by the courts of the land, I would tend to suspect that other teachings of churches would go similarly unchallenged. Of course, there might be some question of the boundaries. Is it legitimate for the clergy to exhort their congregations to "go roll a queer"? Or might that constitute active promotion of hatred, violence and persecution?

In other words, it is no longer a court at all. It is now an unelected legislature, its members specifically chosen to create laws fulfilling an ideological agenda that could not possibly gain the approval of an elected Parliament.

WTF? Where did this bit of illogic come from. Oh waitasec - it's the "Judicial Activism" bogeyman. Congratulations Ted, you've demonstrated yet again that your ability to read something as relatively simple as the Charter of Rights is nonexistant. Go read the document, and think on it for a while. (If necessary, try a simpler read - like "See spot run", first) You might just figure out that the Supreme Court has been doing precisely what they are mandated to do - interpret the laws of the land. I have seen rulings I disagree with, but I can usually figure out the basis from which they are derived - which is better than I can do with your reasoning.

Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary has been twice cited in complaints registered with the Alberta Human Rights Commission for daring to inform the faithful of the church's position on homosexual practices. If the case proceeds, it will undoubtedly wind up in the Supreme Court where the outcome is a foregone conclusion.

The cases involving Bishop Henry's so-called Pastoral Letters (which he has used every other means available to him to broadcast outside of the church) have yet to be considered. You do both the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal and the court system of this nation a disservice by presupposing what the findings will be.

Soon any church caught teaching Christian sexual morality, or urging its members to oppose sodomy-endorsing politicians, will be accused of getting into politics and its tax exemption status will be challenged.

Ah - now the truth comes out. As usual, the problem is the ill-informed notion that homosexual males are out to sodomize anything that moves. A gay man I met once said "I just want to shake your hand, not fuck you". Get real Ted - you can't tell me that your own marriage is based entirely on your sexual relationship with your wife. (Or, if it is, I'm amazed that you're still married - few women I can think of spend their lives focusing on sex)

Meanwhile, lesbian couples will have been allowed to adopt children. Would it not be vicious discrimination to deny them such a right? It certainly would, the court will rule.

And since gay women have that right, surely gay men should be allowed to adopt little boys. How can the court say no?

Uh-huh. Once again, Ted is completely, and irrationally focused on the sexual act. My God, last time I saw someone so obsessed with sex, it was when someone tried to pick me up in the Devonian Gardens back when I was in High School (at least the poor sod had the grace to be as embaressed as I was). Of course, Ted can't possibly leave out a chance to equate homosexuality with pedophilia. (We won't go into the infamous Pedophile Priests, and the complicity of the Church organizations in covering up their activities, will we?)

Yes, Ted. Allowing gays to marry will cause the earth to stop spinning and the sun to stop shining.

If Bill C-38 does anything, it puts one more nail in the coffin of dinosaurs whose sole purpose in life seems to be finding an excuse to persecute someone for being honest with themselves about who they are and who they love. This was a coffin that started being built when King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta - it has already taken a millenium to get to this point - it will take millenia yet to finish the work begun a thousand years ago.

As long as the orphan twins of Misconception and Ignorance continue to roam this planet, there will always be people whose right to full participation in the world need to be protected and fought for.

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