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So, all those people who don't want the government to have anything to do with marriage are of course perfectly willing to give up all of the associated privileges appertaining to the married state, right?

And all those people who specifically want the church to decide which marriages are valid are willing to accept all the definitions of marriage proposed by all the various religions in the world, right? Or even just all the religions with churches in your country or community? Because you've got your Metropolitan Community Church, as well as a few other denominations, which most certainly consider same-sex marriage as valid, and a number of religions that approve polygamous marriages, and there's probably at least on of each in your municipality if you live in North America.

Oh, did you mean only "real" churches, like the ones that share your ideas on marriage, should be allowed to decide which marriages are valid? And who's going to make sure that only those "real" churches are allowed to be in your community, recognising marriages? How do you prevent the ones you don;t like from recognising marriages you don't like, unless it's through intervention from the state, which would mean violating separation of church and state, which you've already insisted is a key principle that you can't violate.

Tell me another one, please, that was hilarious.

I certainly don't want the church, any church, determining which marriages are valid for everyone in my country.

Since marriage (churched or not, legal or common-law) is, at least in my country, a legally recognised state with a variety of rights, responsibilities, obligations and special circumstances attached, both between the parties to the marriage and between the parties and the state, then there has to be some law that identifies what is a marriage and what is not for the purposes of those laws.

My preference would be to have the broadest definition possible, such as: a marriage exists between people who have declared themselves to be willing to accept that the rights, responsibilities, obligations and special circumstances attached to the state of marriage apply to them, until such time as that declaration is terminated by mutual agreement or court decree (where a mutual agreement has not been possible), with the understanding the the persons involved are all competent to enter into a legal contract and do so of their own free will. (N.B., IANAL and this is an off-the-cuff draft.)

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Nothing makes the folks at the top happier than to see two groups on the bottom fighting each other rather than working together to challenge the whole notion of there being a top and a bottom. It's a technique that has been used for millennia as a means of social control. Foster mistrust, hate, competition for the scarce resource of attention from the people at the top, any kind of discord, any way of keeping natural allies apart, and it's a lot easier to stay in power, to maintain the status quo.

This means that the primarily white, primarily straight elite in the US right now - who almost lost Proposition 8 in California - are rubbing their hands in glee as supporters of equal marriage rights - who almost won Proposition 8 - start lining up to blame black voters for the loss. Because throwing blame around is going to make coalition work between the two groups so much more difficult, and that serves no one but the people who want to "give away" as little of their power as possible to either group.

It benefits the people in power - who have been using people on the religious right as shock troops - to stir up homophobia among racial minorities. It benefits those same people to encourage queer people to direct their frustration and righteous anger against racial minorities. It's divide and conquer, divide and rule - for the people in control.

And if you play that game as a member of a marginalised group, it means you lose.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

... there's not a lot of good news among the various local ballot measures that I was able to easily find information on. I don't know if these are just the high-profile measures, or how many others there might have been.

In Arizona, a ban on same-sex marriage passed.

In Arkansas, a ban on adoption by same-sex couples passed.

In California, Proposition 8 passed, taking away the right of same-sex couples to marry, a right declared constitutional by the state supreme court.

In California, a law requiring a physician to inform the parents or guardian of a minor 48 hours before performing an abortion also passed.

In Colorado, a law defining human life as beginning at conception (thus effectively banning abortion) passed.

In Florida, a ban on same-sex marriage passed.

In Nebraska, affirmative action was declared unconstitutional.

In South Dakota, serious limits were enacted on the right to a medical abortion (it will now be legal only if the patient's life or health is at risk, or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, and then only in the first 20 weeks.

Edit: Looks like the news was better than it appeared when I wrote this last night: the anti-choice initiatives in California, Colorado and South Dakota failed when all the votes were in. Thanks to [personal profile] lawlesslawyer and [personal profile] lavendertook for clueing me in on the good news on the pro-choice fronts.

Alas, as [personal profile] lawlesslawyer points out below, it appears that a majority of voters in the U.S. still don't get it that queer people are people like other people who deserve rights because they are people.




The good news:

Michigan will legalise medical marijuana and allow stem cell research.

Washington will allow limited physician-assisted suicide.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

This time, I knew exactly what I wanted to draw, and why. To my American friends and neighbours, a bouquet of flowers to commemorate an historic night.

I had hoped that it would also be a wedding bouquet for those sisters and brothers whose marriages, and whose right to marry the person they love when that time comes, were on the line in California tonight, but it looks as though that is not to be - at least, not this time. Keep up the fight - the tides are turning, and this too shall be changed.


Photobucket


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I'm pretty sure everyone on my friendslist must already know about the auction community [profile] livelongnmarry, but just in case...



[profile] livelongnmarry is hosting a fandom auction to raise donations to help organisations working to defeat the California initiative which would ban same-sex marriages and retroactively annul existing same-sex marriages.

There's all sorts of wonderful things on auction: books, art, jewellery, offers to write fanfic or create fanart, offers of professional critiques, cookies, and other neat stuff.

I myself am offering several pieces of Celtic-inspired jewellery that I recently decided need good homes with people who will wear them in places where they can be seen and admired as they deserve to be.

Plus, it's an opportunity to fight the good fight.

Auction begins July first - you still have time to put something up for bidding, and of course, to go find something you want to bid on.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

One might think that my joy would be unalloyed today.

The Civil Marriage Act was passed in the Senate last night, and received Royal Assent today. Canada now officially in all provinces and territories defines marriage as a union between two people.

In a particularly bizarre bit of last minute asshattery, Conservative senators attempted to introduce an amendment "stating the traditional definition of marriage is between a man and a woman, but that civil marriage is between two people."

Said one of the amendment's supporters: "It would have brought a great deal of comfort to same-sex couples that they would not be perceived as having somehow gained their legitimate rights at the expense of those for whom the traditional marriage of a man and a woman was so terribly important," said Conservative Senator Noel Kinsella, who supported the amendment.


Yeah, right. All us queers and queer-friendly allies would have been so comforted to know that even as Canada finally acknowledged the rights of any two people to get married, the Religious Wrong was trying to have it enshrined in that very law that same-sex marriages might be legal, but they weren't really "real" marriages like those that happen between a man and a woman. Because nothing is real unless there’s a penis in it somewhere - as long as it's nowhere near another penis, of course.

But let's move on. I'd much rather my last thoughts on this Parliamentary struggle be about Senator Nancy Ruth, who danced in the Senate Chamber, and said "the whole country should be dancing."


Unfortunately, the Senate has also given us a very good reason not to dance, but rather to start the next fight for civil rights.

Yesterday the Senate passed Bill C-2, AN ACT TO AMEND THE CRIMINAL CODE (PROTECTION OF CHILDREN AND OTHER VULNERABLE PERSONS) AND THE CANADA EVIDENCE ACT. In an attempt to disprove Stephen Harper's allegations from the last election, Paul Martin's government has now passed an anti-child porn law so vague in it's attempt to catch all the child porn in the world that it may even be illegal to discuss what's in it, unless I can prove in court that I am doing so for a "legitimate purpose related to the administration of justice or to science, medicine, education or art."

So humour me, folks, I'm educating you. Legitimately. Right?

In the Library of Parliament's Legislative Summary of Bill C-2, one of the problems that has cultural workers and arts organisations across the country up in arms for their right to write is discussed as follows:

Bill C-2 eliminates existing exemptions for material with "artistic merit or an educational, scientific or medical purpose," leaving the statutory defence of a "legitimate purpose related to the administration of justice or to science, medicine, education or art." Bill C-2 further specifies that the material in question must not pose an undue risk of harm to persons under the age of 18. Amendments also broaden the scope of the offence by eliminating the need to show that written materials advocate or counsel illegal sexual activity with children. To satisfy the definition of child pornography, it will be sufficient to establish that the "dominant characteristic" of any written material is the description, "for a sexual purpose," of sexual activity involving a person under 18 that would be an offence under the Criminal Code.


Representatives of cultural workers, particularly writers, have been vocal about this legislation. From a Press Release released by the Writers' Union of Canada, dated June 20, 2005:

"Real abuse of real children deserves zero tolerance," said Brian Brett, Chair of The Writers' Union of Canada, "but this proposed legislation forces an accused writer to prove that his or her work does not present an undue risk of harm to children. What has happened to the principle of 'innocent until proven guilty'? We are urging the Senate to hold hearings on these issues and not rush through such important and sweeping legislation."


A spokesperson for the Quebec Writers' Union said this week:

"They're trying to clamp down on child pornography, but they're going too far by making too loose a definition of it," says Charles Montpetit, chairman of the freedom of expression committee at the Quebec Writers' Union. "Any description of sex involving people under 18 will be considered child pornography. It's absurd because the age of consent in Canada is 14. Between 14 and 18, teenagers can legally have sex but we can't talk about it because that would be child porn."


And let's not for a moment forget that it's young women and young queers of all kinds who often have the most need to be able to explore a variety of writings and imaginings about sexuality, because there's not much representation of sexuality from these perspectives in the mainstream culture.

Canada has a bad history of targeting queer writings with its porn laws. If anyone has any doubts that important explorations of queer sexuality and coming out among youth will be particular victims of this law, then you need to look at the kinds of works that have been challenged in the past and think again.

Just last night I watched an interview with author Susan Swan talking about the indignity of having to defend her well-known bookThe Wives of Bath from accusations of child pornography under the previous laws, which allowed for a defence of "artistic merit." For those unfamiliar with the book, it explores, among other things, the sexual awakening of two girls in a boarding school. It was a finalist for the Guardian Fiction award and Ontario's Trillium award, and was the basis for the film Lost and Delirious

To say nothing of writers and readers using literature as a way of discussing and dealing with issues of child sexual abuse. Will anyone in Canada be able to see the film based on Dorothy Allison's Bastard out of Carolina ever again, let alone read the book?

Arggh. I’m disgusted and appalled.

Next up: Watch this space for future posts in which I list the books we own that may well be child porn under the new law. Just to make it easier for the cops to find me. Any other Canadians out there feel like telling everyone what evil works of child porn they're hiding on their bookshelves or among their collections of DVDs?

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So, as just about everyone must know by now, a bill redefining marriage as a union between two people to the exclusion of all others passed in the Canadian House of Commons last night, and barring some totally unforeseen circumstance, will be signed into law within the next week or so. So, we've won the right for everyone to marry who they want to, and that's the end of it... or is it?

As I said in a previous rant, the general belief of many opponents of this legislation is that "marriage is so special, you know, and if queers get their deviant and debauched claws of doom on it, all marriage between heterosexuals will immediately collapse into the same primordial slime the rest of us are condemned to live our lives in."

Throughout this long fight for the recognition of relationships between two men or two women, most people have been doing their best to assure straight, non-secular folks that nothing's really going to change. And in one very real sense, it won't. No matter what kind of relationship *I* have, there's no reason why it should affect *your* relationship. My being queer isn't going to make someone else queer if they aren't already - whether they've become aware of it or not. Having a queer married couple living next door is not going to send anyone else to the divorce court, unless that relationship was already doomed.

To quote myself again, I said "I still have not been able to find one opponent of same-sex marriage who can make an effective argument, without resorting to religion, about how the marriage of two men or two women is going to irretrievably damage existing marriages between a man and a woman, or the concept of marriage, or society, or the fate of the universe." And I do believe that's true - same-sex marriage isn't going to damage marriage, or society, and it certainly has nothing to do with the fate of the universe.

But I do think it is part of a long slow change in the idea of what family is, and how families function in society. And that what has happened is a big step forward in that process of change. And that where we are headed is going to upset some people deeply.

What is happening, and what this legislation is part of, is the secularisation of liminal events in human life and the personalisation of ritual. We are moving away from a kind of social structure that has existed for most of the history of our kind, a social structure in which a common religion marked all the important changes in a person's social status - birth, coming of age, marriage, becoming a parent, death. What that religion was, and what events were seen as liminal, depended on what the particular culture was, but until very recently in terms of human history, that's just how it was. And the political organisation of that culture - be it clan, tribe, state, whatever - reflected the dictates of religion with respect to the definitions of all of these statuses.

But all that is breaking down - has been, very slowly, for three or four hundred years, actually - and at an increasing pace. We are moving toward a social structure where the state records and acknowledges personal, not religious, definitions of these liminal events, and where religious recognition becomes an individual and optional element in these events - often a very important element, but not the sufficient and necessary element.

With the passage of the Civil Marriages Act, we now have in Canada a situation where religious marriage and civil marriage have distinctly different definitions. It's been that way for a while, actually - the Catholic Church does not recognise civil marriages where one person has been previously married but whose marriage has not been properly dissolved under canon law. But it's now clear to everyone - civil marriage is defined in secular terms, and religious marriage is defined according to religious beliefs.

If the definition of civil marriage is whatever the state agrees to record and acknowledge, without consideration of religious beliefs, then that definition can change again as ideas of what forms a family can take change and evolve. The concept of marriage, at its heart, is about commitment and caring - which may extend to making commitments to and caring for children within that marriage. We've already decided that the race, ethnicity, religion or gender of the adults in a marriage is irrelevant to its legitimacy. The next change to the secular definition, I think, will be the number of adults in a marriage.

And it's still not going to affect anybody else's marriage if I get myself hitched to a dozen people of all genders and colours and cultures. Nor is it going to change the essence of marriage, or bring about the collapse of society or the end of the world. And not all of the ranting of narrow-minded people who can't understand that nurturing love in all its forms can only add to the peace, justice and joy in the world can make it otherwise.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

Same-sex marriage is now legal in New Brunswick.

It's possible - and I fervently hope this happens - that within a week or two, this court ruling will be superseded by a federal law declaring marriage to be a union of two people in all provinces and territories of Canada. But even so, it's important to know that over the past two years, every court which has been asked to rule on the issue of same-sex marriage has found that under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it is unconstitutional to discriminate against same-sex couples by refusing them the right to marry.

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So the poor widdle heterosexual politician just can't feel comfortable sitting on the same side of the floor as his queer-loving former Liberal colleagues.

And some phobic asshats would prefer bringing down the government to letting a federal law defining marriage as a union of two persons be passed in the House.

Some people just don't get it. It doesn't matter that over half the country agrees with legitimating same-sex marriage. It doesn't matter that the fucking Supreme Courts of seven provinces and one territory have required governments to accept the legitimacy of same-sex marriage in those jurisdictions. It doesn't matter that the Supreme Court of the whole fucking country has examined the proposed legislation and declared it to be constitutional. It doesn't matter that it's an issue of human rights, and we're supposed to be big on that sort of thing up here - unless of course you're a Reformer disguised as a Conservative, or even a Liberal.

No, same-sex marriage is TEH EEVOL and some of these asshats would rather bring down the government than let queers get hitched. Because marriage is so special, you know, and if queers get their deviant and debauched claws of doom on it, all marriage between heterosexuals will immediately collapse into the same primordial slime the rest of us are condemned to live our lives in.

Or some such rot. I still have not been able to find one opponent of same-sex marriage who can make an effective argument, without resorting to religion, about how the marriage of two men or two women is going to irretrievably damage existing marriages between a man and a woman, or the concept of marriage, or society, or the fate of the universe.

Well, maybe more hot queer sex would delay the onset of heatdeath and allow the universe to survive a few extra millennia before ending with a whisper, but aside from that, just plain WTF?

morgan_dhu: (Default)

From the CBC:
A judge in Saskatoon has ruled that refusing to grant same-sex couples a marriage licence violates their charter rights under the Constitution. With Friday's ruling, Saskatchewan becomes the seventh jurisdiction in Canada to allow gays and lesbians to legally marry.
More details here

It's about time there was something good to talk about in the news.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

"There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune."

So said Brutus in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, and so say I, as another regional jurisdiction in Canada acknowledges same-sex marriage. The tides are starting to crest on this issue.

It's been a long time coming since Trudeau set out the notion that the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation, and there's still so far to go (we'll really know we're there when Alberta catches up with the flow), but I do believe I see a light on the horizon. And it is exciting to consider how much has changed for women and members of racial, ethnic and sexual minorities in my own lifetime.

These days, when most news is so fucking depressing, it's good to have something to celebrate. And to build on.

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