Friday, January 28, 2005

SpongeBob, Stephen Harper and same-sex marriage

VICTORIA - I've got to figure out how to apologize to my young friend Spencer for the terrible thing I've done, while innocently thinking we were just going to the movies.
We picked the SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. And now I learn, too late, that I may have inadvertently exposed an impressionable young person to images of . . . tolerance.
The horror. A very bright person like Spencer, encouraged to be tolerant of people who may be different.
The warning of SpongeBob's evil complicity came from James Dobson, the head of a big U.S.-based religious group called Focus on the Family, which thinks there is entirely too much talk of this tolerance stuff.
People pay attention to Dobson. His radio show draws about seven million listeners, and he's credited with helping George Bush to critical wins in Florida and Ohio. (If the group sounds familiar, it may because you heard about it during Cindy Silver's unsuccessful bid for a Liberal nomination; Silver was Focus on the Family's former legal advisor in Canada.)
To be fair, Dobson didn't really have it in for SpongeBob. But the amiable, squeaky-voiced cartoon megastar appeared with Barney, Bob the Builder, Big Bird and all the heavyweights in a video going out to schools for Family Day in March, promoting diversity and understanding. (Nile Rodgers, who wrote 'We Are Family, I've G All My Sisters With Me,' helped create the video through a foundation that he started after 911 to teach kids about diversity.)
Bad idea, says Dobson. Tolerance is just another word hijacked by homosexuals. And just look at the foundation's tolerance pledge, he adds.
"To help keep diversity a wellspring of strength and make America a better place for all, I pledge to have respect for people whose abilities, beliefs, culture, race, sexual identity or other characteristics are different from my own," the pledge says.
OK, I admit that I don't see the evil. Are we supposed to disrespect some of those people? Does that mean we get to hit them, or do we have to be content with shunning?
Which leads, perhaps in a slightly twisting way, to Conservative leader Stephen Harper.
The Conservatives just wrapped up a caucus meeting here in Victoria, and tolerance was much on the agenda. Harper and Prime Minister Paul Martin - meeting on the other coast with his caucus - lobbed long-distance grenades at each other about same sex marriage.
Or they did for a while. I made it to a midday scrum at the Empress Hotel on the second day of the visit. Harper wanted to talk about Jean Chretien' attempts to derail the Gomery inquiry into the sponsorship scandal. He didn't want to talk about same sex marriage. I had my head down, taking notes, when a reporter asked two questions on the issue. When I looked up Harper was gone, bolting from the room.
I like to think Harper was embarrassed. People may feel strongly about the issue. But ultimately, it's no big deal. The question is whether governments issue a piece of paper that uses the word marriage to same sex couples. They don't get any new rights, or financial advantages. No one is compelled to do anything, or even recognize the marriage. It's all about a piece of paper.
And the reality - despite Harper's claims to the contrary - is that the only way out of acknowledging same sex marriages is invoking the notwithstanding clause in the charter of rights and freedoms. That means saying that the state is willing to deprive some Canadians of their constitutionally guaranteed rights because respecting those rights would do serious harm to the country.
And that's a very tough claim, since we're almost two years into allowing same sex marriages in Canada, with no signs of social collapse.
What a choice. Dobson and Harper, or SpongeBob and Paul Martin.
Spencer and I, we want to hear about some real issues.
Footnote: Harper, to his credit, met with a lesbian couple near retirement age who told him how important their 2003 wedding was in healing rifts in their families. But he said he would still have their marriage annulled, and hoped they would be happy with some other form of civil union.


David Wozney said...

Invoking the section 33 notwithstanding clause to maintain the opposite-sex definition of marriage is not required because the various court decisions dealing with the definition of marriage are flawed.

For example, the June 10, 2003 Ontario Court of Appeal Halpern decision repeated the false claim made by the Supreme Court of Canada, in Egan v. Canada [1995], that "Sexual orientation is a deeply personal characteristic that is either unchangeable or changeable only at unacceptable personal costs, and so falls within the ambit of s. 15 protection as being analogous to the enumerated grounds".

Numerous testimonies of former homosexuals, whose sexual orientations have changed at acceptable personal costs, have discredited this false claim made by Canadian courts. Sexual orientation is changeable at a personal cost that is very acceptable.

On the basis of their false claim Supreme Court of Canada judges claimed to have read in "sexual orientation" to Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not refer to "sexual orientation".

Rather than needing to change the lawful definition of marriage in Canada, or rather than needing to use the notwithstanding clause, what is needed is to restore credibility to the Supreme Court of Canada and to several other Canadian courts.

Neither present-day Canadian judges nor Canadian Members of Parliament are the ultimate authority on the lawful definition of marriage in Canada.

Do you believe Queen Elizabeth II, "Defender of the Faith", will enact legislation that is contrary to the Christian faith?

According to the Christian faith, marriage is honourable in all (Hebrews 13:4) whereas homosexual relationships (Romans 1:26-27) are not honourable.

Also, "he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please [his] wife" and "she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please [her] husband" (1 Corinthians 7:33-34).

The Lawful Definition of Marriage in Canada

Thursday said...

Why, hello again, David!

Just one point here, regarding "numerous testimonies" of people changing their sexual orientation: there are NO credible studies that have shown this to be the case. None. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and the National Association of Social Workers have stated that a person's sexual orientation cannot be changed by reparative therapy.

For those who have changed, it could simply be that some people acted on bisexual impulses, then changed their minds and decided not to.

Dr. Robert Spitzer conducted a study ( of "ex-gays" and "ex-lesbians", and despite the claims of ex-gay groups that they know "thousnads" of such people, after a year and a half of searching, he found only 143 men and 57 women who declared themselves successful in changing their orientation. Even NARTH (National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) could only provide 46 subjects, more than 1,000 therapists working for them. Most of those subjects provided said they were still attracted to members of the same sex, though they didn't act on those feelings. This was from a self-selected group, the best that orientation-change advocates could hope for.

If sexual orientation were easily malleable, you'd be able to fall in love with a man. Well, then: have you?