Article 1- Lip Schtick by Leanne Allen
It's finally happened-gay marriage has pushed through the senate. I have to wonder if the two women who wrote in against our article on the pro-choice women visiting Kelowna last month will write in up in arms against this issure too. Let's call it a test in stereotypes and hope the theory's disproved. This has got to be the biggest social movement landmark in my generation's history, and whichever way you swing, you have to agree that it's good we at least have a landmark! When I look at my parents' generation, they had Woodstock and birth control. Now we have a major social turning point as well. I wonder how my daughter will grow up knowing that gay marriage is legal? It's bound to open up and expose the whole nature/nurture debate don't you think? Knowing something is legal sure puts a different light on it, and has got to carve a hole in the ethics wall people build in their minds regarding what's "right" and "wrong". It's got to be a heavy issue for Christians-it must seem impossible that Canadian law would not jive with The Holy Bible. Can you believe we even still talk about Church and State? Brings images of Henry VIII to mind....................[unrelated continuation of another topic]
Article 2- Same Sex Marriages. Same Old Arguement. The Debate Goes On and On and On.... by Karin Wilson
The Jews are fighting. So are the Sikhs, all manner of Protestants, even the Muslims. Forget what parliament has decided, Canadian members of the major religions continue to be divided over same sex marriage, while non-religious Canadians argue that the debate is esentially over. The squabbling extends from Ottawa parliamentary chambers all the way to Highway 97, where in downtown Westbank a group of young people waved to drivers for days to promote marriage as distinctly one man, one woman.
It's so not over.
Chris Derickson is the youth pastor at the All Nations Church located in Westbank. When one of the members of his group wanted to organize a rally to raise awareness, he not only supported it, he brought his nine-year-old son to the rally. "I'd like my son to be brought up knowing marriage is between one man and one woman," he said. "Twenty years ago the gays started pushing their views and brought it to where it is now. Now it is time for us to do the same and voice our opinion."
~A Very Modern Fairy Tale~
It was everything a modern romance would be. They met each other over the Internet. They are of mixed race (one Anglo-Saxan heritage, the other East Indian), and they are both men. So it was only natural, in keeping with this modern age, that they would marry. In a ceremony complete with wedding cake and more than 60 guests, Neal McKenna and Navin Vasudev took their vows in Kelowna in 2000 before a Unity Minister. The only thing missing was the marriage license. What they received instead was a "spiritual union" ceremony. Fast forward five years. McKenna and Vasudev now live in South Africa. They returned in late May-exactly on month before the same sex marriage bill passed in the House of Commons, to officially get married-this time in a much smaller ceremony with six guests. The only concern expressed by elder family members came from Vasudev's parents, who wanted to know: "Why couldn't you find a nice Indian boy?" Back in South Africa, the two lead a quiet life. The politics there are largely against same sex marriage, but both men have found a way to fit in without ruffling too many local feathers. "Officially, our relationship is not recognized as a marriage by the South African government," McKenna said in an email interview. "But while our marriage is not legal under South African law, we do have Common Law status here. Prior to our getting legally married, I had moved to South Africa on a spousal visa, attached to Nav's visa. Still am, no hassles." That Vasudev works for a non-governmental organization, which gives the couple access to a wide social circle, has certainly helped. "Most of our friends and acquaintances work for NGOs where gender issues are part of the work they are doing. "Not all religious groups condemn same sex marriage. Those that do are lost in their own dogma and are out of touch with the times. A loving God wants acceptance and equality for all. God doesn't hate fags or bigots. God doesn't hate at all. The issue is, however, tricky in many other countries, India included, where Navin is from. To this day in India, homosexuality is illegal and a crime. While the law that negates the existence of homosexuality is never really applied, instances of harassment are all too common. Socially, the general reaction towards gays and lesbians in India is still one of hostility and ridicule. However, even in India the situation is improving. Just recently a gay pride march was held in Calcutta."
Still, even in Canada, standing up and being counted in support remains spiritually risky. The opinions of at least one Catholic priest came down hard on an NDP politician who voted in favour of same sex marriage. Charles Angus, MP from Timmins-James Bay, was denied communion when he showed up at his perish after the June 28 vote. He soon learned he was also barred from any public duties in a lay capacity. Meanwhile, Focus on the Family Canada urged its supporters to email Senators and even the Queen, to express their belief that marriage should remain a religious ceremony defined as one man, one woman. McKenna and Vasudev admit marriage was never a spiritual issue in their mind, but always about rights. That puts them naturally at odds with any religion claiming hold over marriage. "The traditional family and the fabric of society are not going unravel just because two men or two women happen to marry each other," said McKenna, a BC author. "To think in those terms certainly gives us gay people a lot of power, doesn't it? All we want are the same rights and responsiblities guaranteed to hetero couples."
McKenna and Vasudev made front page news on Valentine's Day back in 2003, when they tried to get a marriage license at the Kelowna Courthouse as part of a cross-Canada initiative spearheaded by Equal Marriage for Same Sex Canada. Asked why marriage was so important, McKenna said: "Let me turn that question around. Why is it important to you? Your answers will be pretty much the same as mine. Legal marriage validates the relationship and provides certain securities-both emotional and legal. We have power of attorny over each other. Previously we were not guaranteed all the rights of a legal spouse.....Let's say I got hit by a falling piano and was put on life support. I might be brain-dead but Nav wouldn't have the authority to say "pull the plug," even if he knew that would be my wish. Another thing is pensions. I wanted to be sure that income continues for him, as my legal spouse, after my much-lamented demise."
But for Derickson, marriage is all about religion. That's what holds marriage together- not the state, but a religious state of being overseen by God, and Derickson will use every opportunity he can to get the message heard, right down to decorating a "Straight Marriage" float to take part in the Westside Days parade held last month.
"For the governemnt to come in and tell us that this word now has a different meaning, that's not right," he said. "There are already a few human rights cases taking place (such as the case of a lesbian couple in Vancouver who wanted to marry in a hall run by Knights of Columbus), and you can kind of see where it's going. It doesn't look too bright for religion."
His church plans to approach Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Stockwell Day to make the other side heard. "He has a responsiblity to voice the opinion of his constituency," he said. "And as long as there is a difference of opinion, there is going to be open debate on the subject." Day has already come out fighting in his weekly column. Following Canada Day celebrations, he referred to the vote as a "mess" and said at all six events he attended, people complained to him. "Most poignant were the comments from several veterans celebrating the Year of the Veteran, who said this was not the type of erosion of freedom for which they had fought."
He added that the Conservatives planned to hold fast to their commitment that they would hold a free vote on the issue. Give it up, says McKenna. "Same Sex Marriage is a done deal. Stephen Harper should find another axe to grind. However, I think he will continue to be a fart in a windstorm. If he and Stockwell Day find their happiness in promoting bigotry, then let them. If this were the 1920s, they would be speaking out against women getting the right to vote. But Canada's Charter of Rights says they can speak their minds, no matter how narrow they might be."
~To Have and Have No~
Of course, just like in the heterosexual community, not everyone wants to be "married" in the traditional sense of the word. But they certainly want the rights of the married, ceremony be damned. Vikki Winkler, 32, and Lee-Ann Davis, 33, have been together for 12 years and live in Kelowna. Neither ever dreamed of being a bride. "It's not anything I ever wished for," said Winkler. "I never pictured myself as being a bride and I guess Lee-Ann didn't either." Marriage was always associated with religion in both their minds, that that was something neither woman subscribed to. "We're both atheists," she said.
Winkler also doesn't like that marriage seems to change people, whether they are heterosexual or not. Couples cease calling each other by their names, and instead refer to "my husband" or "my wife". Traditional roles and responsiblities seem to take over despite earlier proclamations of equality. "You end up being surrounded by that role, and whether you believe it or not, it kind of happens to you anyway."
So, marriage isn't for them. But Winkler said as they get older, the need to have the rights associated with marriage have become more apparant. "The older we get the more we think about it," she said. "It's probably one of the first things we'll get to once we finish university. I need that security. I want Lee-Ann to have a say over what happens to me when I die or if I become ill. That's important to me."
The debate continues.
Marriage has been with us for centuries, long defined by culture, by religion, by economics. From a cultural neccessity in Jesus's day-to guard against war with neighbours, or simply to bolster the troops for a war against another, to a practical consideration during the Industrial Revolution (someone had to look after the children). As we fast forward to the 21st century, it seems the challenge lies in contextualizing what took place in the past, and why. Throughout the West, women marched for their own freedom and can now create their own economic reality. Children arrive by choice, rather than biology. These shifts have allowed for the idea of a partnership of love to take hold, as our individuality has become more important than the cultural or religious status quo. The question for the 21st century may be: Whose society is it anyway? What does marriage really mean? And how can Canada, in this new era, forge a new path based on ideals of love and equality?
Embracing love as the basis for marriage could have massive implications. Unless the Canadian Senate throws the issue back to parliament, it will be up to this country, along with Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain, to create the foundation for this new world order-one in which 'gay' is simply another word for 'happy'.
............le fin.......hope you enjoy