Dispatches from the Creation Wars

One of my readers passed on this link to the speech given by Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin in support of legislation that legalizes gay marriage. It makes one almost sad that we have no such leaders in American government. Who in American government would ever dare to speak this way:


For gays and lesbians, evolving social attitudes have, over the years, prompted a number of important changes in the law. Recall that, until the late 1960s, the state believed it had the right to peek into our bedrooms. Until 1977, homosexuality was still sufficient grounds for deportation. Until 1992, gay people were prohibited from serving in the military. In many parts of the country, gays and lesbians could not designate their partners as beneficiaries under employee medical and dental benefits, insurance policies or private pensions. Until very recently, people were being fired merely for being gay.

Today, we rightly see discrimination based on sexual orientation as arbitrary, inappropriate and unfair. Looking back, we can hardly believe that such rights were ever a matter for debate. It is my hope that we will ultimately see the current debate in a similar light; realizing that nothing has been lost or sacrificed by the majority in extending full rights to the minority…

To those who would oppose this bill, I urge you to consider that the core of the issue before us today is whether the rights of all Canadians are to be respected. I believe they must be. Justice demands it. Fairness demands it. The Canada we love demands it.

This is real moral leadership, as distinguished from the authoritarianism masquerading as morality that we hear so often in America. The zeal to use the power of the state to punish others for behavior that, in Jefferson’s words, neither picks one’s pocket nor breaks one’s legs, is a false morality, a thin veneer over the desire to control the lives of others and strip from them their unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is immoral to deny those rights to others, who deserve them no less than ourselves. If only we had leaders who were willing to speak up for true moral leadership in this regard.

Comments

  1. #1 DonM
    June 29, 2005

    Ed,

    We don’t necessarily get everything right, but our elected parliament does seem to be able to look after the rights of the minorities… usually.

    I think it was here that I once saw the tongue-in-cheek quote:
    “Canada- where cigarettes cost $10, gasoline is $4 a gallon but a heart tranplant is free” :-)

    Don

  2. #2 raj
    June 29, 2005

    The odd thing is that the Kanzler of Germany, Gerhard Schroeder, said something similar (in German, of course) only a few years ago, only some 60 years after the up-rooting of the Nazi regime.

    It struck me then that it was odd that Americans are so intransigent.

    When the Americans liberated the concentration camps during WWII, they let everyone out. Except for the the homosexuals, whom they over to “civil authorities” for further imprisonment.

  3. #3 Ed Brayton
    June 29, 2005

    raj wrote:

    When the Americans liberated the concentration camps during WWII, they let everyone out. Except for the the homosexuals, whom they over to “civil authorities” for further imprisonment.

    Holy cow, is that true? I’ve never heard that before. I’d love to have some real documentation for it.

  4. #4 Anon
    June 29, 2005


    Holy cow, is that true? I’ve never heard that before.

    http://history.acusd.edu/gen/WW2Timeline/camps.html


    1943 – Natzweiler-Struthof was expanded by the Nazis with the installation of a gas chamber and crematory for the mass killing of Jews, Gypsies, and captured Resistance fighters from Holland, Belgium, and France. Under Paragraph 175 of the German legal code, male homosexuality was punished by imprisonment, but not female lesbianism. After 1943, male homosexuals were forced to wear a pink trangle and were sent to the death camps. The Americans did not repeal Paragraph 175 and sent homosexual inmates liberated from the camps to other prisons.

  5. #5 dumdidum
    June 29, 2005

    I cannot confirm this in particular, but it would have made sense back then – in Austria,homosexuality was a crime until 1970.

  6. #6 raj
    June 29, 2005

    Ed, I was not there, but that’s what I’ve read.

    I know full well that you are an advocate for equal rights for gay people. I don’t know whether you are aware of the “people with a history” web site maintained by Paul Halsall at Fordham

    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/pwh/index.html

    Some of the links there don’t work any more, but many of them do and they are interesting.

    The particular article I was referring to was http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/pwh/steakley-nazis.html although that doesn’t include the description of the fact that the Americans, after liberating concentration camps, turned the “pink triangles” over to civil authority for further imprisonment. Paragraph 175–the German anti-sodomy law (which predated the Nazi Era) was taken down some years thereater. But the US, which controlled West Germany, made no effort to get rid of the paragraph.

    If you have a strong stomach (and you really do need a strong stomach), you might also read Pierre Seel: The Death of His Lover http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/pwh/seel.html

    I won’t post any text here.

    What we find interesting is that, since then the German government–and the German populace–has become more overtly gay friendly. Whereas the various governments in the US appear to have become more anti-gay. Gay people are the new n!gg@rs.

  7. #7 Ed Brayton
    June 29, 2005

    Wow. That’s just stunning to me. I don’t know why it should be, I suppose. Thanks for the links, guys. I’ll explore it in more detail.

  8. #8 Dave S.
    June 29, 2005

    See also http://www.answers.com/main/ntquery;jsessionid=8arpg1nkgl8he?method=4&dsid=2222&dekey=Paragraph+175&gwp=8&curtab=2222_1&sbid=lc03b

    Paragraph 175 laws against homosexuality, brought into being in 1871, were only completely revoked in 1994.

  9. #9 worm eater
    June 29, 2005

    Whereas the various governments in the US appear to have become more anti-gay. Gay people are the new n!gg@rs.

    “New?” It seems to me that now is the first time that they are actually getting some rights. Only recently have any legal same-sex marriages occured anywhere in the US. The new anti-marriage rights laws that are springing up in the US are not because people are starting to think gays are bad, but because social conservatives are trying to hold back the flood of civil rights that is inevitably coming. Now, for the first time, gay rights supporters can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and that scares some people. But public opinion, in the US and everywhere, is shifting toward equality for homosexuals. Unfortunately, our current president feels the need to pander to the social conservatives.

  10. #10 Matthew
    June 29, 2005

    I always hear from canadians that they have a fundamentalist problem too, but obviously it isn’t that bad. At least their general population doesn’t vote with the fundamentalists, like they do here.

  11. #11 raj
    June 30, 2005

    I was probably a bit too terse with the n!gg@r comment, and I apologize. Groups that are associated with the religious right, like Focus and the American Family Assassination, use gay bashing (rhetorical, of course) in their fund raising operations–because it works. In decades past, they would have used n!gg@r bashing, but that has gone out of style. It should be recognized that–it’s all about money. I’ve been criticized elsewhere for emphasizing the money issue, but that’s the bottom line. (Pun intentional)

  12. #12 Dave S.
    June 30, 2005

    I always hear from canadians that they have a fundamentalist problem too, but obviously it isn’t that bad. At least their general population doesn’t vote with the fundamentalists, like they do here.

    There are certainly members of that element up here (just look at ID cheerleader Denyse “Darwinbot” O’Leary) but nowhere near what we see in our neighbour to the south.

  13. #13 Jason Kuznicki
    June 30, 2005

    There is an excellent documentary on gays in Nazi Germany called Paragraph 175; it features gay survivors of the Holocaust and does mention, if I recall correctly, how many of them were put in other prisons following their supposed liberation.

  14. #14 worm eater
    June 30, 2005

    use gay bashing (rhetorical, of course) in their fund raising operations–because it works.

    Yeah, I see what you are saying. They’ve become the primary target group now that racial / ethnic groups are generally off limits. It’s not so much that people are becoming less tolerant of gays in general, but that hatred of them is being more widely exploited now, just as, at one time, hatred of blacks was exploited.

  15. #15 raj
    June 30, 2005

    Just to let you know, this issue of the Nazi concentration camps is a personal issue with me. My (same-sex) spouse’s grandfather was interred in the Dachau concentration camp for some time. He survived, but only because the Americans liberated the camp before his scheduled execution took place.

    When I hear her talk about what it was like being in Nazi occupied Germany, I am reminded of the novel 1984.

  16. #16 DonM
    June 30, 2005

    You may be interested to know that the Province of Alberta (often known here as Alabama North) is still looking for ways to not have to comply with the new law.

    The favourite (note Cdn spelling) tactic at the moment is to repeal the entire Alberta Marriage Act. That way NO ONE will be able to get married and everyone will just have a Civil Union.

    What a bunch of whackos!!

    Don

  17. #17 raj
    June 30, 2005

    Don:

    (Rolls eyes)

    We have a saying for something like that: “cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

    People will just go to Saskatchewan (sp?) to get married.

  18. #18 John
    June 30, 2005

    Don,

    Cannot Alberta invoke the “notwithstanting clause”?

  19. #19 TikiHead
    June 30, 2005

    Bush certainly does not come off well in comparison — and he does not even have the decency to be openly homophobic. It’s all mealy-mouthed platitudes, about tolerance and dignity from his moth, but his actions say something else.

  20. #20 Bill Ware
    July 1, 2005

    I like this one:

    When we as a nation protect minority rights, we are protecting our multicultural nature. We are reinforcing the Canada we value. We are saying, proudly and unflinchingly, that defending rights – not just those that happen to apply to us, not just that everyone approves of, but all fundamental rights – is at the very soul of what it means to be a Canadian.

  21. #21 raj
    July 1, 2005

    I am not a big fan of the Social Democrats in Germany because of their economic policies, but I will merely point out that, with regard equal marrige rights for gay people, Kanzler Schroder was quoted as saying “wir werden es tun, weil wir muessen es tun” In other words, they will do it because it’s the proper thing to do. I have yet to hear an american politician talk about the doing the “proper” thing for the community.

    No, I take that back. Barry Goldwater did so. So did Lyndon Johnson, despite all his falts in regards the Vietnam War. Jimmy Carter tried to. But since then? No.

    (Direct translation: we will do it, because we have to do it, for the protection of the community)

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