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.