Real National Leadership

Deb Price has a great column about the clear trend of other nations allowing gay couples to get married, a trend that will surely put the lie once and for all to the absurd claim that banning gay marriage somehow "protects the sanctity of marriage." One can only sigh when reviewing the leadership on this issue that has been shown by the Prime Ministers of Canada and Spain, who have spoken out so boldly for the equal dignity of all people:

Here's Zapatero, as quoted this month by Reuters: "We cannot deny a right to our compatriots when the exercise of that right does not harm anyone else."

And here's Martin urging his national government to follow the lead of seven of Canada's 10 provinces: "I rise in support of ... the Civil Marriage Act. I rise in support of a Canada in which liberties are safeguarded, rights are protected and the people of this land are treated as equal under the law."

Already, under Zapatero's leadership, one house of the Spanish parliament has voted to open marriage to same-sex couples. And final passage is expected in time for the weddings to begin early this fall. Two-thirds of Spaniards welcome the advance, according to polling by the government's Centre for Sociological Investigations.

Zapatero took office last year vowing to rid his predominantly Catholic homeland of the stifling oppressiveness that has held it back. He has refused to wilt under a blowtorch of criticism from the Vatican for his embrace of gay rights.

"I will never understand," he told his parliament, "those who proclaim love as the foundation of life while denying so radically protection, understanding and affection to our neighbors, our friends, our relatives, our colleagues.

"What kind of love is this that excludes those who experience their sexuality in a different way?"

Canadian Prime Minister Martin didn't talk of love. Yet his February address, reprinted by the Canadian news agency CanWest, eloquently wove together all the reasons his nation has nothing to lose but much to gain by standing up for its gay people: "When we as a nation protect minority rights, we are protecting our multicultural nature....We are saying, proudly and unflinchingly, that defending rights -- not just those that happen to apply to us, not just (those) that everyone approves of -- is at the very soul of what it means to be a Canadian."

This, my dear readers, is what true moral conviction looks like. Despite the ridiculous cries of "moral relativism" coming from the religious right, this is anything but. This is taking the clear moral stand that all people are equal under the law and deserve the same opportunities that others take for granted. This is standing up for the conviction that gay people are no less human than straight people and therefore are just as capable of sustaining permanent relationships with the person they love. Most of all, it is condemning the fuzzy relativism of the right, which appeals to the worst in people to make them afraid of those who are different from them, and with no justification whatsoever. That's why they use this sham argument that stopping gay marriage is about "protecting" marriage, without providing a single coherent argument for why allowing gay couples to marry will harm straight marriages in the slightest. It's all about exploiting fear and the moral response is to stand up against this false fear, not give in to it.

Gay marriage will soon be a reality in Spain and Canada, and is already a reality in one form or another in most of Northern Europe. Yet straight couples continue to get married in those nations, and will continue to do so as long as the human race is around. They still fall in love, they still have children, and they still love those children. Some of them just happen to be gay while doing it. And their reality shines a light on the dystopic fantasies of those who oppose gay marriage. One can only hope and dream that the US could have a leader who would speak so boldly for the equal rights and equal dignity of all people. Here, one fears, such a leader would be nobly preparing to occupy an office of obscurity if not a coffin.


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Denmark has had gay marriage since 1989. Plenty of time has surpassed to prove that it doesn't destroy society. Yet that will not convince those who do not care to be convinced. They have just looked at nations like Denmark and Sweden and found some problem they have and say "ah hah! this is a problem due to gay marriage".

Denmark? Foreign Law?

Mark my words. When the issue of gay marriage eventually is argued before the Supreme Court, the Conservatives will argue that gay marriage is detrimental to society, and they will invoke Foreign Law to make their point.

This is a very nice post, but I have one quibble. As Margaret Marshall, chief justice of the Massachusets Supreme Judicial Court, more than hinted at in the advisory opinion in the spring of 2004, there is no such thing as "gay marriage." There is marriage

I know what you're saying, Ed. Think about it a bit differently: it's marriage.

Regarding Matthew's post, I don't recall the order of their adoption, but much of Scandinavia has had government recognition of gay unions since the late 1980s. France and Germany much more recently. It is interesting to note that, in Germany, the CDU/CSU party (it stands for Christian Democrat Union/Christian Social Union, a party that is near to the Roman Catholic Church, Inc) effectively derailed full marriage rights for gay people a couple of years ago, limiting them to "Eingetragene Partnerschaften"--registered partnerships. This was about the same time that the Netherlands decided that it was silly to maintain dual systems, one for opposite sex partners and the other for same sex partners, and opted for a single system. And a couple of years later, Belgium did the same.

Canada is a whole other story. But they're heading in the correct direction.

BTW, we're living in Massachusetts. I just checked. The sky is still up there ;-)