As a Canadian who spends his winters in Fort Lauderdale, I have perhaps developed a bit of perspective concerning the ongoing debate over same-sex unions and marriage, as I’m exposed to both societies. Although I’m very hesitant to criticize my hosts, I’d like to offer some observations that might shed a bit of a different light.
I never really felt particularly strong, one way or the other, about marriage; didn’t think it was necessary. I was for it, but after having “lived in sin” with my partner, after having taken care of all the legal aspects of our union, such as community property registration, wills, living wills, etc., I really didn’t see a great need for marriage.
We did eventually get married, or civilized or unionized, whatever you’d prefer. I guess it was more of a “why not” than a “why.” Now, after having lost my partner to cancer, after I’ve retired and tried to build a new life, I am more than a little pleased we took this initiative, as I’m benefiting from his government pension and employer pension survivor’s benefits, all of which contribute to my winters in your lovely city of Fort Lauderdale.
One of the reasons the United States has achieved so very many successes, both at home and internationally, is because its citizens are taught to be proud of their country from a very early age. This pride is frequently taken a step further, and many feel America is the best country in the world. I certainly won’t argue with that.
This pride is great—in fact, it’s enviable. However, I have to ask myself, is this pride stopping Americans from looking at what other countries have done? Blinding them from what works and what doesn’t elsewhere?
This country, in an effort to listen to all the voices, has fallen into a quandary on issues of individual freedom, which it takes such pride in protecting.
In Canada, when same-sex unions, let alone marriage, were first introduced, the extremists began to moan that such a disgusting measure would mean the end of traditional marriage, that marriage is between one man and one woman for the procreation of children, and that God would be awfully upset with us all if we allowed this blasphemy. Well, the measure was passed into law in every province, and the malcontents went on to find something else to whine about and someone else to spew their venom on. Traditional marriage didn’t fall apart any more than it already had. No one really cares any more. We’ve got serious economic problems, terrorist threats and national security flaws to occupy our little brains. In fact, the divorce lawyers just doubled their market share!
To bring the question of child adoption into the equation is really irrelevant and one more ruse to muddy the waters. Child adoption agencies are and must be the only ones who decide if a prospective parent is suitable. Can a married male-female couple who happen to be unemployed crack addicts adopt a newborn baby? No! But they’d qualify according to the rhetoric being spewed by the religious right. And, for once, let’s be honest: If you really want a kid, no matter who you are, there’s always the old-fashioned way. I have no idea how that works, but they tell me it does.
Same-sex “marriage” or “unions”—you give me a legal definition of the words and I’ll figure out which one to use—are working in countries all over the world. Yes, the citizens of the United States are more dynamic, more entrepreneurial and more independent than those in a great many other societies. Therefore, my question is: Why can’t the wording, the intent, the successes and the failures of other countries be adapted to meet the United States’ unique requirements? Why can’t Washington come up with a brand new law that forbids state government from engaging in any sort of systemic discrimination, thereby forcing their hands? This is the land of the brave, but I’m not so sure about it being the land of the free.
I love my American friends, I love being here and I will continue to pray that the “radical center” wins out, that the calm voice of justice, equality and freedom for all will be heard very soon. Good luck, United States.
The author is Stephen Berridge, resident of Quebec, Sir George Williams University, Montreal, retired, and spends time in Ft Lauderdale with his American partner.