Bradley Miller

Same-sex ‘marriage’ ten years on: lessons from Canada

Bradley Miller
By Bradley Miller

November 14, 2012 (thePublicDiscourse) - Would recognizing same-sex relationships as marriages be much of a game-changer? What impact, if any, would it have on the public conception of marriage or the state of a nation’s marriage culture?

There has been no shortage of speculation on these questions. But the limited American experience with same-sex marriage to date gives us few concrete answers. So it makes sense to consider the Canadian experience since the first Canadian court established same-sex marriage a decade ago. There are, of course, important cultural and institutional differences between the US and Canada and, as is the case in any polity, much depends upon the actions of local political and cultural actors. That is to say, it is not necessarily safe to assume that Canadian experiences will be replicated here. But they should be considered; the Canadian experience is the best available evidence of the short-term impact of same-sex marriage in a democratic society very much like America.

Anyone interested in assessing the impact of same-sex marriage on public life should investigate the outcomes in three spheres: first, human rights (including impacts on freedom of speech, parental rights in public education, and the autonomy of religious institutions); second, further developments in what sorts of relationships political society will be willing to recognize as a marriage (e.g., polygamy); and third, the social practice of marriage.

The Impact on Human Rights

The formal effect of the judicial decisions (and subsequent legislation) establishing same-sex civil marriage in Canada was simply that persons of the same-sex could now have the government recognize their relationships as marriages. But the legal and cultural effect was much broader. What transpired was the adoption of a new orthodoxy: that same-sex relationships are, in every way, the equivalent of traditional marriage, and that same-sex marriage must therefore be treated identically to traditional marriage in law and public life.

A corollary is that anyone who rejects the new orthodoxy must be acting on the basis of bigotry and animus toward gays and lesbians. Any statement of disagreement with same-sex civil marriage is thus considered a straightforward manifestation of hatred toward a minority sexual group. Any reasoned explanation (for example, those that were offered in legal arguments that same-sex marriage is incompatible with a conception of marriage that responds to the needs of the children of the marriage for stability, fidelity, and permanence—what is sometimes called the conjugal conception of marriage), is dismissed right away as mere pretext.

When one understands opposition to same-sex marriage as a manifestation of sheer bigotry and hatred, it becomes very hard to tolerate continued dissent. Thus it was in Canada that the terms of participation in public life changed very quickly. Civil marriage commissioners were the first to feel the hard edge of the new orthodoxy; several provinces refused to allow commissioners a right of conscience to refuse to preside over same-sex weddings, and demanded their resignations. At the same time, religious organizations, such as the Knights of Columbus, were fined for refusing to rent their facilities for post-wedding celebrations.

The Right to Freedom of Expression

The new orthodoxy’s impact has not been limited to the relatively small number of persons at risk of being coerced into supporting or celebrating a same-sex marriage. The change has widely affected persons—including clergy—who wish to make public arguments about human sexuality.

Much speech that was permitted before same-sex marriage now carries risks. Many of those who have persisted in voicing their dissent have been subjected to investigations by human rights commissions and (in some cases) proceedings before human rights tribunals. Those who are poor, poorly educated, and without institutional affiliation have been particularly easy targets—anti-discrimination laws are not always applied evenly.  Some have been ordered to pay fines, make apologies, and undertake never to speak publicly on such matters again. Targets have included individuals writing letters to the editors of local newspapers, and ministers of small congregations of Christians. A Catholic bishop faced two complaints—both eventually withdrawn—prompted by comments he made in a pastoral letter about marriage.

Reviewing courts have begun to rein in the commissions and tribunals (particularly since some ill-advised proceedings against Mark Steyn and Maclean’s magazine in 2009), and restore a more capacious view of freedom of speech. And in response to the public outcry following the Steyn/Maclean’s affair, the Parliament of Canada recently revoked the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s statutory jurisdiction to pursue “hate speech.”

But the financial cost of fighting the human rights machine remains enormous—Maclean’s spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, none of which is recoverable from the commissions, tribunals, or complainants. And these cases can take up to a decade to resolve. An ordinary person with few resources who has drawn the attention of a human rights commission has no hope of appealing to the courts for relief; such a person can only accept the admonition of the commission, pay a (comparatively) small fine, and then observe the directive to remain forever silent. As long as these tools remain at the disposal of the commissions—for whom the new orthodoxy gives no theoretical basis to tolerate dissent—to engage in public discussion about same-sex marriage is to court ruin.

Similar pressure can be—and is—brought to bear on dissenters by professional governing bodies (such as bar associations, teachers’ colleges, and the like) that have statutory power to discipline members for conduct unbecoming of the profession. Expressions of disagreement with the reasonableness of institutionalizing same-sex marriage are understood by these bodies to be acts of illegal discrimination, which are matters for professional censure.

Teachers are particularly at risk for disciplinary action, for even if they only make public statements criticizing same-sex marriage outside the classroom, they are still deemed to create a hostile environment for gay and lesbian students. Other workplaces and voluntary associations have adopted similar policies as a result of their having internalized this new orthodoxy that disagreement with same-sex marriage is illegal discrimination that must not be tolerated.

Parental Rights in Public Education

Institutionalizing same-sex marriage has subtly but pervasively changed parental rights in public education. The debate over how to cast same-sex marriage in the classroom is much like the debate over the place of sex education in schools, and of governmental pretensions to exercise primary authority over children. But sex education has always been a discrete matter, in the sense that by its nature it cannot permeate the entirety of the curriculum. Same-sex marriage is on a different footing.

Since one of the tenets of the new orthodoxy is that same-sex relationships deserve the same respect that we give marriage, its proponents have been remarkably successful in demanding that same-sex marriage be depicted positively in the classroom. Curriculum reforms in jurisdictions such as British Columbia now prevent parents from exercising their long-held veto power over contentious educational practices.

The new curricula are permeated by positive references to same-sex marriage, not just in one discipline but in all. Faced with this strategy of diffusion, the only parental defense is to remove one’s children from the public school system entirely. Courts have been unsympathetic to parental objections: if parents are clinging to outdated bigotries, then children must bear the burden of “cognitive dissonance”—they must absorb conflicting things from home and school while school tries to win out.

The reforms, of course, were not sold to the public as a matter of enforcing the new orthodoxy. Instead, the stated rationale was to prevent bullying; that is, to promote the acceptance of gay and lesbian youth and the children of same-sex households.

It is a laudable goal to encourage acceptance of persons. But whatever can be said for the objective, the means chosen to achieve it is a gross violation of the family. It is nothing less than the deliberate indoctrination of children (over the objections of their parents) into a conception of marriage that is fundamentally hostile to what the parents understand to be in their children’s best interests. It frustrates the ability of parents to lead their children to an understanding of marriage that will be conducive to their flourishing as adults. At a very early age, it teaches children that the underlying rationale of marriage is nothing other than the satisfaction of changeable adult desires for companionship.

Religious Institutions’ Right to Autonomy

At first glance, clergy and houses of worship appeared largely immune from coercion to condone or perform same-sex marriages. Indeed, this was the grand bargain of the same-sex marriage legislation—clergy would retain the right not to perform marriages that would violate their religious beliefs. Houses of worship could not be conscripted against the wishes of religious bodies.

It should have been clear from the outset just how narrow this protection is. It only prevents clergy from being coerced into performing marriage ceremonies. It does not, as we have seen, shield sermons or pastoral letters from the scrutiny of human rights commissions. It leaves congregations vulnerable to legal challenges if they refuse to rent their auxiliary facilities to same-sex couples for their ceremony receptions, or to any other organization that will use the facility to promote a view of sexuality wholly at odds with their own.

Neither does it prevent provincial and municipal governments from withholding benefits to religious congregations because of their marriage doctrine. For example, Bill 13, the same Ontario statute that compels Catholic schools to host “Gay-Straight Alliance” clubs (and to use that particular name), also prohibits public schools from renting their facilities to organizations that will not agree to a code of conduct premised on the new orthodoxy. Given that many small Christian congregations rent school auditoriums to conduct their worship services, it is easy to appreciate their vulnerability.

Changes to the Public Conception of Marriage

It has been argued that if same-sex marriage is institutionalized, new marital categories may be accepted, like polygamy. Once one abandons a conjugal conception of marriage, and replaces it with a conception of marriage that has adult companionship as its focus, there is no principled basis for resisting the extension of marriage licenses to polygamist and polyamorist unions.

In other words, if marriage is about satisfying adult desires for companionship, and if the desires of some adults extend to more novel arrangements, how can we deny them? I will not here evaluate this claim, but simply report how this scenario has played out in Canada.

One prominent polygamist community in British Columbia was greatly emboldened by the creation of same-sex marriage, and publicly proclaimed that there was now no principled basis for the state’s continued criminalization of polygamy. Of all the Canadian courts, only a trial court in British Columbia has addressed whether prohibiting polygamy is constitutional, and provided an advisory opinion to the province’s government. The criminal prohibition of polygamy was upheld, but on a narrow basis that defined polygamy as multiple, concurrent civil marriages. The court did not address the phenomenon of multiple common-law marriages. So, thus far, the dominant forms of polygamy and polyamory practiced in Canada have not gained legal status, but neither have they faced practical impediments.

The lesson is this: a society that institutionalizes same-sex marriage needn’t necessarily institutionalize polygamy. But the example from British Columbia suggests that the only way to do so is to ignore principle. The polygamy case’s reasoning gave no convincing explanation why it would be discriminatory not to extend the marriage franchise to gays and lesbians, but not discriminatory to draw the line at polygamists and polyamorists. In fact, the judgment looks like it rests on animus toward polygamists and polyamorists, which is not a stable juridical foundation.

The Impact on the Practice of Marriage

As for the practice of marriage, it is too soon to say much. The 2011 census data establish that, first, marriage is in decline in Canada, as it is in much of the West; second, same-sex marriage is a statistically minor phenomenon; and third, there are very few same-sex couples (married or not) with children in the home.

There are approximately 21,000 married same-sex couples in Canada, out of 6.29 million married couples. Same-sex couples (married and unmarried) constitute 0.8% of all couples in Canada; 9.4% of the 64,575 same-sex couples (including common-law and married) have children in the home, and 80% of these are lesbian couples. By contrast, 47.2% of heterosexual couples have children in the home. Canada stopped tracking divorce after 2008, and has never provided data on same-sex divorce.

What we can gather from these data is that same-sex marriage has not, contrary to arguments that it would, powered a resurgent marriage culture in Canada. Nor are there any census data (one way or the other) for empirical arguments tying the institutionalization of same-sex marriage to marriage stability.

Without empirical data on divorce rates (which are not forthcoming in Canada), we are left with conceptual arguments that must be evaluated on their merits. Here, the Canadian experience cannot provide much information. We are left with the question, does the institutionalization of same-sex marriage rest on a conception of marriage that places a premium on stability, as does the conjugal conception? If it does not, then we can reasonably believe same-sex marriage will speed up cultural acceptance of a conception of marriage—the adult companionate model—that has done much social damage over the past fifty years.

Bradley W. Miller is an associate professor of law at the University of Western Ontario and a Visiting Fellow in the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. This article reprinted with permission from thePublicDiscourse.com.

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Kim Davis refusing to issue marriage license to same-sex couple Frame from Times video
Mass Resistance

Kim Davis jailing only beginning of what is in store for America as revealed in June 27 “gay” magazine

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September 4, 2015 (Mass Resistance) --The judge told her that she’ll stay in jail until she’s willing to change her mind -- and go against her conscience and faith. He said that he’d review the situation in a week. The judge said that he jailed her because fining her  “would not bring about the desired result of compliance”.

There are approximately 125 county officials throughout Kentucky who can issue “gay marriage” licenses. But the judge was adamant that every county official must be forced to do it and that religious freedom cannot be allowed, despite the First Amendment.  “The idea of natural law superseding this court’s authority would be a dangerous precedent indeed,” he said.

See video of Kim Davis, turning away very angry same-sex couple demanding a marriage license.

In 2004, 75% of Kentucky voters passed a State Constitutional Amendment restricting marriage to one man and one woman. On Thursday, Sept. 3, County Clerk Kim Davis was sent to jail by U.S. District Judge David Bunning because she refuses to issue “gay marriage” licenses, a decision which she says is rooted in her strong Christian faith.
 

The post-“gay marriage” revolution

Most pro-family people didn’t see the chilling article that appeared in The Nation, a major left-wing magazine, the day before the U.S. Supreme Court “gay marriage” ruling came out. The article outlines where the LGBT movement is going after “gay marriage.”

The Nation article, “What’s Next for the LGBT Movement?”, quotes four high-profile LGBT activists who reveal that “gay marriage” was never their final goal. The LGBT movement will not be stopping to rest, they say. Their plan is to delegitimize and crush all opposition to their agenda everywhere in America – particularly in the churches -- no matter how small.

Some of the things the article outlines:

  • “Dis-establish marriage.”  “Gay marriage” was simply a stepping stone. Their actual goal is that there be no formal marriage rules at all. This means group marriages are next, then incestuous marriages, and later even marriages to minors. It would simply be up to the people directly involved to decide.
  • Pass strong LGBT “non-discrimination” laws across the US. These are the laws that force bakers to bake “gay marriage” cakes or face huge punishments. Such laws would also force schools to include LGBT indoctrination. Most states still do not have the onerous laws the LGBT movement demands. The activists refer to those states (mostly in the South and Midwest) as “zones without rights” in their propaganda.
  • Ban all “religious liberty” laws. They consider religious liberty to be a dangerous ploy to “undermine all civil rights laws” that must be stopped at all costs. All people must be forced to follow the LGBT agenda, with no exceptions.
  • Demonize pro-family conservatives and silence all dissent. They plan to direct “massive amounts of funds” to “expose and defeat the right wing” across America.
  • Push a radical political agenda. They plan to leverage their power to support Marxist economic policies, the right to “early term abortion,” and similar policies.


Starting to happen

Last month the Denver City Council moved to deny the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain permission to do business at the Denver Airport because the company’s president said he does not agree with “gay marriage.” One Council member labeled the president’s pro-marriage beliefs “discriminatory political rhetoric,” and must not be allowed to make profits from the city’s airport. (Chick-fil-A restaurants have never been accused of actually discriminating against anyone.)

The national homosexual group Human Rights Campaign is already raising millions of dollars to fight religious freedom laws around the country.

And of course, there’s the upswing of left-wing hate and demonization of religious people. The day after Kim Davis was jailed, the Boston Globe prominently published an op-ed article titled “Kim Davis follows the footsteps of George Wallace” which states, among other things, that “Davis is just the latest in a long, infernal line of fanatics to contort their so-called faith into an excuse for hatred and division.” The Left’s hatred of religious people is visceral, and now it’s coming to the forefront.
 

Lots of hypocrisy

The jailing of Kim Davis by Judge Bunning, like most of the Left’s actions, has more than a whiff of hypocrisy. When San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom began illegally ordering county clerks to issue “gay marriage” licenses in 2004, or in 2009 when California clerks (and the Governor) ignored the Prop 8 ruling against issuing “gay marriage” licenses, no judge intervened at all. 
 

Cowards and compromisers

It pains us to say it, but for decades the pro-family movement has been crippled from gaining ground by cowards and compromisers, from top to bottom. Don’t get us started on what led to the disastrous the Supreme Court “gay marriage” ruling.  And it continues with the Kim Davis issue.

While Kim Davis sits in jail, five of her six deputy clerks shamelessly have agreed to abide by the judge’s wishes and started issuing “gay marriage” licenses. (The one holdout is her son.) According to news reports, starting the very next day they were issuing them quite cheerfully, even shaking the hands of the newly “married” homosexual couples.

A disturbing number of pro-family and church leaders across the country have sided with the Federal Judge, saying that Kim Davis should go to jail for “not following the law.”  (Actually there is no “law” on the books – it is only a court ruling. Nor could the judge cite such a law.) 

Even the National Review has published an article saying “[R]eligious-liberty protections cannot act as a bar to gay couples: If the law permits a U.S. citizen to get a license, there must be a way for the gay couple to access it, with their dignity intact."
Wonderful. What a lame movement we're in!
 

What can good people do?

We can certainly see what’s coming up. It’s a hardcore take-no-prisoners approach. We must react accordingly. What most of our movement has tried hasn’t worked and isn’t going to work.

MassResistance believes that their whole program must be confronted. Using what resources we have, we believe in taking the offensive. This means challenging that movement everywhere we can. First and foremost means not holding back on telling the unabashed truth, no matter what the consequences. (For example, most conservatives are squeamish about talking about the well-documented medical and psychological destructiveness of homosexual behavior.)

The LGBT movement wins when we become afraid to confront them. 

This article was originally published on the website of Mass Resistance and is re-published with permission.

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Obama and Hillary support Christian clerk’s arrest over gay ‘marriage’

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ROWAN COUNTY, KY, September 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- The front runner for the Democratic presidential nomination believes that Kim Davis deserved to be jailed.

Shortly following Kim Davis' arrest on Thursday afternoon, Hillary Clinton retweeted a story about Davis' arrest for refusing to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples, saying all elected officials "should be held to their duty to uphold the law - end of story."

The White House seconded that assessment. The punishment - jail time, rather than a fine - was "appropriate," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said during his daily press briefing on Thursday.

The Obama administration spokesperson went on to say that "the principle of the rule of law is central to our democracy."

Calls to imprison Christians who refuse to participate in same-sex "marriage" have intensified on the Left since the late June Supreme Court decision that imposed same-sex "marriage" on the nation.

As Davis was taken out of the federal court room to her jail cell, gay activists yelled, "Love won! Love won!"

Shortly after her arrest, opinion writer E.J. Montini wrote that Davis "was found in contempt of court and sent to jail. Good."

Their position could hardly contrast more sharply with those of some Republican presidential contenders.

Mike Huckabee is holding a #ImWithKim rally in Kentucky on Tuesday to support Davis, who remains in jail today.

Sen. Ted Cruz has said the arrest - which was ordered by a Republican-appointed federal judge - constituted "judicial tyranny."

Not all Republicans agree, though. Chris Christie said that he would demand that clerks participate in the public recognition of same-sex "marriage" regardless of their religious convictions. Lindsey Graham and Carly Fiorina have had similar sentiments.

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Ted Cruz: Kim Davis’ arrest is ‘tyranny’ intended to drive Christians from office

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ROWAN COUNTY, KY, September 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - The arrest of Kim Davis has sent shock waves throughout the nation - and a clear message: Christians have no place in the public square, according to Sen. Ted Cruz.

When the deeply religious clerk was hauled off to jail Thursday afternoon, "judicial lawlessness crossed into judicial tyranny," Cruz said.

Same-sex "marriage" was imposed on the nation by a 5-4 Supreme Court judgment authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy. The arrest of Kim Davis on "contempt of court" charges was ordered by U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning, a George W. Bush appointment who is the son of former moderate Republican senator and baseball great Jim Bunning of Kentucky.

"Those who are persecuting Kim Davis believe that Christians should not serve in public office," Cruz said.

His analysis is shared by former Sen. Rick Santorum. He warned, "More and more people of faith will face the penalties Ms. Davis is now encountering if we do not make the necessary accommodations so people can not just worship but live out their faith in their lives."

Santorum called for passing the First Amendment Defense Act to prevent scenes of clerks being arrested, florists being fined, and bakers being forced out of business.

"This is wrong. This is not America," said Cruz, who recently hosted a Rally for Religious Liberty that featured many of those whose businesses have suffered for following their faith on the issue of sexuality. "I stand with Kim Davis. Unequivocally."

"I stand with every American that the Obama administration is trying to force to choose between honoring his or her faith or complying with a lawless court opinion," Cruz said. “I call upon every believer, every Constitutionalist, every lover of liberty to stand with Kim Davis."

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will literally do that, as he hosts an #ImWithKim rally in Kentucky on Tuesday to support Davis.

Cruz joins other Republican presidential candidates who support the Kentucky Christian clerk.

"I think it's absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberty," Sen. Paul, R-KY, told CNN on Thursday afternoon. "I think it's a real mistake to be doing this."

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida agreed, “There should be a way to protect the religious freedom and conscience rights of individuals working in the office.”

However, other candidates disagreed. Chris Christie said on Fox News Sunday that laws should be enforced against Christians who decline to participate in gay "marriages."

Sen. Lindsey Graham and Carly Fiorina similarly agree Davis should have issued the marriage licenses, regardless of her faith.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted that laws should be enforced, as she shared a story of Davis' arrest on Twitter.

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