Divorcing Marriage

Divorcing Marriage: Unveiling the Dangers in Canada’s New Social Experiment

Daniel Cere
Douglas Farrow
Foreword by Maggie Gallagher
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 208
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7ztmz
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  • Book Info
    Divorcing Marriage
    Book Description:

    Written for a broad readership, Divorcing Marriage sheds light on three central questions: How did Canada come to the point of proposing a redefinition of marriage? Where would redefinition take Canadian society? Do the Charter and equality rights mandate exchanging an opposite-sex institution for one built on the union of two persons ? The contributors ask Canadians to pause for reflection and take a closer look at the arguments for and against redefinition of marriage. They implore us to examine the effects of marriage on children, the law, freedom of speech and religion, and society as a whole.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7287-4
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    Maggie Gallagher

    What message is today’s push for same-sex marriage sending to our young people? I caught a glimpse recently while taking the shuttle from Washington, D.C., to my home in New York. The young man sitting next to me, a university student, was also heading home, on a break from school. Call him Matthew. We got to talking about the whole same-sex marriage thing. I must have declared my position pretty quickly, because Matthew soon asked me, “Why are you against it?”

    Marriage is the place where we not only tolerate people having babies and rearing children, we positively welcome and...

  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Daniel Cere and Douglas Farrow
  5. Introduction: Canada’s Romantic Mistake
    (pp. 1-6)
    Douglas Farrow

    The title of this book isDivorcing Marriage, by which is meant, in the first instance at least, something like what Justice Blair meant when he spoke of the profound change in the law on which his court had decided. For that court – the originalHalperncourt of 2002, which was the first to mandate same-sex marriage – had determined to do the necessary thing. It had determined to divorce marriage from procreation. Our title, however, has a further and more contentious meaning. By it we intend to make obvious what theHalperncourt tried to obscure, namely, that...

  6. One The Conflict
    • War of the Ring
      (pp. 9-28)
      Daniel Cere

      During the 1970s and 80s, most gay and lesbian theorists rejected marriage as an incurably heterosexist institution irrelevant to their concerns. Not surprisingly, the marriage question sparked little interest in a movement that defined itself as being free at last from the constraints of heterosexual conjugality. However, by the late 1990s, marriage was becoming the focus of gay and lesbian advocacy.¹ Within a few short years, a project to impose a new public meaning on the age-old institution was being advanced. Courts and governments began to take up the cause. The gradual deregulation of marriage passed over into an effort...

    • Confusion on the Hill
      (pp. 29-38)
      John McKay

      The view from the Hill is not a clear one at all. Canadians are deeply ambivalent about same-sex marriage, and that ambivalence is reflected both in the polls and in their choice of whom to send to Parliament. Many Members of Parliament, including some political leaders, fervently wish the issue would just go away. But it won’t. Parliamentarians and citizens, like the courts, have decisions to take. My purpose here is to provide a brief backgrounder for those who are still trying to get a handle on the political and legal situation.

      Let’s back up a little and begin with...

  7. Two The Casualties
    • The Future of an Experiment
      (pp. 41-62)
      Katherine K. Young and Paul Nathanson

      Our collaboration is based on the conviction that current debates over marriage must be assessed not only in connection with historical and cross-cultural research into the function and meaning of marriage but also in connection with the risks involved in redefining marriage. To help correct biases, our approach involves dialogue. One of us is a man, the other a woman. One is a Jew, the other a gentile. One specializes in Western civilization, the other in Eastern civilizations. And one is gay, the other straight. Neither of us opposes gay relationships or civil unions for gay people.

      Given the importance...

    • What About the Children?
      (pp. 63-78)
      Margaret Somerville

      “Questions are not neutral” is a truism in ethics. The questions we choose to ask, and not to ask, frame an issue and its ensuing debate and, thereby, often have a major impact on our responses to that issue.

      The main question so far in the same-sex marriage debate is: Is it discrimination to exclude same-sex couples from marriage? Advocates of same-sex marriage and the courts (except the trial court in British Columbia) have answered yes. But there is another equally important question that can be used to frame the debate, and that is: What are the rights of children?...

    • Whose Rights? Whose Freedoms?
      (pp. 79-94)
      Darrel Reid and Janet Epp Buckingham

      When the concept of gay marriage was merely a polling question dropped into the middle of an otherwise enjoyable dinner, Canadians paid the issue little attention. But when the government began to promote the file, moving the issue closer to public consciousness, Canadians began to voice their concerns. A good many of those concerns revolve around questions of religious freedom, and that ought not to surprise us. The great majority of Canadians are religious adherents of one sort or another,¹ and many of them see Canada’s new social experiment as a real threat to their religious communities and to their...

  8. Three The Excuses
    • Rights and Recognition
      (pp. 97-119)
      Douglas Farrow

      The reason given over and over again in the Canadian debate for changing the definition of marriage – or, to be more accurate, for attempting to replace marriage with a different institution, whether of the same name or some other – is that marriage is an institution that violates the equality rights of homosexuals. It is precisely as an equalityrights issue that the proposed change provides cover for politicians who wish to embrace it, or feel compelled to embrace it. And it is precisely as an equality-rights issue that it is least understood and least defensible. No other country in...

    • What’s the Charter Got to Do With It?
      (pp. 120-132)
      F.C. DeCoste

      Like a person whose self-image is out of synch with how he really acts, the Canadian state gazes on itself proudly as liberal, freedom-granting, and justice-seeking, while its actions show it, in fact, to be post-liberal, enslaving, and unfair. This may be seen most clearly in the high-handed way it has taken a proprietorial interest in the institution of marriage and found it deficient according to its blueprint for the perfectly ordered society, theCanadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

      But here’s the question that must be asked: What’s theChartergot to do with marriage? The purpose of this...

  9. Four The Alternative
    • Taking Section 33 Seriously
      (pp. 135-154)
      F.L. (Ted) Morton

      In his 1890 classic,The Law of the Constitution, A.V.C. Dicey, the most famous British jurist of the nineteenth century, explains the concept of parliamentary supremacy thus: “Parliament can do everything but make a woman a man, and a man a woman.”

      Dicey would be surprised if he could witness how Canadian courts, a century later, have surpassed the abilities of his beloved parliament. Armed with theCanadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, our judges believe they can repeal the laws of nature. This is the gist of the three provincial appeal court rulings (British Columbia, Ontario, and Québec) that...

    • Facing Reality
      (pp. 155-174)
      Douglas Farrow

      Morgan’s prescient observation is worth pausing over.¹ It is by no means obvious, in spite of the sustained attacks on the “monogamian” family in recent decades, and its general weakening, that this inherited form fails to answer the requirements of our society. Indeed, it is not at all obvious that our society can continue to flourish without the monogamous family at its core. Itisobvious, however, that once we embark on the process of seeking a replacement for it there is no telling where we will stop. And the same may certainly be said respecting marriage itself, which lies...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 175-182)
    Daniel Cere

    On 17 June 2003, the Canadian government issued a writ of divorce, formally declaring its intention to denounce and dissolve Canada’s historic commitment to the public constitution of marriage as a conjugal union of man and woman. It rushed to embrace a new “pure-relationship” mode of marriage, heralding it as the new constitutional law of the land. This public denunciation of the conjugal meaning of marriage crystallizes into law social trends that have been eroding the institution of marriage over the past two generations.

    The pattern of this erosion is reflected in the movement of the main social indicators relevant...

  11. Contributors
    (pp. 183-184)
  12. Index
    (pp. 185-193)