Choke Hold. Nathan Rupert / Flickr
In the second article in this series Andrea Mrozek, Executive Director of the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada finds that SSM, legalised there nationally in 2005, is one of several trends affecting freedom of speech and religion.
It is the IMFC’s position that legalization of same-sex marriage (SSM) is an effect of a longer cultural trajectory away from Judeo-Christian norms. It is also a cause of new cultural and legal trends, yet the legalization of SSM must be viewed in its historical context. Many aspects of cultural change occurring now were happening before the legalization of SSM. Therefore, it is impossible to assign causation to SSM legalization.
One can assume that all the changes to family form—including no fault divorce, and recognizing common-law (de facto) relationships as being the same as marriage, alongside legalization of same sex marriage — will indeed have an effect. We know other forms of family change have had an effect, so it is not unreasonable to suggest that legalizing same sex marriage would too. We would be wise to measure outcomes for children from various family forms so that we could know concretely what effects on families are.
In other domains, we need to closely watch freedom of religion. The Law Society of Upper Canada is the group of lawyers who have refused to accept Trinity Western grads. Trinity Western is a Christian, private university that has a lifestyle code that precludes, among other things, any form of pre-marital sex, and which further defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Trinity Western is contesting the law society’s move, and that is an important court case to watch. If Trinity Western loses, that will not bode well for our religious freedoms.
The state as the arbiter of parenthood is a change that came about the result of legalization of same sex marriage. Natural parent was replaced by legal parent, and that broadens the mandate of the state beyond what should be their jurisdiction, thereby curtailing our freedoms. (Generally speaking, this is true of the many forms of conception by IVF involving multiple parties, whether those parties are heterosexual or homosexual.)
Freedom of speech is not legally curtailed in Canada but political correctness means if you want to defend a gendered definition of marriage, your private employer may have no stomach for it. A sports broadcaster did lose his job here for being in favour of man-woman marriage. This is not unlike the case of the Mozilla CEO in California being let go. Political correctness has a stranglehold on us. (This existed before SSM was legalized as well.) Obviously, losing your job if you have a family to feed is itself a pretty severe threat. So our choices around what we say are curtailed.
Average people do indeed hesitate to debate or discuss SSM because of the vilification they receive in the media—including trial and sentencing by Twitter, where there is little restraint. There is also a tremendous apathy in the media, an assumption of bigotry on the part of those who defend gender as a component of marriage, and a severe disinterest in learning why this is not so. Distrust of media and politicians is so high, it’s hard to know the cause, but certainly, constant misrepresentation and/or withholding information that would make advocates for gendered marriage look reasonable does and will take a toll.
All is not well in Canada. I have a very hard time attributing this exclusively to the legalization of same sex marriage and would not like to do that. There is a bigger picture than that and one we would be wise to discuss. Unfortunately, due to political correctness, we don’t.
Andrea Mrozek is the Executive Director of the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada and a frequent commentator on family issues in the Canadian media.
Other articles in this series: