anyone tell us why is it okay for Canada to discriminate against any of
take for granted that they can decide whether or not to marry for personal
wasn't just about our right to marry, it was about our right to visibility."
and I have spent the weeks since the court case finished in August shivering
in the frigid wind of homophobia - in all its overt and subtle manifestations."
and I feel sadness and horror about what has happened, and apprehension
about the future."
the Back of the Bus
On Oct 2/01, Justice Ian Pitfield of the BC Supreme Court agreed that lesbians and gay men are discriminated against because they are not allowed to marry, but decreed that this discrimination is justifiable in a free and democratic society.
My partner Joy Masuhara, an area physician, and I are one of the eight petitioning couples.
For us, ill with
breast cancer and cardiac disease, the
Can anyone tell us why is it okay for Canada to discriminate against any of its citizens? Why it is okay for our country to have two regimes--one for grade-A, or heterosexual, citizens, and a second, grade-B regime for gays and lesbians? We're allowed on the bus these days, but we still have to sit at the back.
If Canada refused marriage to straights, would people be up in arms? I surely expect so. Heterosexuals take for granted that they can decide whether or not to marry for personal reasons.
Gays and lesbians don't get to decide for ourselves.
Our government decides for us.
This was a victory for narrow-mindedness and bigotry.
It was clear to me when we were sitting through long days in court this summer that this landmark case wasn't just about the right for Canadian homosexuals to marry. It was the Canadian courts passing judgement on all gay and lesbian couples. It was the Canadian courts passing judgement on all gays and lesbians, coupled or single.
It wasn't just about our right to marry, it was about our right to visibility.
About the right to walk down the street holding hands. About not constantly having to look over our shoulders to ascertain safety. About the right to tell our bosses, our neighbours, our families and our government agencies that we are homosexuals. About the right not to be harassed, or beaten, or face financial penalties, or be killed just because we're gay.
It was about the
right to attend Thanksgiving dinner at our father's house with our loving
partner beside us on equal footing to all our sibs' wives and husbands.
About appearing in the group of family photographs set out on the piano
instead of being asked to be the photographer. About being included in
obituaries and in the limousine carrying immediate family following a
death in our partner's family. About getting an invitation to our nephew's
graduation in both our own and our partner's name. About our mother
It was about not having to wonder whether the rock thrown through our car window was simple vandalism or whether it was gay bashing.
It was about not having landlords show up to "videotape the filth" when we move out of perfectly maintained rental units.
It was about not being called a dirty smelly lesbian by our father-not-in-law.
It was about not telling the community gardens we want to sponsor a garden plot for a gay or lesbian gardener and being told, "We don't have problems with those kinds here. We treat them just like they're real people."
It was about not moving our partner out of the house when our parents show up for a visit.
It was about not
having to stand aside when our partner is
It was about being able to raise our children free of the fear of losing custody of them.
It was about not having to be crushed by a bulldozer in Afghanistan just for loving another man, and not beomg sentenced (in Kansas this week) to 17 years in jail for having oral sex with another teenaged boy.
Joy and I have spent the weeks since the court case finished in August shivering in the frigid wind of homophobia--in all its overt and subtle manifestations. It is not that often that we understand how much accommodating we do to live as lesbians in this country. It is not that often that we step back from the junk heap where we stockpile all the crappy things that happen to us on an almost daily basis--the time the guy on the street says, Hey, which one's on top? and the time the guy hisses, F---ing dykes, and the time the newspaper in England refuses to print an anniversary greeting for a gay couple together 30 years--and notice how truly many slights there are and how much, accumulatively, they actually affect us.
It's a time of fragile freedoms in North America now. I used to work in the World Trade Towers when I was an NYU student. Joy and I feel sadness and horror about what has happened, and apprehension about the future. Will there be a world war? Will our daughters be conscripted? Will a nuclear bomb drop?
It is now more than ever that gays and lesbians should be able to seek the solace heterosexual couples are apparently seeking in vast numbers--a marriage license. A license to cleave unto our loved one and to hang on tight while we wait to see if the world goes to hell in missile rubble.
Did we lose something with Justice Ian Pitfield's October 2nd. decision? Did we ever. So did all Canadians. We lost the fantasy that all of us count equally under the law.
Will we gain something
on appeal or at the Supreme Court of Canada when justice will certainly
prevail? Sure we will. If we live long enough.