September 23, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 14  

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Legal and moral perspectives on the same-sex marriage debate

Re: "Moral issues for the people," Sep. 18, 2003

To the Editor:

I am pleased to see The Gazette's continuing coverage of the present gay marriage debate. I have a few points to raise, however, in relation to the Sep. 18 editorial, "Moral issues for the people."

The editorial suggests that the fate of gay marriage ought to be determined by referendum because, "... it is not the place of Parliament or the courts to decide what Canadians find to be moral." This statement, I think, misrepresents what the courts have done. The right to equal treatment under the law is guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. By ruling in favour of gay marriage, the courts are not deciding the issue per se, but are rather interpreting the Constitution such that the right to equality under the law for gays and lesbians is being put into force for the first time. The constitutional guarantee of equality supercedes the right of governments to make laws that discriminate against gays and lesbians.

The reason we have such constitutional guarantees is precisely because we value minority rights and because we cannot always trust the majority to decide what is right. Had the issue of racial segregation in the United States been determined by popular opinion, it is likely the cause of civil rights would never have advanced. And incidentally, many cited Scriptural authority in support of racial segregation as a "moral doctrine." Sound familiar? Many Canadians agreed with the government's internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War. Did that make it right?

On the question of how our MPs are voting, it should be noted Canada is not, in the strictest of terms, a democracy. Once elected, our representatives can vote in Parliament on whatever basis they choose. Should they abuse this freedom, our recourse comes on election day.

John Connelly
Ph.D. Candidate
Department of English

To the Editor:

The article "Moral issues for the people" in the Sep. 18 issue of The Gazette suggests the best way to conclude the current debate on same-sex marriage is by a national referendum. I'd like to suggest that's wrong and here's why.

Like the article points out, many supporters of same-sex marriage "feel the issue isn't morality, but rather rights." I'm surprised that idea wasn't expanded on since it really is a significant issue, but the fact is this is not an issue of morals or whether enough people think this is a good idea - it is a matter of civil rights. Imagine what it would be like if people of certain races or religions were not allowed to marry. Those communities would be up in arms and rightfully so.

Would it matter then what the majority of Canadians thought about them getting married? It shouldn't. It's a moot point anyway since Chretien and Martin have both ruled out a referendum preventing the tyranny of the majority. However, it needs to be pointed out this is an issue of civil rights and not morality. Opponents of same-sex marriage want to make it a moral issue and have speculated that if this law passes, bestiality, inbreeding and other deviations will be next. This is just scare tactics by people who see homosexuality as a deviance, as evidenced by their grouping it with making it with horses or your mom. Don't be fooled.

And if you are against it, ask yourself: How does this affect me? How does granting these groups marriage impinge on my civil rights and freedom to be happy? Because really, it doesn't.

Brendan Harrison
Anthropology/History III

To the Editor:

I was appalled at the editorial suggestion of a referendum to decide on the issue of same-sex marriage. The issue of same-sex marriage is not a moral one; rather, it is an issue of human rights. Human rights deserve to be taken very seriously by all Canadians. Parliament correctly shuns the idea of a referendum on this issue because it knows that, in a vote where the majority rules, minority rights are often denied. Parliament and the courts have a duty to protect the rights of minorities who may not be the most vocal, but are often the most in need of support from their governing bodies.

As of right now, an almost even divide exists across Canada on this issue. However, statistics show the opinions greatly differ by generation. Canadians under 35 are far more supportive of legalizing same-sex marriage than Canadians of retirement age. These younger people and this opinion, will be the future majority.

To quote a fellow commissioner, everyone has the right not to be discriminated against. Same-sex couples are being discriminated against by not allowing them to marry, but I am confident the definition of marriage in Canada will soon be changed to support this. Canada prides itself on being a progressive, tolerant nation that will stand up for the fundamental rights of its people, even if they are in the minority.

Canada is an extremely diverse nation; almost every person in Canada can identify as some sort of minority. As such, every Canadian citizen should view gay and lesbian rights as part of their own rights. If we ignore the rights of one minority, what will guarantee the rights of other such groups?

Shawn Vaillancourt
Math Education II

Welcome to OC, bitch

Re: "Staying cool for $7,000," Sep. 9, 2003

To the Editor:

My God, will you stop whining. Having stayed off campus, let me correct you on a few misconceptions you have about OC.

First, residence is damn cheap. If you split a house with three other students, you'll still pay at least $5,000 in rent for the year. On top of that you have to pay hydro, water, gas and Internet, all of which have several hundred dollar setup fees, on top of actual usage. This amounts to several hundred dollars a month (and you have to pay the utilities during the summer, when you're not even there). Nobody cleans your room or cooks your meals - kudos if you even get a house with air conditioning at all.

Let me tell you, complaining to a landlord is a hell of a lot harder than complaining to a housing official. A landlord, if they even fix whatever it is you are complaining about, will take their sweet time. There's no way in hell they will ever pay someone overtime unless your roof has caved in and even then it's doubtful. If you want something done, you have to constantly harass your landlord. Housing officials don't see any extra money if they screw you over, whereas a landlord does.

As for my last point, some residences don't even have air conditioning, so what you have is a luxury, not a right. You should try living off campus next year and see how much "better" it really is and then maybe I can have your spot in rez.

Matthew D. Killby
Computer Sciences II

Left not responsible for PC tilt

Re: "Universities decaying thanks to the PC elite," Sep. 18

To the Editor:

Emmett Macfarlane believes an "increasingly wimpy society" or "extreme left leaning folk" are responsible for the politically correct mess of universities. I would like to explain how he is wrong on either explanation.

First, political correctness knows nothing of left or right. It can be found among liberals, conservatives and radicals. But these groups have something in common: they are authoritarian in their outlook, rather than libertarian. They believe one individual or collective has the right of expression over some other collective or individual. Libertarians of all persuasions balk at political correctness and reproach it whenever it appears.

Authoritarians, however, take it as a routine matter: they have agendas they feel cannot be advanced by appeal to rational argument and so try to ram it down the throats with whom they argue. If Macfarlane wants to finger any group for advancing political correctness, he should point to authoritarians, not people on the far left.

Second, whenever a person makes a statement, publishes a letter, writes an article and so on, they must subject themselves to criticism. Research on gender differences, racial differences and so on, are heavily criticized by people who have begun to question the use, validity or purpose of such research. People are no longer willing to have "facts" rammed down their throats.

While I do not agree with suppressing anyone's publications or speeches, or reverting to violence, they may well choose to find greener research pastures when communities are able to mobilize effectively against such people, in the form of protest, criticism and boycott. And if that is enough to intimidate someone into not publishing, perhaps it is academics who are wimpy; society itself seems to be getting stronger.

Curtis Jones
MA Sociology I

Good wallet Samaritan

To the Editor:

To whomever returned my plastic orange wallet: Thank you.

Jacqueline MacDonald
Genetics IV



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