The following letter appeared in the Kelowna Capital News February 25, 2005. I post it here in its entirety as the site will not make the story available online after a period of time.
'Justice, equality and human rights for all-I am a Canadian'
To the editor:
This is another voice in the same sex marriage debate.
From time immemorial, marriage has always been a "civil" matter regarding "property and estate" i.e. people with resources. If you had no resources you became betrothed and cohabited, period, with no need for a contract. Indeed in Canada (and elsewhere) marriage is the domain of government, the provinces. No clergy can perform a ceremony until licensed by the government and the registration of said marriage is done in a government registry, all with an eye to legality.
In the early Judeo/Christian tradition two family patriarchs agreed to a marriage where one chattel, (a woman) along with other chattels, goats, camels etc. were given to another patriarch. "Who gives this woman?" The chattel had no say in the matter. With the coming of the Industrial Revolution, the lower classes began to amass property so marriage moved down the ranks yet always remained a civil matter.
In many European countries the marriage is performed at city hall with the couple proceeding to a church to have the marriage blessed. In the 20th century Canada declared that women were now "persons" with rights of their own, they were no longer chattels. Marriage tradition evolved once again to where a "common law marriage" was seen as legally binding, with no need for a church of any kind.
Joining the religious right we now have various ethnic groups getting on the "same-sex" bandwagon in calling for traditional marriage. These are people who left other countries for Canada where freedom was more prevalent and deeply enshrined. They now seem to feel that freedom and human rights must stop with them.
It was not so long ago that, for example, Chinese Canadians could not be citizens, they obtained their rights but now wish to deny any future form of rights to gays and lesbians, forgetting that marriage is still a civil matter and is guaranteed under the Charter of Rights.
I suggest the proponents of traditional marriage make themselves clear as to what tradition they are referring to because there are many. Are women once more no longer to be persons? Must they revert to being "subject to their husbands," i.e. evangelical Christians? What about polygamy in the Kootenays? Why haven't the traditional marriage proponents demonstrated against those values? Are marriages in Canada now to be arranged? (i.e. Hindi and Sikh) Are reproductive rights to be controlled as in China? Are women now to be even less than chattels as in Muslim extremism? Must we return to traditional times, when Roman Catholics could only marry Roman Catholics, Jews marry Jews, Sikhs marry Sikhs?
Those are just some of the traditions and they all deny human rights.No government is going to force any religious expression to act in a manner they feel inappropriate. We have marriage commissioners who will perform the ceremony as a civil matter. If the various denominations feel their rights should be respected, then should it not follow that all rights need to be respected.I have seen the evolution of human rights in Canada to where they are a true expression of being Canadian. The corollary being that human rights in the USA and elsewhere are rapidly being eroded.
I feel that all of us should take a leaf out of Joe the Canadian (TM) beer spokes persons book, and stand tall and proud shouting to the world: "I believe in justice, equality and human rights for all, my name is Ted and I am Canadian!"
Rev. E.C. (Ted) Roworth,