Thank you Jack Layton!

Equal-Marriage, same-sex marriage or gay marriage or whatever you choose to call it is close to becoming the law across Canada. It has been a long tough road to get here and a lot of people deserve credit for this.

I am distressed however at the number of people and in particular, Queer groups falling over themselves to thank Paul Martin for bringing about marriage for all Canadians. Paul Martin is a new comer to this issue. I ask you to think of anytime before he became Prime Minister and he spoke in support of same-sex marriage.

Martin has been more than hesitant to support marriage for us. Former Prime Minister Chretien was equally hesitant, sending a proposed bill to the Supreme Court for approval ahead of time is almost unheard of and the Supreme Court sent it back telling now Prime Minister Martin, its your decision.

The political party that has been with us from the beginning has been the New Democratic Party and of the four party leaders in Parliament today, Jack Layton has been onside from day one! As is always the case in human rights and social policy issues in Canada, it is the NDP that takes up the cause, raises awareness that puts it front and centre on the political agenda.

The Liberals were hoping they could avoid the whole thing, quite like the Ontario Liberals recently in passing legislation by voice vote. The idea is to be able to have your cake and eat it too. To avoid having to say you supported marriage rights for those gay folks.

Canadians deserve more from their leaders. More from their Members of Parliament. Today the Liberal Party of Canada is struggling to avoid an identity so as to offend the fewest possible voters. The Party's motto should be, "we are not those scary Harper guys."

Same-sex marriage is already the law in eight jurisdictions in Canada. The right to marry will not change in these jurisdictions if the marriage law fails in Parliament. The Liberals are passing the legislation largely because they have too. The courts across Canada have told them so. You could argue that the Government's decision not to appeal the cases to the Supreme Court was in effect supporting our right to marry.

For me it is simply another case of the Liberals trying to appear like they are on the all sides of an issue. Liberals can run for election saying they are opposed, they can run saying they are for it, they can run and say they need time to consider it. They are all running.

I recently wrote on Stephen Harper calling his party the "The Hidden Agenda Party" due to his efforts to avoid social issues at the upcoming Conservative policy convention in Montreal. The Conservatives were trying to avoid taking a policy position on issues like gay marriage and abortion.

The Liberals are the party of slow evolution. Let time do everything. Let others lead the issue until something has to be done. Most of our social programs and rights have come about in large part due to the CCF and or the NDP taking principled positions, always ahead of the Liberals.

Don't get this wrong, I am relieved for whatever reason the Liberals use to pass a same-sex marriage law. It would be nice however if the Prime Minister could say the words gay and lesbian as much as he says religious freedom. It would be nice if the Liberals actually stood for something.

For me, I know Jack Layton and NDP policy is founded in values that are clearly stated. I know Jack has been with us all the way.

So all you members of the LGBTT2QQI communities out there, don't forget to send your thanks to Jack Layton when you are falling all over the guy that is acting out of political expediancy as much as his desire for all of us to have the right to be full Canadians.

Thank you Jack. (jack@fed.ndp.ca)

Bill Siksay, MP from Burnaby Douglas opened Same-sex marriage debate for the NDP in Parliament.
Prime Ministers Speech - Feb 16, 2005
Bloc Quebecois - "a question of citizenship"
Conservatives - "I support the traditional definition of marriage"

Equal Marriage

Use the search box on the left for other articles here on same-sex marriage.


HDcanuck said...

It's easy to support controversial issues when you have nothing to lose. Layton was appealing to his base; Paul has a more difficult juggling act. Considering that, he should still be commended for standing up and being counted on this one, even if he did enter the game late!

Rob Cottingham said...

That's a little brisk in dismissing Layton's stand there, HD. Much of the New Democrat caucus hails - and relies on support - from communities where SSM was by no means a consensus issue... particularly when the party first took its stand. Some analysts, for example, have suggested the issue played a role in the defeat of Dick Proctor and the failure of others in Saskatchewan to break through as hoped.

But let's say you're right, and that Paul Martin had something to lose while Jack Layton didn't. According to Paul Martin Today (not to be confused with Paul Martin A Few Months Ago, for whom PMT bears no apparent responsibility), this is an issue of equality -- simple enough, according to his Gritlet followers, to be summed up as "It's the Charter, stupid."

So why did it take Martin so long to come around? And why, if this is such a no-brainer and such a fundamental issue of rights, isn't it a matter of caucus discipline?

Minority rights need protection and advocacy far more when the majority doesn't support them than when it does. An early gutsy stand by Paul Martin - and forgive me if that sounds like a contradiction in terms - could have gone a long way to making this debate less divisive... and a lot shorter.

HDcanuck said...

Rob... I do agree with you that an issue of fundamental rights should be an issue of party discipline -- but I think the decision was made over the divisiveness within the L Party, and enforcing discipline on this could have led to an ugly public problem for the Ls. That doesn't make it right. I was just saying that it is a lot easier for Jack to find agreement on his stand than for Paul, within their respective parties. So maybe Paul went about as far as he was able to, at the time, politically.

Anonymous said...

Jack Layton is obviously a flamer. Why doesn't he have the balls to come out like the rest of us.