I’ve written of my opposition to Proposal 2 to add an amendment to Michigan’s constitution banning same-sex marriage many times already and I’m going to write about it again. Saturday’s issue of the Detroit Free Press contained an article titled Same-sex married couples find acceptance on other side of river that talked about how Canada’s legalization of same-sex marriages got its start with a court ruling in Ontario last year that resulted in then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien announcing draft legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage across the country only a month later. Since then the provinces of Quebec, Manitoba, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, plus the Yukon Territory have all legalized same-sex marriage as well, but it was the original Ontario court ruling that prompted the call for an amendment here in Michigan the very next day.
The prospect of gay and lesbian marriage becoming common and uneventful across the Detroit River so unnerved the president of the American Family Association of Michigan that within a day of the Ontario court ruling he called for a change in the Michigan Constitution.
In fact, Gary Glenn said that Proposal 2 to ban same-sex marriage on Michigan’s Nov. 2 ballot was inspired by the court ruling.
“We called for an amendment the next day,” Glenn said this week.
Members of his group feared that gay and lesbian couples from the United States would cross the border to get married, bring the license back to the States and promptly sue to get it legally recognized.
But in Windsor, the court’s decision settled into the daily routine so quickly that the tourism arm of the city spent $10,000 to market itself in gay and lesbian publications as a friendly destination for couples from Detroit, Chicago and across Ohio.
What’s more astonishing, at least relative to American political life, is what little protest took place after the ruling faded into the polite ethos of Canadian public life, where even citizens who may feel intensely uneasy with same-sex marriage tend to keep their opinions to themselves.
Here in South Eastern Michigan we tend to joke a lot about Windsor just being another part of the Metro Detroit area because the relatively open border we share means that a lot of people from both sides have spent a fair amount of time across the river and, other than the street signs and money, it’s not all that different from home. Canada is the only foreign country I’ve ever been to and I don’t really feel like it counts because it’s so familiar that it doesn’t feel like another country. The issue of same-sex marriage, however, has brought the differences between Canada and the U.S. into sharp relief for me. I’d like to believe that America is a country where the principles of fairness and freedom are held in high regard, but here in Michigan those principles seem to be in very short supply—Proposal 2 is likely to pass with polls indicating 57 percent favor it—and yet just a few miles away across the border these very principles are being upheld. Canada is more free and fair than America? On this and several other issues it would appear that is exactly the case.
The Conservative cries that allowing same-sex marriages will destroy the institutions of marriage and family and bring about America’s doom have already been put to the lie by several other countries that have allowed same-sex marriages for years now. Canada’s example further shows how much bullshit the arguments against same-sex marriage really are.