Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Fear Mongering in Alberta

Out in the conservative farm country of Alberta, a bold, frontal assault on same-sex marriage roars with the tone we hear down here. The worst of the anti-gay forces bwak their Chicken Little squawks.

As some U.S. fundies have, they claim that laws protecting homosexuals and allowing SSM:
  1. Will lead to prosecution for hate crimes for speaking religious beliefs
  2. Will force ministers and others to solemnize gay marriages against their convictions
In the provincial legislature, Tory MP Ted Morton offered Bill 208. It forbids punishment for anyone who refuses to perform SSM solemnization, or who criticizes homosexuals or SSM.

There and here, anti-gay folklore gets shrill. It mingles civil law and religious ritual. Morton and others would have us believe that requiring paid public officials to do their duty, including officiating at same-sex marriages, is the same as requiring Catholics and others opposed to SSM to do the same.

Morton's attitude is very instructive. As he puts it:
Critics of 208 should take a reality pill. Same-sex marriage is not a basic human right...(It) does not appear in any recognized human rights document. It's not in the Charter of Rights. It's not in the Canadian Bill of Rights. It's not in the European Convention of Rights, It's not in the American Bill of Rights. It's a social experiment, and I personally think it's a dangerous social experiment.
It is not so noteworthy that he opposes SSM and denies the legal reality that in his country gays are a protected class. It is worth saying that he wants to undermine the law of the land by his bill. As gay activist Julie Lloyd said at a recent press conference on the issues, "This bill would make it open season on gay and lesbian Albertans."

An article in the Edmonton Sun notes too that the Tory supporters of 208 are those angling for leadership spots in the party. They seem to care less for the bill and more for how they appear in supporting it. One, leadership candidate Lyle Oberg, tried, "I'm in favour of his bill, because no one should have the ability to make anyone do anything against their will."

One wonders whether he favors too letting mounties or judges enforce and rule on only laws they support.

All sides expect 208 to die in the process and got get enough readings to get to a vote. Egale Canada spokesman Stephen Lock calls it "a cynical piece of legislation -- regressive, reactionary and pandering to a very right-wing conservative element." The intention to let civil servants refuse to marry gay couples particularly irks him.

As a political ploy, it is in line with those in Massachusetts who say that religious freedom is at stake. Equine excrement!

On both sides of our shared border, clerics can be as discriminatory as they want when they interpret their doctrines and duty. However, those who are paid to perform marriages by the government have to do their jobs.

Afternoon Update: Sure enough, as reported by 570News, Morton's bill did not get a vote. The Liberals asked so many questions, there was no time. Morton made it personal, calling it "tyranny of the assembly against private members." Even though Tories lead the government, he said, "The Liberals were not only irresponsible in blocking debate today, they were stupid too." Nah nah nah nah.

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