The Reform Over Same Sex Marriage

by laeti.y.felix on February 24, 2015 - 12:37am

          The turn of the century has brought many progressive changes to western society, none of which came about without hard work.  One of the changes in which the new millennium has brought us is the legalization of same sex marriage in Canada and certain parts of the United States.  The legalization of same-sex marriage has been a huge step forward for the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning) community, especially because only about twenty years ago, it would have still been difficult to speak openly about one’s sexual orientation.  As it was described in the articles from The Gazette titled ‘The Forgotten Murder’, in The Advocate titled ‘Blame Canada; Equal Marriage rights in Canada will also allow U.S. gays to wed legally. How will that affect the fight for marriage rights at home?’ and in The Economist titled ‘United States: The meaning of marriage; Homosexual unions’, same-sex relationships are still taboo amongst different parts of the world but civil rights activists have worked hard in decriminalizing homosexuality and legalizing same-sex marriage.

          The topic of marriage is a topic less focussed on nowadays than it was in the past.  Less people are getting married and people are getting married at later ages, but same sex marriage is still a big issue.  Legal and government-recognized unions (marriages) between two people may signify, to some, that it is the highest goal in the pursuit of romantic happiness that a couple may achieve.  Not only that but marriage may also signify a couple’s commitment to each other and how much love exists between them.  But marriage itself brings many benefits to a couple’s playing field than the general public realize.  As it is explained on the ‘Revel & Riot’ website (a non-profit organization which raises awareness about the LGBTQ community and their rights)http://www.revelandriot.com/resources/marriage-equality/ , a same sex couple where same sex marriage is not recognized are denied many rights such as the right to form a family, to have visitation rights in hospitals (not next of kin), and are unable to be eligible for federal taxes and  joint taxes.  These are only a few things in which a same sex couple would be unable to be eligible for.

The denial of certain tax benefits to same sex couples affect thousands of individuals such as lesbian couple, Julie and Hilary Goodridge, introduced to readers of The Economist in an article titled ‘United States: The meaning of marriage; Homosexual unions’, published on August 9th, 2003 by The Economist.  They were denied of obtaining a wide range of social and tax benefits and were also, at the time, denied of obtaining a marriage license as well.  This is all despite the fact that Julie and Hilary have been in a relationship for sixteen years (at the time), and would not have been considered as a common law married couple. 

          The general public has become more accepting (or tolerant) about the topic of homosexuality and gay marriage, especially with popular television shows such as ‘Will & Grace’ or reality television shows such as ‘The L Word’.  Intolerance towards individuals of non-heteronormative orientation was still a rampant issue in as little as twenty years ago.  (This does not in any way mean that there is no more intolerance towards the LGBTQ community.)  The 1980s-1990s were especially difficult decades for homosexual individuals to live through, especially while HIV/AIDS was a widely prevalent problem and homosexuals were being blamed for the cause (and spread) of the virus.  One individual, whose name and story is now relatively forgotten, is Joe Rose.  Rose was a 23 year old Montrealer who was stabbed to death in 1989 by a group of four individuals on a bus.  The story was covered about Joe Rose in The Gazette by Richard Burnett title ‘The Forgotten Murder’, published on March 15th, 2014.  The article explains how many people take it for granted how Montreal is a LGBTQ-friendly city, but many people are uneducated about the city’s background in this topic.  Montreal had had a violent past in which the city had to go through to let it become a friendlier environment.

          In the early 2000s, Canada had become a safe haven for North American, non-heteronormative couples and their desires to become legally married.  In some people’s view, Canada was one of the driving forces in getting the ball rolling to legalize same sex marriage in North America.  Canada had become one of the first countries to legalize same sex marriage, after the Netherlands.  This is a topic that has been widely explained and interviewed about in the article published by The Advocate title ‘Blame Canada; Equal marriage rights in Canada will also allow U.S. gays to wed legally. How will that affect the fight for marriage rights at home?’ on July 22, 2003 by Matthew Hays.  In the article, an American, lesbian newlywed, Beth Hayes, expresses her delight at how in Canada, everyone has an equal footing and is much quicker at opening the doors to wedding same-sex couples.  She explains how she and her new wife think it is an extraordinary type of society to have all marriages (between heterosexual and homosexual couples) to now be equal and to have so many people be more open-minded about the idea of it.

          Canada has become a more open society when it comes to social and civil rights issues in comparison to the United States, especially when it comes to same sex marriages.  Both countries have gone down tumultuous and difficult roads to legalizing non-heteronormative marriages, and parts of the United States (such as Texas) still have many obstacles to go through in order to reach the goal of same sex marriage legalization.  In order to reach such a goal, people have to be educated about the LGBTQ communities, and how the legalization of same sex marriages may have improved the lives of non-heteronormative individuals from different countries.  Therefore, being exposed to non-heteronormative relationships is not enough.  People need to know what the benefits are for marriage, and how much more beneficial it would be for the lives of same sex couples if they were able to legally marry and have the same access to things as heterosexual couples.

Comments

I strongly agree with many of the points you outlined in your post and believe both the United States and Canada still have a long way to go before the LGBTQ community achieves the legal rights and social acceptance it deserves. I especially liked how you pointed out Montreal's rough past involving the horrifying murder of Joe Rose, a traumatic event often ignored or forgotten in Canadian media coverage of the LGBTQ community. As well, I appreciated the fact that you defined the LGBTQ acronym and used it throughout your post when speaking of people of non-heteronormative orientation, instead of simply referring to these behaviours as homosexual ones. However, although I agree with your strategy for the legalization of same-sex marriage, I believe there is a better way to go about this that places less emphasis on same-sex marriage and more emphasis on the acceptance of the LGBTQ community as a whole, which will, eventually, lead to the legalization of marriage for people of non-heteronormative orientation. I believe this begins with educating the masses as to what the LGBTQ community comprises and what its beliefs, values and goals are. For example, a very serious problem currently occurring across North America is the improper use of pronouns used to address transgender people. Whether one does not understand which pronoun to us and is accidentally using the incorrect one or is using the incorrect one on purpose, the improper use of pronounces can negatively impact a transgender person more than many can imagine. Therefore, we must educate those that are less knowledgeable of the LGBTQ community in order to familiarize and sensitize the population to the difficulties this community faces every single day. Once the masses acknowledge the hardships faced by this community and are fully educated on its values, the legalization of marriages involving people of non-heteronormative orientation will become less of a battle and more of a given progression of American and Canadian marriage and tax laws.