Archive for June, 2011|Monthly archive page

On Marriage Equality

It was fascinating to follow the saga of equal marriage legislation in New York, particularly after a series of Twitter exchanges with people, most of whom opposed the concept. One in particular was pure comedy gold for the way he tried to present his argument against allowing LGBT people to marry.

In Canada, gay marriage became legal several years ago – if I remember right, in 2004, following a fairly long battle. It wasn’t a legislated thing, really, it was actually the product of court challenges, and creative efforts to circumvent existing laws. Without doing a ton of research, it was actually a church serving Toronto’s Gay Village that started the push by realizing they could use an old concept called publication of the banns to get around the need for a marriage license which couldn’t be issued to gay couples in the Province of Ontario. Once Ontario had equal marriage, other provinces eventually followed suit. The history, though, isn’t the point. The debate is.

Before this all happened, I guess I fell into the “defend traditional marriage camp” to a certain extent. It wasn’t that I had any particular interest in denying anyone any rights, but I think the way I saw it was “give them all the legal rights, etc, but call it something else. That to me was a rational position at the time.

Then I started to wonder why that mattered – why does the same matter? It doesn’t really. It’s a term to which we as a society attach some value, even if it’s just a semantic value, but it’s in no way compromised by allowing LGBT people to marry. In fact, what I came to realize fairly quickly is that whatever it was called, whatever it was, it didn’t matter to me. At all. If a gay couple can get married, its impact on my life is absolutely zero. If they can’t, however, there is an impact because it means I live in a society that accepts some manner of discrimination based on an inalienable feature of a person. That isn’t good.

What I’ve come to now is the realization that there simply are no good arguments to discriminate against LGBT people. It’s pointless. It’s stupid. It’s wrong.

The fact that it’s stupid is what trumps everything. I simply can’t get over the depth of stupidity that comes with all of the arguments made by homophobes. It’s not like they have intelligent arguments that can be debated. They’re just idiotic.

They claim that allowing gays to marry will destroy the sanctity of marriage – the sanctity that leads to half of marriages failing, you say? Okay, whatever. They seem to suggest that it’s some kind of harbinger of societal downfall. Really? In Canada, it’s done nothing of the sort. In fact, more people couldn’t care less, it’s not a debate that anyone hears anymore. The deal is done, and everyone’s moved on.

Then it gets into other absurdities. Gays can’t reproduce so they shouldn’t be allowed to marry since marriage is for procreation. Okay, well, what about all the straight couples that can’t have children? Or choose not to? I’ve absolutely no interest in having children, and yet I’m married. Does my childfree marriage in any way impact someone else’s? No. Not at all. It’s pretty simple.

Then you get into more ridiculous arguments, like “slippery slopes”, suggesting that somehow there will be a broad push to expand the definition of marriage more. Why? Marriage is still between two consenting adults, no major, realistic effort exists to change that. It’s also not something most people will accept, whereas SSM isn’t really controversial, or shouldn’t be. I also found some other bizarre arguments – some moron on twitter named @WordGuru seemed (in a ridiculously long winded blog post) to believe that gay people getting married would subject him to some sort of outbreak of public gay sex (interestingly, he didn’t have an issue with lesbians), somehow stripping him of his right to be “free of perversion”. Well, I’m confident that won’t actually happen, because again, it hasn’t here.

See what I’m getting at? No one has made a single, decent argument against gay marriage that I can consider worthy of any intelligent debate. It’s really something that there’s no reason to find controversy over. Allowing equal marriage rights just makes sense.

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Whither The Centre?

For some reason, I guess because I’m some kind of masochist, I tend to insert myself into all sorts of debates and discussions over politics.  Canadian politics, American politics, whatever – they all fascinate me, and if there’s one thing that’s becoming clearer and clearer over time, it’s that all politics is indeed local – everything matters, because we’re all really connected.

When I was a first year university student, I read Benjamin Barber’s article (since expanded into a book), Jihad Vs McWorld.  It was a very good explanation of the competing forces which we were just coming to be understood as “globalization”.  That article was six years old by then, but seemed to me very insightful.  I had started to understand those impacts during the brief travels I managed to do before and during school, which doesn’t seem to be a habit I’ve carried on with enough, though hopefully that will change.  Anyhow, if you’ve never read the article, do so – it’s worth a read.  It talks a fair bit about the ideas of confederalism and trying to define the role of a nation-state in this new world.  We’re seeing the same sort of thing now when we take a look at NATO trying to define a role for its future post-Cold War.  That, I suppose, is a whole other matter.

If I tell you that higher education softened my conservative views, I guess I’ll play into some sort of sick right wing stereotypes about liberal education.  Truth is, while I went to a very, very liberal school, I didn’t really start to really think like a centrist until a while after I was out of school in the real world and started to realize that all those monetarist, conservative “theoreticals” are just that, and they don’t really seem to work.  And I guess I realized that before a lot of people, because what I’m seeing unfolding in the world suggest it.

What happened to the idea of a rational, pragamatic centrist movement?  In the US, the only people I’ve seen claiming the label of centrists are really right wingers trying to sell themselves a little softer.  In Canada, the reasonably centrist Liberal Party of Canada just got totally wiped out in the recent election, and the “Progressive Conservative” Party no longer exists.  Although Prime Minister Harper doesn’t strike me as having some incredibly insidious right wing agenda, he also learns a fair way to the right, more than perhaps I’d consider acceptable, and even worse, some of the clowns in his party are far less ambiguous about it.

The problem is, as I see it, we have a whole lot of challenges to deal with.  Climate change, regardless of the degree to which you accept the anthropogenic nature thereof, is something that is going to impact the world somehow – it’ll change migration patterns, it’ll impact food supplies, it will impact everyone in some way.  The global economy is another problem – casino capitalism as it were has impacted us certainly.  The world’s largest economy sits in a country that faces massive budget deficits and complete unwillingness to overcome the polarization in politics in such a way as to actually make any progress.  There’s no rational voice in the centre trying to balance out the two highly polarized sides in any debate, and so there’s deadlock.

Why do we have to talk only about tax cuts, tax hikes and spending cuts and not look at other ideas?  More importantly, why is there no discussion of combining various approaches in the US for example to solve problems?  Obviously, taxes have to rise in some form in the USA, it’s just a matter of time.  Despite the claims of various pundits on the right, America does indeed have a revenue problem.  It does have a spending problem too, and that will take a lot of effort, it’ll take some pain I’m sure to fix it effectively, but it must be done in some form.  What astounds me is the denial of realities that healthcare reform as it’s been initiated by the Obama Administration will likely help while actually improving healthcare outcomes.  I’m also surprised (not really) that no one seems to grasp that massive, massive military spending cuts in the USA are going to be necessary to make any progress.   Those cuts will have to come from capital procurement primarily, and allowing the force to shrink via natural attrition.

What I don’t get is why people aren’t demanding better from politicians, demanding actual reasoned discussions.  I guess that advantage we had in Canada when we went through this in the 1990s is that our Parliamentary system allows the government of the day to just get on with things without having to constantly battle the opposition.  Score 1 for us.  Obviously there’s no way to make changes to that, but where are the voices starting up to the Professional Left and the Theocratic-Fascist-Corporatist right?

And Now, For Something Completely Different

So I’m going to break from blogging about politics since I want to capture this somehow and I’ve debated where to do it, since I have another blog that it would fit, but I decided since this one is linked to Twitter, and I tweet more than anything, I’d put it here.

This month I’m doing two very strange, but very interesting things.

First, I’m doing a “30 Day Challenge” through my yoga studio – a challenge to practice every day in some form for 30 days, which is kind of cool, but along with that, I got enticed to try something else – for this month as well, I’m doing a “cleanse”. What the hell does that mean? Well, for 21 days, I’m going to try my damnedest to eliminate caffeine, alcohol, gluten, and animal products of all sorts from my diet. That’s quite a jump for me, for the most part. I’ve had some “quasi-vegetarian” experience before, but that was more out of the necessity of the environment I was in at the time than any sort of conviction… and in truth, this is no more out of conviction other than it’s something of a pride thing, and frankly, I’m intrigued to see how it goes. I’m going to have to basically be directly involved in every meal I eat more than I’m used to, for a start, and there’s a lot of learning that’s going into that, to figure out how to cook without a lot of things I’m used to taking for granted.

I got through the first day, though, and that’s a decent start. And I’ll probably try to add at least some reflections on it as I go along.