CANADA: by Bill MuehlenbergNews Weekly
Impact of same-sex marriage laws on free speech
, December 8, 2012
Each day we see more examples of how the campaign for same-sex marriage is spelling the end of faith, freedom and family.
One simply has to look at countries where special rights for homosexuals — including marriage rights — have been in place to see how it translates into a severe curtailment of civil liberties.
Consider the situation in just one country, Canada, where special rights for homosexuals have been given for quite some time now, and homosexual marriage has been legal since 2005.
The situation in Canada is very bleak indeed, and getting worse by the day.
Two lengthy articles have recently appeared which document the loss of freedom and the erosion of democracy in Canada thanks to the homosexual militants and their supporters amongst the social and political elites. It makes for disturbing reading, but it needs to be made widely known.
The first piece by British-born Canadian writer and broadcaster Michael Coren is worth quoting at length. He reports: “It’s estimated that, in less than five years, there have been between 200 and 300 proceedings — in courts, human-rights commissions, and employment boards — against critics and opponents of same-sex marriage. And this estimate doesn’t take into account the casual dismissals that surely have occurred.
“In 2011, for example, a well-known television anchor on a major sports show was fired just hours after he tweeted his support for ‘the traditional and TRUE meaning of marriage’. He had merely been defending a hockey player’s agent who was receiving numerous death threats and other abuse for refusing to support a pro-gay-marriage campaign. The case is still under appeal, in human-rights commissions and, potentially, the courts.
“The Roman Catholic bishop of Calgary, Alberta, Fred Henry, was threatened with litigation and charged with a human-rights violation after he wrote a letter to local churches outlining standard Catholic teaching on marriage. He is hardly a reactionary — he used to be known as ‘Red Fred’ because of his support for the labour movement — but the archdiocese eventually had to settle with the complainants to avoid an embarrassing and expensive trial.
“In the neighbouring province of Saskatchewan, another case illustrates the intolerance that has become so regular since 2005.
“A number of marriage commissioners (state bureaucrats who administer civil ceremonies) were contacted by a gay man eager to marry his partner under the new legislation. Some officials he telephoned were away from town or already engaged, and the first one to take his call happened to be an evangelical Christian, who explained that he had religious objections to carrying out the ceremony but would find someone who would. He did so, gave the name to the man wanting to get married, and assumed that this would be the end of the story.” It wasn’t!
Coren concludes his eye-opening article this way: “The Canadian litany of pain, firings, and social and political polarisation and extremism is extraordinary and lamentable, and we haven’t even begun to experience the mid- and long-term results of this mammoth social experiment. I seldom say it, but for goodness’ sake learn something from Canada.” (Michael Coren, National Review, June 11, 2012).
The second important article on this has just appeared, and it is also a real eye-opener. Canadian law professor Bradley W. Miller assesses the damage which has taken place in Canada during the past decade, and is not optimistic of things turning around any time soon.
He focuses on three key areas: “Anyone interested in assessing the impact of same-sex marriage on public life should investigate the outcomes in three spheres: first, human rights (including impacts on freedom of speech, parental rights in public education, and the autonomy of religious institutions); second, further developments in what sorts of relationships political society will be willing to recognise as a marriage (e.g., polygamy); and third, the social practice of marriage.”
As to human rights, consider Miller’s remarks on Canada’s severe curtailment of the right to freedom of expression.
He says: “Many of those who have persisted in voicing their dissent have been subjected to investigations by human rights commissions and (in some cases) proceedings before human rights tribunals. Those who are poor, poorly educated and without institutional affiliation have been particularly easy targets — anti-discrimination laws are not always applied evenly. Some have been ordered to pay fines, make apologies, and undertake never to speak publicly on such matters again.
“Targets have included individuals writing letters to the editors of local newspapers, and ministers of small congregations of Christians. A Catholic bishop faced two complaints — both eventually withdrawn — prompted by comments he made in a pastoral letter about marriage.
“Reviewing courts have begun to rein in the commissions and tribunals (particularly since some ill-advised proceedings against Mark Steyn and Maclean’s magazine in 2009), and restore a more capacious view of freedom of speech. And in response to the public outcry following the Steyn/Maclean’s affair, the Parliament of Canada recently revoked the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s statutory jurisdiction to pursue ‘hate speech’.
“But the financial cost of fighting the human rights machine remains enormous — Maclean’s spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, none of which is recoverable from the commissions, tribunals or complainants. And these cases can take up to a decade to resolve.
“An ordinary person with few resources who has drawn the attention of a human rights commission has no hope of appealing to the courts for relief; such a person can only accept the admonition of the commission, pay a (comparatively) small fine, and then observe the directive to remain forever silent.
“As long as these tools remain at the disposal of the commissions — for whom the new orthodoxy gives no theoretical basis to tolerate dissent — to engage in public discussion about same-sex marriage is to court ruin.
“Similar pressure can be — and is — brought to bear on dissenters by professional governing bodies (such as bar associations, teachers’ colleges, and the like) that have statutory power to discipline members for conduct unbecoming of the profession.
“Expressions of disagreement with the reasonableness of institutionalising same-sex marriage are understood by these bodies to be acts of illegal discrimination, which are matters for professional censure.
“Teachers are particularly at risk for disciplinary action, for even if they only make public statements criticising same-sex marriage outside the classroom, they are still deemed to create a hostile environment for gay and lesbian students. Other workplaces and voluntary associations have adopted similar policies as a result of their having internalised this new orthodoxy that disagreement with same-sex marriage is illegal discrimination that must not be tolerated.”
And consider the changed nature of relationship recognition: “One prominent polygamist community in British Columbia was greatly emboldened by the creation of same-sex marriage, and publicly proclaimed that there was now no principled basis for the state’s continued criminalisation of polygamy. Of all the Canadian courts, only a trial court in British Columbia has addressed whether prohibiting polygamy is constitutional, and provided an advisory opinion to the province’s government.
“The criminal prohibition of polygamy was upheld, but on a narrow basis that defined polygamy as multiple, concurrent civil marriages. The court did not address the phenomenon of multiple common-law marriages. So, thus far, the dominant forms of polygamy and polyamory practised in Canada have not gained legal status, but neither have they faced practical impediments.” (Bradley Miller, Public Discourse, November 5, 2012).
The truth is, everything changes when special rights are granted to homosexual couples — especially homosexual marriage and adoption rights. We all pay a heavy price if we dare to disagree, and dare to stand up for heterosexual marriage and the fundamental right of children to be raised by their own biological parents.
The crackdown on faith, freedom and family is just beginning. It can only get much worse unless concerned citizens start to make a vociferous protest about it and begin to stand up for their fast-diminishing freedoms.
Bill Muehlenberg is a commentator on contemporary issues, and lectures on ethics and philosophy. His website CultureWatch is at: www.billmuehlenberg.com
Michael Coren, “Canadian crackdown”, National Review (New York), June 11 2012.
Bradley Miller, “Same-sex marriage ten years on: Lessons from Canada”, Public Discourse (Witherspoon Institute, Princeton, New Jersey), November 5, 2012.