Assertion, unsupported by fact, is nugatory. Surmise and general abuse, in however elegant language, ought not to pass for truth. Junius

2006/10/04

Defence of Bigots Act

Back in the day, say before the last federal election, the Conservative Party swore up and down there was no secret agenda to impose right-wing fundamentalist values on an open, tolerant society. Now we see this article in the Globe this morning:

The Conservative government is planning measures, including a Defence of Religions Act, to allow public officials, such as Justices of the Peace, to refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

The measures are also intended to protect the free-speech rights of religious leaders and others who criticize homosexual behaviour or refuse to do business with gay-rights organizations, The Globe and Mail has learned.

Any legislation would be brought forward only if the government loses the motion this fall to reopen the debate on same-sex marriage. All indications are that the motion, which would authorize the government to introduce legislation to repeal the same-sex marriage law passed by Parliament last year, will be defeated by a combination of Opposition MPs supported by a few Conservatives.

Maybe there was a secret agenda? Maybe we were lied to? I'm shocked, to be sure.

That this scheme has been commented on extensively here, and here, and here and here and here, and here, and here (among others) shows is indication of the importance of this issue: it's a slippery slope, indeed, to abrogate the inherent rights of one class of citizens for the sake of political expediency. Enough has been said already without me adding a long exposition on the inherent silliness and danger of such a measure.

A key point, however, bears reiteration:

Gay and lesbians are citizens and are entitled to equality under the law according to the Charter of Rights. Period. Allowing civil servants to refuse service to taxpaying citizens on the basis of "conscience" is tantamount to creating two classes of citizenship. And allowing business owners --- which includes everyone from the guy who runs the corner store to a holding company owning thousands of rental properties to Walmart --- to refuse to serve or uphold the law for gay and lesbian customers is enshrining discrimination.

Substitute "black" or "Tamil" or "common-law heterosexual couples" for gay and lesbian and the point becomes plain.

Adding a superfluous bill to protect freedom of speech --- however bigoted --- is one thing. Protecting bigots from the law of the land is another.

UPDATE: The so-called Defence of Religion, it turns out, is dead after all, strangled at birth, apparently by central Canadian Tory MPs nauseated by the pasting the Government was receiving on the issue. Or so says the Minister of Justice Toews: any talk of the bill is now mere "speculation" --- it's all a left-wing, secularist plot. Like Darwin. And global warming. But remember --- repeat after me --- there is no secret agenda.

The Canadian Cynic has a profoundly funny post on this subject here.

It was pointed out to me today that not all evangelicals --- perhaps a large percentage --- are not hate-filled, torture-approving, or war-mongering. Distinctions have to be made. Some evangelicals are actually living their faith have a progressive social agenda and doing some radical things Jesus might actually approve of, like promoting peace and helping the poor. Fair enough, and perhaps the topic of another post.

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