ANECDOTAL COMMENTS ABOUT SAME-SEX MARRIAGE
Why people are for or against allowing same-sex couples to
Why do people support or oppose same-sex marriage (SSM)?
There are lots of public opinion polls
in both the U.S. and Canada that give accurate estimates of the percentage of
adults in each country who are in favor of:
||Allowing same-sex couples to marry.
||Allowing them only to enter into civil unions, domestic partnerships,
etc., with similar rights to marriage, but without the name.
||Not recognizing same-sex relationships at all.
However, polls only give part of the picture. Studies of why people hold these
different opinions are harder to find.
There are lots of statements for and against same-sex marriage (SSM) that
appear in newspapers' Letters to the Editor columns or in press releases
issued by various activist groups. But these tend to be somewhat strident and
often extreme in their demands; they do not necessarily reflect the beliefs of the
average American or Canadian.
Then, the Toronto Star newspaper published an cover story by David Graham. He
most of 2005-MAY driving his Saturn car some 5,000 miles (8,000 km) from
Vancouver, British Columbia in the west to St. John's Newfoundland in Canada's
east. He is a gay male who appears to be reasonably objective. He explains that
he "...has no vested interest. I ain't the marrying kind." He disguised
himself "as a middle-aged straight man..." but did reveal his sexual
orientation if asked directly. He writes: "I took this cross-country trip to
grasp the true voice of Canadians....I intuitively felt that this was not a
simple yes or no issue. I believed the real voices of Canadians had more
complexity, depth and nuance. It is a story that would be told in quite tones by
unsure and often conflicted voices."
The results of his trek would probably have been similar if he had traversed
the U.S. However the ratio of those supporting and opposing SSM would probably
be quite different:
||In Canada, most adults favor allowing same-sex couples access to marriage. The
level of support is gradually growing.
||In the U.S. the majority of adults oppose SSM. However, younger adults,
religious liberals, and other groups support it.
Graham apparently timed his trip so that his article would appear a few days
before Bill C-38 emerges from committee and is debated in Canada's Parliament.
This is the the legislation which would legalize SSM across the entire country.
If it is approved, the law will be a bit of an anti-climax. Courts in seven out
of ten provinces and one out of three territories have already made marriage
available to same-sex couples. Together they encompass about 87% of the Canadian
Responses pro and con:
||Rina Gray, 44, in Thunder Bay, ON: She has a brother who is HIV
positive. She responded: "I don't know how I'd feel if it wasn't for my
experience wit him. I know I've had to do a lot of soul searching because I
love my brother. But I live in a world that doesn't even think about
homosexuality, let alone gay marriage. I live in a blue-collar world of
hunting and fishing and drinking beer. I have to say, though, that I am for
it if it makes them happy. I would say I stand out, though....I worry it
puts a lot of pressure on children who come from these homes."
||Ken Cameron, 64, Red Deer, AB: "Look at all the other great
cultures of the world that fell. They don't exist anymore because they
became dysfunctional. Even Alberta is inching toward destruction.... If I
had livestock that didn't breed, I would have to destroy
it....[Homosexuals]...are ill. But the system says they have the right to be
treated like anyone else. If I owned livestock that was homosexual or if I
had cows that were hallucinating because they were eating bad grass, they're
||Bruce Penton, unknown age, Brandon, MB: "Young people and
anyone who knows gay people are going to support same-sex marriage. I'm for
it as long as they don't make it compulsory."
||Krystal Morrison, 22 of Kelowna, BC: She, along with Amy Clark
(see below) identified themselves as devout Christians. They explained that
their view of SSM were influenced by their religion. Morrison said: "It
makes me sad that Christians are becoming known only for all the things we
disagree with. It makes me sad because it detracts from the real purpose of
the church. I'll tell you, my views are not shared by very many people in
this area. Sometimes it's really hard to say I'm a Christian. I'm kind of a
rebel." She lived in Washington State as a teenager, where she
befriended some lesbians. They told her painful stories of discrimination
that they had been subjected to. She wonders "How much of that pain was
caused by Christians?" She would not take any effort to prevent SSM. She
concluded: "My message to other Christians is that we are missing the
point. I don't have to agree with you. I have to love you."
||Jim Langille, 55, Marie Joseph, NS: He favors SSM, saying: "Whatever
floats your boat. It's a free country. People should live and die as they
choose. I think men around here feel they have to do the whole he-man,
workin' in the woods, workin' on the water thing. Even if they agreed, they
wouldn't say it."
||Amy Clark, 19 of Kelowna, BC: She referred to John 8:7, the
story about Jesus and the woman found guilty of adultery -- the "cast the
first stone" passage. She remarked "He wasn't saying adultery was
right. He was just saying 'Don't judge'."
||An anonymous male in Broadview, SK: Instead of answering the
question, he asked one of his own: "Which is worse for the family:
prostitution or gambling?" He agreed with Graham that gambling is worse because it
destroys marriages, ruins finances and alienates children. He said: "There.
So why is the government in the gambling business but it criminalizes
prostitution? You see? There is no consistency. So legalize same-sex
||Gary MacDonald, 41, Whitehorse, YT: "I don't care for it. I
don't like it." He feels that the Yukon depends on procreation for its
future survival. He said: "You can't do that with same-sex marriage."
(Actually, same sex couples do raise children and increase the population.
Many lesbian couples conceive children with donated sperm; many gay couples
||Anna Trevelyn, 22, Ottawa, ON: "You can't give some people
rights and not everyone. My friends and I do talk about this. I'd say girls
are more supportive than boys...A lot of people are resistant to change and
I believe it takes people with convictions to be trailblazers."
||Junad Amin, 37, Calgary, AB: "No to Stronach. No to same-sex
marriage." He feels that his Muslim "religious and cultural
background" is responsible for his strong beliefs. (Belinda Stronach is
a Member of Parliament who recently left the Conservative Party to join the
||Simon Brulotte, 25, of Montreal, QC: "The key word is
devotion. Religion is about devotion between man and God. Marriage is about
devotion between two people."
||Jerry Bluda, 46, Lloydminster. SK: "Marriage is for a man and
a woman." He mentions that he has a "queer" cousin in Ottawa.
They don't communicate. He said: "We have nothing to talk about."
||An anonymous couple in Murphy's Cove, NS: They are not in favor
of same-sex marriage, but they would not oppose it.
||Sylvia Sparling, Tavistock, ON: With her husband, she
said: "Just don't call it marriage. We've been married for 27 years and
we don't think it's [SSM] the same thing. Marriage happens naturally between
a man and a woman." Sparling said that if her daughter, age 19, wanted
to marry a woman, the would tell her: "Don't count us in on it. If its
only a civil union, that's fine."
||Brad Sackfield, 18, Aurora, ON: He studied SSM in law class and
has concluded that "not allowing gay people to marry is against the
charter of human rights."
||Tamara Diallo, 21, Montreal, QC: She opposes SSM. She said: "Where
will it stop? I can see it changing bit by bit so that eventually, its not
marriage anymore." She is also concerned that clergy will eventually be
forced to perform marriage ceremonies against their beliefs.
||Andrea Johnson, 39, Toronto ON: She has a sister who is a
lesbian. Karen said: "My sister tried way too hard to get her approval
and my mother only ever gave her lip service. I want to champion her cause."
Referring to those who claim they believe gays and lesbians deserve all
rights except marriage, she said: "Then they don't really mean what
||Karen Harder, 38, Hope, BC: "I understand the homosexual
thing, but I don't really know if they should be allowed to get married. I
guess I wish there was another name for it, a different word. It makes me
||Jibrqan Quraishi, 19, unknown location: "Happiness is
important. If that makes them happy, then it's OK. I guess I'm not a typical
Muslim. My family wants me to think for myself. It's not a topic we discuss
at home. My parents don't talk about sex let alone gay marriage. I think if
I brought it up they'd wonder: Why do you care? I'm thinking they are
probably against it."
||Linda McMahon, 51, Vancouver BC: "I feel it's wrong. It's not
natural. I don't believe God meant us to be this way. I have four kids. If
one was gay and wanted to get married, I could not support it. But I'm not
in that situation. I would always love them, but I would not be able to
support that relationship."
||Edward Lemond, 63, Moncton NB: He apparently supports SSM. He
said: "I lived in the United States during the civil rights movement of
the '50s. I moved to Canada in 1969, but I still instinctively identify with
people who are oppressed."
||Anonymous, 21, Ottawa, ON: "The whole issue is about sex. If
they'd stop making it all about sex maybe they'd make it easier for people
||Thomas Cheng, 35, Vancouver BC: He supports SSM. He said: "Life
should be about happiness. My mother sent me to a
Quaker high school for four years in Ohio....I was a boarding student so
I really absorbed the sentiment of the religion mainly through conversation
with friends and teachers. Humanity, for Quakers, is very important. They
value peace and freedom."
||Patty Blanchard, 47, and husband Marc Beaudoin,47, of Moncton, NB:
Patty's mother confessed to her as a child that she had never wanted to
have children. But she dutifully followed the teachings of her church and
had eight. When Patty learned of her mother's sacrifice, she decided that
the church was not going to control her life. She said: "I feel I
understand homosexuality, and I support same-sex marriage." Her husband
currently opposes SSM. He worries about the future of marriage. He said: "There
is so much symbolism in the world, so much history. It is a union that
protects the creation of the family." But he does believe that "gay
couples should have an equal and parallel marriage." Both believe that
he will probably "come around" eventually to be a supporter of SSM.
David Graham, "Voices of reason," The Toronto Star, 2005-JUN-12,
Pages A6 to A8.
Copyright © 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally posted: 2005-JUN-12
Latest update: 2005-JUN-12
Author: B.A. Robinson