Oh Canada!

  Seven years ago, a Toronto woman was dumped by her live-in lover of 10 years. Instead of getting mad, this woman got even: She went to court to collect alimony. But this was no ordinary alimony case--it was a case, you see, where both lovers were women. And a few weeks ago, in a stunning decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that homosexual couples should have the same rights that heterosexual couples have--a ruling that threatens to redefine the very concept of marriage. Until now, Ontario's Family Support Act conferred common-law rights on any heterosexual couple that cohabits for three years. Now, this ruling extends common-law rights to cohabiting couples of the same sex. The decision brings to conclusion a seven-year alimony battle, which challenged the constitutionality of the Ontario law under Canada's Charter of Rights. The plaintiff argued that by distinguishing between same-sex and opposite-sex couples, the provincial law was discriminatory, thus violating the charter's guarantee of "equal protection." By a margin of 8 to 1, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed. In response, the Canadian parliament rushed to pass a non-binding resolution affirming marriage as "the union of one man and one woman." The resolution, however, does not affect the Supreme Court's decision, which is expected to affect everything from pensions to property to adoption. Hundreds of laws are expected to come crashing down all across Canada. But the case affects us here in the United States as well--by contributing to a general trend toward deconstructing marriage. Many moral conservatives have argued that the problem with gay marriage is that it stretches the concept of marriage beyond its true meaning as a life-long, monogamous union between a man and a woman. But the real problem, says Notre Dame professor Gerard Bradley, is that it destroys the concept of marriage altogether, reducing it to nothing but a demand for legal and economic benefits. For example, the Canadian case hinged on whether "long-lasting and intimate relationships" involving "the financial dependence of one partner" should have a legal right to financial support. In other words, the case defined marriage as the right to sue for support. Here in the U.S., a case pending before the state Supreme Court of Vermont argues that homosexuals should be entitled to the "bundle of rights and privileges" attached to legally recognized marriage. Again, the key issue is gaining entitlement to certain government benefits. What this means is that homosexuals who agitate for so-called "gay marriage" do not really want marriage in the traditional sense, but merely the right to demand certain rights and benefits from the government. And if they win, the redefinition of marriage will be complete. Christians need to make clear what is really at stake. We need to argue that marriage is not merely about demanding benefits; it is a social institution built into human nature itself, a life- long moral commitment, and, most of all, a mirror of the relationship between Christ and His church. As we celebrate Father's Day, let's help people understand that America does not need to sanction a polity that will create more fatherless families. We'd better work hard to make certain America does not go the same way our neighbors up north are heading.


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary