June 20, 2003
What a difference a border makes.
Canada, just a stone's throw from a dozen U.S. states, including mine, keeps adopting policies that are putting us to shame--universal health care, decriminalizing marijuana, and now legislation that would legalize gay marriage.
Here in the United States, that seems like a distant dream for gays and lesbians. Even though Vermont has come closest to doing so by granting legal status to same sex couples, the U.S. government, with its blue-nosed Defense of Marriage Act, is on record prohibiting gay marriage.
I've never understood this one.
Oh, I understand homophobia is out there in a big way.
But the logic is so bad.
How come a heterosexual couple who met just two weeks ago can hop a plane and go to Vegas and get married, fully endorsed by the state, whereas a gay couple that's been together twenty years cannot do the same thing?
And it's not just a question of illogic. It's out and out discrimination, and it carries a sting.
By not allowing gay marriage, the U.S. government prevents gay couples from having certain crucial rights that married heterosexual couples have: visitation rights in the hospital, shared health care benefits, automatic inheritance rights.
Much of the opposition in the United States is religiously based.
If religious leaders don't want to recognize gay couples, that's up to them and their flock.
But we're supposed to be a secular nation.
And there is no secular reason why two adults of the same sex should not be allowed to marry.
A lot of Americans look on Canada (if they do at all) with smug superiority.
But we could learn a thing or two from our neighbor to the north.