How Far We’ve Come

hawaii rainbowMy family recently came together to celebrate my father’s birthday and, as there were three smart phones in the vicinity of the table (there were only six of us), just about every topic of conversation was followed up with some googling of information on the phone. We covered the gamut of the blue-black/white-gold dress (for the record, five out of the six of us saw the white-gold, and only my mother, the token artist in the group, saw the dress as blue-black; my mother is clearly deranged and has no idea of the colour of anything at all), the origins of blue as a colour (a modern concept of the past few centuries only; apparently Homer had no concept of blue and describes the sea as wine-coloured) and, as I’m sure you can sense the segue here to the next topic, one of our favourite family topics at the moment: my brother’s liquor store in Calgary, and my not-quite-two-year-old niece helping him out.

A gay couple came in to the store one day, and I can’t remember how this even came up, but we were wondering who were the first gay couple to wed in Canada. Naturally, I googled the question to see if we could find the reference and a photo of the couple. The first gay couple to be legally married in Canada were from Ontario, and wed in 2003. Thank goodness for the wealth of useless trivia on the internet.

The thing that struck me right after this segment of the evening’s conversation, was how normalized we were in talking about same-sex marriage. I can remember when the issue first came up, back in 2001, and how uncomfortable I was initially thinking that the word ‘marriage’ should be reserved for heterosexual marriage, notwithstanding the fact that I had several close gay friends. A good friend of mine and I had a whole debate one evening about the issue of same-sex marriage: “It’s just a word,” she said. “Exactly,” I’d argue back, “Why not use ‘civil union’ instead?”

Same-sex marriage was legalized, life went on, and the dust of provincialism settled.

I’m glad to say that my opinion has completely changed on the subject, and I am firm supporter of same-sex marriage. I went to two of my dear friends’ marriage in Hawaii last year, where, by good fortune, same-sex marriage was legalized the month before their wedding on Oahu (they would have had an exchange of vows, otherwise, and would have held the actual marriage in Vancouver).

It was great to hear the discussion at the table though, because my family is somewhat representative of an average slice of the cross-section of the country. To hear everyone discussing same-sex marriage in the same vein as though we were discussing the merits of the mandatory wearing of seat belts (the fact that some people still don’t, just boggles the mind), was very satisfying.

It is very reassuring to know that seemingly controversial topics, which can tread a moral ridge, can work themselves out through a positive social process and become, simply, how things are in our society.


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