Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out

One-on-one with Ontario Court of Appeal



By G.D. Maxwell

Why just two?

Why not three or four or more?

If it’s a question of changing times, more enlightened thinking, liberal acceptance of things different, tolerantly embracing those formerly labeled abnormal, a victory for inclusiveness, why just two?

On Tuesday, the Ontario Court of Appeal rewrote the provincial law on marriage. Without giving dilettantes at Queen’s Park time to waffle and evade, the court ordered a change to the rules of marriage in Ontario to force the province to recognize, permit and register marriages of men to men and women to women.

The Ontario court was following the leads of B.C. and Quebec but upping the ante. Courts in both of those provinces handed down similar rulings but gave their provincial legislatures time to dither and procrastinate and argue about rewriting their laws. The Ontario justices, in a swift and decisive, not to say pharoanic move, said "Let it forever be so!" and wham-bam thank you Sir, it was done. The Michaels trotted down to the Justice of the Peace and champagne corks were a-poppin’ all over the place.

Having no particular affinity for the institution of marriage, I couldn’t really care one way or another if men are allowed to marry other men and women are allowed to marry other women. I chalk it all up to the misery loves company school of thought. If they thought it was a struggle to get married, wait until they battle their way through divorce.

I think it would be a much greater step forward if same-sex people agreed to abandon the word ‘gay’ for something more truly descriptive of their collective lifestyles and let it drift back into common, nonsexual usage. If they want to get married, whatever. They’ll look just as silly doing the Chicken Dance as heterofolk.

But the ruling is, well, weird. The court said the definition of marriage in Ontario shall henceforth be "...the voluntary union for life of two persons to the exclusion of all others."

Why just two?

Why exclusion?

No, really, I’m serious.

The court had the vision to see beyond the centuries-old Common Law definition of marriage being between a man and a woman but they simply took for granted that marriage has been and shall always be between only two people. Not so much a union as a merger, a joining of forces to exclude, maybe even to wage war against, all others. Yet, the decision hinged on the constitutional right under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to equality. It emphasized the ‘dignity’ of individuals. Not just two individuals.