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July 9, 2005

Civil Unity

I rarely see eye-to-eye with Alberta Premier Ralph Klein when it comes to social issues. But a few weeks ago he mused that his government "wouldn't be involved in the solemnization of marriage", as a way of opposing the recently passed Bill C-38, which if made into law, would make gay marriage legal in Canada, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Since in Canada marriage is federal jurisdiction, Klein has no other recourse. In my opinion, his comment about solemnization is a perfect solution. This was actually an idea I had thought up months ago, but for the opposite reason Klein has.

Imagine a system where the government only recognizes civil unions, and has no concept of marriage. Marriage would be a purely religious rite with no legal standing. Before or after the wedding ceremony, the "newlyweds" would stop by the local judge's office and sign a civil union license. Obviously property and tax laws, etc. would have to be changed accordingly, but we skirt the entire issue of the government condoning an untraditional form of marriage.

I really hope this idea catches on, and people in support of gay marriage don't reject it just because Klein proposed it.

12:54 | Canada , | Politics


What issue does this skirt again? Then people will just argue over the structure of a civil union.

Posted by: ryan at July 10, 2005 3:18 PM

Yeah. "Marriage" now straddles religious and secular worlds, which is usually the root of most debates.

Posted by: mark at July 10, 2005 3:48 PM


The biggest argument against gay marriage, is that it violates the traditional definition. Since there is no cultural history of civil unions, there's no traditional definition to violate.

Granted, it doesn't skirt the issue of people not wanting same-sex civil unions, but the Charter guarantees equal rights regardless of sex, and the Supreme Court agrees.

Posted by: Chris at July 10, 2005 6:27 PM

Everyone I've mentioned this idea to (giving you full credit, of course) has poo-poohed it without giving a good reason. I think it is worth talking about, at least. Then we could start a task force to look into having a meeting to discuss starting an initiative here in Washington.

Posted by: Teresa at July 10, 2005 8:21 PM

Apparently, a version of Chris' civil union idea was already implemented in Alta. in 1998 by (again) radical left-winger Ralph Klein:

The main argument against this is that people feel it's condescending--in the eyes of the law, you can call yourself anything you want, but you're still not "married."

Also, a lot of people think the Supreme Court ruled that the traditional definition of marriage violates the Charter. It declined to address the question:
Personally, I think it's a good thing that there was a Parlimentary vote on this instead.

Anyway, that'll teach you to propose ideas!

Posted by: ryan at July 10, 2005 9:59 PM

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