Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

All eyes on Alberta

As of yesterday evening, Bill C-38 has passed, and soon women will be able to marry women and men will be able to marry men everywhere across this country. Same-sex marriage had already been legal everywhere but Prince Edward Island, two of the northern territories, and Alberta, so it's not as big a deal here as it would be in some other countries, but it's still a very nice step forward for Canada. While I'm not personally interested in availing myself of this new right, I'm quite happy for those queer men and women who plan to do so, especially here in Alberta.

As for this strange little corner of Canada, all eyes will be turned in our direction while King Ralph "considers his options" on how he and his government can get around this new little problem. There's talk of trying to take the government out of marriage altogether, which,
if you ask me, is kind of a hilariously radical idea. If they really want to push for it, it will be kind of fun to watch the current government turn into radical libertarians and try to convince Albertans that they really don't care about being legally married unless they've had church ceremonies. It'll certainly make the next provincial election a little more interesting. In the end, though, if it's been declared a Charter matter and the federal government has legislated on it, I really don't see what they can do. Though I suppose only time will tell; maybe they'll pull a rabbit out of a hat yet.

The sidebar on this CBC Edmonton story offers up a recent history of the battle for the rights of queer Albertans, ranging from the employment discrimination case of Delwin Vriend through to last night's ruling. I arrived here in the summer of 1997, so in reading through this, it occurs to me that I've watched all of those things happen: the 1999 ruling that allowed same-sex couples to adopt, the 2000 amendment to the Marriage Act, the 2004 decision on the part of Alberta Tories to fight the federal legislation once it passed. Historically I've been a veritable gypsy and not at all likely to live in one place for this long, so this kind of stocktaking makes me feel very entrenched here. It's a very strange feeling, but not at all a bad one; even here, so much has changed in such a short time. The Alberta political culture is an odd mixture of traditional conservatism, small-town laissez-faire attitudes, and a touch of Wild West radicalism that always leaves me feeling both quite foreign and very, very fascinated.

In any case, here's hoping Alberta does the right thing in the end, even if it's for the wrong reasons.

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