Like it or not, the same sex marriage bill is going to pass in the House of Commons. This week my neighbours from the farm across the road from Walden came to visit. The MacPhees are wonderful people. Allan is a beef farmer and a lay minister at the Hartsville Presbyterian Church, a mile as the crow flies from the cabin. I’m going to be buried in the little cemetery there. Myrtle is a psychiatric nurse in Charlottetown, and their four kids (Shawn (15), Lindsay (14), Christie (9) and Megan (6) are super — well-balanced and fun-loving kids.
Yesterday I took them to Parliament Hill to meet their MP, former Solicitor General Wayne Easter. We sat is his office for a chat. After a few minutes of rambling about Committee work, he was starting to lose his audience so I asked, “How are you going to vote on same-sex marriage?” I wanted to see him squirm. After all, he represents a rural PEI riding in a province where even canned pop is banned. He didn’t hesitate: “I support the legislation… As long as the churches are protected.”
Apparently, the same-sex marriage bill has a clause that protects the churches from being forced to marry same-sex couples.
Wayne has found his rationale for backing his government in the face of what he claims is “70% opposition to the bill in the riding.” He didn’t get into how he’s going to overcome this opposition if the same-sex debate becomes an election issue. I guess he’s counting on the 10% of his constituents who live in closets to come out to vote for him.
The MacPhees seemed impressed, and the meeting ended with snapshots and handshakes. The chat left me wondering how it can be right that federal legislation is going to protect institutions that reserve the right to discriminate. If the churches insisted that they would not marry Black people, what would the debate be like? It all comes down to God, again. It’s hard to argue with those who believe that people will suffer eternal damnation and hellfire for the way they are born.
I didn’t ask Wayne if he believed in Hell. He’s found his purgatory on the back bench.
After our time with the MP, we walked around Parliament Hill. It was a beautiful spring day. We stopped at the Famous Five statue, erected just a few years ago to honour the five women who fought to have women recognized as people, in 1929. There was a lot of resistance to that then. Some said at the time that giving women the vote would be the end of the traditional family.