Canada survives gay marriage ruling
07/05/03 Tony Brown Stratford, Ontario -
I've been in Canada for more than a week, and so far I haven't seen any thunderbolts striking our neighbors to the north
Traditional Canadian married couples, husband and wife, can be seen walking along
together just as before. Traditional Canadian families - mom, pop and the kids - have not suddenly disintegrated.
I happened to bicycle by an outdoor chapel and witnessed three sets of June brides and June grooms taking their vows, and
at my hotel I spied a sign advertising the 50th wedding anniversary of an elderly man and woman.
Ontario has legalized gay marriage, and nothing about the country appears to have been consumed by hellfire and brimstone.
None of the dire consequences predicted by conservative groups in the United States should our country welcome gays and
lesbians into the blissful state of matrimony seem to have materialized here.
What we call the family unit has not been destroyed. The sacrament of marriage remains unbesmirched. The wrath of God has
not been visited upon anyone in particular.
There are other signs that the far right may be all wrong about the gay issue in the United States as well.
The Supreme Court finally struck down the Texas sodomy law last week. An actual gay couple (not a fictional one on a sitcom)
shared a passionate kiss on the nationally televised Tony Awards a couple of weeks ago after winning the prize for writing
the score of "Hairspray." CBS got 10 phone calls and 68 e-mails from 8 million viewers.
Not only that, but the best actor in a musical Tony award went to a gay man who wears a dress and plays a woman in "Hairspray."
And the best-play award went to "Take Me Out," a show about a star baseball player who comes out of the closet.
Ramifications: none. Attendance jumped at both award-winning shows after the broadcast.
Meanwhile, Episcopalians in New Hampshire recently elected the first openly gay bishop in the worldwide Anglican communion.
I belong to an Episcopal church in Cleveland, Trinity Cathedral, which I have attended several times since this happy news
broke, and no one has bolted the place. If anything, it feels even more inclusive than before. I wouldn't be surprised to
learn that we picked up a few new members who feel more at home in a church that welcomes everyone.
We in Cleveland seem to have taken many strides of late to be more inclusive.
The dean of my church, the Very Rev. Tracey Lind, is a lesbian. In her nearly three years there, Trinity has expanded and
prospered, not so much because of her sexual orientation but because she is a fine preacher and urban activist.
In Cleveland Heights, city workers who are gay can now share their workplace benefits with their live-in lovers, thanks
to a city ordinance. That eastern suburb is also home to a recent petition effort that will bring to the ballot a proposal
to officially recognize all such nonmarital unions.
And across town in Lakewood earlier this month, Mayor Madeline Cain stood her ground and let the rainbow flag of inclusion
fly at city hall during Gay Pride Week.
The result of all this gay-rights activity in Canada, in the United States, in the Episcopal Church and in Cleveland has
not been the diminishment of rights for nongays that conservatives have predicted.
I'm a straight, white, married male, and I feel nothing but joy in being able to commune more closely with my gay brothers
and sisters, to celebrate being alive on the planet with them.
Of course, many conservatives say that my punishment, and the punishment of those who think like me, awaits the Judgment
Day, when God's wrath will be unmerciful.
As colorful as this image may be, it is a twisted reading of scripture.
While the Old Testament's Book of Leviticus condemns homosexuality, it also proscribes wearing clothes made of two fabrics
(forget those polyester blends), eating raw meat (carpaccio is out) and touching the skin of a dead pig (rendering football
Nowhere in the Gospels, on the other hand, does Jesus say anything one way or the other about homosexuality. But he does
say, repeatedly, that it is good to embrace those who are different from us, repel us and offend us. Even those who wear polyester
According to surveys, Canadians are far less likely than Americans to identify themselves as church-going Christians.
Which brings up this ticklish question: Why are the Canadians, who increasingly say they have given up the church, behaving
in a much more Christlike manner than many so-called "Christian conservatives" in America?
If that question lands me in hell, so be it. For the time being, I'm in the other place. I'm in Canada.
Brown, theater critic of The Plain Dealer, is on assignment in Canada.
To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: firstname.lastname@example.org, 216-999-4181 © 2003 The Plain Dealer.