Saturday, April 25, 2015

Gay Marriage: the Canada and America Connection

Canada officially recognized civil gay marriages in 2005 becoming the first country outside of Europe to do so.  How it came about was individual provinces started legalizing it.  The Supreme Court of Canada upheld in 2004 that civil marriages were the jurisdiction of the federal government.  Since the federal government did not have a legal definition of marriage a bill was introduced and passed in 2005.

Keep in mind that in the United States, marriage laws are the jurisdiction of the states.  Even the Supreme Court of the United States acknowledged in the Windsor case that marriage was a state-run institution.  And states do have different marriage laws.  Some states allow you to marry first cousins while others do not.  Mississippi requires a blood test.  Arizona does not.

In Canada back in 2003 the Supreme Court struck down several provincial laws against gay marriage stating that it was a matter of discrimination and in violation of the equality clause in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms from 1982.  Keep in mind that the United States equality clause and the Canadian one are two different things.  Also how the SCOC interprets law is very different than how SCOTUS does.  SCOC tends to "legislate from the bench" and interpretations are more the the spirit rather than letter of the law.

Polls of Canadians at the time showed that Canadians were split about the issue of same-sex marriage.  Split similarly to the polling of Americans today.  Polls today vary but one 2012 poll indicated that 33% of Canadians do not approve of legalized same-sex marriage.  Alberta, the most conservative province, showed that less than half approved of same-sex marriage.

Religious leaders have spoken out against legalized same-sex marriage in Canada including the Catholic Church.  43% of the population in Canada identifies as Catholic.  Some provinces even go so far as to have a separate but public school system for Catholics.  This has created much tension.  The Bishop of Calgary, Bishop Henry, has received two human rights complaints through the Alberta Human Rights Act because he spoke out against homosexual acts.

Businesses have also received there fair share of flak.  They either must stop providing wedding services altogether (alternatively shutting down their business) or face law suits and human rights complaints.  The Knights of Columbus was sued by a lesbian couple.  The couple won the suit even though as a religious affiliated organization the Knights of Columbus had the right to refuse the business from the beginning (but apparently not once the error was discovered).  Individually owned businesses are not afforded that same right.

Education is also affected.  Recently Premier Wynne, premier of Ontario (which is like a governor of a province) has rolled out a new sex education curriculum despite protests from parents.  Keep in mind that this curriculum must be taught at all public schools including the Catholic public school systems.  While the London Catholic School District has ensured that it thus far doesn't foresee problems integrating the sex curriculum into Catholic teaching, some parents remain skeptical.  Alberta has come under fire from parents for forcing schools to form Gay-Straight Alliances if a student requests them.  This measure didn't pass.  Also Life Site news reports that two teachers have spoken about how they teach homosexual marriage and homosexuality to junior kindergarteners (who can start school as young as 3) and hidden in the math curriculum of grade 4-5 children against parental wishes.  This is eerily similar to the David Parker case in Massachusetts, which so far allows the school district to teach about homosexuality and gay marriage without parental notification.

Polygamy also is getting it's fair shake in Canadian law.  In 2005 and in 2007 questions were raised about the constitutionality of anti-bigamy laws in Canada.  In 2011 The Supreme Court of British Colombia ruled to uphold current B.C. anti-bigamy laws.  So far SCOC hasn't heard any cases on the subject, but it's important to note that no one has been prosecuted for bigamy in Canada since 2009.  Ms. Barlow, whom the B.C. case was about, was denied permanent residency status.  In contrast, the United States federal circuit court ruled that Utah cohabitation laws were unconstitutional (thus barring prosecution of adult polygamy), but that Utah could still bar issuing marriage licenses to polygamists. 

There are lots of lessons to be learned from Canada about gay marriage.  However I am hopeful that the US will do things differently.  Marriage law is a state jurisdiction.  We also have RFRA laws which hopefully will be also passed at every state level.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Quick Takes: #SickyEdition

1) Well this week was a load of fun.  A virus has swept through our house and knocked everyone back except Hubby.  My house looks disastrous.  All the clean towels are in the basement.  I've been washing just enough dishes to get through the day.  And my 3 year old has been wearing the same pjs out and about because I haven't the energy (or heart) to fight him on it.

2) But I doubt anyone has noticed the repeat of pjs because I've had to bundle him up in blankets.

Exhibit A
Exhibit B

3) No activity to report about the neighbors.  :)

4) Since it's been a while for accidents both day and night time, I think I can officially say that we are fully potty trained.  I also mean by that that both my children go to the bathroom on their own (minus butt wiping help).  I'm a lazy parent who cannot predict the urgency of my children.  They tell me when they have to go.  It's nice.  They also get themselves up and take themselves to the bathroom at night.  :)  Why do I feel so deliciously evil about that?  Maybe it's because it's been a while since I haven't had to change someone's diaper.

But don't get too jealous of me.  Living in the house with three males means my house smells like a urinal and there's always pee on the toilet seats.  :/

Now to contemplate chucking the tiny potty or not since it can double as a step stool......

5) My husband has a job offer!  And he has a job interview on Monday!

6)  The downside is I have to start packing soon.  #packingistheworst

7) Oh, and I'm on twitter...debating SSM supporters

Hope your week was well.

Thanks to This Ain't the Lyceum!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Pro-SSM supporters, can you answer my questions?

Part of the problem I have with same-sex marriage supporters is that I can't seem to get my questions answered.  There's a lot of deflection going on or in some cases circular logic.  So I've prepared a list of questions in hopes that someone will be kind enough to give me their opinion.  I'm not interested in what the law says etc.  I'm interested in what your answers are.

1) What is marriage?

2) What does marriage equality mean exactly? Does it include polygamous, incest, and child relationships? why or why not?

3) Why do you believe the state should recognize same-sex marriage?

4) What is the state's interest in recognizing same-sex couples as opposed to other relationships like friendships or polygamy?

5) According to the Human Rights Campaign, same-sex couples are being denied benefits such as social security, tax benefits, immigration rights, etc.  Do you believe that these benefits should also be extended to close friends? polygamous groups? Why or why not?

6) Windsor is the latest court decision that recognizes same-sex couples federally.  Reynolds is the court case that up held anti-bigamy laws.  Do you think both courts were correct in their decisions and why (or why not)?

7) Do you think a child has rights to their biological parents?  Doesn't creating a child without access to their biological mother or father violate Article 7 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which reads that a child should both know and be cared for by his or her parents immediately after birth?

Thank you for your responses.

If you have any questions for me (or would like for me to answer these questions myself), I'd be happy to give you a straight forward answer.  This doesn't mean that you will like my answers or agree with them, but I'm not interested in a consensus.  I'm only interested in well thought out answers laid out so that people can judge the issue for themselves.  Logic over rhetoric.

Good-bye Facebook, Hello Twitter!

I don't remember exactly why I set up a facebook account.  I didn't have one for the longest time and when I did I hardly used it. Then I had to start using it to keep up with work on a online magazine (which I've since stopped writing for). 

But I grew jaded over my relationship with facebook.  They have a policy against using pseudonyms and everything is extremely public despite it supposedly being a private Los Vegas Styled social media group.  Scandals have erupted over their ads and tracking your preferences.  They've added just about every stylized gender orientation known on the planet.  And more recently they've barred religious leaders from using titles like Father or Sister as a part of their name.  It's confusing that we can be as gender-expressing as we want, but can't use whatever name we wish to express ourselves with.

However, facebook is not the only social media group in town.  And others don't care how you choose to express yourself so long as it's not trademarked.  Twitter is one of these groups.  Yahoo also doesn't care and gives you the option of making a pseudonym. 

I've used Yahoo for a long time and haven't had any problems with it.  It's policies are consistent.  It's not really social media though.  You can join groups with similar interests, answer questions of other users, and make comments on articles.  It's own thing.  I wasn't sure about Twitter so I set up an account and gave it a whirl for a while.  A limit of characters?  But it's similar to facebook in that you can link things and discuss things easier in real time.

After much speculation and attempting to avoid the facebook plague, I have shut down my facebook account.  If you want to follow me on social media, you can follow me on twitter: @deltaflute.  And if you want me to follow you, just send me a comment with your twitter handle.

Friday, April 10, 2015

7 Quick Takes: #EasterGrace

Knee back when he cleaned up and wore clothes.
1) My neighbor seems to be following a pattern.  I've noticed the banging usually happens on a Thursday.  What does he do on Wednesday nights?  It's ridiculous that I have to carry my three year old up and down the stairs in the morning.  It's absurd that I have take his unhappy self and dress him in the school parking lot.  It's 7:30 in the morning on a school day.  Not everyone has the luxury of sleeping in.

2) Speaking of unhappy three year olds...Blessings to whoever invented the child safety door locks on cars.  If it were not for you, my three year old would have opened the car door this morning while I was driving and who knows what would have happened.  You are awesome for thinking of that.

On the flip side, potty training is going spectacularly.  A few accidents here and there, but we are basically diaper free.  And we're transitioning from nap time to no nap-early bed time.  Joy!

3) Thank God!  We have a renter.  Since we moved out of condo 4 years ago at a time when our mortgage was upside down, we've had to rent out our property.  We haven't had a renter for about 2 months now so it's a relief.

4) Speaking of relief, my husband has had a couple of people interested in hiring him back state side.  They aren't close to family, but they have the potential to turn into something more permanent.  So he's going to be busy this weekend working on job applications.

5) CRA (Canadian Revenue Agency) makes my head spin.  Remember last year when I specifically asked if I could file a tax return and was told no?  You see in Canada even married couples must file separate tax forms.  And although I reside in Canada, last year per CRA I was classified as a non-resident.  This was further frustrated because all tax breaks for children are done through the mother.  So not only could I not file a tax return form, I had to send them information about my person and testify about income.  Confused?  Me too.  I suppose someone saw the absurdity of it and I was issued a temporary number.

This year the government past a Family Tax Credit.  And according to H&R block, guess who can now file a tax return form and can save her family money by doing so?  Yep.  Me.  I guess I'm a grown-up now.

Since Canada bases it's taxes on residency, I have to do they tax people like me (ex-pats) who reside in Canada but un-like me work in a separate country via telecommuting?  From what I can tell, they don't.  They are in residential limbo.  And people think the US system of taxes based on citizenship/immigration status is strange. 

6)  Speaking of strange Canadian things...if you are a US citizen, in addition to always having to file a tax return form, you get the privilege of always being allowed to vote.  For Canada if you live out of the country for longer than 4 years (or is it 3?) you loose your ability to vote.  I.just.can't.imagine.

7) And since I haven't mentioned HB, he's been reading.  As in plops himself down with a simple book like Hi, Fly Guy and reads it.  He's not even technically in US kindergarten.  And when I say read, I mean has-never-seen-the-book-before-but-knows-what-it-says not Mom-has-read-this-book-so-many-times-I-memorized-it.  Hubby didn't quite realize it until we went to the mall and I got HB to read the display windows.  It's a little scary.  Because now it's "Mom, what does that (blank) mean" has come up from time to time.

He's also turned into a Jesus freak.  "Mom, God has special powers.  He can make it rain."  and this morning.  "Mom, I'm getting bigger because Jesus makes me grow."  Teach my children about primary causality.  Check.

Thanks to This Ain't the Lyceum for hosting. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy 'White' Easter!

Most people dream of White Christmases, but they don't often desire White Easters.  Unfortunately this year we didn't have a White Christmas, but we ended up with a White Easter.  I guess I shouldn't remove the snowy background just yet.

I hope that your Easter is going well.  Blessings to you and yours this Resurrection Sunday!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Learning what it means to love your neighbor

About two weeks ago, the barrage of banging from the other side increased dramatically.  Anytime a child would (with heavy foot fall) go up and down the stairs, the neighbor next door would bang on the wall.  We choose to ignore this passive aggressive action. This came to a head when my three year old refused to dress appropriately for the weather this morning.  No amount of bribery was working so we took his underwear clad behind outside and shoved on clothes much to his vocalized disgust.  My neighbor stepped outside and proceeded to berate my husband.  We needed to get our children under control.  She was going to call the police and file a noise complaint in the future.  My husband almost told her to please do.  So far all we've gotten is a lot of anger and threats.  No real actual dialogue.  No interest in getting to know us.  He did ask me if I wanted to say something and I said no.  You can't reason with someone that angry.

For those of you who are unaware, our city has a 24 noise ordinance.  This apparently doesn't apply to school children playing outside in residential areas because to my knowledge nobody has stopped the local schools from sending their children to recess.  So I'm not sure how applicable this law is particularly when dealing with the disabled who can be quite loud.  Canadian law is much more up to interpretation than US law is.

I welcome police involvement because I think mediation is necessary.  As I said, my neighbors have no interest in getting to know us.  They get upset that our children get up early (the earliest is 6) and get ready for school or church.  I've heard banging at 8 in the morning.  To my knowledge neither party works and the four year old doesn't attend school/preschool/daycare.  If they did get up in the morning, I think it would make a difference.

This whole experience has me learning how to turn my cheek, which is tough because our natural inclination is to defend ourselves especially if the party is in the wrong or being unreasonable.  On top of that, we're also called to love our neighbor whether we agree with them or not.  So now whenever we have these conflicts with them, I have to be as pleasant as possible even if they are not.  This is extremely hard, but it is our Christian duty.

I'm starting to understand how Aunty Em in the Wizard of Oz felt.  Elmira Gulch was being unreasonable about Toto, exaggerating the extent to which he was causing havoc.  "I'm all but lame from the bite on my leg."  Instead of working with Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, she went to the law to have the dog destroyed.  Ms. Gulch was known for bullying her neighbors rather than working with them.  As Aunty Em said "For twenty-three years I've been dying to tell you what I thought of you!  But now...well, being a Christian woman, I can't say it."

I can't say it either of my neighbors.  Even if they show up with the police and a fine.