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More than a million people attended Toronto's Pride parade on Sun., July 4. (Adrien Veczan/The Canadian Press)
More than a million people attended Toronto's Pride parade on Sun., July 4. (Adrien Veczan/The Canadian Press)

Expat Canadians on same-sex marriage in the U.S.: ‘I am hopeful for real change’ Add to ...

These opinions come from a group of Canadians now living in the United States who were part of The Globe’s expat project during the U.S. election. Here, they give their views on same-sex marriage and how the issue resonates in their communities.

Having lived in Augusta, Ga., for three years, I have been working on my faith in other humans that when they encounter me, or me with my partner Jessica, that they will treat us with as equal respect and dignity as everyone else.

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What I have found by being open, and coming out to co-workers, friends, and even strangers, is that most of the time, people are either vocally supportive or just treat us the same as everybody else. The number of times that we have been stared at or made under the breath disparaging comments against is actually quite minimal in comparison to the number of times that we have been met with kindness. I think this says a lot for the South, and for the possibility of a real shift in mentality around it. Jessica’s little sister is 14, and she came to the Pride parade with us and is a vocal supporter with all of her friends. She tells us sometimes about anti-gay remarks that her classmates make, but most of the time it is met with her and others standing up against it. Because of her, and because I have chosen to believe the best in people, I am hopeful for real change in not only this community but every community across the country.

I grew up in small town Ontario, where just 10 years ago “that’s so gay” was the most common phrase to comment on anything you didn’t like in high school. One of my closest friends was openly gay in high school (while I was as closeted it gets!) and was harassed frequently because of it. The legalization of same-sex marriage has made a big difference in Canada because of the open and public discussion it provoked. I am very hopeful that the same will occur here.

Leah Taylor from Woodville, Ont., is now living in Augusta, Ga.

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When I lived in Canada, I thought then, as I think now, that the most effective public policy solution would be to separate civil marriage and religious marriage. But I haven’t seen any political will to do that in any government anywhere.

I’m actually a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as Mormons). Our doctrine is that same-sex marriage is not part of God’s plan. And that came to the fore in 2008, when many members of the church in California and elsewhere, participated in the Prop. 8 campaign. I moved to California just a week before the election, but I confess, had I been there earlier, and had I been in the church meetings where people were signing up volunteers to wave signs on street corners and donate to the campaign, I would have been very uncomfortable.

You see, many members of my extended family are gay or lesbian. At least one died in the initial AIDS epidemic; another was “gay-bashed” to death. And all of them are just people to me.

Our societies, in both the U.S. and Canada, are pluralistic democracies, with freedom of religion. That means that while I and many others may think that God is of one mind regarding this matter, we cannot and should not impose our views on those who either think God is of another mind, or who don’t believe in God at all. I am fully in favour of implementing same-sex marriage here in the U.S., and I hope the Supreme Court decides accordingly.

We just moved to Phoenix in December and most of those we’ve met have been at church, and most of those people are still decidedly against legalizing same-sex marriage. Many people, especially religious people, seem to think that our laws should reflect what people “should” do. But public policy should reflect what people actually do. People who are gay or lesbian shouldn’t feel like they have to be single and/or celibate, or have to fake their way through an opposite-sex marriage.

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