The Totalitarianism of Same-Sex “Marriage”

In November of 1996 First Things hosted a symposium titled “The Judicial Usurpation of Politics” in which contributors discussed the threat to American democracy posed by the Supreme Court instated imposition of abortion on America. Nothing rivals the sheer volume of innocent human beings killed by abortion and yet First Things saw fit to focus not on the babies themselves or the mothers and fathers, but on the threat to democracy and the American experiment posed by the judicial over-reach that legalized abortion.

The legalization of same-sex “marriage” does not bring with it the innocent blood which cries to heaven, though it is perhaps the single most audacious social engineering initiative in American history. But the way in which it has been imposed in state after state, as courts have seen fit to ignore ballot initiatives, sets the stage for a United States Supreme Court ruling on par with Roe vs. Wade. The Supreme Court has announced it will rule on same-sex “marriage” in this sitting—exactly ten years after Canada legalized same-sex “marriage.” It is important for Americans to look at what has happened in Canada.

On July 20, 2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex “marriage.” On that day the sun rose as it always does, people went to work, daily Mass was celebrated in Catholic Churches and daily life continued to unfold as it normally does. In the days and months following there was no massive spike in the numbers of same-sex couples getting “married” (it had already been legal in 8 of 10 provinces since 2003), the speculated upon possibility of same-sex “marriage” tourism from the United States never really materialized and the Canadian flag was not changed from the maple leaf to the LGBT rainbow. But something very significant happened with the legalization of same-sex “marriage” in Canada and it wasn’t about the freedom of gay people to marry, and it wasn’t really about marriage.

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July 20, 2005 marked a very significant step towards totalitarianism in Canada.

Free speech, the rights of parents, the right to preach and practise one’s religion and the worn and tattered fibers of normative decency were all deeply damaged. With the legalization of same-sex “marriage” what had been aberrant only a few years earlier became entrenched as a legal right, and what had been a normal and natural view of sexuality had been reduced to the retrograde thinking of hate crime dinosaurs.

Terrence Prendergast is the Catholic archbishop of Ottawa. Speaking at St. Thomas University in Minnesota in 2012, he outlined the consequences of same-sex “marriage” in Canada. His list included: restrictions on freedoms, forced sex education, sexually confused children, sexual experimentation among children, muzzling and debilitating the Church, more births out of wedlock, more in-vitro fertilizations, more abortions, more poverty, more misery, more disease, more addictions and higher health care costs.

Calgary bishop Frederick Henry was called before a Human Rights Commission Tribunal in 2005 for writing a letter defining Catholic teaching on same-sex “marriage.” During his speech, Archbishop Prendergast quoted Bishop Frederick Henry saying: “Human rights laws designed as a shield are now being used as a sword. The issue is rarely truth formation, but rather censorship, and applying a particular theology through threats, sanctions and punitive measures.” Archbishop Prendergast continued: “The Bible is being called hate literature. Clearly, the Church is in the crosshairs. There will be growing pressure for the Church to comply or be shut down.”

Collective madness is a term usually applied to the fevered frenzy of the mob, but there is a darker, more systematic and more enduring collective madness achieved by reducing obvious truths to elephants in the room. With the legalization of same-sex “marriage” we had a legal edict establishing the normative nature of same-sex “marriage” and thereby ruling out as discriminatory essential arguments about the complementarity of male and female or the procreative purpose of marriage.

Normally, the first thing we notice about a person is their sex, and the first thing we realize when thinking about the sexes is the obvious physical complementarity of male and female, but in the new SSM regime these simple and obvious truths must be appended with a caveat saying that there is no such thing as nature, human sexuality is plastic and there is nothing essentially organic, good and true. This is hugely significant for the psycho-sexual formation of the young and for the happiness and flourishing of individuals and society as a whole, but it is also a decisive step towards the destruction of critical intelligence, the cultivation of abject dependence, and then finally madness and totalitarianism.

Doug Mainwaring works with CanaVox, a project of the Witherspoon Institute. He is a self-described gay man who is abstinent. Mainwaring describes the efforts to redefine marriage as “a form of incremental totalitarianism.” According to Mainwaring “gays and lesbians have been used as pawns by progressives to bring about this wedge issue that I really feel strongly is meant to usher in incremental totalitarianism.”

Stockholm Syndrome was much talked about in the 1970’s when the wealthy heiress Patty Hearst was abducted and held for ransom, but was then shown joining in with her captors robbing a bank and brutalizing innocent people. Before being abducted there was no indication that Hearst was psychopathic, there was no suggestion of a latent criminality, rather the villainy of Patty Hearst was caused by the psychological manipulation of her captors.

For Hearst in captivity, her autonomous personhood was denied. Whether and when she could stand, sit, lie down, eat, drink, sleep, speak or be silent—control over all these things were denied her. She was denied any agency, rendered helpless, obliterated as a person. Then, once a complete breakdown was achieved, small kindnesses and the restoration of order and therefore the possibility of meaning reconstituted her universe. But Hearst’s new universe was created by and ordered around her captor who was now also her saviour.

The legalization of same-sex “marriage” is not about allowing something; same-sex “marriage” was already taking place. It was not about recognizing something; spousal and survivor benefits, family tax incentives and any other advantages to marriage were being or could have been granted without calling it marriage. The legalization of same-sex “marriage” was about prohibiting a definition of heterosexual marriage as normative. It was about the state denying the right to speak one of the most obvious truths about human nature. It was about a conspiracy to enforce collective madness, cultivate psychological dependence and achieve totalitarian control.

Of course it seemed anti-climactic to most, since we seldom see the significance of what is happening as it happens. Further, Canadians as a people pride themselves on their peace-loving agreeability to a fault. The vast majority of Canadians never utter opinions contrary to the spirit of the age, the vast majority of parents passively submit to educational professionals and popular entertainment as the primary educators of their children, a large majority of people no longer take religion seriously, and for those who did, a large majority of the clergy had long ago given up on preaching the more difficult teachings of Christianity.

The march to madness was long and over time there were more and more truths about which we could not speak. In public spaces conservatives had to live increasingly within their own minds, and for anybody, alone in your mind can be a dangerous place. In our Walter Mitty imaginations most of us had swooned in self-adulation at the thought of a glorious last stand that we would make if push ever came to shove. In our mind’s eye our personal Calvary would be heroic and unflinching. But the sad truth is that most of us die by the inch rather than the sword, and this we knew in our heart of hearts, and so many of us came to despise ourselves and give up. The legalization of same-sex “marriage” in Canada has decimated the social conservative movement.

The passage of the Civil Marriage Act was the formal registration of our collective divorce from natural law and sanity. It was a breathtaking example of political and cultural revolution. But at another level it was more than that. With the passage of the Civil Marriage Act we surrendering our right to teach our children about manhood and womanhood, husband and wife. Because the truth is, for the homosexual activists, all along it’s been about the children.

Virtually every homosexual is inordinately preoccupied with his own childhood. Childhood and puberty are the most dynamic periods of psycho-sexual development and all homosexuals puzzle over their sexuality. Unlike animals whose sexuality is purely instinctive, human sexuality is a combination of instinct and socialization. There are many contributors to a child’s socialization; family, peers, schools, culture, but all of these are overseen by the state that has the power of laws and punishments.

The sexual revolutionaries who lobbied for the legal recognition of same-sex “marriage” had already achieved every legal benefit or could have easily achieved every legal benefit enjoyed by heterosexual marriage through equal legal recognition of same-sex civil unions, but that would have fallen short of the prize most coveted, the power to deny heterosexuals any claim to distinctiveness and the right to indoctrinate children accordingly.

A revolution has taken place in Canada. It was a long time coming and all of its fruits have yet to ripen but the revolution has surely happened and the term for the new regime starts with a capital T.


  • Joe Bissonnette

    Joe Bissonnette teaches religion and philosophy at Assumption College School in Brantford, Ontario where he lives with his wife and their seven children. He has written for Catholic Insight, The Human Life Review, The Interim, The Catholic Register and The Toronto Star.

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