From an external point of view, Canada and the United States are sometimes considered as pretty similar countries, concerning cultures and policies. However, these two countries can have very different behaviours on some issues. This is the case in the domain of gay and lesbian rights, and notably same-sex marriage. In spite of the proximity between both states, they do not have the same approach at all. Canada seems to be much more tolerant and ready to grant rights to the homosexual community, contrary to the United States which is more reluctant on the subject. Even if there has been progress in each country _ for example, homosexuality has been decriminalized _ a significant gap remains between Canadian and American gay rights policies. So what are the main differences and why do they exist?
[...] As a matter of fact, Jason Pierceson argues that Canada and the United States have different political cultures and it would be the reason for the different gay rights policies: past half decade has seen remarkable developments in Canada concerning gay right claims [ ] The differences stem primarily from the combination of a richer liberalism in Canadian political culture and a judiciary emboldened by a relatively recent constitutional change that elevated its right consciousness”. Indeed, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms only dates from 1982; it gave a new power to the courts so they have really used it because they know how important it is. [...]
[...] And Canada is now studying the question of parental rights for same-sex couples. There is an equal recognition of homosexual and heterosexual relationships, as we can see with the M v. H decision of the Supreme Court of Canada: exclusion of same-sex partners from the benefits of Section 29 promotes the view that individuals in same-sex relationships are less worthy of recognition and protection. Such exclusion perpetuates the disadvantages suffered by individuals in same-sex relationships and contributes to the erasure of their existence”. [...]
[...] On the contrary, “sexual minorities have a difficult time convincing the American polity to view their relationships with equal dignity and respect”; it seems that the gay right movement is not powerful enough and US federal courts are not responsive to gay right claims. There are some gay right activists, like the organization ONE, but they are a little ignored by the media and the politicians. In the Congress, the Democrats are, to some degree, supporters of the gay rights movement whereas the Republicans strongly oppose it. [...]
[...] Gay rights activists usually advocate in favour of several measures: “protection against discrimination in employment, housing and immigration; an expansion of hate crime laws specifically include sexual orientation; domestic partner benefits similar to those granted to married couples; the right to marry or to have their relationships recognized in civil unions and the ability to serve in the military without hiding their sexuality”. Basically, they want to have the same status that heterosexual couples and individuals, but because of their particularity, they also want a special protection from the law. [...]
[...] It may take longer than in Canada but as the United States is a democracy, it will have to grant more rights to gays and lesbians, sooner or later. Bibliography Jason PIERCESON, Courts, Liberalism and Rights: gay law and politics in the US and Canada. Temple University Press www.publicagenda.org www.cbc.ca www.infoplease.com www.egale.ca www.publicagenda.org: Gay rights: overview http://archives.cbc.ca: there's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation Jason PIERCESON , Courts liberalism and rights : gay law and politics in the US and Canada. Temple University Press Page 19. ibid. Page 1. [...]
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