The 2016 census has revealed that 72,880 couples have set up housekeeping.
Of course, we must remember that this number may be higher as not everyone will admit that he/she is living in a same-sex relationship, but will admit to sharing living facilities. Taking that into consideration, the number would rise dramatically. However, the true number may never be known. The important fact to remember is that the number of same-sex families is on the rise, not only in Canada but around the globe.
This is fantastic news and a strong indication of acceptance in today’s society, as well as the change in how families are perceived. The traditional family nucleus has changed during the past years and now we also find one parent and childless families more than ever before. Instead of a mom and dad we see dad and dad, or mom and mom. The census concluded that one-third of the couples are married.
The first same-sex marriage took place in Toronto in 2003 and as time went by other provinces followed suit. Marriages became more public with ceremonies and huge celebrations.
How did the general public react? Well, that depends on education, religious affiliation and other factors. Those with a university education are generally more in favour, whereas blue collar are more traditional and tend to reject the marriage idea and are LGBTQ intolerant.
Religious beliefs generally will prevent people from accepting that being a member of the LGBTQ community especially in regard to gay marriage is just a fact. Depending on the denomination, reaction to the marriage act changes was unfavourable in most instances. The Roman Catholic Church, Baptist-based churches and the religious right were extremely vocal about the concept and adoption of same-sex marriage. The Anglican Church and others may recognize LGBTQ existence and some equality, but not seriously.
The United Church of Canada went to the Supreme Court of Canada when Paul Martin’s government introduced a change to the marriage law and argued in favour of the change. Gay and lesbian couples may be married within this church should they chose to do so. Of course, we must remember that most get married in a civil ceremony, bypassing the churches.
Times are indeed changing and that gives us the opportunity to celebrate the positives such as the right to marry the person of our choice. Families are those who love, cherish, commit and respect, regardless of sexual orientation. We live in a world where this is non-existent in many cases, but we do, each of us, have a choice whether to love, or be indifferent. Either way, we must live according to our ideals in a manner that does not initiate hate and discontent affecting others.
So, when in a committed relationship, in marriage or otherwise, we take responsibility to care for others whom we dearly love. The number of same-sex couples matters not as much as the quality of those relationships. Is it necessary to legally marry or live in a common-law relationship? Just be grateful we live in a nation where this is possible. Same-sex families are on the rise, friends.
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Gerard Veldhoven is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears Wednesdays in The News.