How would Bill C-38 be considered illiberal?


Bill C-38: The Civil Marriage Act

...codifies a definition of marriage for the first time in Canadian law, expanding on the traditional common-law understanding of civil marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. It defines civil marriage as "the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others" thus extending civil marriage to conjugal couples of the same sex.

I was thinking it could be considered illiberal because in section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms it talks about laws being enacted without discrimination, but this act is without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. So its discriminating on a certain group, but I am not totally sure that is the reason.



Posted 2013-12-07T19:56:00.047

Reputation: 113

Question was closed 2013-12-09T22:39:00.390

On what group is this law discriminating against? – Publius – 2013-12-07T20:31:31.557

Some people think that this law is giving the right to people for same-sex marriage, when it shouldn't be a human right. So, some people say that this law is discriminating against same-sex couples. – aman207 – 2013-12-07T23:03:52.943

1I don't follow. It's discriminating against homosexuals by granting everyone the same rights? – Publius – 2013-12-07T23:40:49.360

1"liberal" is a term used in many different and sometimes contradictory meanings, both in general and even in political discourse – user4012 – 2013-12-08T03:56:23.470

the lawful union of two persons discriminates against embryonic marriage – DepressedDaniel – 2017-02-27T03:04:58.543



Yes. Illiberal essentially means to be intolerant of others or restricting freedom of thought or behavior. From your quote of bill C-38, it does just that;

It defines civil marriage as "the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others"

This law doesn't recognize

  • plural marriages

  • interspecies marriages

It also probably doesn't recognize child marriages, although you can't tell from the wording of the bill.


Posted 2013-12-07T19:56:00.047

Reputation: 13 508

Though there's an argument to be made for illiberality on the basis of lack of recognition of plural marriages, I don't think interspecies and child marriages are really relevant. I don't know a definition of liberalism that extends all the same rights that adults have to children and animals. – Publius – 2013-12-09T06:41:26.923

@Avi, those definitions sound restricting in behavior. – user1873 – 2013-12-09T06:46:20.343

I don't think I offered a definition. – Publius – 2013-12-09T07:12:09.310

@Avi, "I don't know a definition of liberalism that extends all the same rights that adults have to children and animals." I took that to mean that you do know a definition of liberalism. That definition, you note,doesn't believe in extending all the same rights to all people. Hence, that definition of liberal is "restricting [in] freedom of thought or behavior." Perhaps I misunderstood. – user1873 – 2013-12-09T07:32:25.967

1animals aren't people. Legally speaking, I'm not sure children are either. It also doesn't extend rights to specks of dust swirling around in the crab nebula. And yet I don't think we'd consider a philosophy that doesn't extend rights to ionized hydrogen illiberal, so perhaps we should use operational definitions of liberalism. It doesn't make sense to consider any restriction of rights to anything in the universe not-liberal unless you come with with some operating definition of liberalism defined that way. – Publius – 2013-12-09T19:50:35.997

@Avi, "Legally speaking, I'm not sure children are [people] either." I am pretty sure children are people, legally speaking and otherwise. There are a multitude of SCOTUS decisions that revolve around children having constitutional rights (vietnam black arm-bands in school, locker searches, [....]. It doesn't matter anyway, you agree that not recognizing plural marriage isn't liberal. – user1873 – 2013-12-09T22:46:06.827

2I think there are reasonable definitions of liberalism that include plural marriages, but it should also be noted that children don't have nearly the same rights adults do, e.g. protection from unreasonable search (on school property), ability to sign contracts or otherwise consent, etc. – Publius – 2013-12-09T23:01:15.197