8.11.2007

here in canada, progress marches on

Canada will soon have a federal elected official who is married to a same-sex partner.
Liberal MP Scott Brison is set to become the first federal politician to tie the knot in a same-sex ceremony since MPs made gay marriage the law of the land just over two years ago.

Brison, 40, will marry partner Maxime St. Pierre next Saturday in his Kings-Hants riding, a bucolic corner of Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley.

He follows Ontario cabinet minister George Smitherman in smashing one of elected politics' last social taboos. Smitherman exchanged vows last week with partner Christopher Peloso at a northern Ontario resort.

Having a spouse has traditionally been considered an important asset on the hustings — but not one of the same sex.

Only in the last decade have many gay and lesbian politicians begun publicly acknowledging their sexual orientation.

Brison, a former Progressive Conservative party and Liberal party leadership hopeful, came out in 2002 and became Canada's first openly gay cabinet minister in 2004. But he's never defined his political persona around the issue and has closely guarded his private life.

In Brison's words, he is "not a gay politician, but a politician who happens to be gay."

After his engagement to St. Pierre was first reported by the Canadian Press in October 2005, Brison played down the social significance.

"I'm looking forward to the day when the idea of a gay or lesbian politician getting married is not a story at all," he said at the time.

Brison's office said Friday he was not available for an interview, and friends — some of them invited to the ceremony — were reluctant to discuss the wedding plans.

After the highly divisive debate on the same-sex marriage bill in June 2005 that saw more than two dozen Liberals join with the Conservative Opposition in voting against the legislation, Brison joked that then prime minister Paul Martin told him: "Well, after all I've been through on this Brison, you'd better get married."

Brison, in an autumn 2005 interview, made it clear he's been deeply affected by the steady reminders of young Canadians who tell him he has served as a role model, however reluctant.

"Sometimes when somebody can express something like that to you, that you've made a difference in terms of their confidence or their life — not based on something that you've really done, just by the fact that you're there — I don't think I can articulate how that makes me feel," said Brison.

This is progress! I look forward to the day when this is no longer newsworthy. Tomorrow, or maybe the day after.

2 comments:

Scott M. said...

Actually, I was surprised this resulted in a story. We've already had high-profile provincial politicians who are married to a same-sex partner, who really cares if it happens at another level of government? Do we have to march in with fanfare the first time someone gets hitched at every level of politics?

Sheesh. Enough backpatting.

Now if he was getting married to Brad Pitt... :)

L-girl said...

I don't see it as backpatting. Firsts are always noteworthy.

Plus, no one outside Canada will hear about anyone not on the federal level. Only an MP will make the news.