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Social Sciences
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Legalization of same-sex marriages in Canada (Term Paper Sample)


1) Students will first select an activity which is (or was at some time) either legal or illegal somewhere in the world. Thus, students are focussing on a specific activity in a specific place (be it a country, province, state, or city). For example, it cannot simply be murder or drug use; rather it must be first degree murder in Canada, or cannabis possession in Colorado, etc. However, if a student chooses an activity that is illegal, this specific activity MUST have been legal at one time in the place you are focussing on. And if students choose an activity that is legal, it must have been illegal at one time in the place you are focussing on. The focus of this paper will be on HOW and WHY the specific LAW changed. Examples of activities in which a change in law has occurred recently around the world include cannabis possession and sale, prostitution, pornography, gambling, texting while driving, driving while talking on a mobile phone, disclosure of nutrition information on restaurant menus, selling extra-large sugar drinks, smoking in cars with children, euthanasia, and same sex marriage. Please do not feel in any way constrained to this list, however. There are many, many more examples. Students are not restricted to any specific place or time period, but rather they will likely find themselves limited based on what research and information is available to them. So it is important for students to start researching early as they might have to go through some potential topics that ultimately are not researchable with the resources at their disposal. Students will be expected to draw on a MINIMUM of SIX resources (THREE of which must be ACADEMIC) to describe with detailed evidence some of the various social, political, economic, scientific, historical, geographical, and/or cultural factors and circumstances that led to the once legal activity being prohibited by law. ACADEMIC sources include PEER-REVIEWED JOURNAL ARTICLES and BOOKS that are published by REPUTABLE ACADEMIC PUBLISHERS (i.e. University of Toronto Press, Ashgate, etc.). In terms of books, a good rule of thumb is that if it can be found in UTSC’s library, and if it is written by academics (not self-help or pop psychology-type books), then it is likely an acceptable scholarly book. The other THREE of the SIX sources focussing on your topic can be NON-ACADEMIC sources that include newspaper articles, government documents, reports released by non-government organisations, official websites, web pages, etc (but, academic sources are acceptable here too). At least ONE (but quite possibly it will have to be TWO) of these three sources should be a direct reference to the legislation in question (see more detail on this below). These three sources should be of reliable and reasonably reputable origin (i.e. not Wikipedia, yahoo, blogs, propaganda, etc.). Please see me if you need clarification with any specific sources. 2) Then, students will draw on course materials (course readings) and/or outside ACADEMIC sources (at least FOUR) to formulate their OWN social constructionist ARGUMENT for HOW and WHY the activity became illegal or legal. Lecture content will NOT count as a source for this assignment. If there is scholarly material from the lectures that is pertinent, students are encouraged to locate the academic sources noted in the lecture, and to reference these sources in their papers. EACH reading referenced from either the blackboard online readings or the supplementary reader can count as ONE source (i.e. the reader is not just ONE source). In sum, students are applying concepts, theories, discussions and research about the social construction of deviance and normality to their specific topic in order to EXPLAIN it. For example, can the change in law be attributed to moral panic about the activity? Was the change due to political motivations? Did news media coverage of the activity play a role? Can the change in law be explained by changes in cultural and religious attitudes? What role did scientific experts and police play in the change of law? How did definitions of your activity change? These are all topics that we will be exploring in the course through lectures and readings, and they are all related to the social construction of deviance and normality. Students will be expected to pay particular attention to social constructionist processes involved in the criminalisation of their chosen activity, the actors involved in these processes, and the actions they took.


Legalization of same-sex marriages in Canada
Course number
Instructor’s name
How the definition of same-sex marriage changed
Decriminalization of same-sex marriages in Canada is entailed in the 2005 Civil Marriage Act. Section 2 of the Civil Marriage Act outlines the fact that civil marriage is a union where two people relate exclusively. The Act also resulted into amendments of other pertinent instruments such as the Divorce Act, and the Income Tax Act on their definition of a spouse. Before 1969, marriage was exclusively reserved for one man and one woman. At that time, marriage and religion were largely inseparable and homosexuality between adults was a crime (Bowal & Campbell, 2007).
In 1982, section 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was enacted. It bore the duty to afford all Canadians equal protection without discrimination on different grounds including sex. This marked the beginning of advocacy for homosexuals’ rights because it was not expressly prohibited as a ground of discrimination. There followed numerous changes to existing policies to extend consideration of homosexual couples on pension, employment, social assistance, and taxation that heterosexual couples enjoyed. One notable amendment was made on the Federal Modernization and Obligations Act which changed sixty-eight statutes to afford both the unmarried heterosexual and homosexual couples equal rights. In the following years, some provinces such as Nova Scotia and Quebec allowed couples to register their civil unions (Bowal & Campbell, 2007).
There were several legal litigations against the state for refusal to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples in British Columbia. In 2003, a court in Ontario Canada issued the Halpern decision that considered the refusal to grant marriage licenses to same-sex partners as a violation of section 15 of the 1982 Charter. In June of 2003, the Supreme Court in Canada drafted a legislation that redefined civil marriage in gender neutral terms and protected the rights of religious groups that refused to solemnize same-sex marriages due to its conflict with their beliefs. The court also recommended that drafting a bill to address same-sex marriages was the sole duty of the federal parliament. In June 2005, the Civil Marriage Act passed with majority votes making Canada the third country globally to legalize same-sex marriages (Bowal & Campbell, 2007).
Can the change in law be attributed to moral panic about the activity?
The change in law may be attributed to a moral allegiance to the virtues of harmonious diversity that prevail in Canada. The tendency emanates from the historical endeavor to consolidate the British and French solitudes from which the country grew out of. The country also takes special cognizance of its indigenous people and the many immigrants that come from different parts of the globe. In this regard, the country is bound to uphold...
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