Nancy Nicol’s study of the politics behind adopting parental rights and civil union (Bill 84, June 7, 2002) for lesbians and gays in the province of Québec is a fascinating essay on the power of persuasion.
Shown largely through the eyes of two lesbian families (and a gay couple who took their denied marriage vows to court and won in 2004), the documentary is a skillful weave of interviews and archive footage (notably the opening sequence of police punching and dragging queer citizens at a 1990 sit-in) that only lacks a comment or two from one of the sperm donors to round out all aspects of how life begins for the offspring of same-sex partners.
As is so often the Canadian way when social change needs to occur, the maxim “don’t get mad, start an association” spawns groups of activists from Act Up to the Association of Lesbian Mothers. Tellingly, their brothers and sisters in the long-ago established women’s group and various unions are a little slow to welcome the newcomers on the lobbyists’ block.
Caught in the middle is former Minister of Justice Paul Bégin who charmingly recreates the political battle from an opulent room in the National Assembly. His recollections are effectively intercut with the issues and ideas from women who realized years ago (and far before the senior politician’s polls confirmed) that “Québec is heading elsewhere.”
With the adults at loggerheads, it falls to the children of their systemically disenfranchised parents to appear before the parliamentary committee and turn the tide of the public and their elected representatives’ opinion. Myths such as boys raised by lesbians will become gay are trounced and the abundance of love in a family isn’t diminished when the principals are of the same sex are presented openly and honestly: a rare occurrence in any governmental hearing. These heroic “kids” (one of which even “outs” her mom) manage to shame their elders into the reality that, once the labels are stripped away, we’re still all members of the human race.
And so the bill passes unanimously (no hypocrisy or crisis of faith when the court of public opinion has already assented), even as the back-in-society advocates cheer from the gallery. Then the ever-patient guys tie the knot (marvellously before the same city clerk who denied them in 1998) and, with more of Alyssa Ryvers’ well-balanced score leading the way, everyone heads over to a pride parade where the age-range is as diverse as the sexuality of the participants and their admirers.
Guess all of this means that gay bashing is dead and discrimination a distant memory in the workplace, religion and society at large. JWR