In 2005, the Liberal government of Canada changed the definition of marriage. At the time this was viewed by some as a “vicious attack” on the Mennonite tradition of marrying your own cousin. In recent years, some Mennonites have supported the Conservative Party because they upheld traditional Mennonite marriage, but at the Conservative policy convention last week, the party voted to remove their support for Mennonite marriages. This move upset many people in Mennonite communities across the country.
“It’s Adam Loewen and Eve Loewen,” explained Elmer R. Stoesz of Blumenort, “not Adam Loewen and Eve Smith.”
Same-grandparent marriage has been a long-standing tradition among the Mennonites, and any changes to Canadian law are seen as a threat to the Mennonite family.
“It really is an attack. There isn’t any other way of looking at it, quite frankly. If there are people out there who aren’t marrying their first cousins, it makes my own marriage to my Uncle’s daughter seem less legitimate,” explained Stoesz. “Soon people will start marrying their second cousins, and third cousins, and fourth cousins, and then suddenly people won’t be marrying their own frintschoft at all.”
With no remaining political party who supports their cause, many Mennonites are feeling alone and alienated from Canadian society, as the sole torchbearers of traditional cousin-marriage.
“It’s really sad that the rest of the population isn’t with us, but the Bible makes it very clear,” said Stoesz. “It’s one man, one cousin, for life.”