has been days since the Government of Canada
of the Prime Minister
few nations, we have seen what great things can be accomplished by widely diverse
peoples in a society dedicated to freedom, tolerance and social harmony."
April 19, 2003
legacy is linked to same-sex marriage
was supposed to be one issue that Mr. Chrétien preferred to leave alone. Challenges
on the constitutional validity of denying marital status to homosexual couples
are on their way to the Supreme Court, leaving the federal government with an
option: permit the judges to once again make social policy, or pre-empt the court
with legislation. While most people expected the former option to prevail, Mr.
Chrétien is reportedly open to acting pre-emptively."
For better or worse, Prime Minister Chrétien's legacy will be linked to how he responds to Canadian couples who demand their Charter right to same-sex marriage. Last year, in landmark victories for equality, Ontario and Quebec courts confirmed that the federal government was unjustified in discriminating against gays and lesbians. The Liberal government's ongoing refusal to honour the freedom and equality rights guaranteed in the Charter will once again be tested this week in the Court of Appeal for Ontario (April 22 to 25).
We are confident that the court will once again validate the historic 2001 Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto marriages.
As the Prime Minister prepares to leave behind 40 years of political service, with 3 terms as leader of this country, Canadians are looking for the legacy of his political career. Mr. Chrétien's actions, or inactions, will contribute to whether future generations see him as a champion of equality and a defender of our Charter, or someone who tarnished Canada's reputation for justice and human rights. It is not too late for the Prime Minister to do what is right and fair.
The prime minister's indecision on this issue first emerged when we invited him to attend our January 14, 2001 wedding. The Prime Minister's office (PMO) responded with an email, asking for a fax number to send us a letter on official stationary. The note wished us health and happiness and stated "the Prime Minister sends his very best wishes for a joyful wedding day". However, when asked to confirm the message, the PMO office issued a second letter that replaced the "best wishes" with an exclusionary definition of marriage.
As victories for equal marriage accumulate in court, the prime minister's position may change, especially in light of his rumoured hopes to burnish his image and leave behind a valued Prime Ministerial mark on the nation.
"What better for a Liberal looking to carve his place in history than one of Canada's last remaining human rights battles?," Pundit Magazine wrote in an article called Chrétien's Conservatism Costs Him (August 2, 2002). "How better to climb a bit closer to Pierre Trudeau in the history books than by championing a cause that he first advanced as Justice Minister thirty-five years ago?"
Some have questioned whether the Prime Minister's allegiance is with the Vatican (an institution that has ordered Catholic politicans to impose anti-gay religious dogma in state laws) rather than with Canada's rights and freedoms. In essence, some believe that the Prime Minister has violated the separation between church and state, which is why we continue to be in court fighting for our freedom.
"Expecting Chrétien to come down on the side of gay marriage is like expecting a pig to fly. Neither will," a reader wrote in response to the Pundit article. "The pig does not have wings and Chrétien's belief in Catholicism will never permit him to agree to gay marriages."
We hope that such opinions of Mr. Chrétien will prove to be incorrect. Canada's Prime Minister must demonstrate that he stands for all Canadians and save our beloved Charter from becoming meaningless under his watch.
We hope, and pray, that Mr. Chrétien will see our case as a golden opportunity. It is his chance to distinguish himself as a Prime Minister, and world leader, who walked the talk of human rights at a time when so many others merely mouthed the words for expediency and convenience.