is appalling to me that this document
of approximately 3,000 words in providing advice on how Christians should treat
homosexuals never once uses the word love." Rev. Dr.
27, 2002 to April 30, 2003, the Standing Committee held a total of 27 hearings
on the issue of same-sex marriage, involving 15 hearings in Ottawa and 12 in other
communities across Canada, namely Vancouver, Edmonton, Moose Jaw, Steinbach, Halifax,
Sussex, Sudbury, two in Toronto, two in Montreal and Iqaluit. In total, the Committee
heard from 467 witnesses. The majority of witnesses (274 or 59%) favoured extending
equal marriage rights to same-sex couples. 166 witnesses or 35.5% opposed." Marlene
Jennings, M.P., Affidavit
decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal has not left Parliament with a discretion
[to] do anything other than accept the Court of Appeal's redefinition of marriage.
As a Parliamentarian, I am under an obligation to defend the jurisdiction of Parliament
to choose the best policy solution to social problems of this nature," wrote
Vic Toews, an Alliance party member of parliament, in his affidavit in support
of the appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.
believe that it is possible to develop a legislative regime that is fully constitutional
and maintains the traditional conception of marriage as between one man and one
woman, and provides institutional recognition for same-sex committed partnerships,"
as Toews has admitted in the past (see side bar quotation), this really comes
down to a binary situation of whether or not same-sex couples enjoy full rights
as Canadians protected by the Charter. The concept of separate but equal
has been discredited and rejected by the courts. An offensive law has been revised
to recognize same-sex marriage.
McKay, a Liberal M.P. wants the "full factual record" that a redundant
Supreme Court of Canada case would provide. But his real purpose, like Toews,
is to hold onto old visions of marriage apartheid.
selling marriage apartheid
my discussions with other Parliamentarians," McKay swore in his affidavit,
"I believe that many members of Parliament (like myself) are opposed to the
draft bill and to same-sex marriage and believe that Parliament can, in a fully
constitutional manner, respond legislatively to the needs of same-sex couples
for institutional recognition (perhaps through a civil union or domestic partnership
registry) without having to alter the meaning of marriage for everyone."
Halpern v. Canada is appealed, I believe that an opportunity will be lost
for Parliament to continue the process of discussion to a fruitful resolution.
This is a decisive and contentious issue among Canadians that requires a careful
legislative review and a compromise that is politically and socially acceptable
to Canadians and is respectful of all Canadians' constitutional rights."
swore Derek Lee (another Liberal M.P.) in his affidavit against equal marriage.
believe that the Court of Appeal erred," maintained Lee, "that there
are constitutionally acceptable legislative alternatives that Parliament could
have chosen (and that remain available to it) that would provide institutional
support for committed same-sex relationships, and at the same
time respect the needs of other Canadians to maintain marriage as a heterosexual
of these members of parliament seem to believe that extending equal marriage rights
to same-sex couples will somehow take something away from the marriage of opposite-sex
couples. Similar arguments were used by racists who wished to maintain antimiscegenation
provinces confused or just reluctant?
am concerned that absent an appeal of the Ontario Court of Appeal decision, it
is uncertain what the common law with respect to marriage is in jurisdictions
outside of Ontario," said Lee. "The Minister
of Justice has called on the provinces to solemnize same-sex marriage in the
absence of federal legislation. To date, no province has done so, without a court
order. In the Canadian constitutional order, it should not be [the] case that
the decision of a provincial appellate court can create such uncertainty throughout
Court of Appeal for Ontario has not created uncertainty. Politicians against equal
marriage and meddlers like those who continue to fight this losing battle in the
courts are the ones creating the confusion. While other provinces may be too timid
to comply with the new common law definition of marriage, without federal legislation
to back it up, others already living under the new law continue exercising their
rights with growing support from others. Time marches on, and lives are being
built together under the new marriage laws.
is my opinion that further hearings, by the Committee or the court, would be unnecessary
and time-consuming," Liberal M.P. Marlene Jennings wrote in response to the
M.P.'s who were against equal marriage. "It is unlikely that there is any
important evidence that was left outside the scope of the Committee's or court's
why grasp at an appeal?
believe that the desire of these deponents to continue the Committee's work in
search of alternatives to marriage is really an attempt to delay the implementation
of same-sex marriage in the hopes that popular support for it will wane or that
a change leadership of the Liberal Party will afford them better prospects of
denying same-sex marriage, even if against the will of the majority of Canadians,
" wrote Svend Robinson in his affidavit supporting equal marriage.
our part, at MCCT [Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto] we continued to marry
people pursuant to the publication of banns," Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes said
in an affidavit filed in response to the Interfaith Coalition's request for an
appeal. "We made no secret of our activities in this regard, and no one took
any legal action against us to try to stop us. Since January
of 2001, we have married over 34 same sex couples at MCCT, and we have been
booked for weddings at a rate of 1-2 per week ever since."
Hawkes responded directly to the affront of an effort to impose beliefs on others.
live in a diverse secular society where no one's religious beliefs should be imposed
on others, and where all should be free to hold and practice their private beliefs.
The notion that same sex marriage is a singular example of departing from traditional
religious beliefs in our law is disingenuous. In a pluralistic society, people
of faith must make accommodations every day. Traditional Catholics must live with
the availability of abortion and divorce for those who do not share their beliefs.
Fundamentalist Muslims must live with the fact that Shari'ah is not the law of
the land, so that polygamy is not possible and homosexuals are not outlawed. Orthodox
Jews must live with the fact that non-kosher food is sold and consumed every day
all around them. Old Order Mennonites may drive horse-drawn buggies, but they
must share the road with others driving cars. Even fundamentalist Protestants
have had to accommodate themselves to people working on Sundays."
Interfaith Coalition represent extremists. Other faith communities, beyond MCCT,
have also voiced support for equal marriage, including the United Church, Canada's
largest Protestant denomination.
question of recognition of same-sex unions was subject to a heated debate within
our Church over the past years. However, an increasing majority of our congregations
support the idea of blessing same-sex unions," wrote Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo
in her affidavit. "I personally blessed a number of same-sex unions, and
now same-sex marriages. I agree that freedom of religion includes the right of
the churches to marry two individuals with accordance to its own beliefs and rituals.
In our Church, which is fairly decentralized, despite the official position favouring
same-sex unions, I am aware that some clergy continue to decline to bless same-sex
unions. I am satisfied that such clergy will be protected under the law and most
importantly under the freedom of religion guarantees of the Canadian Charter of
therefore strongly support the position of the Government of Canada not to appeal
the decisions of the Ontario and B.C. Courts of Appeal and instead propose a legislation
that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. I also believe that the
Reference to the Supreme Court is the most appropriate way of dealing with the
issue of freedom of religion in the context of the proposed legislation on same-sex
marriage ... I therefore oppose the leave to appeal to the Supreme Court by other
religious groups as it is an unnecessary step duplicating the efforts of the Government
to resolve the issue of freedom of religion by the way of the Bill and the Reference."
Church is working to reconcile their faith with equal marriage. Rev. Sara Boyles
issued an affidavit in solidarity with the victory in Canada's courts.
am a priest within the Anglican Church of Canada, in the Diocese of Toronto. Our
parish welcomed the decisions of the Ontario Court of Appeal, British Columbia
Court of Appeal and Quebec Superior Court reformulating the common law definition
of marriage as the voluntary union for life of two persons with the exclusion
of all others."
is my opinion that freedom of religion, as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter
of Rights, requires that a definition of marriage be extended to same-sex unions,"
wrote Mary Bennett, executive director of the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC),
in her affidavit supporting equal marriage. "Our ministers and lay chaplains
are performing same-sex marriages in B.C. and Ontario. Since 1974, we have performed
holy unions of same-sex couples. Unitarian ministers and lay chaplains in B.C.
and Ontario have spoken out on this issue in the media. In Ontario alone, they
have booked or performed over 100 same-sex marriages."
one forced to perform a marriage against beliefs
Dr. Brent Hawkes directly confronted a fear flamed by opponents of equal marriage:
someone will be forced to perform a marriage that offends their religious beliefs.
can only be three explanations for these continued allegations that clergy are
imperiled by the expanded definition of marriage:
There remain some who are ignorant of the law on the point, which seems unlikely
to me at this juncture;
Some people hold an irrational but sincere belief that this legal threat exists
in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, or
This argument is advanced dishonestly by those who do not sincerely hold this
belief as a "scare tactic" to whip up religious opposition to our cause.
recall that similar dire predictions were made following M v H by religious
conservatives and no such coercion happened. Similar allegations are being made
by them about proposed hate crimes legislation."
agree that freedom of religion includes the right of the churches to marry two
individuals with accordance to its own beliefs and rituals," wrote Tim Ryan,
Catholic Priest in support of equal marriage. "I also strongly also believe
(and am willing to undertake to support the position) that no church or other
religious authority will be forced to conduct marriages ceremonies that are not
in conformity with its beliefs and rituals."
strongly also believe that no church or other religious authority will be forced
to conduct marriages ceremonies that are not in conformity with its beliefs and
rituals because such interpretation of new definition of marriage would violate
freedom of religion and go afoul Canadian jurisprudence," wrote Mary Bennett,
CUC. "All clergy have the right to determine the criteria on which they will
agree to marry two individuals and we support that right for ourselves and others."
Activism - Conspiracy theories
Stephen Harper's claim to the contrary, the outcome of our Ontario marriage hearing
the long struggle for equality for our community, we have frequently heard the
refrain of judicial activism from social and religious conservatives. Now that
the constitutional dialogue has resulted in a decision by Parliament to act, these
same judicial critics now express dissatisfaction with the legislative process
and wish to artificially prolong the judicial process at our expense. In truth,
they simply wish our community to be denied equality and for the law to reflect
their religious beliefs, and nothing less will satisfy them. They do not wish
to be heard, they wish to be obeyed." Brent Hawkes
Christians were heard
Interfaith Coalition against equal marriage has nothing new to say, and they've
had their chance to say it.
we disagree fundamentally with the Coalition, we acknowledged they had a right
to be heard," wrote Rev. Hawkes. "They filed evidence and were represented
by very able counsel during the proceedings. When we consented to intervener status,
it was for the purpose of allowing the voices of these groups to be heard within
the context of our litigation. Our claim was against the governments, not against
them. We did not understand them to be seeking any independent right to appeal
any decision in our favour. If they had sought such power, we would have opposed
it most strenuously. It was very painful to read some of the things said by these
parties, and frustrating to have them participating in our litigation, but we
believed it was the right thing to do to give them a voice. A voice, not control
over the litigation. We did not believe that they had the right to hijack our
Interfaith Coalition against equal marriage has also attempted to hijack our legislation
through political actions, most recently with directives issued from the Catholic
Church here in Canada, and from abroad in the Vatican. But their opposition is
litigation and legislation
am well aware of the Vatican's recent pronouncement against the legal recognition
of same-sex marriage and the fact that the Catholic Bishops are seeking to pursue
this appeal. As with various issues touching on matters of sex and sexuality many
Canadian Catholics do not share the views of the hierarchy, including myself."
wrote Tim Ryan, a Catholic Priest, in his affidavit supporting equal marriage.
Vatican document also directs
Catholic politicians, such as the Attorney General of Canada and the Prime Minister,
to vote against laws granting legal recognition to same sex couples," Rev.
Hawkes reminded the court in his affidavit. "Calgary Bishop Fred Henry publicly
criticized the Prime Minister, Mr. Chrétien, saying his support for same sex marriage
would cause him 'to put at risk his eternal salvation. I pray for the Prime
Minister because I think his eternal salvation is in jeopardy. He is making a
morally grave error and he's not being accountable to God.'
is my understanding that the Bishop of Ottawa privately issued a similar admonition
to the Prime Minister. In my view, these are expressions of hatred that should
not be tolerated in our society. However, I do believe that making legitimate
attempts to influence members of Parliament is an acceptable means of achieving
one's political objectives in a democracy. Despite their attempt to portray themselves
as a vulnerable minority, the members of the Coalition have considerable influence
including the power to threaten the Prime Minister himself with excommunication
and eternal damnation. I have no such influence."