Special to The Interim

Hedy Fry, parliamentary secretary to the Canadian minister of citizenship and immigration, says same-sex “marriage,” as legalized by Bill C-38, is an issue of “equality rights.”

Fry is implying that the law would be used to force religious groups to perform same-sex “weddings” within their own congregations. She referred to a meeting of representatives of “Buddhists, Hindus, aboriginal communities, Anglicans, Catholics, Unitarians and United churches.” Fry said, “If the bill were to pass, it would allow them freedom of choice in religious institutions to choose to marry whom they wish. Currently, they do not have that choice in some religions.”

Stockwell Day, the Conservative MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla, warns about the legal implications of changing the definition of marriage. Day, quoting an analysis provided by the law firm Lang Michener, says, “This Parliament does not have the jurisdiction to protect religious freedoms, should this legislation pass. That answer is no. Members opposite need to know that.”

Day reiterated the concerns of religious leaders who said that there would be no protection for those who dissent. “Could churches be protected by Parliament? Does Parliament have the power to protect them should Bill C-38 pass?” Day asked. According to the legal experts, he said, “The answer is ‘no.’”

Quoting the assessment of three dozen legal experts in constitutional law, he said, “Parliament cannot protect religious groups or officials from the (legal) actions referred to above. If passed, Bill C-38 will be used by provincial governments and others to override the rights of conscience and religion of ordinary Canadians. Public officials will, in all likelihood, lose their employment, simply because of their conscientious convictions.”

Without offering any explanation for her statements, Fry claimed that Bill C-38 was about “protecting the rights of children.” She said, “This is an issue of equality and an issue of minority rights under the Charter. I have spoken clearly about the rights of children and the necessity of passing this bill if we are to give all children equal rights in this country.”

Pat O‚Brien, Liberal member for London-Fanshawe, Ont., decried the now-commonplace accusation that any opposition to changing the definition of marriage to include homosexual partnerings is “homophobic.”

“It is an unfortunate accusation to make. It is simply inaccurate in most cases. I believe most Canadians are not homophobic. They do know that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. It is in no way anti-gay or anti-lesbian to take that position.”