Anything but sticking up for traditional marriage is on the table


Courts in Ontario and Quebec have recently ruled that the exclusive man-woman definition of marriage discriminates against homosexuals. Homosexual activists brought suits in three provinces, each arguing a different aspect of constitutional law on the subject. Prior to the Ontario and Quebec rulings, a court in British Columbia upheld marriage as a constitutionally recognized institution.

The handful of homosexual activists behind the legal challenges have used the courts to achieve political objectives that lack majority support. Court rulings apply pressure to the legislatures and grant some moral authority to actions taken there.

In the light of these recent decisions, Justice Minister Martin Cauchon has made it clear that he favours redefining marriage. As a cabinet minister, his words are also the words of Prime Minister Chretien and the rest of the cabinet, as the cabinet “speaks with one voice.” While that view is also the majority view among Liberal MPs, it is a view far from popular among the majority of the voting Canadian public.

Unfortunately for Cauchon, the courts recognize that redefining such a fundamentally important institution has severe political consequences, and have effectively thrown the decision back to Parliament, insisting that Parliament act to change the law within a two-year time frame. While a series of appeals could potentially delay any ultimate legal changes until after the next election (an eventuality that Liberals have certainly planned for), the Liberals recognize that public opinion must be softened up before any such change will be accepted.

Therefore the justice minister has launched a “public consultation.” The project includes a short series of hearings before the Justice Committee and the release of a discussion paper on marriage, about which the general public has been invited to comment. While many may view Cauchon’s consultation as an exercise in futility given the minister’s already stated preference for homosexual “marriage,” there is, nonetheless, an opportunity for pro-family Canadians to use this debate to put forward arguments and positions in favour of marriage that the media rarely reports.

The discussion paper itself lays out three possible options for change. The first is for Parliament to legislate a new form of legal relationship between homosexuals called a “domestic partnership” or “civil union.” Homosexual activists have already made clear that they would view such status as inferior to marriage and would continue to sue for so-called “equality.”

The second proposal for change is to redefine marriage in federal legislation so homosexuals would then have the legal capacity to marry. While this is the stated goal of the activists, such an arbitrary change will be guaranteed to lead to even more bizarre demands for arbitrary changes (changes that the courts will undoubtedly agree to over time), such as a person wants to marry multiple partners and so on. This change is the most politically dangerous course to chart and may be avoided by politicians who wish to remain in office.

The third change contemplated is to split the religious and civil components of marriage apart, leaving the churches to marry couples and having the government register any voluntary relationship, heterosexual or homosexual, for the purposes of benefits and legal obligations.

While on the surface such a change may seem to accommodate the need for autonomy on the part of the churches, the change may be untenable for orthodox institutions such as the Catholic Church. As the discussion paper admits, there is a possibility with such changes that churches will eventually be forced to marry homosexuals or face severe penalties under anti-discrimination laws.

In addition, the separation of the religious and legal components of marriage is yet another instance of the nasty Canadian secularist crowd forcing further separation of “church and state” to the detriment of people of faith.

Catholic Insight editor Fr. Alphonse de Valk says it would be a mistake for government to get out of regulating marriage. “Marriage is instituted by God as a the basis of society. It is the duty of the state to support families above all. It is critical for economic, social and cultural reasons,” he told The Interim.

“When government refuses to recognize what is going on in relationships, then you start to run into problems, such as incest. That leads to disease and mental disturbance in future generations,” he said.

De Valk says homosexual “marriage” will lead to disaster. “It will be a free-for-all. ‘Sexual orientation’ has never been defined. It will be interpreted over time to include everything under the sun: polygamy, bestiality, bisexuals and cross-dressers. Paganism will be openly on display, in particular witchcraft and the occult.”

Guidelines for contributing to the debate on marriage

Federal Justice Minister Martin Cauchon’s discussion paper on marriage is an important opportunity for pro-family Canadians to contribute wisdom and apply political pressure to this debate. The discussion paper itself is found on the justice minister’s website at canada.justice.gc.ca or you may obtain it from your local member of Parliament.

Interim readers can contribute to this debate by writing the Minister of Justice at Room 100, 284 Wellington Street, Ottawa K1A 0H8, or by e-mailing marriage@justice.gc.ca.

However, it is even more important to direct your concerns to your local MP. Please send a copy of your correspondence to your MP and ask that he or she defend marriage in law.

For those unsure what to write, remember that marriage is an exclusive institution formed voluntarily between one man and one woman. This union, holy and ordained by God, produces three significant goods described by Saint Augustine 1,600 years ago: fides, proles, et sacrementum. They are the sacrificial love of the couple, the procreation of children, and, because of the social stability it brings, the undergirding of society. Homosexual liaisons, as counterfeits to marriage, bring no stability, produce no children and involve no sacrifice.

Brian Rushfeldt, executive director of the Canada Family Action Coalition, told The Interim, “I don’t think Canadians are fully aware of what a disaster homosexual ‘marriage’ would be. And at this point in the debate, I’m not convinced that the Canadian public will hold Parliament accountable on this question.”

Even so, Rushfeldt says, pro-family Canadians must use every opportunity to influence the debate. “Write to the justice minister and to your own MP. It is important for them to hear the truth about marriage.”

He remains hopeful that pro-family pressure can make the difference. “We’ve done it before on this issue, with petitions, phone calls and letters in a grassroots campaign. But it is a bigger fight this time,” Rushfeldt said. – Peter Stock