As a chaplain to the Knights of Columbus and a fourth degree member, I am proud to present to the readers of The Interim the following letter to all federal cabinet members. It is signed by the official members of the Ontario State Council of the Knights of Columbus and was sent to all federal cabinet ministers:

On behalf of the 57,000 members of the Knights of Columbus in Ontario, we wish to take this opportunity to express our strong opposition to Bill C-38.

In taking this position, we stand fully behind the position taken by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as the detailed objections raised by Archbishop Brendan O’Brien in his letter of Feb. 15, 2005 to Prime Minister Martin.

We have addressed this letter to each of the cabinet ministers, since we understand that you have been instructed to vote in favour of Bill C-38. We believe that every member of Parliament should be allowed to vote in accordance with his or her conscience, and with due regard for the views of their constituents, regardless of party affiliation or cabinet position.

In his speech to Parliament on Feb. 16, 2005, Prime Minister Martin restated his belief that extending marriage to same-sex couples is a matter of human rights. We strongly disagree. No national or international court has ever taken such a position.

We believe, with Bishop O’Brien, that, “Marriage as the union of a man and a woman is a unique and irreplaceable institution that merits government protection and social recognition” and that such protection is a fundamental matter of protecting the common good. The legitimate government interest in preventing discrimination against homosexuals does not imply that marriage, which Bishop O’Brien accurately describes as “a life-giving partnership between a man and a woman, which is essential to the survival of society,” cannot be reserved for opposite-sex couples.

Mr. Martin’s statement that religious organizations would not have to perform same-sex “marriages” against their beliefs provides little real assurance. Enactment of Bill C-38, along with a legislative history showing that its supporters regard it as a “human rights” matter, will provide plenty of encouragement to activists who wish to bring human rights complaints against religious officials who decline to perform same-sex “marriage.”

We urge you in the strongest possible way to honour the wishes of your constituents and the people of Canada by voting against Bill C-38, and ask further that you take affirmative steps to protect traditional marriage in Canada.