In an interim ruling May 10, Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert MacKinnon ruled that a Catholic School and the Catholic school board could not forbid a 17-year-old male student from bringing his homosexual “boyfriend” to the school prom. The prom was held that night and the injunction ruling was expedited so as to allow Marc and his “boyfriend” to attend the prom. The date of the ruling did not afford the school the opportunity to appeal the ruling prior to the prom.
The Catholic Civil Rights League said in a release that it is “astounded and fearful of the decision.” It is especially concerned that the court has acknowledged that the school’s decision, one recognized as an authentically Catholic position by its bishop, can be subject to scrutiny as being “not the only Catholic position” and subject to concerns as to whether it is the view of the majority.
League president Thomas Langan said, “It’s clear that this is yet another direct attack on Catholic rights and religious freedoms. As a measure of damage to religious freedom in Canada, it is devastating. The court is sending the message that it knows better than Catholics, and their bishops, what they can and can’t believe in. The judge is sending the message to Catholic students and their parents that the values of the Charter trump the teachings of your faith within your Catholic schools.”
In the ruling McKinnon suggests that he would have ordered the school to continue with the prom had they chosen to cancel it based on his decision. “The defendants have undertaken to the court not to cancel the prom in the event that I granted the plaintiff’s request relief and I accordingly make no further order.” Further, the judge indicated that the school and board had for some reason agreed to cover the costs of the trial.
Marc Hall, the complainant and Oshawa student from Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic high school, attended the prom with his 21-year-old “boyfriend” Jean-Paul Dumond. Hall was urged by the homosexual activist lobby to take on the case. Canada’s foremost homosexual activist group EGALE held a gala for Hall in Ottawa and homosexual activist MPP George Smitherman (Lib, Toronto Centre-Rosedale) acted as Hall’s litigation guardian. Hall was made into an international poster child for the homosexual activist movement with international media attention and even appearances on homosexual television programs including an upcoming guest appearance on the show Queer as Folk.
Non-Catholics have also recognized the threat this ruling brings to religious freedom. Evangelical pastor and human rights activist, Ken Campbell, has launched a national petition-signing drive calling on both Ontario and federal members of their respective Parliaments, to invoke at once the Charter’s “notwithstanding clause” to nullify the devastating consequences to Canadian democracy of the court decision.
Broadcaster Michael Coren says that as a result of the court decision, “pluralism has died at the hands of intolerant people” and that the court has in effect said that “Roman Catholics no longer have a right to be Roman Catholic.” Coren also noted, however, that the Catholic defence lawyers did not do a good job and that there will have to be a more competent defence at the upcoming trial.Although Hall won the injunction ruling, the case must still go to trial and both sides have said they are willing if necessary to take the case to the Supreme Court of Canada. An apt summary of the ruling was put forward by CCRL’s Dr. Langan: “The judge has imposed homosexual conduct into a Catholic institution.”