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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriages in Canada

2005-JUL-19 & 20: Bill C-38 "Civil Marriage Act"
Third Reading debate in the Senate continues.

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Earlier developments are described in another essay

In this essay, "SSM" means "same-sex marriage." "MP" means Member of Parliament.

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Third reading debate in the Senate:

bullet2005-JUL-19: Part-way through the evening, the Senators had rejected Senator Banks' sub-amendment, and Senator Kinsella's amendment to Bill C-38. Both were rejected by a vote of 46 to 24.

Debate resumed on the motion for third reading of C-38.
bulletSenator Jerahmiel S. Grafstein drew a parallel between debates on SSM and those on capital punishment. He suggested that public opinion is shifting. Debate in homes and religious institutions continues and "...goes to the heart of the nature of the fundamental building block of our society the family....This bill is about equality of rights to all citizens under the rule of law." He reviewed his own thought processes which led up to support for C-38:
bulletMarriage is not based on procreation. About 20% of all Canadian marriages are childless.

bulletThere is no scientific evidence that SSM is any less "good" than opposite-sex marriage.

bulletThere is no evidence that children brought up in a SSM are adversely affected. "The Canadian Psychological Association concluded that all available scientific evidence indicates that children of gay or lesbian parents, of single-sex families, do not differ significantly from children with heterosexual parents with regard to psychological and gender development and identity. The association concluded that all children deserve to feel that society accepts and recognizes their families, and children of same-sex couples are no exception to this principle."

bulletThe Bill and the Canadian Constitution protects clergy who refuse to marry same-sex couples because of their religious beliefs.

bulletThe argument that SSM is against natural law is invalid. Natural law evolves as does common law. For example, polygamy and unequal treatment of women was once acceptable under natural law. The still are in some areas of the world. "...Natural law is sometimes in the eye of the beholder."

bulletThe problem of marriage commissioners who refuse to marry same-sex couples is on the way to resolution.

bulletWithout C-38 signed into law:
bulletSame-sex couple can marry in one jurisdiction but not have their marriage recognized when they move to another. This violates the couple's mobility rights.

bulletCouples in different areas of Canada are treated differently. "The thesis of Canadian citizenship is based on equal protection under the law."
bulletThe fear that SSM could lead to polygamy is without merit because C-38 specifically restricts marriage to two persons. Polygamy, bigamy, and incest will continue to be criminal acts.

bulletThe principle of separation of religion and state is established by tradition in Canada. But some religious institutions that are opposed to SSM want the government to violate the principle: " suppressing equality of treatment to all citizens."


He commented on the international impact of C-38. He commented:

"....human and minority groups in many member states [of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)] struggle daily to climb up their individual slippery slopes to the fertile fields of equality, with which we are blessed, whether in respect of race, religion or gender. All gaze a watchful eye for sustenance for emerging rights from Canada as an exemplar for leadership and as a template of equality in the 21st century."

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bulletSenator Anne Cools is strongly opposed to C-38. She described it "act of constitutional demolition and vandalism." She characterized debates by Senators supporting C-38 as: "...absolute rubbish. I have never heard such babble in my life."

She raised many points:
bullet"Liberals here do not want to separate church from state; they want to separate Canadians from their religions. There is quite a difference."

bullet"All marriages are both civil and religious at the same time."

bulletThe term "draft bill" which was used to refer to the government's proposed legislation on SSM submitted to the Supreme Court is "an attempt to mislead and to deceive." A bill is, by definition, a statute in draft. There is no such thing as a draft of a draft act.

bullet"In the entire debate, I have not heard a single parliamentary authority cited."

bulletThe Supreme Court acted improperly when it received and answered questions on the draft version of C-38.

She provided many historical quotations of the roles of Parliament and the courts.

bulletSenator Lorna Milne has supported C-38 and found that many witnesses at the Standing Senate Committee hearings reinforced her decision:
bulletCardinal Ouellet, the Roman Catholic Primate of Canada, implied that the church would refuse to baptize children of same-sex parents. She recommended that he read Luke 18:16 which records Jesus' words "Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the Kingdom of God."

bulletFormer Deputy Minister of Finance, Stanley Hartt said that the debate is: '.. being done for political purposes so that people can feel better about the outcome' as if there were no rights issues involved.

bulletPhillip Horgan, President of the Catholic Civil Rights League, said that anyone who questioned the Roman Catholic Church's beliefs on SSM was not "an authentic Catholic." She concluded: "He apparently believes that Catholic Canadians should not have the ability to speak for themselves."

bulletMs. Diz Dichmont, former Newfoundland marriage commissioner said: "It makes my blood run cold and it seems that we are now beginning to regress rather than progress in many ways in this country as we change our mores and even legislation to accede to minority pressures... Are we seeking to be avant-garde, or are we, in fact, being retro-garde [sic]?.....Gay activism historically started in Germany during Hitler's regime and under the umbrella of the disco scene. It has grown in intensity and even in violence throughout the years..." Senator Milne suggests that the move to make marriage more inclusive is avant-garde and warms her heart. She pointed out that one function of the Nazi Holocaust was to exterminate homosexuals. She said: "homosexuals, by and large, are not perpetrators of violence; they have been its victims for centuries." 1

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This topic continues in the next essay

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Related essays on this web site:


Positive reactions to the passage of C-38


Negative reactions


Subsequent developments during 2005

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References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Debates of the Senate (Hansard)," Volume 142, Issue 84, 2005-JUL-19, at:

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 Home page > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > Canada > here

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Copyright 2005 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2013-JUL-07
Author: B.A. Robinson

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