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Negative reactions to the "Civil Marriage Act" becoming law

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Sponsored link.

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Earlier developments are described in another essay.

Positive reactions are covered in another essay.

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

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Licenses refused; repeal of the law:

bulletMarriage licenses in Prince Edward Island (PEI): This is the only province other than Alberta that would not allow SSM before the law was proclaimed. Two days after the bill was signed into law, the province still was not able to make marriage licenses available to same-sex couples. Mildred Dover, the province's attorney general, said: "We were consulting about whether or not we could just scratch out the words husband and wife, bride and groom, and maybe just put spouse and spouse. We're not even sure what words you'd use." As of 2005-JUL-22, same-sex couples can apply for a marriage license in PEI, but they won't be able to receive one until the government figures out how to handle two people of the same sex. Dover said: "We'll do it as quickly as we can. We didn't prepare beforehand because, if we had prepared and changed all the wording, then people would say 'Why did you do that when it hadn't passed?' " Apparently, it never occurred to civil servants in the attorney general's office to decide on a course of action before the law was passed by the Senate, so that they would be ready when the need arose.

Jim Culbert wants to apply to be a Justice of the Peace so that he can marry same-sex couples in his tourist facility. He asked: "Why weren't they ready? They knew it was going to come. You can't tell people, 'Oops sorry, you'll have to go over to Nova Scotia or New Brunswick. We're not ready for you'." 1

bulletRepeal of the new SSM law: Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, has stated on numerous occasions that if his party wins an election in the future, he will introduce legislation that would forcibly divorce the many thousands of same-sex couples who have married since SSM became availalbe in 2003-JUN. A public opinion poll, conducted by Strategic Counsel for The Globe & Mail newspaper and the CTV network, in 2005-JUL shows that:
bullet55% of Canadian adults want the next government to leave the SSM law in place.
bullet39% would like to see the legislation repealed
bullet6% were uncertain or did not answer.

Tim Woolstencroft, spokesperson for Strategic Counsel said: "The Liberals have been successful in defining same-sex as an issue of rights, not as a moral issue. And that prevails. Rights will also win over other issues." 2

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Negative reactions to the new law:

bulletThe Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, said: "The distortion of God's plan for the family continues. In Canada, homosexual unions have become equal to marriage." Earlier, when the House of Commons approved C-38, the newspaper described it and the similar law in Spain as: "...violent attacks aimed at the natural family -- based on a union between a man and a woman." 3
bulletCharles McVety, a spokesman for two conservative Christian groups -- Defend Marriage Canada and president of Canada Christian College -- was one of the most vocal opponents of SSM. He said that he was: "very sad that the state has invaded the church, breached separation of church and state and redefined a religious word." He promised that he would help organize religious and social conservatives at the next federal election to oppose the re-election of any MPs who voted in favor of C-38. He said: "A new Parliament is going to readdress this issue and common sense ultimately will prevail." 4
bulletCanadian Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew said in a statement on 2005-JUL-24 that same-sex couples should be careful when traveling outside the country. He said: 
"We cannot take for granted that rights that are recognized in Canada will be recognized or accepted abroad. Attempting to enter a country as a same-sex married couple may result in refusal by local officials. The department also warns that, in certain countries, homosexual activity is illegal and if convicted a person could risk a fine, imprisonment, whipping, or even deportation and death. Gay couples are advised to be aware of their rights and also the laws of the country they are planning to visit. Whether visiting or moving to another country, Canadians should always take the time to learn about the laws of the country for which they are destined before leaving home."

Pettigrew's communications director, Sébastien Théberge, said that the warning was prompted partly by "concerns and questions from Canadians," and the recent passage of the legislation. He said: "Sometimes we take it for granted of what we have, and the kind of rights we have in Canada. But it's not everywhere."

Foreign Affairs recommends that same-sex married couples surf its consular affairs website at http://www.voyage.gc.ca to ensure they know their rights and the laws of the country they want to visit. 5

bulletAccording to CTV.ca, Amnesty International, citing 2001 information, says homosexual activity is illegal in countries such as Grenada, India, Iran, Trinidad, and Jamaica. Officials could refuse a same-sex married couple's visa. But they may allow them to enter as individuals.
bulletCardinal Marc Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec and primate of the Roman Catholic Church in Canada testified on JUL-16 that the church might refuse to baptize the children of same-sex parents. He told a Senate committee: "If I take the example of the ceremony of baptism, according to our canon law, we cannot accept the signatures of two fathers or two mothers as parents of an infant." This statement caused two senators to comment later on Cardinal Ouellet's statement during debate in the Senate:
bulletSenator Lorna Milne, a supporter of C-38, to recommended that Ouellet read a biblical verse in Luke 18:16. It records Jesus' words "Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the Kingdom of God."
bulletAnother supporter, Senator Marcel Prud'homme said that it broke his heart and troubled his mind. He said: "I asked myself, how can anyone turn away a child? A child is a gift from God. How can anyone deny a child baptism because his parents are not what we would like them to be?"
bulletWe received an angry E-mail commenting that the church was simply following a tradition found in many places in the Bible where the "sins" of the "guilty" are transferred to individuals who are innocent -- children in this case.

Oueliet continued his testimony: "Even our priests sometimes do not feel free to preach on homosexual and sexual morality because they are accused of homophobia. Once the state imposes a new standard affirming that homosexual behavior is a social good, those who oppose it for religious motives or motives of conscience will be considered as bigots, anti-gay and homophobes, and then risk prosecution."

Later, he told reporters that SSM had created an "insane atmosphere [in Canada]. It is not good for religious freedom if you cannot express your views and you cannot teach your beliefs." He explained the church's position that it is "false, wrong and offensive" to equate SSM with the opposite-sex couples who have married and "produced children to society. This is something a homosexual union cannot offer to society, and you would like Canadian society to accept that as justice itself? I have to say I find that completely irrational." [He may be unaware of the significant percentage of married lesbians who employ the same assisted childbirth techniques as are used by infertile opposite-sex couples -- in-vitro fertilization and artificial insemination -- to conceive children.]  6,7

bulletThe Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) said, with reference to SSM: "Catholics are to continue to oppose it, and to ensure that all provincial and territorial regulations on the solemnization of marriages provide full protection for freedom of conscience and religion, as guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms." They praised those Canadians of all faiths, and none, who worked for the defeat of C-38 and the protection of the "universal definition of marriage....Unfortunately, there are also some Catholics who have promoted the redefinition of marriage, including politicians who have voted in its favor. In this regard, they are in dissent from the teaching of the Church as enunciated by the Holy Father and the Bishops. This is a serious and problematic matter." They indicate that the debate "is far from over [and] will be a significant issue in the upcoming federal election.....Pastors and all the faithful can be assured there will be further reflections by this Conference and from individual Bishops to assist in the ongoing defense of marriage and family life." 8
bulletRalph Klein, premier of Alberta, said on 2005-JUL-20 that he is disappointed in the law, but will follow it. He said: "I believe I speak on behalf of the majority of Albertans. We strongly believe in the traditional definition of marriage." 9
bullet Canada Family Action Coalition (CFAC) issued a news release on JUL-19 saying, in part:
"Canada is politically sick and democratically dysfunctional, says Canada Family Action Coalition. Canada's Liberal 'ordered democracy' is very dictatorial bordering on fascism. 'The forced passage of the redefinition of marriage has destroyed any remaining illusions of democracy in this nation,' says Brian Rushfeldt, Executive Director of Canada Family Action Coalition (CFAC). The dictatorial imposition of homosexual marriage began with a few judges overriding Parliament. It continued with the Prime Minister ordering MPs to vote in favor of his 'values agenda.' It included a meaningless and stacked 'public hearing,' and has now ended with a Senate being ordered to pass Bill C-38. This government had no mandate - the majority of MPs ran last election on a pro-marriage platform. 'This is the most illegitimate legislation a Canadian government has ever passed,' said Rushfeldt. 'When legislation is illegitimate, then it is likely that most Canadians will continue to oppose it and even ignore it.'  Democratically, Canada is a sick nation. 'Redefining marriage is the worst possible resolution of the marriage battle; it has caused great division amongst Canadians. It is a disaster for Canadian children. And it has shown how 'democratically dysfunctional' the Liberals are," said Rushfeldt." 10
bulletEnshrine Marriage Canada wishes to prohibit same-sex couples from marrying through a constitutional amendment One-man, one-woman "Marriage, as it is now and has been historically understood, would then be enshrined in the highest law of the land." 12 They posted an essay by Douglas Farrow, an associate professor at McGill University. He plans to not recognize C-38 as a valid law; he recommends that everyone else follow suit. He writes:
"C-38 must not be recognized because it attacks and marginalizes the state’s main competitors, faith and the family, which provide a home for natural rights. It thus threatens to subjugate and absorb civil society itself. To recognize C-38 would be to hand over to the state what does not belong to it, and so to cultivate tyranny. That this handing over is demanded in the name of equality rights only makes it a more cynical exercise of illegitimate power." He recommends that clergy refuse to use the new unisex marriage license forms that provinces are providing for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples, even if this means that the couples they marry may not be legal."  11
bulletCampaign Life Coalition (CLC) issued a press release stating that the passage of the bill "reeks of dishonor, dishonesty, and public disdain....Usually, when a coup against a society is carried out it is done under the cover of darkness, with silent forces working surreptitiously. However, the legal 'redefinition' of marriage in Canada constitutes a public coup carried out in the full light of day and without any sense of shame." Jim Hughes, CLC's national president, said "The harm that will flow from this unnecessary legislation is incalculable, and may take generations to undo. Decent and fair-minded Canadians deplore this travesty of justice and should resolve to punish the perpetrators at the polls regardless of political party." Aidan Reid, Director of CLC's Public Affairs in Ottawa, lamented "A cabal of parliamentarians, encouraged by activist courts and abetted by a compliant media, has foisted a new tyranny on Canadians - one that tramples on the true nature of marriage, harms families and ignores the rights of children." 12
bulletReal Women of Canada issued an Action Alert which said that:
"...even though the contemptible Bill C-38 was passed this week, our efforts working against it have been worthwhile since they caused our forces to become organized and deeply engaged in the political process....Most of us were aware that we were mightily effective during the C-38 battle.....We were only defeated by the unscrupulous maneuvers of a corrupt and manipulative government which refused to allow the democratic process to function during the debate. There will be a federal election within the next six months - the results of which may lead to the repeal of Bill C-38. We can and will make a tremendous difference in the outcome of that election, providing we continue to work together, as we did on Bill C-38. We did impressive work undermining Bill C-38, and we can and will do impressive work during the 2006 federal election campaign with God's Grace. Let us pray and prepare ourselves for that battle. 13
bulletBenigno Blanco, Vice president of the Spanish Family Forum was interviewed by Fides News Service about the new SSM law in Canada. He said: "What is happening in many parts of the world is a syndrome of our day as absolute relativism establishes its reign in more and more consciences in the West and people no longer know the truth of things or even of their own human nature." 14
bulletUnited Families Canada issued a press release after C-38 was passed by the House of Commons. It said, in part:
" 'The relative closeness of the vote and the fact that public opinion polls continue to show a strong majority of Canadians oppose legalizing same- sex marriage prove that this issue has not been finally resolved,' noted the Hon. Dr. Grant Hill, P.C., Coordinator of United Families' Defend Marriage Canada Project. 'It is clear that C-38 would not have passed if the government had allowed a true free vote. It seems certain that we will be going to an election within a year and Canadians will remember the undemocratic way the government rammed this bill through for purely political reasons'."

" 'I predict that a number of MPs have ended their political careers as a result of voting for C-38,' Dr. Hill said. 'Others in marginal ridings will have especially interesting re-election campaigns if they choose to stand again'."

" 'The government has wrongly and inaccurately characterized this as a minority rights issue,' said Jill Cahoon, Executive Director of United Families Canada, 'when in fact it is not. The courts have not ultimately made that determination and the government has done the country a grave disservice by refusing to appeal lower court decisions to the Supreme Court to get a clear legal resolution. We will continue to educate Canadians on the facts and realities of the threats posed by radically altering the core meaning of marriage in our society and to work to have the will of the majority on this issue reflected in our laws'." 15
bulletThe Evangelical Fellowship of Canada's (EFC) president, Bruce Clemenger said:
"Today our government has chosen to redefine the foundational institution of our society. The consequences of this massive social experiment have not been fully examined or understood. With the passage of this legislation, the government has reconfigured marriage as a primarily adult-centered institution, and surrendered its ability to champion the rights of children to know and be raised by a mother and a father. By reason of faith, conscience, practice and teaching, the EFC cannot accept this new definition of marriage. Evangelical pastors and congregations will continue to celebrate and promote marriage as the exclusive and enduring union of one man and one woman. Further, we will continue to use the language of husband and wife and promote marriage as the real and symbolic affirmation of, and commitment to, the child's right to know and experience a mother and a father....The unique, distinct nature of heterosexual marriage is no longer recognized in our law and public policy, but we will continue to promote and teach the biblical understanding of marriage in our families and churches." 16
bulletThe EFC's director of law and public policy, Janet Epp Buckingham, said:
"There is little doubt that religious freedom will be compromised by this change in the definition of marriage. The amendments to the bill will provide some measure of protection for religious freedom, but they are not sufficient and cannot address the consequences of this legislation in areas of provincial responsibility. Despite the very real threats to freedom of conscience and religion, we will not allow fear of recrimination or prosecution to dictate what our faith community believes and teaches in this regard. Marriage was not created by the state but was recognized by the state for certain purposes. Therefore, it cannot be changed by the state....The EFC will continue to press for the freedom to dissent from the new legal definition of marriage and its consequences, and work to ensure the provinces and territories enact legislation to protect freedom of religion and conscience in this regard." 16
bulletVic Toews, a conservative MP who often spoke out against C-38 questioned the decision to have Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin of the Supreme Court of Canada sign the bill into law. The choice of the Chief Justice is standard procedure whenever the Governor General is unavailable. In this case, Governor General Clarkson was recovering from a medical operation. Toews was interviewed by the Ottawa Citizen, and said: "Given the controversy about this bill and the possible future role of the courts in this . . . someone might now suggest the court has compromised its independence by allowing a member of the judiciary to give royal assent." 17
bullet Focus on the Family Canada, a Fundamentalist Protestant advocacy agency, commented on the new law which legalizes SSM across the country. They quoted negative comments of Senators Leonard Gustafson, Anne Cools, and Vic Toews. They did not quote any positive comments. They wrote:

"The definition of marriage will continue to be a significant subject of public debate as the country draws closer to another federal election. There have been repeated calls from churches and organizations to remember how their MP voted on this issue when they head back to the ballot boxes. Other MPs have promised that this will be a subject that they will try to revisit in the future, with a truly free vote for all MPs."

"Focus on the Family Canada, along with many Canadians, is deeply grieved by Parliament's passing of the Civil Marriage Act. 'Our nation experienced a fundamental change with the passing of this legislation - a change that will most substantially impact our children and the generations that follow,' said Terence Rolston, president of Focus on the Family Canada.

"Yet, despite the disappointment, it is also very encouraging to see how so many Canadians, especially TFN readers, have made their voices heard and have faithfully worked to protect marriage and the family in Canada. Literally millions of emails and thousands of phone calls, faxes, and visits have been made in support of marriage. 'We are resolved in our commitment to God's plan and design for marriage and will continue to work hard to support and encourage everyone to seek God's best,' said Rolston. 'The benefits of traditional marriage will continue to set it apart from any alternative and that is why we will continue to work to protect it'." 18

bulletOn 2005-AUG-08, the Ipsos North America polling organization, reported  the results of a survey of public opinion in Alberta. They found that a slight majority (56%) of Albertan adults are opposed to same-sex marriage. 22 This is a reduction from 57% over a two year period, when compared to the results of a poll announced on 2003-JUL-17.  Alberta and Prince Edward Island have historically been the provinces whose adults were most opposed to marriage equality. 23

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Dormant web sites:

Some anti-SSM web sites appear inactive and have not commented on the new law as of 2005-JUL-30:

bulletDavid Mainse of Marriage Canada, an agency "defending the traditional definition of the word 'Marriage'," has not updated his website since about JUL-04, two weeks before after C-38 became law. 19
bullet Sanctity of Marriage has a web site promoting the restriction of marriage to opposite-sex couples. Their slogan is: "The issue of marriage is black and white!" However, it does not seem to have been updated since 2003-SEP. It does not appear to have any comment on C-38 becoming law. 20
bullet Defend Marriage, Canada is sponsored by Canadian Citizens to Defend Marriage (CCDM) which in turn is sponsored by United Families International/Canada. They attempted to obtain signatures on an anti-SSM petition. Their website does not seem to have been updated since 2005-MAY-04. 21

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Related essays on this web site:


Positive reactions to the passage of C-38


Subsequent developments

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "P.E.I. at a loss for words over same-sex marriage," CBC News, 2005-JUL-22, at: http://www.cbc.ca/
  2. Ben Thompson, "Most Canadians Support Gay Marriage," 365Gay.com, 2005-JUL-18, at: http://www.365gay.com/

  3. "Vatican Newspaper Decries Canadian Gay 'Marriage' as 'Distortion of God's Plan for the Family'," LifeSiteNews, 2005-JUL-21, at: http://www.lifesite.net/
  4. Rob Gillies, "Canada 4th Nation to Legalize Gay Marriage," Associated Press, 2005-JUL-20, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
  5. "Gay couples urged to be careful travelling abroad," CTV.ca, at: http://www.ctv.ca/

  6. "Debates of the Senate (Hansard)," Volume 142, Issue 84, 2005-JUL-19, at: http://www.parl.gc.ca/
  7. Christopher Guly, "Gay Catholics' Kids Might Not Be Baptized in Canada. Archbishop of Quebec testifies as the church continues to fight a same-sex marriage bill," Los Angeles Times, 2005-JUL-16, at: http://www.latimes.com/
  8. "Catholic Bishops on Gay 'Marriage' Law - 'Catholics are to Continue to Oppose It'," LifeSiteNews, 2005-JUL-20, at: http://www.lifesite.net/
  9. "Edmonton men first gay couple in Alberta to get marriage license," CBC News, 2005-JUL-21, at: http://www.cbc.ca/

  10. "Marriage bill railroaded through Senate," Canadian Family Action Coalition, 2005-JUL-19, at: http://www.familyaction.org/ **

  11. Douglas Farrow, "Why and How Canadians Should Refuse to Recognize C-38," 2005-JUN-26, at: http://www.enshrinemarriage.ca/ **
  12. "Canada Gay 'Marriage' Bill to be Signed Into Law Today," LifeSiteNews, 2005-JUL-20, at: http://www.lifesite.net/
  13. "Women's rights not at the expense of human rights," Real Women of Canada, 2005-JUL-20, at: http://www.realwomenca.com/
  14. "Spanish pro-family leader decries government policies," Catholic World News, 2005-JUN-20, at: http://www.cwnews.com/

  15. "United Families Canada Will Continue the Fight to Protect Marriage Despite Passage of C-38," United Families Canada, 2005-JUN-29, at: http://press.arrivenet.com/
  16. "Canadian Evangelical Christians React to Homosexual 'Marriage' Law - We 'Cannot Accept'," LifeSiteNews, 2005-JUL-20, at: http://www.lifesite.net/
  17. quebec1, "Courts and SSM," CNews Forums, 2005-JUL-21, at: http://www.canoe.ca/
  18. "Marriage redefined in Canadian law," Focus on the Family Canada, 2005-JUL-27, at: http://www.fotf.ca/
  19. David Mainse, "Urgent! Act Now! There's only 2 weeks to appeal to Her Majesty the Queen," about 2005-JUL-04, at: http://www.marriagecanada.ca/.
  20. Sanctity of Marriage has a web site at http://sanctityofmarriage.ca  
  21. Defend Marriage, Canada has a web site at: http://www.defendmarriagecanada.org/
  22. "Albertans Continue To Oppose Same Sex Marriage," Ipsos News Center, 2005-AUG-08, at: http://www.ipsos-na.com/
  23. "Albertans Oppose Same Sex Marriage," Ipsos News Center, 2003-JUL-17, at: http://www.ipsos-na.com/

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Copyright © 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2005-AUG-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

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