HOMOSEXUAL (SAME-SEX) MARRIAGES IN CANADA
ONTARIO COURT CASE; PART 4
Topics covered in this essay:
Reactions of federal government leaders to the Court of Appeal
On 2003-JUN-10 or 11:
||Jim Munson, spokesperson for the Jean Chrťtien
said that the Prime Minister is "reserving judgment on making a
decision on this...the feeling is that Parliament will have to make this
||Martin Cauchon, the Federal Justice Minister said that his government
recognized that it must speedily achieve a "national solution'' to
the same-sex debate. He said: "We see the direction that the courts are
taking now...I'm asking for a little bit of time to look at the decision
and to come back with a statement.'' 2
||In a later press interview, Justice Minister Martin Cauchon told reporters that court decision
leaves gays and lesbians in Ontario free to marry "for the time being."
He refused to say whether these marriages would be later invalidated by
federal legislation. He said "Listen, the marriages that are taking place now
are effectively legal marriages on the basis of the decision of the appeal
court rendered [JUN-10]. I say for the time being because I can't presume
the future. We want to make sure that we're going to have a national
solution to that question. Having said that, I'm not in a position to
today to give you the official government position." 1
||Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham gave an impassioned plea behind
closed doors at the weekly caucus meeting of the ruling Liberal party in favor of
legalization of same-sex marriages. A source said that Graham called on
Liberals to be "courageous" and to recognize the clear direction
that the courts are taking on interpreting the Charter rights of gays and
lesbians. The source said: "He said it was clear where an ultimate
judgment would lead us, because the Charter implications are clear. It's
obvious we're looking at the legalization of marriage [for gays and
lesbians] so delaying it further would not make sense if as Liberals we
support the Charter. Let's show that we Liberals live in the 21st century.
Let's show the young people of Canada what we're all about. Let's be
courageous and deal with it as soon as possible." 1
||Canadian Press reported that Paul Martin, the clear front-runner in
the leadership race to replace Jean Chrťtien
as Prime Minister in early 2004, said that the federal government cannot prolong
discrimination against homosexual couples who want to marry. 1
||Alberta Premier Ralph Kline announced that if same-sex marriages
were legalized across Canada, his government would invoke the
"not-withstanding" clause in
the Canadian constitution. He said: "If there is any move to sanctify
and legalize same-sex marriages, we will use the notwithstanding clause;
period; end of story." Alberta has been referred to as the buckle of Canada's
Bible Belt. Because of its large minority of
conservative Christians, most adults in the province have been
opposed to equal rights for gays and lesbians, including the right to
marry. Canada has a unique federal
constitution. Its "not withstanding" clause allows governments in Canada to temporarily over-ride certain provisions of the
Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including the sections granting
individual human rights. 3
||Svend Robinson, a member of parliament who is gay said: "I am today
calling on Jean Chrťtien as the Prime
Minister, as part of his legacy, to leave a legacy of equality and to make
it clear that this Liberal government will not appeal this decision"
to the Supreme Court. 4
||Peter MacKay, leader of the Progressive Conservative party, said: "I
feel we should not change the definition in spite of what the Ontario
court has said today." 4
||Liberal member of parliament, Pat O'brien, said: "I certainly hope
[Mr. Cauchon] is going to appeal this. for me, its a matter of conscience.
There's no possible way I'll agree to redefining marriage."
Reactions by others to the Court of Appeal ruling:
||According to the web site of the Metropolitan Community Church of
Toronto: "Reverend Dr. Brent Hawkes, senior pastor for MCC Toronto,
stated 'It has been a long journey to get to today, but we knew that we
were following Godís chosen path. We live in a fair and just society and
we will take pride in that. God has made us in Godís own image and
encourages us to love unconditionally. We can now express that love
through the commitment of marriage'." 12
||The Canadian office of Focus on the Family -- a
Fundamentalist Christian group centered in Colorado -- issued a news
release on JUN-10, stating that: "Today's court
ruling on same-sex marriage ignores centuries of precedent, and renders
ordinary Canadians' views irrelevant." The release quoted Derek Rogusky,
their vice-president: "We're very
disappointed that the Appeal Court came out with a ruling that in essence
makes the whole public consultation irrelevant. We'll be urging the
federal Minister of Justice to appeal this decision so that the
participation of thousands of Canadians will not have been a meaningless
exercise....Marriage - the commitment of a man and a woman in love and
service to one another and the children they raise - provides a foundation
for a strong, healthy society. Marriage is not some evolving social
construct, but a universally understood institution of immeasurable worth
to society. For thousands of years, every major society and religion has
regarded marriage as an exclusively male-female relationship."
5.6 Rogusky appears to be in error. There were not "thousands
of Canadians" participating at the parliamentary committee hearings.
There were 475. 1
||Trent Morris, lawyer for the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto,
a gay-positive congregation -- said: "Canada gets the gold medal for
same-sex marriage around the world."
||CJOH-TV News in Ottawa, ON said, without further comment,
that the Federal Government has no inclination to appeal the ruling to the
||John Fisher, spokesperson for the gay-positive group Egale Canada,
said: "Ten judges in a row have now sent a message strong and clear to
Parliament. Discrimination against same-sex couples is wrong. We have the
right to marry."
||The Globe and Mail published a "recent" survey of Canadian
adults conducted by the Centre for Research and Information on Canada.
7 Results indicate that:|
||62% of females 35 to 54 years of age support same sex marriage; 28%
||55% of males 35 to 54 years of age support same sex marriage; 39% are
||Younger adults (18 to 34) are more supportive; older adults (55+) are
much less supportive. More details
||Pastor Marcel Racine, leader of a gospel crusade fellowship in
Ottawa said: "God did not create us so that we would marry people of
the same sex. The Lord created us to be married so that a man and a
woman would be able to have children. God is against things which are
contrary to this." 13|
||Professor Nick Balla, a specialist in family law from Queen's
University at Kingston, ON joined with other interviewees on CBC
NewsWorld on JUN-11 to explain that Ralph Kline is mistaken. A
province cannot opt out of legislation which defines who is eligible to
marry. That is a federal responsibility. A province could only change laws which determine how the federal
marriage act is administered. Balla predicted that within three years,
same-sex marriage will be a fact across Canada. He is not willing to
speculate whether it will be achieved via court rulings or government
||Norm Sterling, the Attorney General of Ontario said: "I'm charged
to follow the laws and will follow the laws with regards to this matter''
When he was asked whether Ontario would register the marriages, he replied
Sterling said: "Absolutely...We said during the appeal process that the
province of Ontario would follow the court ruling. We made that clear
during the process." He suggested that it would be "difficult"
to invalidate the marriages later, if the Supreme Court of Canada
reversed the decision of the Court of Appeal. 2|
||Lisa Lachance, 30, and Heather Gass, 30, are a lesbian couple who were
together for four years before their commitment ceremony in 2002-SEP. At
the time, the ritual had no legal significance. They are now headed to
Ottawa City Hall. Ms. Lachance said: "We feel it's important to obtain
a legal marriage license to show we do in fact have the legal right like
any other Canadian couple." 8|
||Sandy Rios, president of Concerned Women for America, -- a
conservative social advocacy group -- said
that the ruling "puts a true understanding of marriage on the wrong
side of the law....Businesses will be ordered to accommodate the
counterfeit [marriage] as if it were the real thing, regardless of the
beliefs of business owners. And more children will face being placed in
homosexual households if this ruling stands." 13|
||Joyce Barnett and Alison Kemper also picked up a marriage license at
Toronto City Hall. They are both ordained in the Anglican Church, and plan
to marry in 2004-JUL. Their two children were ecstatic with the Ontario
decision. Robbie, 11, whose birth mother is Alison, said: "I knew that
nobody could say I didn't have a family. Canada has finally figured out
it's unfair to deny this to anybody." 8|
||Bob Knight, spokesperson for the Culture and Family Institute
called on on Canadians to "clean their judicial house" and
overturn what he describes as an "oppressive dictate...They can call
it whatever they want, but it's not marriage...A wedding requires a man
and a woman. To mandate marital recognition for non-marital
relationships is to create a lie that will ensure coercion against
people who stand for the truth...God created marriage as the union of
one man and one woman -- and no court can alter that."|
||Brian Daniells, the service director at the University of Ottawa's
Pride Centre, a gay-positive group, believes that many of his friends
will shortly pop the question to their partners. He said: "A lot of my
friends have been waiting for this. It's been in the back of all our
||Bruce Celemenger, president of the Evangelical Fellowship of
Canada, a conservative Christian group, expressed the legal
position that "It is not
an appropriate use of the Charter to redefine pre-existing social,
cultural and religious institutions." He apparently believes that
if the Charter conflicts with federal legislation, that the latter must
govern. We have not been able to find any constitutional expert who
agrees with this position.|
||Kyle Rae, a Toronto city councilor who is gay, said: "It's a
momentous day. It is a great day for equality in Canada."|
||Co-counselor for the plaintiffs, Martha McCarthy, predicted that there
would be many additional marriages in the near future, while the federal
government decides whether to appeal. She said: "The more [same-sex]
marriages we get, the more inevitable this is. The time to be right is
ripe, as Martin Luther King would say."|
||There appeared to be a temporary news blackout by Fundamentalist Christian
news sources in the U.S.:|
||Covenant News, a daily news source from the U.S., normally has
at least a dozen news items in their "Abominations" section about
gay and lesbian issues. They remained silent about developments in
Ontario, both in their JUN-10 and JUN-11 issue. 9
||Focus on the Family's web site from Colorado is similarly
silent on these development as of late JUN-11. 10
||The Family Research Council only had a 38
word article in their "News headline retrieved section. It read:
"Canada OKs Gay Marriage, The rush to legal matrimony followed a ruling by
the Ontario Court of Appeal, which on Tuesday went further than any court
in Canada by changing the definition of who can marry, effective
||Lina Soto and Paulina Acevedo, a lesbian couple, obtained a
marriage license. They had met in Chile as teenagers and have been
together as a
couple for three years. In their country of origin, which is
predominately Roman Catholic, they were shunned by family and friends.
Acevedo said "I can't go to my mother's home with her." Soto
said: "We're so happy we're in Canada. This says a lot about Canada."
||Excerpts from some comments posted to the National Post's "Soundoff!"
bulletin board, posted by visitors to their Internet web site. They show a
full range of extreme responses to the court decision:|
||CONGRATULATIONS! IT'S ABOUT TIME!
||How utterly ridculous. [sic]
||Move over San Francisco, Toronto is now the talk of the world.
||Man shall leave his Mother and Woman leave her home...[A reference to
a passage in the book
Genesis in the Bible].
||This is another great victory for all Canadians.
||I'm all for staying out of someone else's bedroom.
||Totally disgusting!!! What a terrible example for our children.
||Anyone who knows history knows that this behavior is one of the major
signs of a failing society.
||Historically, marriage is not only about raising children. Judges have no right creating new laws.
||It is not for us to judge others. But.... Marriage is a man and woman
coming together before God.
||They have been together for 22 years! That in itself gives this
marriage the strength and longevity that many 'conventional' marraiges
||It certainly is about time. Congratulations to the happy couple.
||I WISH WE LIVED IN TORONTO! Congratulations to Ontario.
||This idiotic decision just proves that we now have idiots for judges.
||This is absolutely wonderful. True equality wins again!
||Thank you! It's about time.
||I feel a great deal of gratitude to all of the older gay population
who are paving the way for a better tomorrow.
||I've never been so proud that my father is from Canada.
||I think it's about time that the government came into the 21st
||This entire issue is about fairness and love, and
you can add preserverence [sic] in the face of prejudice to that.
||I can't believe how screwed up our government is.
||My wife and I think it is absolutely disgraceful. 2
"Same-sex couples rush to altar," The Toronto Star,
2003-JUN-12, Pages A1 and A24.
"Ont. will 'absolutely' register gay marriages," The National
Post, 2003-JUN-11, at:
- CBC NewsWorld, 2003-JUN-11, morning news.
Kim Lunman, "National response needed, Cauchon maintains," The
Globe and Mail, 2003-JUN-11. Page A4
Tracey Tyler & Tracy Huffman, "Wedding bellwether for same-sex
couples: Gay duo wed hours after court ruling; Judges rewrite definition
of marriage," The Toronto Star, 2003-JUN-11, Page A4
"Courts Overruling Canadians on Marriage, Says Focus on the Family,"
Focus on the Family news release, 2003-JUN-10, at:
- Poll data, The
Globe and Mail, 2003-JUN-11. Page A4
Kevin Ritchie and Cassandra Szklarski, "First came the wedding, now
the licence; Partners celebrate court victory with legal ceremony,"
Ottawa Citizen & The Canadian Press, 2003-JUN-11, at:
Covenant News' web site is at:
Focus on the Family's web site is at:
"Canada OKs Gay Marriage," Family Research Council, downloaded
on 2003-JUN-11, from
"Welcome to our website," MCC, downloaded at 2003-JUN-12, from:
Fred Jackson, Steve Rae, and Jody Brown, "Canadian Court: Marriage
Requires 'Two Persons' -- Not Necessarily of Opposite Sexes Alberta's
Leader Vows to Protect His Province from Same-Sex 'Marriages'," Agape
Press, 2003-JUN-11, at:
Copyright © 2003 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2003-AUG-8
Author: B.A. Robinson