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Religious Tolerance logo

Suppressed Canadian report on same-sex parenting

Political, religious, & social
conservatives and the report

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Social and religious conservatives' beliefs about same-sex marriage and parenting:

It is no secret that social and religious conservatives throughout North America and the rest of the West generally take a negative view of: abortion access, same-sex marriage, other equal rights for sexual minorities, same-sex parenting, comprehensive sex education, the teaching of evolution in public schools, pre-marital sex, etc. However, the basic principles that lie behind these concerns are rarely discussed.

Three examples are:

  • The generally ignored core belief that underlies much of the pro-life opposition to abortion access is a theological concept: that God creates a unique and immortal soul for each pre-embryo at the time of its fertilization in a woman's fallopian tubes. It is this soul that converts the physical "products of conception" into a human person. Thus, many pro-lifers regard abortion, whether performed early or late in pregnancy, as murder of a human being.

  • Much of the religious conservatives' opposition to the teaching of evolution is based on its contradiction of the literal interpretation of the creation stories in Genesis -- the first book in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). If Genesis is not literally true, then the sin committed by Adam and Eve when they ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil would be a myth. Conservative Christians view the sin as causing the fall of humanity in which the original sin of the guilty persons (Adam and Eve) was transferred to the innocent (subsequent generations of humans). Without this transfer of sin, there is no clear need for the torture death of Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus Christ), his resurrection, and the resulting atonement. Accepting the creation stories as myth would contradict the conservative Christian belief that God inspired the authors of the Bible to write inerrant text. The latter are two major beliefs particularly stressed by conservative Protestants.

  • Much of the opposition to marriage equality for persons of all sexual orientations is based on religious and social conservatives' view of the specific roles that they believe God has assigned to males and females within the family, in the workplace, and in the church. Men are expected to be the family leader in financial, spiritual, and other decisions. Men make the decisions; women submit to the pronouncements of their husbands. Men provide the protection that women need; women provide the civilizing influence that men need. The two sexes are considered so different mentally, emotionally, spiritually, etc. that they are almost regarded as different species.

    In a same-sex marriage (SSM), the family is missing either a male or female parent as found in opposite-sex marriages. God's model for the family, as understood by conservatives, cannot be implemented in a SSM. There is no obvious way to divide the responsibilities in a family led by two women or two men except by dialogue and mutual consent. Conservatives generally feel that children require both a mother and a father as role models for proper development. This has generated their concern that same-sex marriages might damage the culture and destroy the institution of marriage.

Calls for a study:

In the U.S., same-sex marriage was only legalized in the state of Massachusetts between mid-2004 and mid-2008. But in Canada, same-sex marriage was first legalized in Ontario during mid-2003 and became available across the entire country by mid-2005. This raised major concerns among religious and social conservatives. Some of these groups called for a study of the damage that SSM might do to the culture.

For example:

  • 2006-DEC-07: The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) issued a press release stating that: "In redefining marriage, the government has failed to either study the issue or give consideration to studies completed by other countries."

  • 2006-DEC-08: The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) issued a statement calling on "federal politicians to undertake research and further consultations on the long-term impact of the redefinition of civil marriage on society and future generations."

  • 2007-JAN-10: Douglas Cryer, director of public policy for the EFC wrote: "It is time the government, and institutions that have the best interests of the family at heart, engage in serious study to determine the effects ... on our families."


A study commissioned and then suppressed:

It came as a surprise to many that the previous federal government, led by the Liberals, actually had funded precisely such a study back in 2003, when the first same-sex marriages (SSMs) became available. At the time, same-sex marriage (SSM) was restricted to residents of, or visitors to, the province of Ontario. The federal Justice Department commissioned a team led by Paul Hastings, who holds a Ph.D. in Applied Developmental Psychology to conduct the study.

The research report concluded that same-sex parents were at least as good as opposite-sex parents in raising their children.

The next federal government, led by the Conservatives under the leadership of Stephen Harper, suppressed the report. Some gay-positive groups suspect that the report was buried because it showed that the fears of religious, social, and political conservatives towards SSM were groundless.

Fortunately, Canada's Access to Information Act allowed Paul Hastings to obtain a copy of his own report and make it public in 2007-MAY. It is available on the SameSexMarriage.ca web site. 1

Calls by conservative Christians for research suddenly stopped when the report became available to the  general public.

References used:

  1. Kevin Bourassa & Joe Varnell, "Harper shoves family study into the closet. Cons[ervatives] & Christian extremists don't want you to know," Equal Marriage, 2007-MAY-09, at: http://www.samesexmarriage.ca/

  2. "Children's Development of Social Competence Across Family Types", Department of Justice, Canada, 2006-JUL at: http://www.samesexmarriage.ca/

Copyright 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2008-JUN-19
Latest update: 2008-JUN-23
Partly written by: B.A. Robinson

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