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The following is the executive summary section of a submission made to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs by Dr. Janet Epp Buckingham. She is the director of law and public policy for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC).

It concerns Bill C-38 -- a bill to make same-sex marriages available across Canada. C-38 was signed into law on 2005-JUL-20. The full text is available online at the EFC web site. 1

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The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) is deeply concerned about the impact of the redefinition of marriage on the future of the institution of marriage, on children and on religious freedom in Canada.

The EFC has a strong interest in issues related to the definition of marriage. In Canada, the civil and religious aspects of marriage have been fused. Seventy- five percent of marriages in Canada are solemnized by clergy. For our community, marriage will remain a religious institution. A change to the civil definition of marriage changes the public meaning of the institution and will have direct and indirect effects on religious institutions.

The EFC has consistently urged Parliament to consider the policy implications of fundamentally redefining marriage. The redefinition of marriage denies children the right to know and be raised by their mother and father. It raises numerous issues of religious freedom, some of which are already the subject of litigation. The Supreme Court noted in the Marriage Reference the potential for conflict with religious freedom given the new definition of marriage.

The guarantee of religious freedom for clergy, contained in s. 3 of the bill, does not actually provide any protection for religious freedom. The Supreme Court indicated that protection for clergy is a provincial jurisdiction.

The amendments adopted by the House of Commons will provide a measure of protection for religious freedom in areas of federal responsibility, but we would hope that the Senate would further amend the bill to ensure protection for religious freedom and freedom of expression for federal employees in the Canadian Human Rights Act.

We continue to be concerned that religious freedom is not protected for clergy, churches and civic officials with respect to the solemnization of marriage. We call on the Senate to amend the bill to ensure that provincial governments have passed legislation to protect religious freedom in relation to the solemnization of marriage before this bill comes into force.

The EFC is further concerned that Bill C-38 is not limited to Canadian residents. This has the potential to create conflicts with laws of other countries.

Given these concerns, the EFC remains firmly opposed to Bill C-38. Should the Senate recommend its passage, the EFC has made some recommendations regarding potential amendments that would strengthen protections for religious freedom and freedom of conscience.

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References used:

  1. "Submission to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on Bill C-38 the Civil Marriage Act," Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, 2005-JUL-13, at: This is a PDF file. You may require software to read it. Software can be obtained free from: 
  2. ":: Defending Marriage," Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, at:

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Site navigation:
"SSM" means "same-sex marriage"

Home > Religious info. > Basic > Marriage > SSM menu > SSM submenu > Canada > here

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > SSM menu > SSM submenu > Canada > here

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It is our understanding that there is no copyright on this document, as it was presented as a submission before a federal government committee.
Originally posted: 2005-SEP-14
Latest update: 2005-SEP-14

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