Uproar as Canada Redefines Marriage
OTTAWA — Same-sex “marriage” is coming to Canada, and parents don't like it. Neither do all homosexuals.
Toronto's John McKellar of Homosexuals Opposed to Pride Extremism (HOPE) said he speaks for the “silent gay majority” who don't want marriage and regard those who do as a “tiresome clique of activist martyrs.”
“I've always supported legislation to protect gays and lesbians from harassment and discrimination,” McKellar said, “but same -sex 'marriage’ purposely deprives children of either a male or female parent. That's an unconscionably selfish and socially harmful agenda.”
On June 28 the Civil Marriage Act passed the House of Commons. Next the bill redefining marriage goes to the Canadian Senate. That's an appointed body that rarely opposes the elected lower house. The Senate Senate's Liberal Party majority will likely ratify the legislation soon.
Dawn Stefanowicz would urge them not to — for the sake of children. She grew up in a London household where her father's homosexual activities were given free rein.
“It impacted all of us seriously,” she said. “Two of us were suicidal, my brother left in his mid-teens. I was depressed for years afterwards and needed years of therapy.”
Said Stefanowicz, “I have no hatred for gays, just a lot of compassion. But the reality of gay relationships doesn't match what the media and the sitcoms say about it. I was devalued as a woman,” Stefanowicz said. And the succession of her father's lovers “devalued all relationships, they were discarded like commodities.”
A slender majority of Canadians opposes legalization of same-sex “marriage,” but that didn't stop Prime Minister Paul Martin from promoting same-sex “marriage.” He insisted his hand was forced by several lower courts, which ruled in 2003 that marriage cannot be limited to heterosexuals under the Charter of Rights and Freedom.
Roughly 3,000 same-sex “marriages” have been conducted since then — 1,000 of them involving American couples.
To pass the bill, the governing Liberals needed the support of both the New Democrats and the separatist Bloc Quebecois, to compensate for the fact that the largest opposition party, the Conservatives, and almost a quarter of the Liberals’ own members of Parliament, opposed the legislation.
In a demonstration of the priority he assigned to passing C-38, Martin directed his Liberal caucus to cut off parliamentary debate on the bill prior to the June 28 vote in order to ensure its passage before the House of Commons took its summer break. Defending his actions, Martin said June 20, “I'm actually a very strong Roman Catholic. But I'm also a legislator, and I believe that clearly what I've got to do is take the widest perspective possible. And that perspective leads me to believe that the Charter of Rights is a fundamental pillar of our democracy.”
Martin made passage of the bill a top priority of his government, despite forceful interventions against the bill by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“The proposed redefinition does not foster the evolution of marriage, but breaks irrevocably with human history as well as with the very nature of marriage,” the Canadian bishops said in a brief presented to Parliament May 19. “The adoption of Bill C-38 will cause irreparable damage to the basic fabric of human coexistence — the family founded on marriage — and result in a deeply wounded society.”
Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary, who said last year that he would deny Communion to Martin if Martin attended Mass in his diocese, said after the June 28 vote that passage of the Civil Marriage Act was “the triumph of political expediency over democracy. We've been hoodwinked by our government.”
A human-rights tribunal is investigating Bishop Henry because a pastoral letter he wrote taught that homosexual acts were sinful.
“The pressure will be on those of us who believe to not speak out on moral issues,” he said.
But Canadian bishops remain divided on the issue of refusing Communion to politicians. Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais commented, in letters that his office has sent to people inquiring whether Martin should be denied Communion, that while Bishop Henry saw Martin as “a federal politician, to me he is also a faithful member of my cathedral parish.”
Martin, said Archbishop Gervais, “did not personally bring his party to adopt this policy,” but he believes “it is according to the plan of God for him to accept to be the leader of his party and in this arena it is acceptable for him to represent its policies.”
Church teaching on the matter is clear. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith addressed it in 2003's “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons.”
“When legislation in favor of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic lawmaker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral” (No. 10).
Father Thomas Lynch, dean of studies at St. Augustine Seminary in Toronto, pointed out that “Martin has said publicly, 'the Church is wrong on this issue and has to change.’”
Catholic members of Parliament should have opposed the bill or at least abstained, said Father Lynch, even if it threatened their career: “There is a cost for doing the right thing.”
Canada's main opposition party, the Conservatives, have promised to “revisit” the legislation if the next election puts the party in government.
Conservative leader Stephen Harper said the Liberal Party manipulated the process to speed passage of the bill.
Catholic Member of Parliament Pat O'Brien, who quit the Liberal Party in June over the issue to sit as an independent, believes the issue is important enough for Canadians to make it the sole determinant of their vote in the next election. Such an election could happen as early as this fall, if a shift of party alliances within the House of Commons makes it impossible for the minority Liberals to govern.
According to O'Brien, homosexual “marriage,” like the promotion of abortion, is a fundamental part of the ongoing campaign “to destroy the moral absolutes which are the foundation of Western civilization.”
He stated, “It is long, long overdue for Christians to take a stand. Let's do it now — let's show a little guts.”
Catholic and evangelical Protestant leaders have led an informal interfaith lobby including Sikhs, Muslims and Orthodox Jews in opposition to the legislation. The Christian-led coalition is now marshalling forces for the next election.
“The fight is just beginning,” said Rev. Charles McVety, president of Canada Christian College and one of the leaders of the Defend Marriage Coalition.
Steve Weatherbe is based in Victoria, British Columbia. (Register Staff contributed to this story)
- July 17-23, 2005