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A shameful day in Canadian history: Same-sex marriage bill is passed in Parliament

on Wednesday, 01 June 2005. Posted in Same-sex marriage

On June 28, 2005, after more than two years of debate, Canada's controversial same-sex marriage legislation (Bill C-38) was passed by a vote of 158 for and 133 against in the House of Commons. Marriage, which was until now "the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others" is now, with this new law, redefined as "the union of two persons to the exclusion of all others."

Anyone in his senses would know that the union of two men or two women is a totally different reality as the union of a man and a woman, the most obvious reason being that one union can breed children, and the other cannot.

Warnings from the Bishops

On June 2, 2005, Msgr. Mario Paquette, General Secretary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote a letter to the Members of the Senate and the Members of the House of Common, to warn them against the consequences of the redefinition of marriage. Here are a few excerpts:

"The Roman Catholic Bishops of Canada, as the spiritual leaders of 13 million Catholics in this country, remain deeply concerned about the impact that Bill C-38 will have on society, both in terms of altering the significance of marriage and also in terms of the challenges that are already being posed to the basic freedoms of conscience and religion, as well as to freedom of expression.

"The Supreme Court of Canada in its December 2004 ruling on the marriage reference did not suggest that the proposed redefinition of marriage was necessary in order to conform with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, nor did it suggest that the traditional definition of marriage was contrary to the Charter.

"However, the Supreme Court did rule that Section 2 of the proposed legislation is 'ultra vires Parliament' (unconstitutional), as it is the provinces, not the Government of Canada, which have the authority to pass legislation regarding the solemnization of marriage. In effect, this means there is no basis for federal assurances that religious officials cannot be compelled to officiate at marriages contrary to the tenets of their faith.

"When a society issues arbitrary laws that reject the primacy of natural law, the result is not only the risk of social chaos and disorder but, as the 20th century witnessed, a potential basis for state totalitarianism."

Despite these warnings from the Catholic Bishops and many other groups, most of the Liberals, the Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party voted for the bill. The Conservatives and some Liberal backbenchers voted against it. Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin said that while Liberal backbencher MPs were free to vote according to their conscience, ministers of his cabinet were obliged to vote for this bill. So, out of the 133 Liberal Members of Parliament, only 32 broke ranks with their party by voting against the bill. One liberal MP, Pat O'Brien, became an independent MP to protest against the bill, and one minister, Joe Comuzzi, resigned from the cabinet to also vote against the bill.

On the other end, out of the 96 Conservative MPs present in the House, 93 voted against the bill, and only 3 voted for it. 46 MPs of the Bloc voted for it, and 5 against; out of the 19 NPD Members of Parliament, only one, Bev Desjarlais, voted against it (and was punished by her leader Jack Layton because of that.) 13 Members of Parliament were absent for the vote. Honour to those who voted against this bill, but shame on those who voted for it or were absent!

To become officially legislation, Bill C-38 had then to be passed by the Senate, but it was a mere formality, since the (Liberal dominated) Senate essentially rubber stamps any bill already passed by the House of Commons. So, on July 19, a final vote was taken on Bill C-38, with 47 senators in favor, and 21 against. The next day, in the absence of the Governor General (who was hospitalized), Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin signed the bill, and it was read in the House of Commons and Senate, making it law.

Canada becomes only the fourth country in the world, after the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain, to allow gay marriage nationwide. It should be pointed out that euthanasia is also legalized in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Eerily enough, the first reading of the Catholic Mass on June 28 was from the book of Genesis Chapter 19, relating the infamous story of the punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah as a result of its sexual and especially homosexual immorality. May God have mercy on Canada!

Life interviewed retired Bishop Pearce Lacey of Toronto about this "coincidence". The Bishop responded: "Some day the Paul Martins of this world will have to face up to a judgment that will be far, far more damaging and far more vigorous". He further added, "I pity Paul Martin. I don't wish evil on anybody. But Paul Martin has got a great judgment ahead of him, a judgment that I wouldn't want to be in his shoes. Imagine, the leader of a country, who has the responsibility of really giving the kinds of strong direction and leadership to his people, and then to flunk, to literally fail is a very, very serious indictment on him."

How can it be explained that so many MPs, who claim to be Christians, and many of them practicing Catholics, voted for this bill that is so contrary to Christian teaching? The fact is that many of them are totally confused or ignorant about what is the teaching of the Church.

For example, here is what Marilyn Trenholme Counsell, a New Brunswick Liberal Member of the Senate, said: "As a Christian, I often ask myself what would Jesus do? In this case, in this time, I believe he would say yes (support Bill C-38)."

To this incredible statement, Conservative Senator Consiglio Di Nino replied: "Obviously, I do not have the same relationship with Jesus as does Senator Trenholme Counsell."

The teaching of the Church

To refresh the memory of people who claim that Jesus would have approved this bill, here is the official teaching of the Church. The most authoritative document on this issue is the document issued on July 31, 2003 by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (the present Pope), then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, entitled "Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons":

"The Church's teaching on marriage and on the complementarity of the sexes reiterates a truth that is evident to right reason and recognized as such by all the major cultures of the world. Marriage is not just any relationship between human beings. It was established by the Creator with its own nature, essential properties and purpose. No ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman, who by mutual personal gift, proper and exclusive to themselves, tend toward the communion of their persons. In this way, they mutually perfect each other, in order to cooperate with God in the procreation and upbringing of new human lives.

"There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any. way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. Homosexual acts'close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved'. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2357.)

"Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts'as a serious depravity... (cf. Rom 1:2427; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10). This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered'.This same moral judgment is found in many Christian writers of the first centuries and is unanimously accepted by Catholic Tradition.

"In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection."

And now, read what Cardinal Ratzinger said about so-called Catholic politicians who vote in favor of for same-sex marriage:

"If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians. Faced with legislative proposals in favour of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are to take account of the following ethical indications. When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral."

In a lecture given on April 1, 2005, in the convent of Saint Scholastica in Subiaco, when he received the St. Benedict Award for the promotion of life and the family in Europe, Cardinal Ratzinger said:

"Very soon, it will not be possible to state that homosexuality, as the Catholic Church teaches, is an objective disorder in the structuring of human existence."

In a letter dated May 17, 2005, to Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Pope Benedict. XVI wrote:

"The Church cannot cease to proclaim that in accordance with God's plans (cf. Mt 19: 3-9), marriage and the family are irreplaceable and permit no other alternatives."

Bill C-38 includes protection to churches and other religious groups, stating that they have the right "to refuse to perform a marriage that is not in accordance with their religious beliefs." But this protection is meaningless and worthless, as the Canadian Supreme Court said, since it is not within the power of the federal government to grant such protection, which falls within provincial jusrisdiction. As many opponents of C-38 said, it was included in the bill only to make people swallow the whole thing.

No protection of religious freedom

In his speech delivered on July 19, just before the final vote in the Senate, Conservative Senator Gerry St. Germain summarized the arguments of the opponents of Bill C-38; he even gave proof that with this new law, religious freedom will not be respected:

"The bill purports to provide protection to religious freedom, but many have argued passionately and persuasively that these so. called protections will not work, that the rights of religious believers and others who conscientiously oppose same-sex marriage will be at the mercy of the courts and the human rights tribunals that so far have tended to see the equality rights of samesex couples as trumping freedom of religion or freedom of expression.

"Bill C-38 includes a supposed protection for religious officials who do not wish to perform same-sex marriages, stating that they are free not to perform marriages that are not in accordance with their religious beliefs. It must first be stated that religious freedom is already in a weakened state if we have to specify this. What kind of society would we be living in if the state could force religions to perform rituals and sacraments that went against their conscientious beliefs? Furthermore, as many people have pointed out, the federal government is not in a position to give this guarantee even if it wants to.

"In its reference case to the Supreme Court of Canada, the government asked whether its draft legislation was constitutional. The court replied that, while Parliament was free to legislate as to the definition of marriage, it had no jurisdiction over who could or could not solemnize marriage... Therefore, the Supreme Court of Canada has already found clause 3 of this bill to be outside the jurisdiction of Parliament. For cosmetic, face-saving reasons, the government has insisted on keeping that in the text of the bill.

"We already know that, in several provinces, civil marriage commissioners have lost their licences because of their religious or conscientious objection to same-sex marriage. A marriage commissioner from Newfoundland, who appeared before us in committee, said that she was forced to resign. This bill will do nothing to help marriage commissioners.

"Many of the areas in which religious freedom is most likely to be affected after the passage of Bill C-38 are under provincial jurisdiction. Some provinces have already ruled that civil marriage commissioners must agree to perform same-sex marriages or lose their licences. Provincial human rights commissions are being approached about public accommodation cases such as attempting to force a Knights of Columbus Hall to provide its facilities for a same-sex marriage in British Columbia; or an evangelical printer in Toronto, Scott Brockie, being forced to print materials for a same-sex advocacy organization; or bed and breakfast owners in Prince Edward Island shutting down their businesses rather than being forced to accept same-sex couples as guests. These incidents will likely increase after the bill is passed. At a minimum, we should wait to ensure that all provinces bring in laws to protect the rights of those who conscientiously object to same-sex marriage.

"Will it be considered hateful to quote from the Book of Romans from the Bible, or the catechism of the Catholic Church? Religious rights extend beyond the ceremony of marriage. What about the rights of faith practitioners to speak publicly about marriage as they know it? What about the confusion of their children on being taught one way by the church and home and told otherwise in other areas of their life?

"We know that the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission has found an advertisement that did nothing but quote Bible verses to be hateful. We know that the Roman Catholic Bishop of Calgary has already been threatened by an action before the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Where will courts and human rights submissions go in the future? We do not know, honourable senators. This legislation, unfortunately, does little to clarify the matter.

"This bill should be rejected, not simply because it changes the traditional definition of marriage, which I, and I think a majority of Canadians, believe has served us well, but because it risks penalizing and even criminalizing the beliefs of those who continue to believe in the traditional definition of marriage after the bill has passed."

Coming prosecution of Christians

On July 13, on behalf of the Canadian Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec City made a presentation to a committee of the Canadian Senate, urging the Senators to "prevent the adoption of this unjust law":

"Neither the State nor religions invented marriage nor determined its natural components. They merely institutionalized a reality that existed well before them, thereby recognizing that the inherent characteristics of this reality — the stability of the couple, as well as the procreation and education of children – would assure the common good of society. The redefinition proposed in Bill C-38 does not promote the evolution of marriage, but instead breaks irrevocably both with human history as well as with the meaning and very nature of marriage. We have no illusions: it implies a distortion of the natural institution of marriage. If this Bill is adopted, we will ascribe the term marriage to something that is merely pseudomarriage, a fiction, a derivative and, in the words of the Honourable Senator HervieuxPayette, an imposture.

"To affirm that there is a difference between heterosexual and homosexual unions is not unjust discrimination against same-sex partners. This was recognized by the UN Commission on Human Rights in 2002 when refusing to hear a complaint against the New Zealand Court of Appeal which had just refuted the idea (Quilter vs. New Zealand (A.G., 1997] ICHRL 129) that banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation implied a right to marriage between same-sex partners.

"Issuing from the union of a man and a woman, children need a father and a mother; they have the right to know their biological parents and to be educated by them... The adoption of Bill C-38 would create two categories of children: those who would have the right to be educated by their two biological parents and those who would be voluntarily deprived of this right. Such discrimination is neither just nor desirable...

"The Charter currently protects freedom of conscience and religion; however, in provinces that recognize the validity of same-sex marriage we are already witnessing lawsuits against persons and groups who do not share this vision. Must we now resign ourselves to being victims of discrimination for believing in the historical definition of marriage and wishing to teach, educate and preach according to our faith and conscience? Must a majority of parents accept it as inevitable, that schools and the media will transmit a vision of marriage contrary to their own?

"An extremely distressing phenomenon has been noted in recent years. It has been particularly well described by Professor R.M.T. Schmid that whoever indicates disagreement with the idea of same-sex marriage is accused of homophobia... Already, the appeal to conscience in any matter pertaining to homosexuality risks being dismissed as "homophobia'. Understood as a pathological fear, this disqualifies the position of opponents as an entirely irrational stance.

"These attempts to intimidate persons who do not share the State's vision of marriage may well multiply after the adoption of Bill C-38. Once the State imposes a new standard affirming that homosexual sexual behaviour 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."

The fight is not over

Even if gay marriage is now the law of the country, the fight is far from being over, and as the Canadian Bishops said, it will be a definite issue in the next election. In their comment after the approval of Bill C-38, the Bishops said on July 20, 2005:

"Although Bill C-38 has now been approved as federal legislation in Canada, the fundamental and universal reality of marriage remains the exclusive union of a man and a woman for life. From the perspective of the Catholic Church, the new federal statute falsifies moral values and principles. 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.

"Unfortunately, there are some Catholics who have promoted the redefinition of marriage, including politicians who have voted in its favour. 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.

"Canadians in general have been and remain deeply divided about changing the nature of marriage and altering its basic meaning. It is clear this debate is far from over, and that it will be a significant issue in the upcoming federal election.".

Despite all the polls showing the contrary, it is obvious that a majority of Canadians still support the traditional definition of marriage.

It is our duty as Catholics not to support politicians who vote for same-sex marriage. These politicians will of course be judged on Judgement Day, but in the meantime, we can judge them at the next general election, and throw them out of Parliament if they don't respect our values. If we don't, we will ourselves be judged by God on this on Judgement Day.

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