There’s a certain amount of huffing and puffing in Canada’s Parliament these days. One of our Liberal members of Parliament, Pat O’Brien, has resigned from the Liberal Party to sit as an independent, because he doesn’t want to vote for their bill to legalize same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court advised the government a couple of years ago that it would be discriminatory to forbid it and they should mend the law by allowing a civil marriage between two consenting adults.
The point to marriage is that it clarifies a whole whack of legal issues, such as who is your next of kin and who can consent to medical treatment for you, as well as a social benefit of having an acknowledged relationship.
Several points to note:
- The provincial Supreme Courts in several provinces and one territory have already ruled that it’s illegal to discriminate, so same-sex marriage is legal in most of Canada. And I believe that if you marry legally in one country, another country has no jurisdiction to say that they didn’t like how it was done so it doesn’t count.
- This bill states that it covers civil marriage only: religious groups will continue to be free to refuse to marry any couple.
- If the bill is defeated or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is over-ridden to forbid same-sex marriage, the law will be challenged and overturned.
- At that point people would be free to sue religious groups to make them perform same-sex marriages, too.
- So it’s all optics on the part of the Conservative party (the amalgamated Alliance/Reform/formerly Progressive Conservative parties).
Now, let’s see if I can paste the bill:
Bill C-38: An Act respecting certain aspects of legal capacity for marriage for civil purposes
WHEREAS the Parliament of Canada is committed to upholding the Constitution of Canada, and section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees that every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination;
WHEREAS the courts in a majority of the provinces and in one territory have recognized that the right to equality without discrimination requires that couples of the same sex and couples of the opposite sex have equal access to marriage for civil purposes;
WHEREAS the Supreme Court of Canada has recognized that many Canadian couples of the same sex have married in reliance on those court decisions;
WHEREAS only equal access to marriage for civil purposes would respect the right of couples of the same sex to equality without discrimination, and civil union, as an institution other than marriage, would not offer them that equal access and would violate their human dignity, in breach of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
WHEREAS the Supreme Court of Canada has determined that the Parliament of Canada has legislative jurisdiction over marriage but does not have the jurisdiction to establish an institution other than marriage for couples of the same sex;
WHEREAS everyone has the freedom of conscience and religion under section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
WHEREAS nothing in this Act affects the guarantee of freedom of conscience and religion and, in particular, the freedom of members of religious groups to hold and declare their religious beliefs and the freedom of officials of religious groups to refuse to perform marriages that are not in accordance with their religious beliefs;
WHEREAS, in light of those considerations, the Parliament of Canada’s commitment to uphold the right to equality without discrimination precludes the use of section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to deny the right of couples of the same sex to equal access to marriage for civil purposes;
WHEREAS marriage is a fundamental institution in Canadian society and the Parliament of Canada has a responsibility to support that institution because it strengthens commitment in relationships and represents the foundation of family life for many Canadians;
AND WHEREAS, in order to reflect values of tolerance, respect and equality consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, access to marriage for civil purposes should be extended by legislation to couples of the same sex;
NOW, THEREFORE, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:
1. This Act may be cited as the Civil Marriage Act.
2. Marriage, for civil purposes, is the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others.
3. It is recognized that officials of religious groups are free to refuse to perform marriages that are not in accordance with their religious beliefs.
4. For greater certainty, a marriage is not void or voidable by reason only that the spouses are of the same sex.
Let’s get this straight: It doesn’t hurt my marriage if other people get married. I think it discredits marriage in the U.S. when polygamists marry their pre-pubescent step-grandmothers. And if you insist that marriage is for procreation, then post-menopausal women or anyone who’s mutually infertile should’t be allowed to get married. In fact, women should get pregnant first to prove that they’re eligible.