- Letters - Letters
to MPs - 2003
Letter's To Members
In Support of Equal Marriage
Sir or Madam:
in this country, at this very moment, a man and a woman, who know each other for
years or merely a matter of hours, can obtain a marriage licence and solemnize
their marriage in the matter of an hour or less. The relationship can last for
decades, for a few years, or maybe less. Statistics show that among those who
marry at all, fifty percent of heterosexual marriages end in divorce, while sixty
percent of second marriages do so.
honour and respect the right of anyone to define the legal and spiritual elements
of marriage and to choose or reject the sacred institution as their conscience
dictates. In this country - the Charter of Rights and Freedoms - speaking to the
soul of our Nation and that of the Party - has finally given me my basic human
right to marry the person with whom I continue to share a strong legal, emotional
and spiritual bond.
a Christian, I believe and validate those theologians and simple members of our
faith community who have made compelling and respected arguments that our committed
and loving definitions of ourselves is NOT what either testament of scripture
these noted theologians- from both Catholic and Protestant traditions -often silenced
by their own official magisterium - confirm the fact that God created us in His
image and likeness, and that God loves me and He knows that I'm gay.
June 12, 2003, we were travelling to Toronto when I suffered a heart attack. The
next morning, I had an angiogram and was subsequently rushed into surgery to receive
a quadruple cardiac bypass graft. We had waited twenty-eight (28) years to exercise
our right to marry according to Charter Rights. On August 11, 2003, with the permission
of my cardiac surgeons, I was permitted to travel the short distance in kilometres
and at age 57, the longest distance in my lifetime.
I respect the leap of faith and the act of courage that it takes to overcome the
prejudices and admonitions from some religious leaders to vote theocratically
on this issue. I could tell you how emotional we were. I could relate how my 90-year
old widowed mother, a francophonne native of Quebec,- who incidently has supported
the changes that she has seen in her lifetime - was filled with tears as she witnessed
her eldest son marry as had her other two sons had decades before. She loves my
spouse, Albert, and has done so for decades. As Christ said to His disciples,
" Mother, behold thy son, Son, behold thy mother."
- and I pray God - before you vote - I ask that you inform yourself further -
and remember the lives of countless lesbian and gay couples like us who are filled
with renewed love for their beloved Canada- as it truly stands as a beacon of
liberty and freedom for the whole world.
beg you - please do not remove civil marriage from anyone in order to deny it
to us. Do not, I beg you - remove or annul our marriage from us. Give us equal
rights and make us both proud of Canada - and we will always stand on guard for
the legislation to extend the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples
I cannot adequately describe my feelings the day I opened the newspaper and in
bold print across the top was the article title: Canada OKs Gay Marriage. It was
not something I’d ever expected to see and I had resigned myself to a life as
a second-class citizen. That article now sits on my mantle next to the wedding
rings I plan to use next month.
am a lesbian, living with a woman I'd like to call my spouse. We are as committed
to each other as any other couple could be. We are exclusive, monogamous, and
in love. How much closer to the ideal marriage could we get? I appreciate that
individuals may feel fear at the thought of changes that could challenge their
safe and comfortable beliefs. I don't feel I am asking for some special status,
but rather to have my citizenship be as full and rewarding as the level of participation
offered to heterosexuals. I'd like the chance to walk into a hospital and be recognized
as my lover's spouse, given the same courtesy as family: information and power
in relation to the care of my spouse. I'd like the chance to have my commitment
recognized beyond the curtain of individually generated liberal generosity. I
love my partner as much as my brother loves his wife. I want my value as a citizen
to be recognized.
don't care, one way or the other, about the religious definition of marriage.
The definition of marriage has gone through so many permutations; at this point
in history, I cannot see it as anything other than a legal recognition of my status
as the next-of-kin for my partner. For an institution that has its roots in the
exchange of chattel, the modern version of marriage has become a simple, legal
extension of rights and privileges to members of a committed relationship. The
protection of children no longer needs the marriage certificate; our social contract
has extended to include children of married and unmarried unions. I know that
marriage vows have a particular importance for many people, that it indicates
a full membership in society based on your ability to satisfy the community's
need for perpetuation through children. I want the property sharing aspects to
be made available to me. I question the validity of arguments that repudiate my
relationship on the grounds of morality. Morality, like the definition of marriage,
is something that is time and place specific.
miss the true generosity of spirit that I grew up with in Canada. I grew up in
a lively period of Canadian history, during the repatriation of the constitution
and the determination of status for Quebec. I felt that we were a vibrant and
welcoming society with high ideals and a moral certitude based on our common humanity
not on carefully delineated definitions of in and out. The concept of a truly
multicultural society is something about which I feel a great deal of pride and
hope. I know that growing into the fullness of that ideal requires discussion
and debate. I know that change is not easy, but I believe that Canada has the
best chance of becoming the greatest of all nations through a pride based not
on exclusiveness but inclusiveness.
you for your consideration of this matter. I understand that while you must represent
the values and beliefs of your constituents, you also bear the responsibility
of looking forward into the future and helping to direct Canada into a rich new
period of history that places value on human lives and the opportunity to deliver
our true potential not just to ourselves in our backyards, but to the world.
Calder, [Calder is against equal marriage]
appreciate the hard work and dedication of all MPs, especially during difficult
times. I consider myself and fair minded and just individual, and a spiritually
minded mother of two grown children. I would like to express my support for same-sex
marriage as I truly believe that equality benefits us all in building strong foundations
for a strong society, division and separation breeds fear and destruction. Unity
and co-operation tears down walls of fear, hatred and injustice. Canadian culture
has evolved and the time has come for discrimination of sexual orientation to
end, and full rights and responsibilities be given to gays and lesbians in equal
live in a free and peaceful land where diversity is great and has created the
very tapestry of Canadian culture, a global village where a vast number of religious
beliefs cultures and languages as well as differing sexual orientations are represented.
Most people know more gay and lesbians they think, because they are living everywhere.
There are tax payers building and working in communities, voting governments in
and out and overall contributing citizens that are now demanding their dignity
and rights to be upheld. Many are raising children who are turning out to be healthy,
intelligent, and caring human beings, in fact, many gay and lesbian couples that
are raising children are upholding the qualities of a sound family life, which
unfortunately many heterosexuals are sadly failing to give their children.in their
upbringing and their overall wellbeing.
would be un-constitutional (certainly un-Canadian), for religious leaders to be
told by society or a government in how to conduct their worship services, including
to force clergy to perform marriages or any other religious ritual that goes against
their personal beliefs, as they have the freedom to follow their faith in making
those decisions, just as gays and lesbians should have the freedom to follow their
faith and the right to be legally married where and how they choose to, as heterosexual
couples do. These are basic human rights that should not, cannot, be denied any
and your party are often heard to speak about the importance of representing your
constituents. We are two of your constituents. We are also a Gay couple who have
been together and represented ourselves as a couple publicly for over 16 years.
While we firmly
believe that the rights of minority groups should not be dictated by the views
of the majority, we also note that a variety of public opinion polls have consistently
found that the majority of Canadians support the right of Gay and Lesbian couples
to full legal marriage. As such it is our opinion that you are representing a
minority of your constituents, and perhaps your personal views, in your opposition
to same-sex marriages.
hereby expect that you will be courageous and reject the views of those opposed
to gay marriage. Please add your voice to those who champion the rights of all
minorities in Canada, and vote to support the bill which will give us, your constituents,
the right to a legal marriage if we so choose.
and Michael Musclow
all Members of Parliament,
issue before us, namely equal -- or same-sex -- marriage, is one of the pre-eminent
issues facing Canada today. There is a high degree of passion and strong belief
on both sides of the issue. As a Liberal Member of Parliament you are being called
upon to exercise your responsibilities as a representative in Parliament. Clearly,
you have heard much from those opposing equal marriage. Many of the concerns being
expressed by those opposed, while doubtlessly truly felt and believed, are not
passed, this legislation will not negatively impact on freedom of religion in
Canada. As the government has repeatedly stressed -- as has Egale Canada (one
of the principle lobby groups in this discussion) -- no religious institution
charged with the performance of marriages, or the clergy that serve those institutions,
will be forced to marry any couple if doing so is in conflict with the tenets
of their faith. Rather, this legislation will enhance religious freedoms and choice
by permitting religious institutions that wish to do so to marry same-sex couples.
Various United Church congregations have already indicated their willingness,
as have the Universalist Unitarian Church, the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan
Community Churches, some Anglican congregations, various Reform and even Conservative
synagogues, and others.
is a matter of opinion and perspective whether marriage, as we now know it, evolved
because of humanity's social organization or came about because it was ordained
by Deity. While Canada is inarguably based upon Judeo-Christian ethics, knowledge
of the infinite is expressed in many different ways, and experienced in many different
ways. We have, in Canada, been able to accommodate a plethora of religions: Judaism
and Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Sikhism, and a variety of Christian teachings
(Eastern Rite, Orthodoxy, Coptic, Pentecostal, Evangelical, Mormonism, as well
as the more traditional "mainstream" systems such as Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism,
Methodism, and United Church). This is the essence of multiculturalism and of
being a just society. There has been little conflict amongst all these religions
in Canada even though the conflicts are often bloody in their countries of origin.
Recognizing the right of adults to not only organize their lives as they will,
but to not deny one segment of the populace the rights and responsibilities afforded
another, is another cornerstone of the mosaic that constitutes Canada.
marriage will not negatively impact the marriages of opposite-sex couples, nor
will it negatively impact the institution itself. How does the manner in which
two men or two women choose to organize their life together impact in any way
on how the opposite-sex couple across the street organizes theirs? Will opposite-sex
couples abandon their commitment to each other simply because two men or two women
choose to be married and to have that union recognized in law? Clearly not.
has been argued that marriage, as we know it, has existed for millennia. This
is not true. Marriage as we currently know it has only existed since the rise
of a middle-class, starting in the late medieval/Renaissance period. Prior to
that period, marriage was a dynastic contract between noble or wealthy families,
designed to consolidate wealth and position and ensure a 'legitimate' heir (male
heir, it should be stressed). For several centuries thereafter marriage was still
predominately such an arrangement. One didn't marry for love or companionship
or any of the other attributes now attributed to it. One married for security,
to ensure true heirs; it was -- in short -- a business and property-focused contract.
In other words, our
concept of marriage -- and what it is -- has evolved.
it has been argued that marriage is a Judeo-Christian concept and, since Canada
is founded upon Judeo-Christian beliefs, to abandon or redefine the concept is
to invite disaster, at worse. Clearly, marriage existed before the evolution of
what we now call Judaism-Christianity and existed in a variety of forms.
maintain no society in history ever recognized or "blessed" same-sex unions. This
is also not true. Considerable evidence exists to suggest that, at least in early
and medieval Europe, such unions were in fact recognized socially and legally
and in some instances even blessed by the Church.
the Canada of the 21st Century we recognize the worth of the individual and no
longer perceive the individual as a cipher in the service of the whole or some
external authority. We have taken steps in the last one hundred years in Canada
to ensure that individuals are not denied marriage because one is a Jew and the
other a Gentile, or one is a person of colour and the other of European descent.
The idea that at one time only members of the Catholic Church or members of the
Church of England could be legally married is met with disbelief, although it
is true. Jews, for instance, were not considered married -- in law -- although
of course the union was seen to be valid amongst fellow Canadians, if perhaps
not quite as valid as Christian weddings.
marriage is about equality. To have the ability to marry, if one so chooses, ones
same-sex partner and have that marriage fully recognized in law is about equality.
Full equality. That is what this entire issue comes down to: Full equality. Either
all Canadians are fully equal, or we are not. "Equal but different" is not equal,
as segregation and apartheid taught us.
to same-sex marriage, then, is clearly based in something else. If this is the
case, if such resistance is in fact based in anti-homosexual beliefs, then those
beliefs must be challenged and the law must continue to reflect the ideals of
equality. I therefore urge you to vote in favour of equal marriage.
August 18, 2003
To Nova Scotia M.P.s:
such a basic union is possible between two persons of the same sex is so patently
obvious by now to anybody with eyes to see and ears to hear that it is embarrassing
to have it contradicted by pious souls or institutions with a lust for control.
Those words convey my sentiments, yet they do not reflect the commitment my partner
and I have. We are bonded in love which is no less than that of any committed
married couple. We have between us 5 children and 5 grandchildren, whom we love
dearly, as they do us. All of them form an integral part of our nuclear family,
and we are blessed to have that bonding. No individual has the right to treat
any group of individuals as second-class citizens, and I often say that I am a
Rosa Parks, as I will no longer sit at the back of the bus, as I seek my rights
as a Canadian citizen!
Dominic LeBlanc, M.P.:
you for your letter of April 10, 2003 in which you wrote about how you "respect
the intent and spirit" of the Private Members' Bill C-250. You also wrote that
"any form of discrimination -- including based on sexual orientation -- is unacceptable
here we are today with our courageous Prime Minister willing to take the personal
and professional risks associated with walking the high road to bring about the
end of all vestiges of law which discriminate against full civil rights for gays
and lesbians -- to marry when in love.
admire him for this stand, and look forward to admiring you, too, when you choose,
as I am sure you will, to cast your vote in favour of changing the law from "man
and woman" to "two persons". This is one very important action you can take which
will assist in bringing about full rights and responsibilities for all of your
also hope that you will begin to fearlessly speak openly about your views. Equal
rights for all people are enshrined in Canadian law; the right of certain religions
to continue to speak out against homosexual behaviour is also enshrined.
are two marvelous articles in today's Globe & Mail (August 6) which I urge you
to read. One is about a Catholic
priest in Quebec who has risked a reprimand from the Vatican for his letter
of open disagreement with the Vatican's position on gay marriage. The other is
lengthy article by an Anglican priest, who is also on Canada's Human Rights
Commission. Both are wonderful examples of individuals speaking out powerfully
without compromising their integrity and deep respect for all people. Then check
out today's letters to the editor, all of which are powerfully written, including
a moving reminder from the highly esteemed Tomson Highway.
you for your attention to this important issue, Dominic. Thank you in advance
for all that I know you will do to ensure that this legislation passes, allowing
Canada, to be among the leaders in the 21st century as a nation respectful and
supportive of the rights of all of its peoples.
Dr. Janet Hammock
Sackville, New Brunswick
letter is in support of the proposed legislation permitting same-sex marriage.
are difficult times as we witness social change. The opponents are becoming more
vocal; the proponents continue to affirm the goal of equality and justice for
probably familiar with the issues and arguments, though I fear that the vocal
opposition is getting more media coverage than the proponents of justice and equality.
Today's (July 31) National Post reports that MPs are getting letters angry about
"erosion of the traditional definition of marriage". But we eroded it with divorce
and remarriage. We eroded the definition of person, when women were finally acknowledged
as persons and given the vote. So perhaps "erosion" should read "expanded".
was opposition to giving women the vote, freeing slaves, permitting interracial
marriage, divorce and remarriage - but these freedoms did come to pass, and are
now taken for granted, driven by our principles of equality and justice. And now
that we understand a whole lot more about homosexuality than we did just 30 years
ago, it's time to move forward with equality and justice for gays and lesbians.
It's going to
take leadership and courage to take this step. To do what's right (and what the
courts have consistently found to be right) in the face of those who prefer intolerance
and discrimination, those who prefer a religious agenda, those who prefer the
status quo. But in 1967, when the US finally permitted interracial marriage in
all states , a majority of the population was opposed. With same-sex marriage,
it's not about polls, and it's not about religion. It is simple human dignity
and human rights as articulated in our Charter of Rights.
hope that you and our parliamentarians have the leadership and courage that's
was truly shocked and taken aback while watching you during the debate on Mr.
Robinson's motion, to support the Ontario Supreme Courts ruling on equal-marriage.
Firstly you appeared agitated and very confused, and almost venomous in your attack
on the decision of the court.
then went on to say that this decision should be appealed to the Supreme Court
of Canada. Even though you previously stated that this was a role for legislators
and not for the courts. Following that with; if I don't like their decision I
would recommend introducing the notwithstanding clause. You commented that you
could just be a "Nice Guy" and give us the rights we seek, but you don't believe
in it. Mr. O"Brien we don't want you to be a nice guy, we only want you to be
a right guy. A guy who does what is right for all Canadian citizens. You went
into this committee with a closed mind, and it appears that you kept your mind
closed to most of the testimony. For instance when we gave testimony in Vancouver
you weren't here. Sir, we ask you to reconsider your hard-nosed stance on this
important issue and at least abstain from voting this afternoon.
Thornhill Bob Peacock
Ms. [Claudette] Bradshaw M.P.,
Jan. 30, Belgium became the second country in the world -- behind the Netherlands
-- to grant marriage rights to same-sex couples. On Sunday, September 22nd, voters
in Zurich, Switzerland, approved giving marriage rights to same-sex couples. The
measure extends to gay and lesbian couples the same rights and benefits as heterosexual
married couples, including tax, inheritance and social security.
is Canada going to come out of the dark ages? Those who oppose equal marriage
will one day be judged in the same way those who favoured segregation. I know
this is a difficult time for you and your colleagues as you struggle with the
decision facing you now. Please do the right thing. Stop denying us our Constitutional
& Jason Curl
Ms. Hedy Fry, M.P.
are writing to express our support for extending equal marriage to same-sex couples.
It's the only fair thing to do.
met in 1997, fell in love and held a commitment ceremony in Fredericton in 1998.
We wanted to be make a true meaning commitment so in May of 2001 we travelled
to Vermont and were married in a Civil Union. Several of our friends have been
forced to do the same thing since we can't legally do it here. We have wills and
have been forced to pay for a "Power of Attorney" so we can legally make decisions
for the other in critical situations. Opposite-sex couples do not have to take
this costly step. It comes as a "perk" of marriage.
us, marriage is about love and commitment. We are just as loving and committed
as opposite-sex couples. We should be allowed to marry here and be recognized
by the government.
know that Parliament is now considering its options about how to treat same-sex
couples fairly. There is only one fair option - dropping the opposite-sex restriction
and letting same-sex couples get legally married.
has been talk about setting up a new institution that is similar to marriage but
called something different. That's not equality, that's segregation. If it's not
called "marriage", then it isn't marriage - it's second class status. We would
like our Vermont "Civil union" recognized here as a marriage.
prides itself on treating people with respect. If same-sex couples can marry it's
not going to stop opposite-sex couples from doing so. After the dust settles,
people will see it's no big deal. Other countries have done it, we should as well.
and let me know where you stand on this important issue.
Dickinson and Jason Curl
Bradshaw responded: "The Government feels it is the responsible course to
seek further clarity on these issues." And so Larry and Jason wrote back
Fry responded: "I agree with the recent interpretation by the Superior Court
of Ontario, that it would constitute discrimination to oppose the legal union
of same sex couples ... As you know Holland is the only country in the world that
recognises same sex marriage [Belgium
too]. As well,
France has implemented, the concept in law of "civil union " between same sex
couples. I think that the French model is useful one to consider since it deals
with the law per se, leaving the religious concept of marriage up to the churches.
know the argument that marriage should only be allowed between a man and a woman
because it was meant to legitimize procreation. If one accepts this argument it
would suggest that heterosexual couples who cannot or choose not to have children
are not entitled to be married. This has not been supported in law, so any refusal
to allow same sex couples the same right to civil union would constitute discrimination.
I believe that marriage is meant to enhance commitment and permanence amongst
loving couples. The more we can facilitate this for all couples the more we facilitate
stability within families, especially, but not limited, to those with children.
As you know, same-sex as well as heterosexual families have children, both adopted
and biological. Those children have the right to be regarded as equal to the children
of heterosexual couples, both de
jure and de
understand that this is a difficult societal issue. However, we must be consistent
in seeking remedies in the pursuit of true equality, under the-law, for all of
Peter MacKay, MP
House of Commons Ottawa
am writing to express my displeasure and disappointment regarding the recent statement
that you made concerning same-sex marriage and the fact that you feel other matters
such as homelessness are much more pressing social issues.
homelessness may be a very serious problem here in Canada I am puzzled by your
sudden concern around an issue that has required government intervention for many
years. The present Liberal government and the previous Conservative government
have done very little to eradicate the lack of shelters, affordable housing and
programs to assist those unfortunate people who find themselves in the position
of being without a place to live. This recent display of empathy and concern for
homeless individuals certainly leaves me to question its authenticity and sincerity.
find it most disturbing that the basic human rights of Canadians guaranteed by
the Charter of Rights is considered a non-priority by someone who is hoping to
lead his Party and this country in to the new millennium. I find it very difficult
to believe that in a country such as Canada, which is based upon values of acceptance
and personal choice, a group could be denied the equal rights that they are entitled
to. It is very important that the federal government remedy the situation and
live up to the promise it made to the people of Canada when it created the charter,
for what is the point of having the charter if it is not going to be followed?
of taking a stand on the values it claims to stand for, the government has chosen
to waste millions of taxpayer’s dollars (and need I remind you that gays and lesbians
are taxpayers too) travelling across this nation “consulting” the Canadian public
about what it should do. Dubbed as the largest government-funded “gay bashing”
this country has ever seen, the federal government will only delay what is the
inevitable next step.
a Member of Parliament you have been appointed by the Justice Minister to represent
the government and the people of Canada on this special committee, to be fair
and unbiased as you listen to and gather the views of Canadians across the country.
If you felt that this issue was not an important one to Canadians, then why did
you not ask to be replaced on the Committee? You had plenty of opportunity to
do so. In fact there is still time. With your recent announcement concerning your
views on same-sex marriage I urge Canadians to demand Mr. Cauchon remove you from
this committee post and seek immediately to replace you with another house member.
has been expressed by human rights activist groups such as Egale surrounding the
Marriage Committee and the fact that three-committee leaders are all on record
opposing gay marriage. And now, you have joined the ranks of those opposed to
same-sex marriage by announcing that you do not feel it rates high, if at all,
on the priority list. Your position on the definition of marriage and your statement
that the federal government should not use the law to force churches to recognize
same-sex marriage indicates to me how little time and effort you and other members
of the committee and opponents to this issue have spent familiarizing themselves
with the issue. At no time has it been suggested or requested that churches be
forced to perform or recognize same-sex marriages. What has been suggested however
is that gay and lesbian couples be treated fairly and equally, by allowing them
access to the rights that are guaranteed them by the charter. There are churches
who would sanctify and acknowledge same-sex marriage if it were recognized by
the state. They do this willingly, with Christian love and acceptance, not because
they are being forced or legislated to do so.
government funded polls have indicated that the majority of Canadians feel that
gays and lesbians should be entitled to marry. If two people choose to unite their
lives, with commitment and sincerity under law, then they should be allowed. Prohibiting
gay and lesbian couples from their legal right to marriage is discrimination because
it is based on the sexual orientation of the persons requesting the right to do
so. If “sexual orientation” is included in the human rights legislation as prohibited
grounds for discrimination then why does this government continually support discrimination
by refusing gays and lesbians the right to marry?
heterosexual couples that choose not to marry, some gay and lesbian couples may
also choose not to marry. Equal marriage is about giving same-sex couples the
same choice as opposite-sex couples have always had: the right to choose to marry.
Equal marriage is about ending discrimination. Canada is a great nation that prides
itself on its spirit and it’s freedoms. Yet each and every day the shackles of
prejudice and discrimination bind us, as GLBT persons. As long as those chains
of oppression bind even one person none of us can truly boast of our freedom.
Member-Membre du Conseil Egale