Supreme Court of Canada grants Unitarians intervener status








United Church will support same-sex marriage at the Supreme Court of Canada



Same-sex marriage: separation of church and state



Religion vs. Sexual Orientation - Lecture By Dr. Robert Wintemute



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Equality - In Our Faiths

April 23, 2004

SCC grants Unitarians intervener status
Constitutional right to marriage trumps dogma

" . . . the demand for tolerance cannot be interpreted as the demand to approve of another person's beliefs or practices. When we ask people to be tolerant of others, we do not ask them to abandon their personal convictions. We merely ask them to respect the rights, values and ways of being of those who may not share those convictions. The belief that others are entitled to equal respect depends, not on the belief that their values are right, but on the belief that they have a claim to equal respect regardless of whether they are right. Learning about tolerance is therefore learning that other people's entitlement to respect from us does not depend on whether their views accord with our own. Children cannot learn this unless they are exposed to views that differ from those they are taught at home."
Chamberlain v. Surrey School District No. 36, 2002 SCC 86.

In addition to the United Church (reported earlier today), the Unitarians will also appear the Supreme Court of Canada reference by Parliament, concerning proposed marriage legislation that would extend legal capacity to same-sex couples through-out Canada. Currently, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec have legalized same-sex marriage.

J. McRee Elrod, the Chair of the Equal Marriage Working Group of the Gender and Sexual Diversity Monitoring Group of the Canadian Unitarian Council, supported the Unitarian's request for intervener status with an affidavit.

"Although CUC was not an intervener in the three equal marriage cases that were filed in BC, Ontario and Quebec, in December 2002 then CUC President Rev. Dr. Mark Morrison-Reed signed an affidavit supporting the eight couples who successfully challenged the Ontario marriage law in the [Ontario] case. CUC Executive Director Mary Bennett signed an affidavit against the application to the Supreme Court of Canada of the Interfaith Coalition on Marriage and the Family for leave to Appeal. One of the couples in the BC case, Elizabeth and Dawn Barbeau, are active members of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver who were married at that church."

Affidavit of J. McRee Elrod
(motion to intervene - granted - in the Supreme Court of Canada reference by Parliament, concerning proposed marriage legislation that would extend legal capacity to same-sex couples)

"Same-Sex Marriage: Popular Discontent and the Canadian Unitarian Response"
(Video produced by Mr. Elrod)

Rev. Mark Morrison-Reed's Affidavit
(co-minister, First Unitarian Church of Toronto; doc used in the Ontario marriage hearings.)

It's about constitutional rights, not religion

The Canadian Unitarians "insist this is a constitutional equality rights issue and not a religious issue ... While we are a religious intervner we do not want religious dogma enshrined in our laws."

In regards to homosexuality, such dogma may often be corrupted, says Elrod, "... Scripture is misued by the selection of a few verses to support positions contgrary to the overarching message of Scripture, that justic should flow down from government like water. Our movement in history has experienced the use of Scripture to defend both slavery and segregation."

New truth

"We feel that there is new truth available to us now, which should lead us to reconsider long time prejudice. We would like the opportunity to state before the Court the A database of clergy in support of same-sex marriage has been developed  by us, on behalf of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto for Canadians for Equal Marriage implications of these new truths for equal marriage rights. We are compelled to defend our freedom to perform those marriages we feel to be appropriate for our members and friends. Among new truths is research establishing that sexual orientation is biologically determined, and not a matter of choice. This in our view requires a reworking of Biblical interpretation, as did earlier Copernicanism and Darwinism. Unitarians were at the forefront of accepting the implications of these two earlier revolutions for faith."

We look forward to the refreshing insights that will be on offer when the Unitarians' legal team puts together its factum (legal presentation to court). We'll be sure to post that as it becomes available. Meanwhile, we appreciate the ongoing support from our Unitarian friends.

What you can do

  • Write to, or phone, Canada's Prime Minister and Justice Minister, and Members of Parliament in support of equal marriage.
  • Write to homophobic leaders of faith communities in your area, denouncing faith-based bigotry.
  • If your faith community is homophobic, withhold your financial support. Instead of dropping money in the collection plate, leave a note explaining your position.
  • Support gay-positive organizations and faith communities.

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