April 23, 2004
grants Unitarians intervener status
. . . 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
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.
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."
"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 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