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Canada's House of Common's first sat to discuss Bill C23 (MODERNIZATION OF BENEFITS AND OBLIGATIONS ACT) on Feb 15, 2000. There last day of debate was on April 11, 2000. The following are extracts from the 5 day debate amongst Canada's Members of Parliament:

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Anne McLellan (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib):
“The fundamental tenets of Canadian society - fairness, tolerance, respect and equality - are touchstones of our national identity and serve to enhance our international reputation.”

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Eric Lowther (Calgary Centre, Ref.):
“People have become increasingly concerned that the definition of marriage in Canada needs to be strengthened and protected before the courts because of case rulings one after another that increasingly suggest that the opposite sex definition of marriage may soon be deemed unconstitutional by the courts. In the last two years alone, 84 members of the House have presented petition after petition totalling thousands of names, calling for parliament to enact legislation to define that marriage can only be entered into between a single male and a single female.”

“Some say the last thing that remains is the full blown establishment of homosexual marriage in Canada as a normative practice. It becomes somewhat self-evident that sooner or later the opposite sex definition of marriage will be challenged in the courts. If the courts can rule that the way Canadians use the word spouse is unconstitutional and must include a same sex definition of spouse, why could they not rule that the current definition of marriage is unconstitutional unless it includes same sex and possibly a variety of other relationships as well?”

“We are here to serve the Canadian people. We should be the people exhibiting integrity and character as an example to our children. We should exemplify the values that inspire the youth of our nation but that is not what is happening.”

“I do not think that voting for Bill C-23 sends the right message at all. It sends a very confusing message. I invite every member of the House to think about the obligations they have taken on and the commitments they have made to their constituents who put them here. I invite them to think about the bill and the message they will send to Canadian youth.”

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Réal Ménard (Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, BQ):
"Let us ask ourselves the question. For the second time in less than a decade, parliamentarians will be voting on the recognition of same sex spouses. The previous time was in 1995. Yours truly, who was still very green as a member of parliament, having been elected in 1993, had asked his parliamentary colleagues to pass a motion asking that the government and the House recognize same sex spouses. At the time, no more than 55 parliamentarians voted in favour of the motion. All members of the NDP voted in favour, as did 85% of the members of the Bloc. What is significant-and I do not mean this to be a breach of our rules, I mention it strictly for information purposes-is that, except for the Minister of Canadian Heritage, there were no cabinet members in the House when the vote took place. I mention this for information purposes, to show the incredible progress made, resulting in the Minister of Justice, and she is to be commended for that, coming before the House today with a commitment from cabinet and asking us to support an act recognizing same sex spouses. The Minister of Justice is able today to table a bill like this one because of a change brought about by people speaking out.”

“The day we debate it, I will be the first to rise and say there is no reason to limit the institution of marriage as such to heterosexuals, that it is discriminatory to exclude people of the homosexual persuasion from the institution of marriage.”

“As well, Bill C-23 is a yardstick by which to measure our society's progress along the path of tolerance. Not very long ago, in 1994 when I was a new MP, full of energy, enthusiasm, and idealism, which incidentally I have never lost, I introduced a very similar bill. That bill likewise proposed to amend all federal laws containing a heterosexual definition of spouse to include a homosexual one. At the time in 1994 only 52 members supported the bill and only a single member of cabinet, the then Minister of the Environment and Deputy Prime Minister, the hon. member for Hamilton East, did so.”

“It was in 1979 that the Canadian Human Rights Commission first mentioned that sexual orientation should be included in the Canadian Human Rights Act as a prohibited ground of discrimination. Recognition of same sex couples means recognition of the emotional relationships openly engaged in by homosexuals. First, we had to stop discriminating on an individual basis. That is why the first court challenge involved including sexual orientation in the Canadian Human Rights Act as a prohibited ground of discrimination. I want those people to clearly understand that the Canadian Human Rights Act is different from the charter. The charter is part of the Constitution; it is the supreme law of the land. It was adopted in 1982 under conditions that we all know and that today's day of celebration prevent me from describing. By contrast, the Canadian Human Rights Act is an act of parliament. It protects those who receive federal services or who work in a jurisdiction that comes under the federal government. I am thinking of course about banks, telecommunications, postal services and all the other federal jurisdictions.

In 1992, in Haig v. Canada, the Ontario court of appeal ruled that it was discriminatory and contrary to section 15 of the charter to not recognize sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination. At the time, a decision which could have been binding in Ontario alone was extended to the whole country. Thanks to Kim Campbell, the then Minister of Justice-whom we remember with fondness-that ruling was made binding across Canada. Then came Bill C-33. I was here when parliament passed it in 1993. The then Minister of Justice, the hon. Allan Rock, introduced a bill to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act, so as to comply with the ruling issued by the Ontario court of appeal. Following that, a long series of cases were heard by various courts. There were administrative tribunals, judicial tribunals, which declared that it was discriminatory for the workplace not to recognize same sex partners in collective agreements.

Another extremely important case is the 1995 case, initiated in 1993, of Nesbit-Egan v. Canada. This one needs particular attention because the supreme court judgment in this case is what has led to our now needing to read section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as including sexual orientation among the prohibited grounds for discrimination.”

“There was the Rosenberg case, where the Public Service Alliance of Canada challenged the provisions of the Income Tax Act, which did not allow same sex spouses to register retirement savings plans in each other's name or to receive survivor's pensions and allowances. That was discriminatory treatment. Once again, the courts were extremely receptive and struck down the provisions of the act which did not allow this recognition. The government was asked to change the law, and this led to Bill C-78. The Rosenberg case triggered an important change in the Income Tax Act. However, the bill now before us is in direct response to the supreme court. This is why I cannot agree with Canadian Alliance members. Generally speaking, and I say this in all friendship, I tend to make a point of not agreeing with them. Canadian Alliance members are not too open-minded when it comes to human rights. We will recall that they voted against Bill C-33, which amended the Canadian Human Rights Act. They also voted against my private member's bill."

“Could someone from the Canadian Alliance tell me how the fact that a person chooses to live as a homosexual in society, to engage in an emotional relationship, which the supreme court said ought to be considered as a conjugal relationship, poses a threat to the heterosexual community? What makes Canadian Alliance members view Bill C-23 as a threat to traditional families?”

“Of course, I cannot guarantee that 10 or 15 years from now a court of law will not rule that it is discriminatory to limit the institution of marriage to the heterosexual community. I do not know, but what I do know is that, if a court of law rules that marriage is unconstitutional because it is limited to the heterosexual community, it will not be because of this bill. It will be because of section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

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Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby-Douglas, NDP):
“There are those who have lived their lives openly and proudly, often defying the ostracism of people in their communities who rejected their relationships. They are the unsung heroes and those who we honour as our leaders. They include people like Jane Rule and her partner Helen Sonthoff, who just died, and Jim Egan and his partner Jack Nesbitt, who took to the Supreme Court of Canada the issue of the recognition of gay and lesbian relationships, who have celebrated their lives together for over 40 years, and who won a landmark victory in affirming the inclusion of sexual orientation in our charter of rights. Others who have taken their fight to the courts include Nancy Rosenberg and her partner; Margaret Evans and her partner; Stanley Moore and his partner, Pierre Soucy; Dale Akerstrom and his partner, Alexander; Chris Vogel in Manitoba; Jim Bigney in Nova Scotia; and Delwin Vriend.”

“In my opinion, groups that have historically been the target of discrimination cannot be expected to wait patiently for the protection of their human dignity and equal rights while governments move toward reform one step at a time. If the infringement of the rights and freedoms of these groups is permitted to persist while governments fail to pursue equality diligently, then the guarantees of the Charter will be reduced to little more than empty words.”

“This isn't a matter of “special” rights or privileges. It's about recognizing the fullness of diversity within our communities and facing the fact that Canadian laws need to change in order to reflect current realities and the equality of all citizens. It's about putting an end to homophobia and heterosexism. It is about action, not lip service. It's time for the government to act and to end all forms of discrimination against lesbian and gay Canadians.”

“With respect to the ongoing issue of violence and gay-bashing in our community, there are people who are beaten up simply because of their sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation. There are huge concerns about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered youth who still have levels of suicide, attempted suicide and alienation that are devastatingly high. These are some of the other issues that we clearly must address. This bill is not in a position to address them, but when we speak of full equality we must recognize there is still a lot of work to be done in many of these areas and the whole area of affirmation of our relationships, the diversity of our communities and the education system."

It is no surprise that many of the Liberals who have spoken out against the bill are the same Liberals who spoke out against equality in the Canadian Human Rights Act. I see the member for Scarborough Centre here. He has been very clear. He does not believe in equality. He voted against it in the human rights act and he is voting against this bill as well.

“I urge all members of the House to rise above intolerance and homophobia, to reject the campaign of fearmongering, to appeal particularly to Liberal members to do the right thing, to recognize the diversity of Canadian families, to recognize that our relationships as gay and lesbian people are just as loving and just as committed, and that we should have that choice. To deny us that choice is not only deeply offensive and demeaning, but I believe is unconstitutional as well.”

----- -----

John McKay (Scarborough East, Lib.):
“Once again Canadians will not have their say in what they believe to be the essence of marriage and all the resolutions passed in the House will not matter at all, which is quite regrettable. A court will once again decide social policy, which is probably one of the last places one should deal with social policy. Then the justice minister of the day will introduce a bill amending the Marriage Act, arguing that he or she had really no choice but to follow the wishes of the court.”

“I submit that these are not equal relationships and should not be regarded as same for the purposes of public policy. To add common law homosexual relationships to common law heterosexual relationships and say that they are the same thing in my view is a fallacy.”

----- -----

Bill Graham (Toronto Centre-Rosedale, Lib.):
“It does not go as far as some of my constituents would have liked. For example, there are those who might have wanted to see crafted some form of matrimonial relationship for couples of the same sex; but those who would have preferred that solution know the complexity of this issue as was referred to by my colleague, the minister from Vancouver. This issue requires political co-operation between the provinces as do all matters dealing with marriage. “

"We chose to have a charter in this country. We chose to give our courts authority to interpret our laws. I respect the decisions of those courts because I think they have fundamentally followed their requirements under the constitution. I am pleased to say that I think my constituents support the decisions of the courts too. They support this statute because it is important to gay and lesbian communities that discrimination be eliminated so they can contribute fully to society. It is important to send a signal to everyone that discrimination is not a part of our social fabric. It is also important for society in general.”

----- -----

Gérard Asselin (Charlevoix, BQ):
“When the bill says that same sex couples should have the same benefits as opposite sex couples, does this mean that even two men who have been living together for a period of time could apply to adopt a child? We have all been to school. Children pick on each other asking questions like “Who is your mother? Who is your father?” In the case of two men living together who have adopted a boy or a girl, is this any kind of example to set the child? If the same benefits, up to and including the right to adopt children, are provided, I am absolutely opposed.”

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John Bryden (Wentworth-Burlington, Lib.):
“I also have a problem with marriage. I do not believe marriage can ever be considered a same sex relationship because marriage implies the rights of adoption. I would never ever take away the rights of children in order to satisfy the rights of adults. Until evidence is to the contrary, and I do not think it will ever occur, I think all things being equal there is not doubt that heterosexual partners make more appropriate parents than do same sex partners. So we cannot detract from the rights of children.”

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Maurice Dumas (Argenteuil-Papineau-Mirabel, BQ):
“Every year, complaints are filed with human rights commissions on the federal or provincial level concerning discrimination toward homosexuals relating to hiring, firing and treatment in the workplace. This and other evidence points to discrimination against homosexuals. Sexual orientation is, unfortunately, a rarely mentioned factor in suicide. Studies reveal that young people, both male and female, who are homosexual are two to three times more likely than other young people to commit suicide. More than three-quarters of these give as the main reason for their suicide attempt the conflicts arising out of their sexual orientation. This is a clear demonstration of the negative environment in which homosexuals have to live and grow up. “

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Grant McNally (Dewdney-Alouette, Canadian Alliance):
Let us look at the term tolerance. What does the word actually mean in light of public policy? Tolerance on this topic of same sex benefits would seem to indicate that the state should not be allowed to intrude on private, consensual sexual relationships between adults as long as all involved consent and no one gets hurt. What does the government call tolerance? What does the justice minister call tolerance? What does she mean by the words tolerance and equality? The minister believes that no personal sexual arrangement is better than any other, which can be defined as sexual egalitarianism, and that anyone should be allowed to participate in whichever arrangements they choose or are predisposed to. That is the first part of tolerance. In conclusion, the minister goes well beyond this definition and redefines tolerance to mean social acceptance.”

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André Bachand (Richmond-Arthabaska, PC):
“An older lady told me “I remember 25, 30 or 35 years ago, when my daughter decided to move in with her boyfriend, it was a tragedy. We would tell them “What are you doing? You are living in sin. Such a relationship is illegal, as evidenced by the fact that the Church opposes it, while the law does not recognize it”. Finally, things have evolved. I think that the discussion nowadays is much like the discussions that used to take place in Canada and Quebec and all the provinces about cohabitation-although not quite the same, because any analogy is imperfect. Do we provide the same benefits? People were afraid that the sacrament of marriage might disappear if they recognized the existing reality.”

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Werner Schmidt (Kelowna, Canadian Alliance):
“There can be common law arrangements, gay arrangements and liaisons of a variety of natures. They are just simply liaisons and they are different from marriage. They are not marriage.”

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Diane Ablonczy (Calgary-Nose Hill, Canadian Alliance):
“We just heard a speaker from the New Democratic Party use words like bigotry, intolerance and hate. When views are expressed from a faith perspective on behalf of millions of Canadians, whether they are expressed as temperately as they might be, they have questions that are fair to ask. Labelling their deeply held values as hate, bigotry, intolerance and reprehensible in a free and democratic society should be viewed as very troubling. We have an obligation, whatever our viewpoint, to debate an issue and to approach it in a very reasonable, logical and temperate way, respecting each other and other viewpoints. To label viewpoints, as people on both sides of the debate have tended to do, is unfortunate, unhelpful and destructive in our society. I would urge members of the House to understand the feelings on both sides of the debate. The feeling of some groups in society is a feeling of not being treated equally or fairly. Those feelings are legitimate. We need to be respectful of the concerns of other members of society about the values that they hold and about the structures of our society.”

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Randy White (Langley-Abbotsford, Canadian Alliance):
“I had the occasion not too long ago to talk to four young fellows. I knew them all. They were sitting around and I asked them about Bill C-23. First of all they did not know much about it. They said, “On this conjugal relations stuff, you can say whatever you want about it, but if the benefit befits us, if it is good for us, we will say whatever it takes. We will do it”.”

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Reed Elley (Nanaimo-Cowichan, Canadian Alliance):
“In moving in this direction, I suggest that this government has given in once again to the tyranny of the minority. Minority pressure groups in our society that demand legislative change to legitimize their position do not really question the morality of it. They are afraid to ask the important question: Is it really the right thing to do? They simply change the law in the name of equality. Having equal rights does not make those rights correct or moral. We cannot legislate equality any more than we can legislate morality. Those are attitudes of the heart and soul that the government has clearly forgotten about.”

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Maurice Vellacott (Wanuskewin, Canadian Alliance):
“To tinker with the institution of marriage sends the wrong message to our young people. Surveys have shown that young people are actually more optimistic about relationships and starting a family some day than many of their parents. That optimism is good and needs to be encouraged. Were the institution of marriage to be changed, we would be sending the wrong message to common law couples who have children and who are contemplating making a lifelong commitment to each other in marriage. Obviously many couples who are married today were formerly living together in common law relationships. At some point they decided to commit themselves to each other in a greater way, in marriage. This is something to be welcomed and encouraged. The children in such relationships benefit and society in turn benefits. Therefore marriage in Canada as currently defined as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others accords with the Reform Party, the Canadian Alliance policy that marriage is the union between a man and a woman as recognized by the state.”

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Lee Morrison (Cypress Hills-Grasslands, Canadian Alliance):
“Mr. Speaker, prior to question period I was making the point that the effects of Bill C-23 are not necessarily benign, although members opposite would lead us to believe that they are. I would like to point out that for hundreds of generations and in almost every society I am aware of there have been social proscriptions against homosexual unions. Now we are more civilized. We do not attempt, as Mr. Trudeau would say, to interfere in the bedrooms of the nation. That is fair enough. But we should remember that all through history, heterosexual unions have been recognized as having a social purpose. They have never been considered to be purely recreational or even sentimental arrangements. Marriage is the foundation on which civil society rests. Society extends certain benefits to strengthen and support the institution. To extend those same benefits to homosexual couples for no good reason inferentially diminishes the institution. I frankly do not care how homosexuals choose to organize their lives, but to treat their unions as de facto marriages is downright silly. That is not just my personal opinion. In June 1994 the present government House leader wrote in a letter to a constituent, “I do not believe that homosexuals should be treated as families. My wife and I do not claim we are homosexuals. Why should homosexuals pretend that they form a family?” What happened?”

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Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West-Nepean, Lib.):
“The fact is that people establishing committed, loving relationships of long term duration is to the benefit of society at large. That is what the bill is about. The bill is about recognizing that not every family is the same.”

“What has bothered me in this debate is the way we have been speaking about fellow human beings. It has bothered me a great deal that we have talked about hundreds of thousands of our fellow Canadians as if they are somehow inferior human beings. I can put it no other way.

Homosexuality is a fact of life for many Canadians. It is not a choice of lifestyle. It is a fact of life. It seems to me that the comments I have heard on this topic have forgotten completely the people we are talking about are somebody's sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, cousins or next door neighbours. For most of our history these people have had to live in secret, hiding who they are and feeling a sense of shame about who they are because of the societal attitudes I have heard expressed in the Chamber. It is hardly an attitude of inclusiveness toward our fellow Canadians.

It is this attitude which leads young people who realize in their teens that they are not heterosexual to have a whole layer of difficulty added on to growing and developing into adults, not because of who they are and what they are but because of the attitudes of society.

None of us can expect to be whole human beings if we are hit every day, as our society does, with the kinds of messages I have been hearing in the House, the message that what we are is shameful, to be hidden and despised.

I will say it again. These people are somebody's sons, daughters, fathers and mothers. In my view if what we are doing with the legislation, as we did with common law marriage nearly a half century ago, is encouraging and recognizing long term committed relationships I believe that is to the benefit of all society. I do not see how anyone could argue that this takes away from the institution of marriage. I do not see how anyone could argue that this weakens the moral fibre of society.”

“Today I only want to say that to the extent people live with dignity, they live full and complete lives and our whole society benefits. What we have done until now is to relegate same sex relationships to the back alleys of society and in many cases the back alleys of our cities. That is not healthy for the people involved and it is not healthy for Canadian society.”

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Jim Pankiw (Saskatoon-Humboldt, Canadian Alliance):
“What are we doing here today? Despite all the problems facing our nation, the government has brought forward a bill to extend benefits depending on whether or not one is having gay sex. Is that the depth to which the government has to sink? What about all the urgent matters facing our nation? No, it is preoccupied with extending benefits to people who have homosexual sex.”

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Sarmite Bulte (Parkdale-High Park, Lib.):
“We have discussed this legislation with my children. My children do not understand what the big ado is all about. If there is one legacy I can leave to my children when I leave Parliament Hill it is the legacy of fairness, non-discrimination and being taught that it is not fair to discriminate any longer. Intolerance is not acceptable in Canada or in our Canadian values.”

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Alex Shepherd (Durham, Lib.):
“What is really bothering some people behind this legislation is the ability to impose their morality on society generally. In other words, things seem to be changing. This is the way things were. One of the members spoke about her family. I have been married well over 30 years and have a grown family myself similar to what she was saying. I discussed this matter with them and they thought this whole issue was a bit of nonsense and that we were a bunch of old fogeys in the way we visualize society because society has fundamentally changed in front of us. I know my mother would be giving me heck for my opinion on this legislation but I think people's attitudes and views change over time.”

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John Harvard (Charleswood St. James-Assiniboia, Lib.):
“When I listened to the anti-diluvium reformers across the way, I find it difficult to understand what I suppose they would construe as their reasoning. Somehow they believe that if we give homosexual couples in a common law relationship the same benefits and the same obligations as society has already given to opposite sex couples in common law relationships, that somehow threatens the institution of marriage. Madam Speaker, if you could square that circle for me, I would appreciate it. If I enjoy a privilege or a right and if that is extended to someone else living in a committed common law relationship, regardless of whether they are opposite sex or same sex, how that threatens me, my marriage or the institution of marriage is beyond me. I guess it might be called reform party reasoning, flawed as it is.”

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Dick Proctor (Palliser, NDP):
“I was intrigued with a book that I picked up for the first time last night. Justice, Not Just Us is written by Gerald Vanderzande who is described on the jacket of the book as follows: “What he has to say is always moving and compelling. His words transcend the boundaries between denominations and faith communities. In urging us to do God's work here and now he demonstrates the true potential of contemporary religion. If only its practitioners learned to act in unison”.

Gerald Vanderzande has something to say on this issue and I would like to refer to it briefly. He writes for an organization called Citizens for Public Justice. He said: Let us now consider Citizens for Public Justice's position on legal-equality rights for gays and lesbians. The government encounters a variety of human relationships in our society, including heterosexual marriages and other social relationships-. When a government does not recognize, in law or public policy, the reality of other, non-marital relationships in our society, then, whether we like it or not, the courts are forced to reinterpret the meaning and scope of marriage within the existing legislation. That means that other relationships, even though they are non-heterosexual and non-marital, must be defined-

He goes on to say in this interesting document: -all people are treated fairly when it comes to the recognition of certain civil rights and freedoms and the provision of certain services and programs-. How can we, without discriminating against certain people-recognize the constitutional and other rights of people who live in other “permanent” relationships? “

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Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP):
“I have been particularly offended by the remarks of members opposite that the bill will hurt children and families. In fact, just yesterday a member of the opposition in his debate said “I suggest that this government has given in once again to the tyranny of the minority. We cannot legislate equality any more than we can legislate morality”. We do legislate equality. That is what the charter of rights and freedoms is about. That is what our constitution is about. That is what the Canadian Human Rights Act is about. We do legislate equality and every member of the House should stand to defend the right of equality."

"Those members are trying to legislate morality in the House. Let us be very clear about that. When they do so we have to understand that not only are they attacking gay and lesbians or same sex couples who are in a common law relationship, they have gone further than that. They are now attacking the rights of people, whether they be gay, straight or whatever, in common law relationships.”

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Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP):
“When the definition of marriage was put forward in the 1880s in Britain's common law other things were typical about marriage as well. For instance, two races were not allowed to marry. At that time interracial marriages were illegal. We have gone beyond that. We have matured and developed to realize that was silly, and so we chucked it out. At that time it was legal to beat one's wife as long as one did not use a rod thicker than one's thumb. That was silly. That was obsolete and had to be dealt with, so we modernized the institution of marriage to toss out those anachronisms. There is another one we have yet to toss out, the barrier which so horrifies right wing extremist parties today, same sex unions and same sex marriages.”

“As to whether the definition of marriage should be modernized as well, I believe it should. I believe the definition of marriage that we are currently using, as I said, is from 1880s British common law. Many things have had to be changed to reflect social morals and so on. I think it is wrong to even try to legislate morality. That has been made in argument before. If we read Oliver Wendell Holmes at that same period of time in the 1880s, he was saying, “You can't legislate morality. The state has no business trying to legislate morality”. We can legislate equality, as the hon. member for Vancouver East pointed out quite correctly, but we cannot legislate morality. I would say the right wing extremist party in this country has things completely reversed. Stop trying to legislate morality and admit that it is necessary to legislate equality.”

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Hon. Hedy Fry (Secretary of State (Multiculturalism) (Status of Women), Lib.):
“It bothers me that the hon. member for Nanaimo-Cowichan and the hon. member for Calgary Centre have given statements that they make sound like scientific fact. There are a couple of very important pieces of stereotyping which are dangerous. The hon. member for Nanaimo-Cowichan talked about feminism creating gays and lesbians. The hon. member talked about the fact that single parent families and divorce create gays and lesbians in this country. I would like to quote what the hon. member for Nanaimo-Cowichan said. While it does not bear repeating, it must be repeated because it shows the extremism of that party. The hon. member said: A gradual blurring of the sexes occurred that gave young men growing up in many female dominated, single parent homes an identity crisis. This led to a rise in militant homosexuality, a coming out of the closet of gay men and women who also demanded equality. The things that had been considered improper went looking for a desperate legitimacy. When pressed, the hon. member was unable to explain why he believes that single mother families encourage militant homosexuality. When pressed he also said that he did not know the answer to why homosexuals who grew up with both their father and mother in the home would be less militant. That spreads hateful messages about other people. It is about a party so set in its own need to poison people against each other that it will say anything, no matter whether it is the truth or not.”

“As a physician, a parent and a member of parliament, I am extremely concerned about the damage being done to young gays and lesbians who are beginning to understand their sexuality. The suicide rate among gay and lesbian youth is extremely high, beginning at the age of 15 when young people are beginning to understand their sexuality. Those young people are wondering if they may or may not be gay or lesbian. They are worried about whether or not they will be accepted.

They are now being further marginalized by the members of the Canadian Alliance, the former Reform Party. I cannot keep up with the name changes in that party. Those young people are being further marginalized. In a place to which a lot of Canadians look for truth and honesty, they are being told openly that they are sick. They are being told that they are some sort of abnormal creature on the face of the earth.”

“I want to make one final point. I recall the days when common law relationships were frowned upon. I recall the days when relationships between people of different religions were frowned upon. I recall the days when conjugal relationships between people of different colour were frowned upon. I am glad to see we have finally removed one other barrier that has existed for so long.

Gay and lesbian families are strong families. Gays and lesbians are parents. Gays and lesbians are children. They are sisters and brothers. They are grandparents. I am proud to stand here with my government to put forward a bill that I believe will probably be the single most important bill to come forward in this House in the 21st century.”

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Gilles Duceppe (Laurier-Sainte-Marie, BQ):
"Religion is an individual affair for which I have the greatest respect, but it must not be imposed on others. On occasion, we must recognize values that we do not necessarily share but that are held by others who in no way interfere with or denounce our beliefs. In this sense, I think that this bill corrects the injustices we are now experiencing and have experienced for a long time. I believe it is time that we brought our laws into line with reality and the readiness of Canadians and Quebecers to accept those whose orientation is different but who are making a contribution to our society, just as they, I and we all do.


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