An appeal for more time - resisting the inevitable

 

 

External link to the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto

 

 

The Supreme Court of Canada decision
October 9, 2003

 

For equal marriage:

The Attorney General of Canada's Memorandum of argument

Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto
Memorandum of argument

Affidavit of Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes
Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto

Affidavit of Mary Bennett
Canadian Unitarian Coucil

Affidavit of Rev. Sara Boyles
Anglican Church of the Holy Trinity

Affidavit of Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo
Emmanuel-Howard Park United Church

Affidavit of Dr. Tim Ryan
Catholic Priest, Scarboro Foreign Mission

Affidavit of Rev. Rick McCutcheon
Presiding Clerk - Quakers

Affidavit of Marlene Jennings, M.P.

Affidavit of Svend Robinson, M.P.

 

Against equal marriage:

Notice of application to appeal and stay

Interfaith Coalition leave to appeal

The Association For Marriage and the Family Memorandum of argument

The Interfaith Coalition on Marriage and Family Memorandum of argument

Affidavit of Darrel Reid

Affidavit of Bruce Clemenger

Affidavit of Derek Lee, M.P.

Affidavit of John McKay, M.P.

Affidavit of Vic Toews, M.P.

 

 

 

 

Select to read Blind Faith: faith-based bigotry seeks legal support

 

 

 

 

Blind Justice - Ontario Court of Appeal accused of bias.

 

 

 

 

"Let's be honest. The options are: do you recognize traditional marriage or do you recognize same-sex marriage?"
Vic Toews, CBC News, Aug. 9, 2002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reverend Mark Morrisson-Reid of the Canadian Unitarian Council filed an affidavit in support of the position of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto in the Ontario Divisional Court.

 

 

 

 

Spiritual abuse by the Catholic Church

 

 

 

 

The Inquisition targets same-sex marriage - Document promotes hate
"It is appalling to me that this document of approximately 3,000 words in providing advice on how Christians should treat homosexuals never once uses the word love."
Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes,
Affidavit

 

 

 

 

Vatican collaboration with the Nazis; What history teaches us about attacks on freedom and same-sex marriage.

 

 

 

 

"From November 27, 2002 to April 30, 2003, the Standing Committee held a total of 27 hearings on the issue of same-sex marriage, involving 15 hearings in Ottawa and 12 in other communities across Canada, namely Vancouver, Edmonton, Moose Jaw, Steinbach, Halifax, Sussex, Sudbury, two in Toronto, two in Montreal and Iqaluit. In total, the Committee heard from 467 witnesses. The majority of witnesses (274 or 59%) favoured extending equal marriage rights to same-sex couples. 166 witnesses or 35.5% opposed."
Marlene Jennings, M.P., Affidavit

 

 

 

 

The Supreme Court of Canada delivers another victory for same-sex marriage!

 

 

 

Link to  Elliott & Kim - our heroes fighting for our right to marriage in Ontario

 

 

 

Canadian yearly meeting of the religious society of friends (Quakers) support same-sex marriage

 

 

 

 

Equality Scorecard - tracking the Parliamentary vote for same-sex marriage

 

 

 

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Legal Canada - Ontario - An appeal for more time

September 8, 2003

An appeal for more time
Religious extremists resist the inevitable

Courts in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec all agree that equal marriage for same-sex couples must exist under Canada's Charter. The Prime Minister and Canada's Justice Minister agree. Still, an Interfaith Coalition launched an appeal against the June 10 victory for equal marriage in Ontario.

"The decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal has not left Parliament with a discretion [to] do anything other than accept the Court of Appeal's redefinition of marriage. As a Parliamentarian, I am under an obligation to defend the jurisdiction of Parliament to choose the best policy solution to social problems of this nature," wrote Vic Toews, an Alliance party member of parliament, in his affidavit in support of the appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

"I believe that it is possible to develop a legislative regime that is fully constitutional and maintains the traditional conception of marriage as between one man and one woman, and provides institutional recognition for same-sex committed partnerships," Toews claims.

But as Toews has admitted in the past (see side bar quotation), this really comes down to a binary situation of whether or not same-sex couples enjoy full rights as Canadians protected by the Charter. The concept of separate but equal has been discredited and rejected by the courts. An offensive law has been revised to recognize same-sex marriage.

John McKay, a Liberal M.P. wants the "full factual record" that a redundant Supreme Court of Canada case would provide. But his real purpose, like Toews, is to hold onto old visions of marriage apartheid.

Still selling marriage apartheid

"From my discussions with other Parliamentarians," McKay swore in his affidavit, "I believe that many members of Parliament (like myself) are opposed to the draft bill and to same-sex marriage and believe that Parliament can, in a fully constitutional manner, respond legislatively to the needs of same-sex couples for institutional recognition (perhaps through a civil union or domestic partnership registry) without having to alter the meaning of marriage for everyone."

"Unless Halpern v. Canada is appealed, I believe that an opportunity will be lost for Parliament to continue the process of discussion to a fruitful resolution. This is a decisive and contentious issue among Canadians that requires a careful legislative review and a compromise that is politically and socially acceptable to Canadians and is respectful of all Canadians' constitutional rights." swore Derek Lee (another Liberal M.P.) in his affidavit against equal marriage.

"I believe that the Court of Appeal erred," maintained Lee, "that there are constitutionally acceptable legislative alternatives that Parliament could have chosen (and that remain available to it) that would provide institutional support for committed same-sex relationships, and at the Link to story about Registered Domestic Partnershipssame time respect the needs of other Canadians to maintain marriage as a heterosexual institution "

All of these members of parliament seem to believe that extending equal marriage rights to same-sex couples will somehow take something away from the marriage of opposite-sex couples. Similar arguments were used by racists who wished to maintain antimiscegenation laws.

Are provinces confused or just reluctant?

"I am concerned that absent an appeal of the Ontario Court of Appeal decision, it is uncertain what the common law with respect to marriage is in jurisdictions outside of Ontario," said Lee. "The Minister of Justice has called on the provinces to solemnize same-sex marriage in the absence of federal legislation. To date, no province has done so, without a court order. In the Canadian constitutional order, it should not be [the] case that the decision of a provincial appellate court can create such uncertainty throughout Canada."

The Court of Appeal for Ontario has not created uncertainty. Politicians against equal marriage and meddlers like those who continue to fight this losing battle in the courts are the ones creating the confusion. While other provinces may be too timid to comply with the new common law definition of marriage, without federal legislation to back it up, others already living under the new law continue exercising their rights with growing support from others. Time marches on, and lives are being built together under the new marriage laws.

"It is my opinion that further hearings, by the Committee or the court, would be unnecessary and time-consuming," Liberal M.P. Marlene Jennings wrote in response to the M.P.'s who were against equal marriage. "It is unlikely that there is any important evidence that was left outside the scope of the Committee's or court's inquiry."

So why grasp at an appeal?

"I believe that the desire of these deponents to continue the Committee's work in search of alternatives to marriage is really an attempt to delay the implementation of same-sex marriage in the hopes that popular support for it will wane or that a change leadership of the Liberal Party will afford them better prospects of denying same-sex marriage, even if against the will of the majority of Canadians, " wrote Svend Robinson in his affidavit supporting equal marriage.

"For our part, at MCCT [Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto] we continued to marry people pursuant to the publication of banns," Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes said in an affidavit filed in response to the Interfaith Coalition's request for an appeal. "We made no secret of our activities in this regard, and no one took any legal action against us to try to stop us. Since January of 2001, we have married over 34 same sex couples at MCCT, and we have been booked for weddings at a rate of 1-2 per week ever since."

Freedom of/from religion

Rev. Hawkes responded directly to the affront of an effort to impose beliefs on others.

"We live in a diverse secular society where no one's religious beliefs should be imposed on others, and where all should be free to hold and practice their private beliefs. The notion that same sex marriage is a singular example of departing from traditional religious beliefs in our law is disingenuous. In a pluralistic society, people of faith must make accommodations every day. Traditional Catholics must live with the availability of abortion and divorce for those who do not share their beliefs. Fundamentalist Muslims must live with the fact that Shari'ah is not the law of the land, so that polygamy is not possible and homosexuals are not outlawed. Orthodox Jews must live with the fact that non-kosher food is sold and consumed every day all around them. Old Order Mennonites may drive horse-drawn buggies, but they must share the road with others driving cars. Even fundamentalist Protestants have had to accommodate themselves to people working on Sundays."

The Interfaith Coalition represent extremists. Other faith communities, beyond MCCT, have also voiced support for equal marriage, including the United Church, Canada's largest Protestant denomination.

"The question of recognition of same-sex unions was subject to a heated debate within our Church over the past years. However, an increasing majority of our congregations support the idea of blessing same-sex unions," wrote Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo in her affidavit. "I personally blessed a number of same-sex unions, and now same-sex marriages. I agree that freedom of religion includes the right of the churches to marry two individuals with accordance to its own beliefs and rituals. In our Church, which is fairly decentralized, despite the official position favouring same-sex unions, I am aware that some clergy continue to decline to bless same-sex unions. I am satisfied that such clergy will be protected under the law and most importantly under the freedom of religion guarantees of the Canadian Charter of Rights.

"I therefore strongly support the position of the Government of Canada not to appeal the decisions of the Ontario and B.C. Courts of Appeal and instead propose a legislation that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. I also believe that the Reference to the Supreme Court is the most appropriate way of dealing with the issue of freedom of religion in the context of the proposed legislation on same-sex marriage ... I therefore oppose the leave to appeal to the Supreme Court by other religious groups as it is an unnecessary step duplicating the efforts of the Government to resolve the issue of freedom of religion by the way of the Bill and the Reference."

The Anglican Church is working to reconcile their faith with equal marriage. Rev. Sara Boyles issued an affidavit in solidarity with the victory in Canada's courts.

"I am a priest within the Anglican Church of Canada, in the Diocese of Toronto. Our parish welcomed the decisions of the Ontario Court of Appeal, British Columbia Court of Appeal and Quebec Superior Court reformulating the common law definition of marriage as the voluntary union for life of two persons with the exclusion of all others."

"It is my opinion that freedom of religion, as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights, requires that a definition of marriage be extended to same-sex unions," wrote Mary Bennett, executive director of the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC), in her affidavit supporting equal marriage. "Our ministers and lay chaplains are performing same-sex marriages in B.C. and Ontario. Since 1974, we have performed holy unions of same-sex couples. Unitarian ministers and lay chaplains in B.C. and Ontario have spoken out on this issue in the media. In Ontario alone, they have booked or performed over 100 same-sex marriages."

No one forced to perform a marriage against beliefs

Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes directly confronted a fear flamed by opponents of equal marriage: someone will be forced to perform a marriage that offends their religious beliefs.

"There can only be three explanations for these continued allegations that clergy are imperiled by the expanded definition of marriage:

  1. There remain some who are ignorant of the law on the point, which seems unlikely to me at this juncture;
  2. Some people hold an irrational but sincere belief that this legal threat exists in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, or
  3. This argument is advanced dishonestly by those who do not sincerely hold this belief as a "scare tactic" to whip up religious opposition to our cause.

I recall that similar dire predictions were made following M v H by religious conservatives and no such coercion happened. Similar allegations are being made by them about proposed hate crimes legislation."

"I agree that freedom of religion includes the right of the churches to marry two individuals with accordance to its own beliefs and rituals," wrote Tim Ryan, Catholic Priest in support of equal marriage. "I also strongly also believe (and am willing to undertake to support the position) that no church or other religious authority will be forced to conduct marriages ceremonies that are not in conformity with its beliefs and rituals."

"We strongly also believe that no church or other religious authority will be forced to conduct marriages ceremonies that are not in conformity with its beliefs and rituals because such interpretation of new definition of marriage would violate freedom of religion and go afoul Canadian jurisprudence," wrote Mary Bennett, CUC. "All clergy have the right to determine the criteria on which they will agree to marry two individuals and we support that right for ourselves and others."

Judicial Activism - Conspiracy theories

Despite Stephen Harper's claim to the contrary, the outcome of our Ontario marriage hearing wasn't fixed.

"During the long struggle for equality for our community, we have frequently heard the refrain of judicial activism from social and religious conservatives. Now that the constitutional dialogue has resulted in a decision by Parliament to act, these same judicial critics now express dissatisfaction with the legislative process and wish to artificially prolong the judicial process at our expense. In truth, they simply wish our community to be denied equality and for the law to reflect their religious beliefs, and nothing less will satisfy them. They do not wish to be heard, they wish to be obeyed." Brent Hawkes

Conservative Christians were heard

The Interfaith Coalition against equal marriage has nothing new to say, and they've had their chance to say it.

"While we disagree fundamentally with the Coalition, we acknowledged they had a right to be heard," wrote Rev. Hawkes. "They filed evidence and were represented by very able counsel during the proceedings. When we consented to intervener status, it was for the purpose of allowing the voices of these groups to be heard within the context of our litigation. Our claim was against the governments, not against them. We did not understand them to be seeking any independent right to appeal any decision in our favour. If they had sought such power, we would have opposed it most strenuously. It was very painful to read some of the things said by these parties, and frustrating to have them participating in our litigation, but we believed it was the right thing to do to give them a voice. A voice, not control over the litigation. We did not believe that they had the right to hijack our litigation."

The Interfaith Coalition against equal marriage has also attempted to hijack our legislation through political actions, most recently with directives issued from the Catholic Church here in Canada, and from abroad in the Vatican. But their opposition is fragmented

Hijacking litigation and legislation

"I am well aware of the Vatican's recent pronouncement against the legal recognition of same-sex marriage and the fact that the Catholic Bishops are seeking to pursue this appeal. As with various issues touching on matters of sex and sexuality many Canadian Catholics do not share the views of the hierarchy, including myself." wrote Tim Ryan, a Catholic Priest, in his affidavit supporting equal marriage.

"The Vatican document also directs Catholic politicians, such as the Attorney General of Canada and the Prime Minister, to vote against laws granting legal recognition to same sex couples," Rev. Hawkes reminded the court in his affidavit. "Calgary Bishop Fred Henry publicly criticized the Prime Minister, Mr. Chrétien, saying his support for same sex marriage would cause him 'to put at risk his eternal salvation. I pray for the Prime Minister because I think his eternal salvation is in jeopardy. He is making a morally grave error and he's not being accountable to God.'

"It is my understanding that the Bishop of Ottawa privately issued a similar admonition to the Prime Minister. In my view, these are expressions of hatred that should not be tolerated in our society. However, I do believe that making legitimate attempts to influence members of Parliament is an acceptable means of achieving one's political objectives in a democracy. Despite their attempt to portray themselves as a vulnerable minority, the members of the Coalition have considerable influence including the power to threaten the Prime Minister himself with excommunication and eternal damnation. I have no such influence."


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