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37th PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights


EVIDENCE

CONTENTS

Thursday, April 3, 2003




¿ 0915
V         The Chair (Hon. Andy Scott (Fredericton, Lib.))
V         Mr. Donald McLean (As Individual)

¿ 0920

¿ 0925
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Brian Berezowski (Saskatchewan New Green Alliance)

¿ 0930
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman (Surrey North, Canadian Alliance)

¿ 0935
V         Mr. Donald McLean
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Brian Berezowski
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Mr. Brian Berezowski
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Mr. Brian Berezowski
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Richard Marceau (Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, BQ)
V         Mr. Donald McLean

¿ 0940
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Donald McLean
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Donald McLean
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Donald McLean

¿ 0945
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Donald McLean
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Donald McLean
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John McKay (Scarborough East, Lib.)
V         Mr. Donald McLean
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Mr. Donald McLean

¿ 0950
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Mr. Donald McLean
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Mr. Brian Berezowski

¿ 0955
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Mr. Brian Berezowski
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Mr. Brian Berezowski
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Mr. Brian Berezowski
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin (Northumberland, Lib.)
V         Mr. Brian Berezowski
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin

À 1000
V         Mr. Brian Berezowski
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         Mr. Brian Berezowski
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Brian Berezowski
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Donald McLean

À 1005
V         The Chair
V         The Chair

À 1010
V         Mr. Larry Hubich (President, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour)

À 1015
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Ned Garstad (As Individual)

À 1020
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Jill Brewer (As Individual)
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Jill Brewer

À 1025
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Mr. Larry Hubich
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman

À 1030
V         Mr. Larry Hubich
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Donna Smith (Vice-President, Solidarity and Pride, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Richard Marceau

À 1035
V         Mr. Ned Garstad
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Ned Garstad
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Ned Garstad

À 1040
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. Chuck Cadman)
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         Mr. Larry Hubich

À 1045
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         Mr. Larry Hubich
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         Mr. Larry Hubich
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. Chuck Cadman)
V         Mr. John McKay

À 1050
V         Mr. Ned Garstad
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Mr. Ned Garstad
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. Chuck Cadman)
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Ned Garstad

À 1055
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         Mr. Ned Garstad

Á 1100
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Mr. Ned Garstad
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John McKay

Á 1105
V         Mr. Ned Garstad
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Mr. Ned Garstad
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Mr. Ned Garstad
V         The Chair

Á 1110
V         Mr. Ned Garstad
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Ned Garstad
V         The Chair
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Rosalie Boots (As Individual)

Á 1135

Á 1140
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Beverley Dent (As Individual)

Á 1145
V         The Chair
V         The Right Reverend Bob Kimmerly (Saskatchewan Conference of the United Church of Canada)

Á 1150

Á 1155
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Elaine Anderson (As Individual)

 1200
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman

 1205
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Rosalie Boots
V         The Chair
V         Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Beverley Dent
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Ms. Beverley Dent
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Elaine Anderson
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Richard Marceau

 1210
V         Ms. Elaine Anderson
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Ms. Elaine Anderson
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Ms. Elaine Anderson
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Ms. Elaine Anderson
V         Mr. Richard Marceau

 1215
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Elaine Anderson
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly
V         Mr. John McKay

 1220
V         Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Ms. Elaine Anderson
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Ms. Elaine Anderson
V         Mr. John McKay
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Richard Marceau

 1225
V         Ms. Rosalie Boots
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Ms. Rosalie Boots

 1230
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Beverley Dent
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         Ms. Rosalie Boots
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin

 1235
V         Ms. Rosalie Boots
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         Ms. Elaine Anderson
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         Ms. Elaine Anderson
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Elaine Anderson
V         The Chair

 1240
V         Ms. Elaine Anderson
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Elaine Anderson

 1245
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Ms. Elaine Anderson

 1250
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Ms. Rosalie Boots
V         Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Ms. Elaine Anderson
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Ms. Elaine Anderson
V         Mr. Richard Marceau

 1255
V         Ms. Elaine Anderson
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Ms. Elaine Anderson
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Ms. Elaine Anderson
V         Mr. Richard Marceau

· 1300
V         Ms. Elaine Anderson
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Ms. Elaine Anderson
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Ms. Rosalie Boots
V         The Chair
V         Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Elaine Anderson
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Elaine Anderson

· 1305
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Beverley Dent
V         The Chair
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Nicole White (As Individual)

· 1315
V         The Chair










CANADA

Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights


NUMBER 031 
l
2nd SESSION 
l
37th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Thursday, April 3, 2003

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

¿  +(0915)  

[English]

+

    The Chair (Hon. Andy Scott (Fredericton, Lib.)): I'd like to call to order the 31st meeting of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2, the committee has resumed its study on marriage and the legal recognition of same-sex unions.

    I want to say what a pleasure it is to be in Moose Jaw, and I probably say that with more conviction than ever before.

    The format will be a little fluid today, I suspect, because we've had people advise us that they cannot attend and others who are here, probably expecting to be observers for the first little bit, are actually being called upon as witnesses to deal with the spaces that have been created.

    So we have for the first hour, from now until 10 o'clock, two witnesses appearing as individuals, Donald McLean and Brian Berezowski. They have approached me and asked me for eight minutes for the opening comments, and I have agreed to that, but I will be very precise on the eight minutes. Then we'll have an opportunity for the members of the committee to engage the witnesses in dialogue.

    The subject before us is an emotional one, and the views that are held on both or all sides of the issue are deeply felt. We made a deliberate decision to go across the country to consult with Canadians on this subject, so we are not in any way wanting to limit the freedom of expression. At the same time, that expression can be made with respect and dignity, and I would ask that of the panel and of the members of the committee.

    So with that, I'm going to go first to Mr. McLean for seven or eight minutes.

+-

    Mr. Donald McLean (As Individual): Thank you, Mr. Chairman and ladies and gentlemen.

    Part of the intent of my verbal presentation is to counter an opinion implied by the Ontario Divisional Court, namely that the inability of same-sex couples to procreate is a minor issue when considering extending marriage rights to them.

    I'll start with perspectives from the genetic code, a highly respected source of information. The DNA genetic code is inscribed on 6 billion rungs of a ladderlike structure about six feet long but so narrow that you could place 500,000 such ladders side by side on the cut edge of a piece of paper. A February 2003 issue of Time magazine indicates that the amount of information contained in this invisibly thin human DNA ladder is on a scale comparable to storing all the words ever spoken by every person who ever lived.

    A baby's life is initiated by sexual attraction, causing a male sperm to bury its head in the female egg. The DNA code then triggers the coupling of 6 billion packets of genetic information in the male sperm with 6 billion corresponding packets of information in the female egg. Two cells become one cell with the combined set of heterosexually created instructions for making and operating the body of a new person.

    In nine months those instructions produce a baby's body consisting of about 25 trillion interconnected cells, each with its own perfect copy of this massive genetic code. This makes heterosexuality extremely pervasive in the human body. Each cell is a sophisticated manufacturing and communications centre. That huge number, 25 trillion, is about the number of characters of text in 2 million copies of a thick telephone book containing one thousand white pages of text.

    In contrast, the size and weight of a newborn baby is about the same size as one of those telephone books. How is such an incredible little machine assembled from such a staggering number of incredibly small parts without losing some or having some misconnected? The answer is to grow the 25 trillion parts in place precisely in the right sequence at the right time under the guidance of the genetic code.

    The mother's womb is indeed an awesome production centre. The mother's genetic code works in tandem with the baby's code to nourish its development. The needs of the mother's body are in turn supplied by a huge DNA-managed heterosexual support system from which food, oxygen, shelter, etc., are provided. These various heterosexual genetic systems are designed to be highly synergistic and permeate life at incredibly minute levels. The baby's genetic code counts on the mother and father to do their part to develop the child to maturity over a period of some fifteen to twenty years.

    When you hold a newborn baby in your arms, you are holding a being with awesome potential for an enormous variety of events and activities to fill 70 to 80 person-years of biological future. This perspective is important for communities. Heterosexual procreation generates biological futures for communities.

    My paper illustrates how 100 heterosexual couples starting up a hypothetical community can each trigger within one century the procreation of four generations of offspring. Together they can provide a combined total of 180,000 person-years of biological future. As an indication of what that potential from 100 couples represents, consider Regina at its current population of 187,000 people. All the activities that take place in one year by its citizens represent an expenditure of 187,000 person-years of future.

    Looking back in history, we see that biological chains of procreation were triggered by a couple named Abraham and Sarah and that they have continued not just for 100 years but for 4,000. It has generated a race of people known as Jews. Regenerated copies of some of Abraham's and Sarah's genes are still alive today in the bodies of the descendants of this start-up couple. A stunning number of biological futures have been generated over those 4,000 years.

    Generational procreation, through which biological futures are created and nourished by a huge heterosexual support system, is not an insignificant achievement, as the Ontario Divisional Court implies. It is the lifeblood of communities and nations and the human race. Without it there is no future, no hope. Gay or lesbian sexual coupling, by contrast, has never naturally created one moment of biological future. Why not? Because the genetic code discriminates against it, albeit in Canada in contravention of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

¿  +-(0920)  

    Nevertheless, gays and lesbians are to be treated with respect. Respect, however, should not preclude the recognition that every gay and every lesbian person who has ever lived owes their conception and entire life from that point onward to heterosexual genetic codes.

    The phrase “homosexual life” is a non sequitur. The term “homosexual with respect to biological life” is entirely outside the precincts of the genetic codes of all natural life forms. I will give one example. Over the history of mankind, hundreds of millions of identical sperm have existed in very close proximity in each man's testicles, but they have never emerged to produce a male clone. The genetic code obviously ruled out entirely such couplings, because it did not produce scrotums to be wombs for incubating babies, nor the penis to be a means of delivering them.

    Heterosexual couples linked by marriage, and whose genetic codes work in tandem with the genetic code of their offspring, have been the custodians of the creation of biological futures for centuries. Parents committed to each other and their offspring by an institution such as marriage is a symbiotic comparative of the genetic code in generating offspring with quality biological futures.

    Concluding my remarks, I want to point out a profoundly troublesome aspect of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Under the charter, the use of an important mental tool called discrimination is considered to be bad. Under the charter, issues are assessed from a very broad-brush perspective. Precise discrimination that exposes inconsistencies is not in favour. Hence, the broad brush generalization is made that homosexual and heterosexual lifestyles are equivalent, and normal and natural—a notion now being taught in our schools. That is an imprecise assessment and a huge distortion of reality, in conflict with biological values validated for centuries.

    The tainted blood scandal of the Red Cross is another example of the use of this approach. The Red Cross health care workers abandoned the practice for which they were trained; that is, making precise medical diagnostic inquiries or discriminations to screen donors. However, under the charter, the risk of something as minuscule as a virus in one of the donors appeared to be an insignificant basis for discrimination. As a result of the application of the charter's broad-brush approach, the freedom and biological potential of many thousands of Canadians was destroyed or marred by HIV and hepatitis B infections.

    In my view, extending marriage rights to same-sex couples under the banner of the charter will generate further distortions of reality and create further chaos in decisions in our society, as discussed in my paper.

    Thank you for the opportunity to present my findings to you.

¿  +-(0925)  

+-

    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    Mr. Berezowski.

+-

    Mr. Brian Berezowski (Saskatchewan New Green Alliance): Good morning, gentlemen. I'm presenting on behalf of the Saskatchewan New Green Alliance party.

    The Saskatchewan New Green Alliance party urges the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to recommend that the federal government bring forward legislation to give same-sex couples the legal capacity to marry. As noted in the committee's November 2002 discussion paper, “Marriage and Legal Recognition of Same-sex Unions”, this is the only option that will fully address equality concerns.

    Giving same-sex couples the same range of choices as opposite-sex couples is a simple matter of fairness and human dignity. Either this government supports equality or it does not. For this committee to recommend that same-sex couples be barred from civil marriage or be forced to accept some alternative registration scheme is to recommend the continuation of discrimination, unfairness, and inequality, hardly the values of a free and just society.

    Our party was founded by environmental and social justice activists in 1998. The members of the New Green Alliance believe in the principles of ecological wisdom; social and economic justice; participatory democracy; personal, social, and global responsibility; community-based economics; cooperation and mutual aid; respect for diversity; peace and non-violence; and decentralization.We have members throughout Saskatchewan.

    At our convention in 2001 our party passed a resolution in support of the legalization of gay marriages in Saskatchewan, Canada, and elsewhere. In 1996 our federal counterpart, the Green Party of Canada, passed a resolution calling for federal legislation that recognizes gay and lesbian marriages and common law relationships.

    The committee has three possible approaches for providing legal recognition of same-sex unions as set out in the discussion paper. I won't repeat them here, but briefly, marriage could remain an opposite-sex institution by legislation; marriage could be changed to include same-sex couples through legislation; or, with the cooperation of the provinces and territories, the federal government could withdraw from marriage.

    The New Green Alliance party supports legislating to give same-sex couples the legal capacity to marry. As previously stated, this option is the only one that will fully address equality concerns. The remaining options are flawed. They will not promote equality.

    For Parliament to legislate an opposite-sex requirement for marriage would violate the equality principles of Canada's Constitution and serve only to demean the relationships of lesbian and gay couples. Even the use of the notwithstanding clause, to avoid the inevitable striking down of such a piece of legislation, would serve only to delay the issue for five years, when the use of the clause requires that it be reviewed. Canada's Parliament should not seriously consider holding its hands over its ears and saying to equality-seeking Canadians, sorry, we can't hear you; notwithstanding clause, come back in five years.

    To create some alternative registration scheme says to lesbian and gay Canadians, welcome aboard. Now get to the back of the bus. Creating such a civil registration scheme would not change the current situation of including same-sex couples under common law status while prohibiting them from access to civil marriage.

    As Justice Laforme noted on page 103 of the recent Ontario equal marriage decision:

One cannot avoid the conclusion that offering benefits to gay and lesbian partners under a different scheme from heterosexual partners is a version of the separate but equal doctrine. That appalling doctrine must not be resuscitated in Canada four decades after its much heralded death in the United States.

    Clearly, alternative partnership registration would serve only to perpetuate a second-class status for lesbian and gay couples.

    The final option of abolishing civil marriage and leaving marriage to religions would be a heavy-handed and unwieldy solution. While this option would allow the growing number of religions and congregations that wish to perform same-sex marriages the freedom to do so, it would also serve to deny marriage to all Canadians who wanted a civil marriage instead of a religious one. Choosing to expand discrimination to include secular Canadians should not be the government's response to inequality.Since the current common-law definition of marriage would remain, lesbian and gay Canadians would continue to be subjected to the burden of seeking judicial redress because of the federal abdication of responsibility.

¿  +-(0930)  

    Some opponents of equal access to civil marriage for same-sex couples argue that religious freedom will be restricted and that the government could dictate to churches that they must perform marriage ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples. The Canada Family Action Coalition's February 20, 2003 presentation to this committee asked:

If the definition of marriage is legally altered, how can anyone be justly given exemptions from adhering to the new law? Pastors, religions, educators, parents, media, parliamentarians and every other facet of a law-abiding society would be required to embrace the new definition of marriage.

These fears are groundless. If Parliament moves to allow gays and lesbians legal access to civil marriage, religions will continue to enjoy the freedom to choose to perform marriage ceremonies as they see fit and for whomever they choose. This religious freedom is clearly protected in law and entrenched in our constitution.

    The legal incapacity of same-sex couples to register their marriages is a restriction on religions that wish to perform these ceremonies. Removing this legal impediment will enhance religious freedom and give all Canadians access to legal civil marriage regardless of their religious beliefs. In a free and pluralistic society, this is to be expected.

    In summary, the New Green Alliance urges this committee to recommend that the federal government legislate to remove the opposite-sex restriction on marriage. This will allow same-sex couples the freedom to civilly marry and lift the restrictions placed on religious groups that wish to perform marriage ceremonies for these couples. This is the only recommendation that can fully address equality concerns.

    In 1998 our party passed policy in support of the legalization of same-sex marriages, and our federal counterpart has supported legal access to marriage for lesbian and gay couples since 1996.

    Restricting access to marriage and creating a civil registry scheme is not a choice that enhances equality or dignity. Abolishing civil marriage and removing Parliament from marriage entirely will be a serious abdication of responsibility by the federal government that will only serve to spread inequality to secular Canadians.

    Despite the fear-mongering of some, allowing same-sex couples access to legal marriage will not require any religion to perform such marriages. In actuality, this will allow religions that wish to perform these ceremonies for same-sex couples the freedom to do so.

    Marriage has evolved over time. Allowing same-sex couples the range of relationship recognition choices that opposite-sex couples enjoy is a simple matter of fairness. It is difficult to see how any heterosexual marriage could possibly be harmed by extending to same-sex couples the freedom to marry. When all citizens are treated fairly and their dignity is affirmed, society can only be enhanced.

    We call on this committee to support equality.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you very much to both of our panellists.

    I guess I should have said it in my opening comments, but the committee took the opportunity last night to enjoy the Saskatchewan countryside and were visited by some of your compatriots while we did that, and we are very grateful to their attention to our needs.

    Mr. Cadman.

+-

    Mr. Chuck Cadman (Surrey North, Canadian Alliance): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    I would like to thank the witnesses for appearing here today.

    This is a brief question. Over the past couple of months of these hearings, a number of individuals have suggested that we slow down a little on this, basically because of the amount of information and the amount of study that's available to assess the impact of making a decision like this, if Parliament were to extend the right to marry to same-sex couples.

    The Netherlands have had it for approximately two years, and I'm just wondering.... Well, let me digress a little.

    Many have cited—in fact, most have cited—the unintended consequences that flowed from changing our divorce laws some four decades ago. There were a lot of unforeseen consequences for which we seem to be paying a fairly heavy social price right now. They are suggesting we haven't had enough time to really assess what the potential impacts of this kind of decision are going to be.

    I'd like your comments on that, either or hopefully both of you.

¿  +-(0935)  

+-

    Mr. Donald McLean: I agree with what you say about the impact of divorce on children. I heard a comment over Christmas about a child who was in a class where there was only one person who was with the original parents who brought her into the world. All the rest were from blended families.

    I feel that children's lives are harmed in a very great way when the marriage is broken up. I would certainly feel it is worth doing more studies so that you can assess what the potential impacts will be and go in with your eyes wide open.

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Berezowski.

+-

    Mr. Brian Berezowski: Since Quebec introduced registered domestic partnerships for lesbian and gay couples, I think 180-some couples have used this legislation. I haven't seen heterosexuality collapse in Quebec. I haven't seen lesbian and gay couples suddenly take over society. I haven't seen many detrimental effects to Quebec society.

+-

    Mr. Chuck Cadman: In fairness, I believe we have to take a look at what will come down the road in future generations and what the impact on the social fabric is going to be. We're not talking about a couple of years. I'm asking about those long-term impacts.

+-

    Mr. Brian Berezowski: When you look at the long-term impacts of changing the Divorce Act, as you say, 40 years ago were women and children who were being abused less likely to leave marriages because of a limited Divorce Act? Now they have a better range of options where they can say, I can leave this marriage; I can protect my children. We can certainly say we should have left the Divorce Act in place and unchanged because it would have promoted marriage and people staying together. But in situations where people needed to get out of those marriages for their lives, I think it's been a good change.

+-

    Mr. Chuck Cadman: So you're suggesting that the changes to no-fault divorce have actually benefited society in the end.

+-

    Mr. Brian Berezowski: Ultimately, if the people in those marriages were unhappy, they certainly benefited from the introduction of no-fault divorce.

+-

    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Okay.

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Marceau.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Richard Marceau (Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, BQ): Thank you, Chair.

    First of all, I want to thank you for having made the trip to meet with us in Moose Jaw, despite this weather.

    In your brief, Mr. McLean, you talk about nature and you make a scientific demonstration of various things.

    Would you agree with me that some people are born gay and do not become gay?

[English]

+-

    Mr. Donald McLean: I don't know if I can agree that they are born that way. I recognize that same-sex attraction is a real desire. But I also recognize that we have hundreds and hundreds of different desires in our lives. The way desire works, it requires an action plan to fulfill it and then an experience that you enjoy.

    Many times new desires are created by the society we live in. In some cases I believe that same-sex attraction arises in families where children are growing up without fathers, and they have an intense desire for input from male persons. So if that input is denied over many years in their lives, that's possibly one reason why that desire becomes eroticized and translated into a strong sexual attraction.

¿  +-(0940)  

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Richard Marceau: So, a person would find an erotic outlet for the need to have a male presence if, for example, that person did not have a father in the family. Is that your theory?

[English]

+-

    Mr. Donald McLean: I'm saying that's one example. I don't have a background in genetics. I don't know if anything has been positively identified and demonstrated biologically that it is part of the genetic code.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: I just want to understand. You said that you do not have any training in genetics but your brief is based on genetics.

[English]

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    Mr. Donald McLean: Yes.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: In your brief, you talk about the importance of reproduction. What happens to heterosexual people who cannot procreate? For example, should a woman have the right to marry after menopause, considering that she could not then procreate and that, according to you, the purpose of marriage is mainly procreation?

[English]

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    Mr. Donald McLean: I believe, as I state in my paper, that heterosexuality is a very pervasive concept in our biological makeup. I recognize that some people may not procreate, but the concept of a male and a female coming together is at least consistent with the concepts of biology.

    One of the problems I have is that if you set that aside and allow same-sex marriage, one of the fall-outs is that homosexual types of lifestyles will be taught in schools as an equivalent, normal, natural way of life, which isn't consistent with the biology we know.

¿  +-(0945)  

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: I have two questions. First of all, when you say that it is “consistent with the biology”, what do you mean? Are you referring to the male sexual organ having a union with the female sexual organ? For you, that is what is important, it is that element that allows to provide a definition.

[English]

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    Mr. Donald McLean: No. Heterosexuality is much more pervasive than that, because that's what's really embedded in the genes. When a sperm and an egg come together, that is also an important part of my concept of heterosexuality. We have a hundred trillion cells as adults in our bodies, and every cell has a copy of that heterosexual code.

    The other thing is that every person has within their body either sperm or eggs. The genetic code does not allow sperm to couple together. The genetic code does not allow eggs to couple together. It constantly discriminates against that. So it's not only the biological parts of a man and woman fitting together; it's dealing with the fundamentals of the genetic code.

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    The Chair: Final question Mr. Marceau.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: We've all heard about the gay lifestyle but I would like you to explain what it means. Several gay couples came to meet with us this morning and told us that they wake up, they have a coffee, they take a shower, they go to work, they shop at Loblaw's, they eat like us, they wash the laundry, they put gas in their car. In the final analysis, the only difference in their lifestyle would be sex because everything else is the same. It is only the way they live their sexual lives that separates them from heterosexual couples. My answer would be that, if you were to put several heterosexual couples in this room, you would find that they all have very different sexual lives. Is it because of that difference that one calls that the gay lifestyle?

[English]

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    Mr. Donald McLean: From my observation of the way this issue has been dealt with, the sexuality thing has been front and centre and at the top of the agenda. That has been the primary issue in seeking to grant homosexuals special status as a special group under the charter. So taking that as the primary issue--that's the impression by using the term “homosexual”--when you say heterosexuality and homosexuality are equivalent, where is the equivalency at the sexual level in terms of all of its ramifications?

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    The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Marceau and Mr. McLean.

    Mr. McKay.

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    Mr. John McKay (Scarborough East, Lib.): Thank you, Chair, and thank you, witnesses.

    Mr. McLean, you gave a pretty interesting presentation, pretty detailed. I'm wondering, what do you study? What are your qualifications?

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    Mr. Donald McLean: I'm a chemical engineer by training, but one of the principles we learn in engineering is, when you go to analyze a problem that has many issues, one of the useful things to do is to take one of the issues and, as it were, put a box around it, to separate it from all the other issues, to examine it and look at the things that have to cross the boundaries of that box to sustain it. That's the background that I applied to this issue, because I hadn't thought very much about homosexuality prior to this.

    Then I sat down and the first thing I started with was looking at communities, community life, and thought, how can I contrast the two of them? One of the ways, simply as a thinking exercise, was to look at a community that's based totally, completely, utterly on heterosexuality and one that's based totally, completely, utterly on homosexuality, keeping them completely separate to see how each of them would function, what kind of sustainability they could generate--that isn't to imply that they are to be separated in society, but only as a thinking exercise--then do the same thing looking at activity at the genetic code level.

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    Mr. John McKay: You made some interesting comments about the broad brush of discrimination, that the way the charter has been interpreted and the way we function in our Canadian society and the finding of discrimination seems to be somewhat eager at times, when in fact the discrimination may be distinctions rather than discriminations.

    You said that this has led to, if you will, a thought process to give equivalency between heterosexual sex and homosexual sex and the example you gave was the confusion in thinking around the Red Cross tainted blood issue.

    From that, I take it that you mean the officials who were examining the samples of blood were reluctant to single out a community as the source of the virus. Am I right in assuming that?

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    Mr. Donald McLean: What I understood was that when people came to donate blood, because the charter said you may not discriminate against people based on sexuality, they felt it would be inappropriate to approach a person and ask if they practised a homosexual lifestyle, because at that time it was a higher-risk group for AIDS. They thought it would be discriminatory to do that.

    I can remember giving blood as a young person and being questioned whether I'd had hepatitis or jaundice or something like that. So those kinds of questions were asked, but they declined to ask those kinds of questions, knowing that there were high-risk people coming through. However, they thought it was a risk to them if they asked those kinds of questions. As a result, they didn't screen blood. As a result of that, many people got either AIDS or hepatitis C; 1,200 people got HIV and several thousand people got hepatitis C infection.

    So I believe that the medical community that was trained to make medical diagnostic evaluations--“discriminations” is another term for it--they set those tools aside at that time because of the requirements of the charter.

¿  +-(0950)  

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    Mr. John McKay: We do seem to have a dialogue in this country as to what constitutes discrimination, what constitutes distinctions. Can you give the committee any other example where we have a confusion in thinking about that point and have made errors that we later regret?

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    Mr. Donald McLean: I guess one example comes to mind. In Quesnel, a few months ago, there was a guidance counsellor who said he felt that what was being taught in the schools wasn't valid biologically, so he criticized that. He was threatened with losing his teaching certificate for making that kind of observation, because under the charter you are not to make those kinds of remarks.

    I feel that we're not consistent under the charter.

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    Mr. John McKay: Mr. Berezowski, you responded to Mr. Cadman's question to the effect that there has been no detrimental effect to society by virtue of the 187 partnership registrations, thereby attempting to diminish Mr. Cadman's concern that we are engaged in a social experiment that is of significant consequence.

    I suggest to you that Quebec is in some respects a unique society, and possibly not one that necessarily needs to be followed. Since the advent of the Quiet Revolution, the advent of no-fault divorce, we've seen really quite dramatic changes in Quebec society. We have seen church attendance literally go off the cliff. We have seen marriage literally go off the cliff. We've seen a significant increase in single parents raising their children. You know, if you compare Quebec to Ontario, the GDP per person is significantly different; on the immigration front, it is the only province in Canada that is actually losing population; and they are in fact on a path to depopulate themselves, if they weren't getting some backfilling that is actually going on. So the invitation is to look at this “progressive” model of a society and go for that progressive model, that somehow or another some of the rest of the provinces are somewhat recalcitrant and unprogressive in their thinking.

    So I suggest to you that while this change in marriage law may be on its face a relatively insignificant change, in fact it is part of a continuum that, if you will, devalues marriage. That argument is an inverse argument, that here are people wanting to join the marriage project, if you will, and yet so doing possibly marginalizes the bedrock institution of our society even further.

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    Mr. Brian Berezowski: Well, you've pretty much answered my question. What you're saying is, if there's a whites-only golf club and we start allowing aboriginal golfers to come in, is it going to suddenly devalue the golf club? Who knows--with golfing going downhill anyway?

¿  +-(0955)  

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    Mr. John McKay: That's a strange response, but anyway, go ahead.

+-

    Mr. Brian Berezowski: It's just that you've answered your own question. You've said there are people wanting to join. I don't think marriage is on the outs. I think society has been changing for many years. Recognizing reality is what this is about.

    Lesbian and gay couples are going to continue to form relationships and live their lives regardless of whether or not the government recognizes they're there. This is about the government going, oh, you are here; we will treat you with dignity. If the government doesn't, we'll still be here. We'll still carry on our lives. The cat will get fed.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    I'm going to go to Mr. Cadman.

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Three minutes, right?

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    The Chair: Yes.

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    Mr. Berezowski, under the charter, some institutions or organizations will be allowed to continue to discriminate based on sexual orientation for religious freedom reasons. Would they, in your view, still be eligible to receive government tax incentives and government grants if they're discriminating?

+-

    Mr. Brian Berezowski: I think they should continue to be allowed whatever freedoms they currently enjoy, if that involves tax status or whatever. I'm not talking about setting this whole debate up as gays versus religion. This is a debate within religious communities about how to accommodate lesbian and gay people. I don't think there's a big push within society to say we don't want churches or we don't want religion. Religions perform a variety of functions that just simply cannot be performed by anyone else.

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: I'm not suggesting that. I'm just asking if they should continue to be eligible for government grants and tax incentives.

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    Mr. Brian Berezowski: Oh, certainly.

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Thank you.

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    The Chair: Mr. Macklin.

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin (Northumberland, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, witnesses, for appearing.

    I guess today we see in the testimony you're presenting the stark contrast between the theories being presented--the procreative base of marriage that you, Mr. McLean, are bringing forward; and you, Mr. Berezowski, talking about what has been referred to as a unitive type of approach to close relationships, looking at them and taking the procreativity out of the process.

    I wonder, Mr. Berezowski, when you and your party reflected on the entire society that we live in and its future, did you take into consideration that a redefinition of “marriage”, as you are bringing it forward, really takes the procreativity core out of the current definition?

    Once you get into same-sex unions, although there is, in certain instances, at least in a lesbian relationship, a possibility of some procreation with the addition of technical means to bring forward sperm, the reality is that the male relationship is not capable of procreation. So really, we're dealing in different units of relationships.

    Did you consider how that would ultimately affect our society? Did you take that into consideration, that maybe we should be looking just at setting up a new definition for a different social model, and not necessarily taking away the core value of our society that is reflected by definition in marriage today?

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    Mr. Brian Berezowski: I don't believe the common-law definition of marriage includes...as I understand it, the common-law definition of marriage coming from a judgment in 1886 was that throughout Christiandom, marriage is understood to be the union of one man and one woman for life. I don't hear it saying one fertile man and one fertile woman. Procreation has come up as an argument in support of marriage since lesbian and gay couples have been saying they wish to marry.

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: But if you analyzed marriage itself as an institution, don't you think most reasonable thinking people would at some point find that one of the core values was procreation of life?

À  +-(1000)  

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    Mr. Brian Berezowski: No. I don't believe that most reasonable people would think that was one of the main aspects of marriage. It's certainly one of the main aspects keeping us all here; it has brought us all into the world, and it will continue life on this planet.

    As for procreation being the main purpose of marriage, I think that—

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: Not the main, but a core, purpose.

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    Mr. Brian Berezowski: No. I don't believe that it is a core purpose of marriage.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Marceau.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    Mr. Berezowski, I would like to make a comment and then ask a question.

    You are absolutely right when you say that, even though Quebec has passed legislation on civil unions, heterosexuality is still alive and well. Heterosexual people have continued marrying, having relations and making babies. That has not lead to the collapse of the Quebec civilization.

    I would like to come back to your fears about religious freedom. I would recognize that no church or religious group should be forced to marry same sex couples. As a matter of fact, I don't see why homosexual couples would want to get married in a place where they are not wanted. Still, that fear has been expressed several times to the Committee.

    So, to alleviate those fears, or even to dispel them completely, would you agree, if the Committee recommended to allow homosexual couples to marry, that we state quite clearly in the legislation—as in Clause 367 of the Quebec Civil Code—that no church officer would be forced to celebrate marriages that would go against his or her faith?

[English]

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    Mr. Brian Berezowski: I certainly think it would be an appropriate choice for the committee to recommend that. I think it's redundant, because we already enjoy those freedoms, the freedom of religion.

    There was recently a case in the news of an Alberta church that refused to marry a woman because she worked for Planned Parenthood. Churches can now say that they are fully within their rights to do that, and just say, I'm sorry, we cannot support this union. It doesn't deny them access to civil marriage, or to their going to get a city hall marriage or to a religion that is willing to marry them. But every religion is within its rights to perform as it pleases, except when they want to perform same-sex marriages, when they say, sorry, you can't do that.

    So I wouldn't have a problem with the government or this committee recommending that be in place, because it's just a simple recognition of what we have now.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

[English]

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    I'm going to put a question to Mr. McLean, and I'll time myself.

    In one way, what this is essentially about is the fact that the Supreme Court has interpreted the discrimination list in the charter as being inclusive of sexual orientation. I accept the fact that there are arguments even around that, but the reality is that's where we are now.

    In the event that the Government of Canada is going to discriminate, which it allows from time to time, there has to be a justification. As I heard your testimony today, you are arguing that the justification for that discrimination is the procreative function of a heterosexual union. Where I don't make the leap, or where I would need to be convinced, is how does the marriage of homosexuals in any way change the procreative function of the heterosexual union?

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    Mr. Donald McLean: It doesn't change it, but I don't look at heterosexuality as just being something that's an issue between man and woman. Heterosexuality is such a pervasive thing on planet earth that if you took all heterosexuality into consideration on planet earth, there isn't anything that you can point to biologically that would be left that actually shows there is something called homosexuality.

À  +-(1005)  

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    The Chair: Okay.

    I'm going to thank the panel. I apologize that we're running a little late, but I'm sure that we'll make up time.

    I'd like to again thank the panel for being here, particularly given the challenges you must have faced to get here. Certainly, we had ours. Thanks again for being here. I would ask you to excuse yourselves so that the next panel can find its way to the table.

    We will begin after a three-minute suspension.

À  +-(1005)  


À  +-(1009)  

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    The Chair: I'm calling back to order the 31st meeting of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights as we continue our study on marriage and the legal recognition of same-sex unions.

    For the next hour, we will hear from the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour: Donna Smith, the vice-president, solidarity and pride; and Larry Hubich, the president.

    Welcome. Thanks for coming. It couldn't have been easy.

    We also have Ned Garstad, who is appearing as an individual, and Jill Brewer.

    You have seven minutes to make a presentation. Please try to be brief, as I ran a little long the last time. This will give an opportunity to members of the committee to put questions.

    I'm going to go first to the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour.

À  +-(1010)  

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    Mr. Larry Hubich (President, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    My name is Larry Hubich and I'm president of the federation. With me is Donna Smith, our vice-president, Solidarity and Pride Committee, representing gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered members of the federation.

    You don't have our document because it hasn't been translated into both official languages. I'll attempt to summarize it, but I will be reading sections of it.

    The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour would first like to express its sincere and considerable appreciation to the committee for providing this opportunity to present our position on the important issue of reconciling the existing conventional legal definition of marriage with the aspirations of lesbian and gay citizens and constitutional guarantees of equality.

    We understand there is a serious conflict between the calls by same-sex couples for immediate full equality under the law and the traditional description of marriage, which still suits many people, that is, that it is the union of one man and one woman and should remain an opposite-sex institution. There are legal, constitutional, religious, social, political, parental, financial, psychological, and emotional implications to whatever you decide on this issue.

    The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour represents more than 85,000 unionized workers across the province of Saskatchewan, members of three dozen trade unions affiliated to our organization as well as seven labour councils and approximately 800 locals.

    The federation has been at the forefront on equality issues. We continue to fight for equality for all workers in this province, and in 1998 we established a solidarity and pride committee to help ensure that gay and lesbian issues are addressed in our workplaces and in the trade union movement in Saskatchewan. The committee works to break down barriers and end discrimination through continuing and ongoing education on gay and lesbian issues. The SFL has a history of support for gay and lesbian workers in their struggle for dignity and justice.

    In addition to the organized workforce, the federation has for more than half a century assumed the responsibility of speaking on behalf of all workers in the province, organized or unorganized. On behalf of the workers of this province, we offer the committee the following suggestions.

    If surveys and polling samples and projections are reliable, then some 10,000 Saskatchewan trade unionists have sexual orientation that is either lesbian or gay. Those same statistics would indicate that another 30,000 working people in the province are inclined to be emotionally attached to someone of the same sex. We're here today on behalf of our gay co-workers and the gay community as a whole.

    There is widespread and overwhelming support within our labour movement for a policy position I will relate to you today. This is not a superficial or transient kind of support. The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour strongly believes that the federal government should extend access to legal marriage to same-sex couples. We would therefore urge this committee to make that your central recommendation to government.

    We propose this to the committee with the expectation that it may not be met with unanimous endorsement, and we advance the recommendation not to offend anyone or to provoke an exchange of invective. The labour movement of this province honestly believes that providing same-sex partners with an equal opportunity and right to marry would be a substantial move towards equality and justice for people who have experienced unwarranted discrimination for long enough.

    We are perhaps all lay people in matters of the heart, but it seems to us that same-sex couples will choose to marry for the same reasons opposite-sex couples marry. They have a strong emotional bond and want to formally express their commitment in a marriage and thereby have their love recognized by others. There's nothing in this that will weaken heterosexual marriages, threaten the family, tear the social fabric, plunge society into turmoil, or unbalance the economy.

    Similarly, we do not regard our position on this issue as unworkable or intimidating for religious institutions. Section 2 of the charter guarantees churches the freedom to choose those ceremonies they will perform and for whom. Some churches will opt to perform same-sex weddings, and importantly, gay and lesbian couples will have access to civil marriage procedures.

    Equality for same-sex spouses has already been achieved in many of these areas by way of federal legislation such as the Modernization of Benefits and Obligations Act. Provincial statutes in this province, including the domestic relations bill, were passed in the spring legislative session of 2001 and amended two dozen statutes to remove discriminatory language.

    It should be noted that not all gay couples who have a long-term commitment to one another would choose to marry. Just as with straight people, some relationships are long-standing and even lifelong, but the spouses opt for a common-law relationship or arrangement. All committed conjugal relationships, same-sex or opposite-sex, should be treated equally and with the same degree of respect.

À  +-(1015)  

    To address specifically the questions you've set out in your consultation paper, we would advise the following.

    We believe the government should not end its regulatory role in marriage and completely abandon the process to individuals and the churches. Such a move might well leave divorced spouses and dependent children vulnerable and neglected, which would not be desirable.

    We do not favour replacing marriage with a simple civil registry to record opposite-sex and same-sex unions. As the committee discussion paper indicates, all provinces and territories would have to agree to replace their marriage registries, and we believe this would be an unrealistic expectation. Any shift to a civil union registry would likely generate a backlash of resentment by those with an attachment to traditional marriage. That animosity could predictably be focused on the group that would acquire some rights by way of civil registry, namely, gays and lesbians.

    The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour has followed the courts' handling of charter cases involving gays and lesbians petitioning for equality. The pattern in decisions handed down by judges right up to the highest court in the land is to grant equality and strike down discrimination. The SFL supports this trend. We feel that this is a current that will continue to flow from the superior courts of our land. Either our legislatures and Parliament will enact equality in our laws or the courts will force them to do it.

    Our recommendation is to call for the elimination of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Heterosexual Canadians have a choice, and gay and lesbian Canadians are denied that right. Legal marriage must be available and equally accessible to everyone. That is a change that may well be a stimulus to encourage our society to become a more tolerant and welcoming place for all people, and it can only be a good and civilizing thing to do. That would be our main aim and our objective.

    Thank you again.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    To Mr. Garstad.

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    Mr. Ned Garstad (As Individual): There are three distinct contexts I come from to speak to you today, the first as a citizen of this country who has some concern about this issue, the second as a queer man who lives in a domestic partnership, and the third as someone who works within a religious institution, namely the United Church of Canada, and who has in the past solemnized heterosexual marriages.

    This is not an ideological conversation for me; this is about the material reality with which I live with my partner. I am unconcerned about whether or not the federal government decides to include us inside the institution of marriage. It seems to me to be a cultural institution on which people spend some great energy entering, defending, and perpetuating.

    I think that including same-sex couples inside the institution of marriage obfuscates rather than ameliorates the discrimination facing people in same-sex relationships. It is a political objective within the queer community, yet it seems to me that it covers over the continuation of discrimination both within the workplace and in other aspects of the market.

    When my partner and I sought housing this year past, we received very clear indication that we would not be rented to, based on the fact that our household was built of two people of the same sex. I think that including us in this heterosexual institution is misguided. It covers over the very real differences that exist in the relationships between two men, between a man and a woman, and between two women.

    If I were to persuade the committee of anything at all, I would advocate domestic partnership legislation similar to that of the Scandinavian model, which would include adoption of children only related to one of the partners in recognition of the parenting that is going on inside same-sex households.

    Other than that, I think I can rest.

À  +-(1020)  

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Ms. Brewer.

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    Ms. Jill Brewer (As Individual): Thank you.

    Today, I came with the intention of speaking in the open mike, not just to the panel, in this format. But thank you very much for allowing me to speak at this time. Merci.

    I won't try to speak French. It's pretty bad.

    Basically, I'm here to represent myself and talk mostly about the emotional side of this issue for myself. I have prepared a couple of pages that I will read here. After that, please, no hard questions, but I am willing to discuss with the panel if you feel that you would like to ask me questions at that time.

    Thank you again. I will just read over what I have brought.

    I want to say first that I come from a perspective that views this process as surreal, as I believe in a world where all people share the right to love the partner that they love without permission from anyone. Since this is real--happening here today--and society is unjust at the moment, I'm very grateful for the arena that has been provided here.

    We are here today to try to show the amount of voters on each side of the issue. This is only a limited sampling of people and can only hopefully reflect proportional agendas. I do not feel that this issue should be voted on, as this is a matter of the heart and not of the polls or the courts. Canada holds its head up high when it comes to human rights, but when it comes to marriage, we bicker and barter over who has and who doesn't have the right to marry.

    Marriage is not a new thing. It's not a fad or social group. It is basic human nature for humans to unite with a partner. Should we try to legislate what type of partner a person can choose, we cross the line into discrimination and persecution. The intimate and emotional relationships that form should not be up to the scrutiny of any lobby group.

    As for my personal view of marriage, I have grown up in a world that views marriage like the brass ring in a merry-go-round. No other relationship between two people is stronger or more sought after. I have been a bridesmaid five times and three times a maid of honour. I feel that my relationship should have no different amount of love and respect than those I have supported. I would like the recognition of this fact--that my relationship is equal to those of the family and friends I've supported in their marriage unions.

    This past July my little sister got married. I was the one who decorated the hall. I was the one who organized things at the church. I later found out that they had considered not inviting me as my being gay may have been an embarrassment to the groom's family. I was apologized to, but they never knew that each night while I was there during the wedding proceedings I would drive out into my dad's fields and stare up at the stars and cry....

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    The Chair: Take your time. There's no rush.

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    Ms. Jill Brewer: There is a lot of rush for me.

    Why could I be there for them but never get the opportunity to publicly share my love and have my relationship respected and celebrated?

    My sister was raised by my father's side, which had no religion at all. She was not raised with any knowledge of religion, yet she chose to get married and have the religious ceremony because the man she married came from a very religious family.

    Ironically, I come from a very religious background on my mother's side and I was raised with a strong love for the religion that I was taught. When I had problems dealing with what was going on inside of me as far as realizing that my life was a gay life goes, I went to a church psychologist for two years to try to get fixed or changed, with all earnestness. At the end of those two years the psychologist told me that he found there was nothing wrong with me. He felt that I was a very healthy, normal, happy individual. He was proud to know me, but unfortunately he would lose his position if he were to stand up for me in front of the church. So I was asked to leave and not come back.

    Imagine the positive things this country could generate if it focused on happiness instead of on difference. Let's put our energy into people building and not into plugging up the courts and the political system. There are much more important things to deal with than denying people God-given rights.

    Legalizing marriages paves the way for the development of healthy relationships and healthy communities. Right now we are experiencing a lot of backlash in the gay community concerning how unhealthy our relationships are, how short term they are, how this, how that. But if you raise somebody in an environment where they are constantly in fear, constantly having to hide who they are, not being able to verbalize who they are and get feedback, not being able to find a place or identify with anyone or anything else that's approved of in society, are they going to grow up and be able to deal with personal relationships effectively? I know there are a lot of very healthy gay and lesbian people. But I'm saying that in rebuttal to those unhealthy things. If we want to improve healthy marriages in this country, we need to make it equal for gay, lesbian, and heterosexual people.

    This is not a country that should fear equality and diversity. Real people need real representation from this committee. Please consider carefully that getting married does not take away the rights of any other Canadian, but the fear and the hate can only harm individuals and this country.

    Thank you very much.

À  +-(1025)  

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    To Mr. Cadman.

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'd like to thank the witnesses for coming, particularly Ms. Brewer. I think we can all appreciate getting thrown into the breach when you are not expecting it. You did fine.

    I will just go back to the question I had posed to the first panel, in particular to the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour. You made a number of comments that changing the law or changing the definition--redefining--would not have an impact on this, would not have an impact on that, on society down the road. I'm just wondering what you base that on.

    In light of the way I phrased the question before, have we had enough time to understand what those impacts would be, to do the studies, vis-à-vis the change we made to the Divorce Act 40 years ago and the unintended consequences where people said the same things--it won't have an impact; it'll all be good? I am just wondering what you base those on?

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    Mr. Larry Hubich: I'm going to ask Donna Smith, our vice-president, solidarity and pride, to comment as well.

    It occurs to us that setting up unnecessary roadblocks or denying people rights because we are afraid that offering rights--extending rights--under our Constitution and our laws will somehow cause us problems is not particularly rational. It seems to me that it's logical in a society in the year 2003--in a modern society--that we wouldn't want to have laws established in our country that disadvantaged one group. Resolution after resolution at conventions, as long as I have been round this labour movement--and I have been around the labour movement for 30 years--have reinforced the desire of working people that the laws of the land be made whole for people who are gay and lesbian. Denying them the right to marry is one of those laws.

    I don't know that there is anything we should fear. I can't believe that there is, and so to do nothing because we are afraid it might upset the apple cart is, in my opinion, not particularly responsible.

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Perhaps I could make a point there. I'd suggest that it's not a question of fearing anything; it's a question of going into it with our eyes open, of understanding what the consequences are so we can be ready to deal with them.

À  +-(1030)  

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    Mr. Larry Hubich: I guess I don't share the suggestion that society hasn't had an opportunity to take an adequate look at what the implications might be. The only possible thing that I can think might be of concern to people is the economic implications.

    My question is, economic implications for whom? For business? For benefit packages? What's the problem here? There is no economic justification. There is no justification, as far as I'm concerned, the least of which would be economic justification for denying people their rights.

    The labour movement, I believe, is fairly solid and fairly strong in that regard. In Saskatchewan we represent 85,000 working families. The Canadian Labour Congress--and I'm sure they'll present a brief before this committee--represents 2.5 million working families. While it's not unanimous, certainly there is strong support for extending these rights to gay and lesbian couples.

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    The Chair: Mr. Hubich mentioned that Ms. Smith also wanted to respond to that.

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    Ms. Donna Smith (Vice-President, Solidarity and Pride, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour): I think Larry's fairly much covered everything I would have said. It's a matter of equality. I don't see why we would look for the negative consequences. I can't think of any that would happen. It's a right that we're being denied.

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    The Chair: Mr. Marceau.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

    I have to admit, Mr. Chair, that I am beginning to feel a bit ill at ease when I see that people like Mrs. Brewer have to come here to try and convince us that their relationship is as valuable as that of heterosexual couples.

    I am also beginning to find it difficult to understand what could logically lead us not to accept that same-sex relationships could be as valuable as heterosexual relationships.

    This is why I have to express my surprise at hearing Mr. Garstad. In your brief, which is in front of me, you talk a lot about homophobia and, among other things, its irrational character. You also state that you do not want the right to marry because homosexual persons face much more urgent problems.

    However—and it is on this point that I want to hear your comments—several homosexual persons who want to marry have told us that marriage is one of the most highly valued institutions of our society.

    My colleague, Mr. McKay, referred to the fact that religion has been somewhat devalued in recent years, just like political institutions. One could probably find today more people who believe that Elvis lives than people who trust politicians, men or women.

    However, despite all the problems that the institution of marriage may face, it is still the most highly valued relationship. So, to allow same-sex couples to be part of that valued institution would send a very significant message to the whole of our society, which is that being gay or lesbian and having a gay or lesbian relationship is quite acceptable.

    As a matter of fact, it is neither better nor worse than a male-female relationship, it is only different. It includes in both cases people who love each other. Do you not think that sending such a message would reduce homophobia or misunderstanding about homosexuality and that, by this very fact, several of the problems you have raised would be solved—such as the fact that some people do not want to rent homes to gays or lesbians or to give them jobs?

À  +-(1035)  

[English]

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    Mr. Ned Garstad: First of all, I don't speak to you as a homosexual. I speak to you as a person in a same-sex relationship. There's a difference.

    As a bisexual person, I actively made a choice. And I think, to be honest, if we strip away the patinas of the identity politics that creep around this issue, ultimately when one chooses to live with someone else, there is a choice. This is a domestic relationship that we're talking about. We're not talking about identity politics, unless we get back into the fray over heterosexual-homosexual. This is about recognizing the material reality of people living together.

    At the same time, I have to honour the fact that I work within an institution that, by fits and starts, is working to understand its relationship with same-sex couples. The United Church of Canada has done a lot of work in understanding and articulating its stance of inclusion and its concern over the past 25 or 30 years, at the outside.

    No, I don't think that including same-sex people in the institution of marriage is going to change the reality of homophobia. When it comes to public recognition of same-sex unions, this is something that happens within the family context.

    When my partner and I swore our oaths to each other, there was a dean from a cathedral in Calgary present, not officiating. There was no legal aspect to our covenanting.

    “Covenanting” is the word that we use in the United Church. This is a public ceremony, a celebration within our extended families and the community that we find support in. I will note that we didn't have that much support from the queer community in doing that. This again is a celebration of a relationship, the particularity of two people choosing to live together.

    The construction that happens with two men living together is different from that relationship that exists between a man and a woman, partially because of the reality of homophobia. Within the United Church of Canada, when I solemnize a marriage I'm solemnizing a relationship between a man and a woman that has a theological and an ecclesiological constraint. When I celebrate a covenant, this is a different reality. This is a similar process, but a different process.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Do I still have time?

    Your philosophy could be stated as being “separate but equal”?

[English]

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    Mr. Ned Garstad: It's equal in respect, naming the reality that there is a difference between men and women. It's not one of superiority, but this is a very different kind of conversation. To stand back and say that as long as we get into the institution of marriage, homophobia is conquered...no, it's not.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: That is not what I said.

[English]

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    Mr. Ned Garstad: I understand that's not what you said, but when it comes down to the process of integrating same-sex relationships into the body politic, this is going to take generations. Starting at this point with a process of domestic partnership legislation makes more sense than dumping a community into an institution to which it is foreign. Seven or eight generations from now when our communities are able to accept, support, inform, nurture, and correct relationships between same-sex couples, then perhaps it will happen. Now, this is not the reality. We do live separate but equal lives. We do have separate communities. We do continue to experience discrimination within our families.

    There is a radical difference between the respect that my brother and his wife, who live in Lethbridge, Alberta, in the context of the Alberta ethos, receive from our extended families than that which my partner and I do. There's still an effective celebratory experience around our covenanting, yet there is a difference. I think this may boil down to regional differences.

    I grew up in rural Alberta. Whether or not I want to pretend that gays and lesbians are accepted does not change the reality that I cannot live and succeed in that part of the country. The disincentive to live there helps me to shape my life in a constructive way. Furthering the kind of illusion that gays and lesbians are universally accepted everywhere really doesn't allow me to cultivate a life worth living. I'm not saying that the government has any place in that process of illusion; I'd say that's left up to religious institutions to further. When it comes down to providing legislation that makes certain that my partner has a greater right to my property and person than my nephews, that concerns me.

    Some of that can be sorted out. It has already been sorted out in cases like M. v. H. This is judicial activism. When it comes down to building family units that nurture and love all people regardless of their sexual orientation, I don't think that's the place of the government. I don't think that it's the place of the Canadian state to make me feel good about being queer. I think it is the place of the state to provide legislation that allows my partner and me a certain level of domestic stability. We're not talking about identity politics here, we're talking about relationships, property, access. I think that's the difference.

À  +-(1040)  

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. Chuck Cadman): Mr. Macklin.

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: Thank you, Chair. And thank you, witnesses, for appearing.

    We have quite a diverse panel today, and that's much appreciated. We're here to try to learn from you, and it's important that we get this diversity of opinion.

    In looking at diversity of opinion, there has been a case made for caution in this process. Professor Cere has made this case to us. It's interesting to hear you speak this morning, Mr. Garstad, about your perspective. It's a perspective we haven't heard much about.

I would like to read one of the conclusions in this cautionary approach that Professor Cere—of, I believe, McGill—was making. He said, “Canadians should work together for a society that treats all persons, whatever their sexual orientation, with profound dignity and respect.” That is what, of course, you were bringing forward clearly today. “However,” he goes on to say, “upholding dignity and respect for gays and lesbians does not require assent to demands for the reconstruction of an institution fundamental to heterosexual bonding and critical to the social ecology of human life. Legal tampering with core features of marriage has social repercussions.”

    Now, reflecting on that, there are a couple of points I'd like to make. I don't know whether you, Ms. Smith, or Mr. Hubich would like to respond, but first, do you not think there may be ways other than changing this construct of marriage to raise and protect those you are concerned about in the gay and lesbian community—without necessarily changing the definition of marriage as it is perceived today?

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    Mr. Larry Hubich: I don't believe what the federation is advocating is that there should be forced same-sex marriages. What we're advocating is that the law be amended to provide for that opportunity for those couples who want to marry. To deny them that right is just fundamentally wrong.

    “Changing the construct of marriage” and the ramifications of that, or whether there are other alternatives for us? All I can talk to you about is personal examples. If Donna Smith and I love each other, which we do, and we choose because we're of opposite genders to marry, that's acceptable. it's legal and it's binding. If Donna Smith loves someone else who is of the same gender and chooses to marry her, it's not possible. That love is distinguished between Donna Smith and me; it's sanctioned by our society and by the institution of marriage, but only insofar as she loves me and wants to marry me as a man.

    It just escapes me what logic has brought us to a point in our society that says the sanctity of the institution of marriage—based on something—is that it must remain heterosexual. I just can't get there; I really can't get there.

À  +-(1045)  

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: Can you help me, then? What is your definition—because I hear you use those terms, “love” and “relationship”—or what do you believe marriage is by definition?

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    Mr. Larry Hubich: Well, I've been married for 27 years. My understanding of marriage is that it's the legal expression of two loving individuals who have joined. There are legal ramifications associated with that vis-à-vis disposition of property upon death of one partner or the other; the disposition of property in the event that couples divorce; rights enshrined in some of our legislation, whether it's rights to property, rights to benefits, rights to a number of things. For me and for my wife, that's what marriage is. The core piece is love.

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: Does it have a conjugal relationship to it? Does it have a procreativity part to it? Where do you define marriage, as you see it?

    This is what we're trying to struggle with. How far do you go in defining marriage? Maybe when you work through that process, you find that the construct isn't necessarily one that fits equally for men in a committed relationship who would like to have that relationship recorded. It may not fit that definition unless you start narrowing the definition to love and a relationship.

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    Mr. Larry Hubich: As for “conjugal” and “procreation”, who cares? It is not the place of government to be in the bedrooms of our nation, and if I'm in a marriage that for whatever reason does not involve sexual relations with my partner—or a conjugal relationship or procreation, for whatever reason—but we choose to live with each other and love each other and are married to each other as a statement, who cares? And whose business is it?

    It's certainly not my business what's going on in my next door neighbour's home, nor is it their business what's going on in mine. The fact of the matter is that I'm married and this is my partner, and why should I be denied that right on the basis of gender?

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. Chuck Cadman): Mr. McKay, you may have three minutes.

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    Mr. John McKay: Thank you, Chair, and thank you, witnesses.

    Mr. Garstad, as Mr. Macklin said, you've brought a perspective we don't frequently hear here. The argument we've so frequently heard is that marriage is essentially a love institution, and if it's a love institution, gay people love each other and therefore gays should be admitted to marriage. That's the shorthand version of the argument, if you will.

    Yet you said that when you solemnize a relationship between a man and a woman, it is different from covenanting the relationship between a man and a man or a woman and a woman. Naming it as a difference—in other words, stating the obvious—is not discrimination.

    Many people who are advocating the obvious say it is a discrimination. They say that because they do not have access to the institution of marriage, this constitutes a discrimination in and of itself, and that if they had access to that institution, discrimination...I'm not sure they would immediately argue that all discrimination would cease, but certainly that this level of discrimination would cease.

    If I could put it to you, then, even given your position, what could be the great harm in admitting gays to the institution of marriage, for those who want to get in?

À  +-(1050)  

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    Mr. Ned Garstad: In the first part, I don't think that marriage has.... Romantically, it has to do with affection. But either as clergy people or as civil servants who solemnize marriages, one does not audit the emotions of the people who are presenting themselves for marriage. Marriage is about commitment. My father was raised in a community of Norwegians in east-central Alberta, and one of the elders in that community made a comment about how love gets you married but commitment keeps you married.

    Now, there's a similar sort of parallel that's at work in the relationships with queer people, but when it comes to why this is not a carrot that the mule should bite, it's because when queer people start looking to heterosexual institutions to validate their relationships.... I mean, this is marriage. This is the carrot par excellence. Unfortunately, the cart is headed towards the abbatoir when it comes down to queer identity.

    If we are going to nurture the reality and the difference that exists in queerness—the reality of partnership—pretending somehow that all of a sudden our relationships are the same as heterosexual relationships in respect in this country, or culturally valued in the same way, seems to me to be suicide of our communities. Perhaps we help to bolster the institution of marriage, but how does it help queer communities that don't have married people around?

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    Mr. John McKay: As a point of nomenclature here, I think you are the first witness who has used the term “queer”. It can be both a pejorative term and also a term of pride. I'm assuming you are using it as a point of pride and distinctiveness, as opposed to a pejorative.

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    Mr. Ned Garstad: Absolutely. When it comes down to the institution of marriage, I think that word can be used in the same two functions. I mean, my location with my partner is one of a fairly healthy, integrated relationship. Do I think it's marriage? No. Would my partner marry me if we were able to be married? No. When it comes down to domestic partnership, yes. When it comes down to lifelong commitment, yes. When it comes down to marriage, no.

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. Chuck Cadman): Mr. Marceau, three minutes and a tiny little bit, if you want.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Richard Marceau: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    Once again, Mr. Garstad, my question is for you. I am trying to understand the difference there is between both types of couples, because you seem to believe that all heterosexual couples operate in the same manner, and that all homosexual couples operate in a different manner.

    If I were to tell you, and that usually mades people smile, that, in my home, the tool box belongs to my wife and not to me, you could say that this is not “natural” for heterosexual people. However, I feel that I am quite good at cooking. Whenever my wife tries to cook something, it generally sticks to the pan.

    So, basically, what do you think is the difference between a homosexual couple and a heterosexual couple that would justify that the institution of marriage be restricted to heterosexuals?

[English]

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    Mr. Ned Garstad: History. We are talking about this in the material reality of relationships, particularities around two people. Yet, when it comes down to a man and a woman choosing to be partnered, I have no existentialist understanding of what happens in that place, theologically, philosophically, biologically. I'm not interested in a conversation around genetics. The year 1967 was the first time people who engaged in same-sex activity were not persecuted under the law.

    One has to create a neurosis and forget the fact that queer people have not always existed under the same aegis as heterosexual couples in this country. There needs to be a nuanced understanding of our identities and the value in our relationships. Obviously, since I am willing to enter into a same-sex relationship with commitment, public identification and the consequences of that-- we are talking about limitations on housing and employment--are very real problems to be faced and either accepted or run away from in same-sex relationships. These are realities.

    When it comes down to a man and a woman being in partnership, there is not the same sort of public reaction. So perhaps what differentiates heterosexual and homosexual--if I am going to borrow a term, “same-sex” or “other-sex”--relationships is an external one. It's the reaction that we face in public. We are not safe in the same way as my brother and his wife are.

    Perhaps when people map our relationship into their conceptual framework, they have to get us married to be able to validate our relationship. I don't think that my partner and I are asking anyone else to validate our relationship. When it comes down to this conversation, we are talking about property and access. Common-law status and decriminalization of homosexual behaviour have accomplished most of what people conflate with the issue of marriage. There are still differences.

    As I said earlier, seven or eight generations from now, perhaps those differences will be small enough that someone like me would advocate for entry of same-sex couples into the institution of marriage. Right now, that would be a neurotic decision, I think, because it obfuscates the very real differences publicly, which is what we are talking about. We are talking about a public institution.

    We are not talking about the private sphere of who cooks what, who sleeps where. I mean, sexuality and affection are not things that you legalize. You may criminalize them when they become harmful, but outside of that, that's not what we are talking about today. We are talking about property, access, perhaps the issue of adoption. The rest of it is not something that I think the state has any business discussing.

À  +-(1055)  

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    The Chair: Mr. Macklin.

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: Although, Mr. Marceau, you sort of went where I wanted to go, I think the question still needs to be pursued. That is the question of trying to meet, I think, a very basic need of the queer community. How do we, as parliamentarians, go forward to meet the needs that are being expressed to us in raising the dignity and respect for the community as a whole?

    Marriage seems to be the lightning rod for that discussion. I'm interested to hear you talk about this, because I think it's very important and we've had very few people who have come forward to advance the proposition that we are truly looking for dignity and respect. Marriage happens to be the tool that we're using at the moment to try to achieve it.

    Could you advance what you think we ought to be doing, as parliamentarians, to assist in this process? I mean, there is human rights legislation available, but it sound like it's deeper than what the human rights legislation, at least at the moment, has been able to achieve for you as a community.

    Could you comment on that and give us some guidance as to what you think we ought to do?

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    Mr. Ned Garstad: I don't know what the model is in Quebec under the Civil Code. I do know more about the Scandinavian model when it comes down to same-sex relationships and their civil registries. The model that the Danes began to use and that eventually communicated itself throughout Scandinavia does not include marriage in the state church. It is a civil relationship and it includes the ability to adopt children who are blood relatives of one of the partners.

    In a previous lifetime, in a previous partnership, I helped to parent a child to whom I could not have parental access, even though my partner was not always present. This isn't an issue for the parents. This is an issue for the child. If there's an emergency that happens and the people who are involved in the parenting process are not able to have legal recognition of their role in parenthood, that creates an issue.

    The Scandinavian model is nuanced enough that it's politically viable, I think. When it comes down to this “all or none, let us in or keep us out”, I'm not going to be alive for seven generations. I want to see the federal government do something that actually legislates around the reality that I live with my partner. Those in other places that are less secure socially, economically...so that rather than this ideological conversation around marriage and the essentials that may or may not exist between men and women, men and men, women and women, the practical solution is to do what the Scandinavians have done, I think.

Á  +-(1100)  

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Cadman.

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Thank you, Chair.

    Mr. Garstad, I'm glad you brought up children, because this is one of the first times it has come up today. It's been put forward by others that if Parliament and Canadian society recognize same-sex unions as marriage, children who are being bullied and teased at school who come from same-sex households will have that situation changed for them, just by Parliament actually recognizing the union of their parents. I'm having some difficulty, because I don't condone that kind of behaviour for one moment, so please don't take that perspective. But I think there must be other ways to address that. I'm wondering what your views are on that.

    If we change the definition, if we redefine marriage, will that somehow end what goes on in the schoolyards, with kids being teased about their parents?

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    Mr. Ned Garstad: When it comes to the Canadian government's activism around ameliorating the situation faced by people in same-sex relationships, it does not change the fact that you have a quasi-genetic argument being offered to you this morning in a very politically correct fashion. Legislation will not change discrimination. It gives a mode of redress or vengeance. When it comes to kids being teased on the playground about who's sleeping with whom, whose daddy is who, and how many moms are in the house, perhaps that will change in two or three generations, but that's a cultural issue.

    There is a reason why I moved from rural Alberta to urban Saskatchewan. The reality is that no matter how much activism happens in Ottawa or Edmonton, it does not change the reality in small-town Alberta. I don't have enough experience with small-town Saskatchewan but--parallel conversations.

    I'm hoping that what this committee and the federal government decide to do will actually provide some sort of legal redress for this, give legal shape to it, rather than trying to take on the task of changing people's ideologies. That's not really something I would like to see the state participate in. I thought that level of interference in how people choose to idealize relationships was done with 500 years ago in the wars of religion. At least I have the choice not to go to a place that's going to tell me I'm damned. If I start to participate in trying to stop that from happening, I do exactly what I don't want to experience myself.

    On teasing in playgrounds, that's why you have teachers. The STF has been very active in trying to create structures inside of itself to correct that. So that's a different conversation from the issue around the material and legal aspects of being in a same-sex relationship.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. McKay.

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    Mr. John McKay: You said, Mr. Garstad, you were getting tired of the ideological argument--the all-or-none argument, and you didn't find it nuanced enough. You pointed to the more nuanced legislation of the Danish model, which I don't think we've spent a lot of time looking at, but it certainly sounds like something worth exploring.

    If I accurately reflect gay activist witnesses thus far, what you're proposing is the booby prize. I think Mr. Fisher, the chairman of EGALE, in our hearings in Ottawa said, if you just put us into one of these separate registry things, that's like the booby prize, and we're not interested in that; we want marriage and nothing but marriage; that's the only acceptable thing. Indeed, Ms. Smith and Mr. Hubich would argue the same thing, probably feeling that they were doing the best thing for society and for people like you.

    What's the response to just saying, well, you didn't get marriage but we're giving you this alternate model, this booby prize, and you'll have to be happy with that--end of story?

Á  +-(1105)  

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    Mr. Ned Garstad: The reason I'm here today is that I financially support EGALE around their activism; I don't share their position when it comes to marriage. To me it's not an issue of whether or not we would ever be married. On whether or not we go back into theological discourse about why the church does not call covenanting marriage, that's a different issue, as are the people who want to advocate all or nothing and can't feel good about their relationship unless they're married.

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    Mr. John McKay: Would an alternate registration system be effectively separate but equal and therefore offensive?

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    Mr. Ned Garstad: I am sure that you would face opposition from the queer community and from other organizations that have that all-or-none perspective. When it comes down to what is going to be effective, what you are going to be able to do at this time in Canadian history, and that which is going to respond to the actual material needs of people in same-sex relationships, find something that works.

    The quibbling around this institution named marriage will not end. There's a good portion of the population out here that cannot respect common-law relationships. The first federal election I worked on as a ballot auditor back home was the first resurgence of the Social Credit Party in southern Alberta, with their advocacy of excluding even common-law spouses from any kind of legal recognition. That's going to keep resurfacing, and it's part of this all-or-none dynamic that takes place over the conversation around marriage.

    There are options that can be put through, ones that will work. Maybe people might not be happy about them, yet again, we return to what I said earlier: it's not the state's job to make me happy.

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    Mr. John McKay: So you'd be prepared to suffer the consequences of judicial terrorism, where the judges would simply say, well, we don't care, you haven't got it right; we're going to impose this decision on you. We've been told time and time again that if we don't do it right, the courts will do it for us.

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    Mr. Ned Garstad: I would hope that the Supreme Court would take a more nuanced stance and allow you to proceed with a response that is going to actually reflect the living experience of people rather than this ideological appeal. If they're setting criteria so they can adjudicate whether or not this committee has put forward something that's workable and is going to address discrimination, I would hope the Danish model would be effective in that.

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    The Chair: Mr. Garstad, you talk about the government not implicating itself that far into this issue, but the reality is that we're seriously into it now. A same-sex couple who are members of my church--we share the same church--want to be married in my church, and my minister is prepared to marry this couple in my church. The Government of Canada says they can't. That's a serious involvement in the lives of this couple. Their religious conviction is that they want to be married; they have a conjugal relationship, and they want that conjugal relationship recognized in the church, in public.

    Now, I understand there are lots of people who wouldn't want to exercise that right if it were available. Is it not difficult that this couple can't get married in their church? Is it not at some level a violation of the religious freedom of the church to offer that?

Á  +-(1110)  

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    Mr. Ned Garstad: Absolutely not. In Holland there are two separate processes. Within the Reformed Church--which along with the United Church is part of this global organization--in Holland, one has a civil marriage and a religious marriage. There's a separation of those two institutions. I can't speak from anywhere else but from within the Reformed Church, but it seems to me that the separation is helpful.

    The couple of which you speak can be covenanted if the elders of the church agree to it. This is a public recognition, support, and correction of what goes on inside their relationship. Legally, this is a different issue, and that's why there needs to be a parallel institution that will actually happen. Otherwise, this conversation around marriage will go on in perpetuity. I would rather there be some sort of realistic means outside of religious institutions acknowledging--

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    The Chair: Is it your testimony that you don't think we're going to get marriage, so rather than pretend, you would rather do something we can get? That's your testimony.

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    Mr. Ned Garstad: When it boils right down to it, perhaps it's pessimistic, but I'm only going to live for another 60 years, maybe. Within my lifetime, I would like to see some actual legislation passed rather than the continuing firefight between the left and the right over this issue.

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    The Chair: I thank the panel very much.

    We are going to have our break for lunch because we're a bit of a moving target, what with people who can't appear and people who are here and might appear later.

    I am now going to suspend until 11:30. Once again, thank you very much.

Á  +-(1112)  


Á  +-(1132)  

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    The Chair: I call the 31st meeting of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights back to order. Pursuant to standing order 108(2), the committee is resuming its study on marriage and the legal recognition of same-sex unions.

    For the next hour we'll be hearing from three individuals. Reverend Kimmerly is appearing on behalf of the Saskatchewan Conference of the United Church of Canada. Rosalie Boots is here as an individual, as is Beverley Dent. If I have introduced you incorrectly, you can explain when you make your opening comments.

    With that, you have seven minutes. At six minutes you'll see this sign and at seven minutes you'll see this sign. Please don't make me explain what happens after that.

    Rosalie Boots, please.

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    Ms. Rosalie Boots (As Individual): Mr. Chairman, committee members, and fellow participants, good morning. I'd like to thank the justice committee for this opportunity.

    I am representing St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Parish, a congregation of about 1,500 families.

    In the justice committee's discussion paper “Marriage and Legal Recognition of Same-sex Unions”, Canadians were presented with a number of questions that should be considered. The ones that will be focused on today are the following: Does marriage have a continuing role in our modern society, and if so, should this be reflected in our laws? How can Parliament best act to support marriage? Is there still a need for governments to regulate marriage as distinct from other conjugal relationships?

    The discussion paper also suggests some possible approaches, and our position supports that of our Canadian bishops, that marriage should remain an opposite-sex institution. Marriage has a vital role in our modern society, and this should be reflected in our laws. We believe that a committed marriage between one man and one woman lends itself towards the good of each other and, more importantly, towards the good of the children who usually result. It is the responsibility of our government to promote things that enhance the well-being of Canadians. Just as they are involved in education and health, they have a responsibility towards promoting social stability.

    It is apparent in our environment that there is a natural order for all living things. The natural biological order for families is a relationship between a man and a woman. This balance lends itself to stable families and a stable society. It follows, then, that marriage as a union between one man and one woman has existed and has been valued across all cultures and all civilizations and in all religions for all of recorded history.

    Psychologically and emotionally, men and women complement each other. The result is that children can receive a well-balanced and well-rounded nurturing in a family where mom and dad have a permanent commitment. This has been shown in many recent studies, which are indicated in my written submission.

    The Catholic Church believes that the fundamental purposes or characteristics of marriage are the good of the couple and also the procreation and education of children, which in turn are for the good of society. The aforementioned studies show how well founded that belief is.

    The role of marriage is still very important to Canadians. Those who marry do so with a sense of commitment, where they are prepared to give of self to the other. The bond is strengthened by the fact that they will likely have and nurture children together. This is unique and sets it apart from other types of relationships. Cultures across time have recognized this. Christian faiths value this extremely highly. Marriage is more than a conjugal relationship. To redefine marriage according to the law would be to say that it is something it is not.

    Parliament can and should support marriage because of the benefits it provides to our society. Parliament should also support marriage out of respect to the many Canadians who value marriage as it has been understood for centuries. Those who have entered into a marriage covenant did so because they wanted to enter into a unique and significant relationship that was different from others. To change the definition would in some ways invalidate the choice they have made.

    If the meaning of marriage is not the relationship millions of couples have chosen, if it is not the relationship I share with my husband, how do we define that relationship? Many see it as very different from a same-sex or common-law partnership.

    Parliament should support marriage by first and foremost adhering to the decision made in the House of Commons in June 1999. Marriages can also be supported for the good of society by ensuring that tax laws and other benefits do not disfavour married couples. It is important to ensure that those claiming married status are eligible for all the same financial benefits cohabiting couples receive.

    Many married couples choose to have one of the parents stay home with the children, yet child care subsidies and income tax deductions are not available to them despite the reality of the financial cost of caring for their own children. Could our governments be so bold as to promote the benefits of stable marriages just as it promotes good nutrition and exercise?

Á  +-(1135)  

    Retaining the definition of marriage as a union of one man and one woman does not imply disrespect for those who choose other lifestyles. As the Catholic Church teaches very emphatically, all human beings are to be treated with dignity, regardless of the choices they make. The Canadian Catholic Bishops stated this strongly and clearly in their submission to the justice committee.

    There is still a need for government to regulate marriage as distinct from other conjugal relationships. The benefits to individuals and society are compelling. Another reason is pointed out in the justice committee's discussion paper. If two individuals have chosen not to marry, some think that choice should be respected. Treating all conjugal relationships as marriage does not respect the choices of either those who choose or those who choose not to marry. In addressing the concerns of adult relationships, the government should proceed in a way that respects their dignity but does not redefine marriage. Fair and equal do not always mean the same.

    Defining and regulating same-sex or common-law relationships may be important. But to call such a relationship a marriage is naming it something that it is not. Respecting people's choices, promoting the good of society, and protecting the vulnerable must be balanced in laws and practices regarding marriage and other adult relationships.

    In summary, Parliament is encouraged to retain the present definition of marriage--the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, as they agreed upon in the House of Commons in June 1999. Marriage is valued and has been valued according to this definition across cultures and across the ages.

    Studies have shown that marriage benefits individuals and society. Those who have entered into marriage understand it in its present definition, unique from other kinds of relationships.

    The government should support marriage out of respect for those who have chosen that commitment and because it benefits society. The government has a role in regulating marriage, one that balances respect of people's choices, protection of the vulnerable, and promotion of the good of society.

    Marriage should remain defined as, and supported as, the union of one woman and one man to the exclusion of all others. This is best for Canadians.

    Thank you for this opportunity to speak.

Á  +-(1140)  

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    The Chair: Ms Dent.

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    Ms. Beverley Dent (As Individual): I'd like to thank you for this opportunity to speak to you.

    The paper that I have titled “Myth, Laws, and Human Rights” is a very brief summary of the doctoral work I have been engaged in over the last five years at the University of Saskatchewan.

    I do not make a legal argument or a religious argument, because I am certain you will hear those arguments from other people. Instead, it is my purpose to show you that the basic beliefs, those underlying assumptions on which our present-day laws regarding the propriety of same-sex love are based, do not stand up to the scrutiny of modern science.

    In that paper, I have pointed out that even though we commonly believe we live in an age of modern science and technology, much of our lives is still governed by ancient mythical beliefs about what people are and what they can be. Specifically, I speak about the myth of sex, the belief that all people are born in one of only two possible biological forms--female or male--that there are only two possible ways for people to think, feel, and behave--feminine or masculine--and that for anyone to love someone who has the same sexual characteristics as themselves is to be wilfully deviant and deserving of severe punishment.

    In that paper I have shown you there is a great deal of variance in the various factors--genitals, gonads, genetics, and hormones--that determine the physiological sexual characteristics we are born with. What I have not shown you is that the variations in internal human physiology are not limited to sexual characteristics, and in fact, our physical makeup varies in many other ways that have nothing to do with sex.

    Variance in human physiology, both internal and external, is not only a fact of life; variance is the norm. I have suggested to you that variations in our mental and emotional makeup are probably much greater than the variations in our physiology, and just as natural.

    At this time, there are over 6 billion people living on this planet. No two of those people--not even identical twins--are exactly the same physically. Why should we think people's mental and emotional capacities would be constructed the same?

    Even if it were possible to start out with two people whose mental and emotional capacities were identical at birth, the only way these two people could develop in an identical manner would be for them to be able to have the exact same experiences at exactly the same time in exactly the same circumstances, and in exactly the same sequences. This perfect alignment of experiences is physically impossible.

    Obviously, we are born different. We develop differently, and the longer we live, the more ways there are in which we may become different. Difference is natural. I have pointed out to you that in the past we have discriminated against people because of physiological differences, such as being born left-handed. Society severely punished left-handed people because the authorities of the day assured us that such difference was actually wilful deviance. Today we know that left-handed people are not wilfully deviant; they are born that way, and the discrimination based on that archaic myth is harmful and unjust.

    I have pointed out to you that in the past we have discriminated against people who chose to love someone whose race or skin colour was different from their own. Religious authorities assured us that such behaviour was immoral, must therefore be made illegal, and should be severely punished. Today few people believe that myth, and few people believe the social punishments endured by those who transgressed the laws based on the interracial myth were ever justifiable.

    We humans have done so much harm to other humans with so little rhyme or reason. When will we ever learn?

Á  +-(1145)  

    I appeal to you, the members of this parliamentary justice committee, for justice. I do not ask you for special rights or privileges; I only ask to enjoy the rights and privileges that most people in our society already exercise.

    Those of us who are not heterosexual pay the same taxes. We obey the same laws. We carry the same legal responsibilities. Why shouldn't we enjoy the same rights and privileges as the majority, the same rights and privileges that most of you enjoy?

    You are the elected representatives of the Canadian people--all of them--and we are a significant part of the Canadian public. Please take the next step and put the civil institution of marriage on the same legal basis for all people, regardless of their sexuality.

    Thank you.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    I'm going to go next to Reverend Kimmerly, but before I do, I want to welcome Elaine Anderson, who is appearing as an individual.

    Basically all the people who had intended to appear today have been identified or they have cancelled because of the weather. Those who are here will be the last panel. So rather than have everybody wait around through lunch and into the afternoon with only one witness left, we are going to have this panel for probably an extended time so everybody will have an opportunity to participate. We'll make it more convenient for everybody. Can we have one person at the end of the exercise for the stand-up mike?

    Reverend Bob Kimmerly.

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    The Right Reverend Bob Kimmerly (Saskatchewan Conference of the United Church of Canada): Thank you. I appear on behalf of the Saskatchewan Conference of the United Church of Canada and the remarks I am about to make have been prepared by the Affirming Congregations Committee, the Social Justice Committee, and the Tamarack Presbytery of Saskatchewan Conference.

    The Saskatchewan Conference of the United Church of Canada is a court of the United Church with a long-standing commitment to social justice both here and across Canada through its national structure, the general council. Saskatchewan Conference has a long-standing commitment to justice and equality within society and church, particularly to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons. The creation and support of the Affirming Congregations Committee and the Social Justice Committee give testament to the commitment of Saskatchewan Conference.

    Therefore, Saskatchewan Conference, through its Affirming Congregations Committee and Social Justice Committee, with the support of Tamarack Presbytery, one of seven locally oriented courts in Saskatchewan, asks the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to recommend that the federal government adopt a legislative framework that provides the same civil recognition for heterosexual and homosexual couples.

    The following are definitions used within Saskatchewan Conference.

    Saskatchewan Conference is one of thirteen regional courts of the United Church of Canada, with its area of governance primarily including the provincial boundaries of the province of Saskatchewan. It is a blend of urban and rural churches and congregations. As a church court, its work is carried out by elected lay people and order of ministry people with a tradition of meeting once a year as an entire conference.

    Several divisions within the conference structure and presbyteries, localized clusters of pastoral charges, carry on the work of the conference between annual meetings.

    The Affirming Congregations Committee works for the acceptance and inclusion of transgendered, bisexual, lesbian, and gay people in the ministries of Saskatchewan Conference congregations, presbyteries, conference outreach ministries, and learning institutions by raising awareness through newsletters, websites, displays, by providing advocacy, by developing educational resources and workshops, and by offering support through gatherings and events.

    The Social Justice Committee encourages and challenges the church to be a compassionate, justice-seeking, justice-making community by engaging in mutual ministry with the alienated and powerless, by providing material and resources to inspire church members to do ethical and theological reflection, and by designing and organizing projects that provide an opportunity for people to act justly.

    Saskatchewan Conference has supported and publicly proclaimed justice on various social issues throughout its history. Most recently it has actively discussed and acted on issues regarding sexual orientation and it has made publicly supportive statements of people of all sexual orientations.

    “A New Creed”, adopted by the United Church of Canada in 1968, states that we are “Called to be the Church, to celebrate God's presence...to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil....” Within Saskatchewan Conference, this creed is lived out through our words and our actions and we strive to be an inclusive and welcoming church for all of God's children.

    In 1992, at the 68th annual meeting, a resolution was passed against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and on a process to be implemented to encourage pastoral charges to be open to the appointment or call of ministry people who are self-declared gays or lesbians.

    It was further resolved at that meeting to urge the Province of Saskatchewan to include sexual orientation as a basis for protection with the human rights legislation. As a result of the 1992 resolution, the Affirming Congregations Committee was created.

    At the 76th annual meeting in 2000, the conference concurred with a petition affirming sexual diversity and forwarded it to general council for further action. It was within that petition that Saskatchewan Conference supported same-sex unions. Such unions were to be validated and celebrated within the church, recognizing them in church documentation, and actively working for their civil recognition.

    The 37th general council held in Toronto in 2000 further supported this petition and affirmed that human sexual orientations--lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, heterosexual orientations--are a gift from God, part of the marvellous diversity of creation.

Á  +-(1150)  

    As for our submission on marriage and the civil recognition of same-sex partners, the general council affirmed in 1988 that all lifelong relationships—as compared with the term “marriage”, which was omitted—need to be faithful, responsible, just, loving, health-giving, healing, and sustaining of community and self. These standards apply to both heterosexual and homosexual couples, as the United Church has come to recognize that gay and lesbian members want to make the same lifelong commitment that heterosexual members make, and to make their solemn vows with communities of faith who will support them in their commitment.

    Consequently, recent United Church resources for marriage preparation, Passion and Freedom (2003), and services, Celebrate God's Presence (2000), make no distinction between heterosexual and homosexual couples.

    As a Protestant denomination, the United Church is part of the Christian tradition that does not regard marriage as sacrament. Procreation is not a defining aspect of marriage in the United Church, nor does the church condemn people who decide divorce is the only option for a marriage that is fraught with unhappiness. Divorced people receive the communion of the church and may remarry. Nevertheless, the United Church places an extremely high value on the seriousness of vows taken before God and in the presence of witnesses. The church urges congregations to help couples to prepare for life together and offers counselling and enrichment courses.

    In keeping with the policies and practice of the United Church of Canada, the Saskatchewan conference believes that homosexual people are children of God, made in God's image and after God's likeness, as in chapter 1:26 of Genesis. We believe that along with the whole human family, homosexual persons share in God's love and must therefore be treated with fairness, justice, and equality before the law.

    I'm going to move to reflections on options. In their submission to this same standing committee, the general council stated that they are opposed to the first option, that marriage could remain an opposite-sex institution. We concur with that statement. While this option offers the possibility of civil union or domestic partnership legislation being created for same-sex couples as an alternative path equivalent to marriage—but not in name—it means a separation that would not provide equality for same-sex couples.

    Moving on to the option that marriage could be changed to also include same-sex couples, if marriage is a formal ritual acknowledging a deepening love commitment between two individuals, then public celebrations of commitment between same-sex couples are worthy of our note. Such public commitments are undertaken and survive to great lengths in the midst of tremendously unfavourable odds. The United Church has found that many of the alleged benchmarks for confining marriage to opposite-sex couples do not bar same-sex couples.

    Moving finally to our recommendation, the Affirming Congregations Committee and the Social Justice Committee, on behalf of Saskatchewan Conference of the United Church of Canada, urge the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to recommend that the federal government adopt a legislative framework that provides the same civil recognition for heterosexual and same-sex couples.

Á  +-(1155)  

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    We'll now go to Elaine Anderson for seven minutes. I don't think you were here for the explanation. You have seven minutes. At six minutes I'll say there's one minute left. Then at seven minutes I'll indicate that your time is up.

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    Ms. Elaine Anderson (As Individual): Before I start, I would just like to thank the committee for taking the time to let me share my perspective today on this issue, which I feel is of fundamental importance to our nation.

    My recommendation today is very simple: I am asking that you uphold the long-standing definition of marriage; that is, the voluntary union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

    I've had the opportunity to read a number of the briefs that have been or will be presented to you in this committee, so I know that in the course of this inquiry you have heard many well-reasoned arguments to uphold marriage, whether they be social, philosophical, historic, or theological. Therefore, I felt it wasn't necessary for me to attempt any discussion of the foundation of marriage or what it is that gives it its special status in our society.

    Rather, I would like to speak on a more personal level. I have a law degree from the University of Alberta, and I'm a member of the Law Society of Saskatchewan. However, I'm not here today to speak as a lawyer or a legal professional but as a woman, a wife, and a mother. I'm deeply concerned about some of the changes that are taking place in our society and the impact they'll have on us and future generations.

    I'm especially concerned about the issue before us today for the following reasons, as outlined in my brief, which I believe you have copies of. First of all, I believe that the institution of marriage is a unique and meaningful component of a healthy society, and altering the meaning of marriage would be socially disruptive.

    As I understand it, the motivation for these hearings is the result of court challenges to the definition of marriage in the provinces of British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec.

    In the decision of the Ontario Divisional Court the meaning of marriage was reduced to that of “the institution that accords to a union the profound social stamp of approval and acceptance of the relationship as being of the highest value”. With respect, I must disagree with his lordship's conclusion that marriage is merely a social stamp of approval. As noted in my brief, I think the true meaning of marriage and the social purpose of marriage can be summarized in the following quote from Brian Rushfeldt of the CFAC. As he put it:

The uniqueness of...marriage...includes principles of love, conjugality, covenant union, both emotional and physical, fidelity, monogamy, the potential of reproduction, and also a unique “unitive” purpose for intergenerational continuance of family and civil society...

Sadly, these features of marriage were dismissed as irrelevant by the Ontario court.

    On that basis, it has been argued that changing the definition of marriage will have no real impact on our society as a whole. In fact, in the Ontario case Justice Laforme noted that much of the meaning of marriage has already been stripped away in law. While I agree with his conclusion that much of the meaning of marriage has been stripped away in the last 20 to 30 years, I can't agree with his apparent assumption that there have not been negative consequences as a result. It seems to me that we've already begun to experience the fallout from this kind of indifference to marriage. The study referred to in my brief is but one example of the impact casual dismissal of the meaning of marriage has already had in our society.

    Because of the trend that has already been observed, it's my submission that Parliament must not allow the legal definition of marriage to be further eroded. If the legal definition is changed, I believe the significance of marriage, and thus its social purpose, will be lost.

    My second point is religious freedom. Religious expression has come to be equated with bigotry in this country, thus restricting the charter right to freedom of religion in many cases. Mandating a new definition of marriage will further suppress the rights of persons of faith to disagree with certain forms of sexual activity. In my brief I've outlined three examples of people of faith who've had their freedom of religion and their freedom of expression restricted in the name of tolerance and equality. There are many other examples where people who have expressed their disagreement with the gay and lesbian lifestyle have been told that they must keep their opinions to themselves, and in many cases they have been branded as bigots or as intolerant because of those opinions. In my brief I have examined a couple of reasons that ought not to be so.

    I would like to emphasize my concern that legislative change to the definition of marriage, with the result of equating same-sex unions and heterosexual marriages, will further exacerbate this atmosphere of intolerance for many people of faith.

  +-(1200)  

    In a pluralistic society the task of governance involves the determination of what is in the best interest of society as a whole. It also requires a balance that accords freedom to all forms of religion, be it Christianity, Judaism, secular humanism, or whatever. It's my submission that redefining marriage to include same-sex couples does not strike this balance. Reformulating an institution with deep historic and religious significance to a majority of the population would not balance the interests; rather, it would create a profound injustice.

    In conclusion, it's my hope that Parliament will uphold the current definition of marriage and implement legislation to protect that definition.

    I ended my brief with a quote, but there is also another quote that I would just like to add for the sake of the committee, and that is a quote from Justice La Forest from the Egan decision in 1995, where he pointed out that there is an appropriate place distinguished between heterosexual and homosexual relationships. This is from paragraph 25 of that decision. He said:

Viewed in the larger context, then, there is nothing arbitrary about the distinction supportive of heterosexual family units. ... It is the social unit that uniquely has the capacity to procreate children and generally cares for their upbringing, and as such warrants support by Parliament to meet its needs. This is the only unit in society that expends resources to care for children on a routine and sustained basis.

    And then finally he finishes the thought in paragraph 27, where he says:

In a word, the distinction made by Parliament is grounded in a social relationship, a social unit that is fundamental to society. That unit, as I have attempted to explain, is unique. It differs from all other couples, including homosexual couples.

    That is the end of my submission. I thank you for your time and I wish you all the best as you make this difficult decision.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much. You are the second witness of 200 who got seven minutes exactly right.

    Chuck Cadman.

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Thank you Mr. Chairman. I will be short.

    I would like to thank the witnesses for appearing today. Hopefully you didn't have as much difficulty getting here as we did last night.

    I come back to a point that has come up numerous times during these hearings over the past number of months, and that's to indicate that as parliamentarians we have to consider not just the issue at hand right now that we're discussing, but also the ramifications and potential impact of any decisions we make.

    So I will put it to you quite simply. If, using this rights-based argument, we change the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, why do we restrict it to couples? Why are we limiting it to couples? Why, down the road somewhere, would it not be opened up to more than two individuals?

    I would like to hear your comments on that--the whole panel, or whoever chooses.

  +-(1205)  

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    The Chair: Ms. Boots.

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    Ms. Rosalie Boots: I think that goes back to the premise that through culture across the ages, the biological natural order may, at points in time, in some cultures, have been more than one spouse, but it has evolved for a very, very long time to being one man, one woman, and that is why it's important to keep it as it is. Because that's the basis. It's the genetic basis and the cultural basis.

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    The Chair: Reverend Kimmerly.

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    Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly: Legalities around marriage would reflect cultural values, and if cultural values change, then perhaps that is something that might be possible.

    Through history, any time we have said only this is allowed or only that is allowed, we've moved in our understanding of humanity and the human condition and things have changed. So there's no reason that wouldn't happen some time in the future if society were to move to a place where that would be part of the cultural norm.

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    The Chair: Anyone else?

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    Ms. Beverley Dent: I don't think that's a particularly relevant point in that we can't guarantee what will happen that far into the future, but I think science is showing us we're going to have to recognize in the future that humanity cannot be divided into two discrete categories of male or female, let alone into homosexual and heterosexual.

    The scientific evidence, as I pointed out in my brief, shows the only reason there are two sexes is because somewhere a long time back somebody decided there were two sexes. But these are categories, and categories are all created by humans. They don't come down from somewhere up above. We create them and we change them from time to time as we will.

    I really don't think this polygamous argument has that much to do with us. It's a heterosexual thing. Besides, we don't seem to have too much trouble with that.

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: I didn't suggest that I was talking about heterosexual polygamy. Why would we not see three or four homosexual individuals coming forward and wanting to be married?

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    Ms. Beverley Dent: Perhaps that would be a possibility, but if we change and decide that there are actually more than two sexes, then I suggest to you that the meanings of heterosexual and homosexual are going to change—as they have changed over the last 100 years. They don't mean the same thing now as they did when the words were first formulated. Homosexuality was not in the language until 1869, and heterosexuality came along about 11 years later, and they did not carry exactly the same meanings as we understand today.

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    The Chair: Ms. Anderson, can you respond to Mr. Cadman's question?

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    Ms. Elaine Anderson: I guess I can't see that there would be any impediment. I agree with you that it is a potential for concern.

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

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    The Chair: Monsieur Marceau.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    Welcome to the Committee. I am glad that you were able to come here to give us your opinion on this magnificent spring day in Saskatchewan.

    You are an extremely interesting panel because you have different points of view about an issue that seems to me to be fundamental to the discussion we are having, religious freedom.

    Ms. Anderson referred to it and we heard Ms. Boots identify herself as the spokesperson of a Catholic parish and stating that she is strongly opposed to changing the definition of marriage. We also had Reverend Kimmerly who, from another faith, told us that he was in favour of same-sex marriages.

    So we have Reverend Kimmerly and the members of his church who would want to be able to marry same-sex couples but are forbidden to do so by the Canadian state. In other words, that is a restriction to the freedom of religion for the United Church.

    On the other hand, if the Committee and Parliament decided to allow same-sex marriages, Reverend Kimmerly would be able to marry those couples according to his faith but nothing would force other churches or congregations to marry same-sex couples if they did not want to. Take the example of the Catholic religion—which is the one I know best—the truth is that nobody is forcing the Catholic church to marry divorced people, and nobody has ever forced the Catholic church to ordain women, even though that is discriminatory.

    My question is for Ms. Anderson. Do you not believe that your arguments would be completely destroyed by what we've heard today, that is to say that keeping the present definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman is a violation of the religious freedom of Reverend Kimmerly, whereas, in the opposite case, nobody would force the Catholic church of Ms. Boots to marry same-sex couples, which would mean that Ms. Boots' and Ms. Anderson's freedom of religion would be completely protected?

  +-(1210)  

[English]

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    Ms. Elaine Anderson: I hope I understood the question. I am not very good with the interpretation.

    As I understand the question, you're saying that if you were to maintain the definition, then it is a restriction on the religious freedom of Reverend Kimmerly, for example. Is that basically what you're saying?

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Yes.

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    Ms. Elaine Anderson: I don't agree that it would be in the sense that.... I'm not talking about who is going to be forced to marry whom in their churches—although I believe that is certainly an issue, but not one that I've dealt with this morning. I'm simply saying that there's already such an atmosphere of intolerance towards anyone who speaks against or in opposition to a certain sexual lifestyle, which they have reason to believe on a very basic level is morally questionable.... If the two are equated as being equal, then I no longer have that ability to say there is a distinction.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Why?

[English]

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    Ms. Elaine Anderson: Because it's been legally mandated by the government to say those two institutions are equal.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: I give you another example. As a Catholic, I can state that divorce is very bad and goes against everything I believe in and against all the teachings of the Catholic church. I can state that quite publicly. However, the fact that I say I am opposed to divorce would not make me someone who could be condemned or sued because I have expressed an opinion based on beliefs that are in some way different from those of our society.

[English]

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    Ms. Elaine Anderson: So your question is?

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: How can you say that, if same-sex marriages were authorized, that would prevent someone like you from saying that you believe it is immoral and not correct? Why would you be prevented from saying so?

  +-(1215)  

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Marceau.

[English]

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    Ms. Elaine Anderson: As I pointed out, there is already such an atmosphere of intolerance. I've experienced it, particularly when I was attending law school. So I don't see how you could deny the fact that people of faith are being branded as bigots and intolerant for their viewpoints, which from my point of view are completely rational. They're not necessarily people who are out there hate-mongering with their signs and petitions, but they're simply people like me who want to be able to teach, or who have the desire to be able to train, their children that there is a right and a wrong or a moral code that they need to follow. And this is just one more step towards silencing that voice or opinion.

    I don't know what would happen; perhaps it wouldn't make a difference. I really cannot foresee the future, but given the cases that I have outlined in my brief, it certainly looks to me that we're heading in the direction, more and more all the time, where people of faith are told, you cannot hold that opinion—or at least not publicly. What's the point of having an opinion if you can't voice it publicly? That's my fear. I can't say that would necessarily happen, but I'm telling you about what I think is a possibility, based on reason and based on what I've seen happening in the courts the last 20 years or so.

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    The Chair: Mr. McKay.

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    Mr. John McKay: Thank you, Chair, and thank you, witnesses.

    I want to direct my first couple of questions to Reverend Kimmerly concerning this affirming committee. I don't know much about the United Church, but does each church have an affirming committee, or some churches do and some don't? I don't quite understand the relationship to the United Church as a whole.

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    Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly: The Affirming Congregations Committee is a committee of the Saskatchewan Conference. It's a committee that operates within roughly the bounds of the province of Saskatchewan. So it isn't a committee at a congregational level, but a committee at the level of the conference itself.

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    Mr. John McKay: Are all congregations therefore part of the affirming committee?

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    Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly: All congregations have the right to be represented on it; not all congregations would be sympathetic with the views of the committee.

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    Mr. John McKay: Would some be a little less enthusiastic about your...?

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    Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly: That would be accurate.

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    Mr. John McKay: Okay, I just wanted to clarify that for my own purposes.

    I don't have your written brief, so I asked my friend what you meant when you said that your committee recommended “the same civil recognition”, which you made into two points. Does “same civil recognition” mean marriage for gay and lesbians?

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    Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly: Yes.

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    Mr. John McKay: Okay, I thought that's what it meant, but I wasn't sure.

    In the United Church, you don't believe it's a sacrament, and there's no impediment to marrying people who've been married previously. You have a listing of elements of the relationship constituting...you essentially don't see any distinction between a same-sex relationship and a opposite-sex relationship for the purposes of marriage.

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    Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly: That's accurate.

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    Mr. John McKay: So, you would probably agree with Justice La Forest, who describes it as “the institution that accords to a union the profound social stamp of approval and acceptance of the relationship as being of the highest value”. Would that be a fair summary of your position, that it's a social stamp?

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    Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly: In the United Church, we would also include that there is a covenant in the relationship, a promise made in the presence of, and with the participation of, God.

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    Mr. John McKay: When someone else testifies that marriage is unique in their view, “including principles of love, conjugality, covenant union, both emotional and physical, fidelity, monogamy, the potential of reproduction”, and that it also has a “unique 'unitive' purpose for intergenerational continuance of family and civil society”, you wouldn't agree with that definition?

  +-(1220)  

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    Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly: I agree with parts of that definition.

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    Mr. John McKay: So is this a bit of a sliding scale, that some come and some go?

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    Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly: Some of those things I would agree with; others I wouldn't. The United Church wouldn't--

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    Mr. John McKay: So we'll start with principles of love. Is love necessary to a marriage?

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    Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly: Yes, sir.

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    Mr. John McKay: Conjugality?

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    Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly: Yes, sir.

+-

    Mr. John McKay: Covenant union?

+-

    Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly: Yes, sir.

+-

    Mr. John McKay: Both emotional and physical?

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    Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly: Yes, sir.

+-

    Mr. John McKay: Fidelity?

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    Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly: Yes, sir.

+-

    Mr. John McKay: Monogamy?

+-

    Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly: Yes, sir.

+-

    Mr. John McKay: Potential reproduction?

+-

    Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly: No, sir.

+-

    Mr. John McKay: And a unique unitive purpose of intergenerational....?

    In some respects there doesn't seem to be too much difference here.

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    Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly: As to the potential for reproduction, I personally will be married in June to a woman who is beyond the age of child-bearing, and I believe that will be a legal union. There's no potential for reproduction in that union.

+-

    Mr. John McKay: I suppose in some respects the potential for reproduction is a bit of a red herring. We can go around this dance for quite a number of times. I think the point of the potential reproduction, inelegantly stated, is that there is no possibility in a same-sex union of reproduction, whereas in an opposite-sex union there is a possibility of reproduction.

+-

    Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly: Well, there's no possibility outside of some of the advances in medical science.

+-

    Mr. John McKay: Yes. We have to have a contributing third party of some kind or other. We've heard so much about turkey basters around here, I think we're going to bronze one.

    Ms. Anderson, if you look at those two definitions and set those two up, there doesn't seem to be a great deal of difference. Can you unpack for me what is so unique and significant in the definition as I've read it there that requires it be unique only to a man-woman relationship?

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    Ms. Elaine Anderson: I can't honestly answer you, really, as I don't have any kind of expertise in social science research to tell you what the differences are. As I mentioned, I know there are other people who will be dealing with that particular issue who have very good arguments about the differences.

    Realistically, I'm not familiar with what is involved in a gay or lesbian union, so I can't really speak to that. But I can speak to the history of marriage in Canada and in fact throughout many cultures; that it has been socially binding and that there is something very special about the union of a man and a woman that I don't think can be equated in any other relationship.

    It's been recognized by the court in 1995 in Egan by Justice La Forest, who was speaking for three other Supreme Court justices as well. It has been recognized by many people, and although I can't put my finger on it, I just have to say I know it's there.

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    Mr. John McKay: As a lawyer you can appreciate that's something difficult. When you're trying to arrive at a justification under section 1 of the charter, it's somewhat less than satisfactory to say, well, I can't really describe it; I can't put my finger on it.

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    Ms. Elaine Anderson: Well, if I were before a judge, I think I would have to be more prepared for that question. I am aware of that.

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    Mr. John McKay: Thank you.

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    The Chair: Mr. Marceau.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    Referring to the Egan decision, one has to remember that it was not a decision on marriage and that therefore, whatever Justice La Forest stated, for people who are not lawyers, is just an obiter dictum and not something that could be used as a precedent. That is important.

    I have a comment for Reverend Kimmerly and then a question for Ms. Boots.

    My comment to you, Reverend Kimmerly, is that I think your presence and your answers demonstrate quite clearly that freedom of religion would not be threatened if same-sex couples had the right to marry and that, on the contrary, it is today's definition that restricts some people's freedom of religion, especially yours.

    As to the case for procreation, the answer—and I take this opportunity to congratulate you for your future marriage—is that your marriage will be as valid even if your future wife cannot have children. So, I believe that your very presence provides the answer needed to those who are opposed to same-sex marriages.

    My question to Ms. Boots is quite simple : I do not want to put any words in your mouth but you stated that, if same-sex couples had the right to marry, “that would invalidate the choice heterosexuals made”.

    If that right was granted, how would that invalidate your own marriage? Do you really think that it would so devalue your own marriage that you would divorce your husband in order not to be in the same institution as same-sex couples?

  +-(1225)  

[English]

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    Ms. Rosalie Boots: No, I would not divorce. I would do what I could in our society to be recognized for a choice that is extremely significant to me and, I believe, extremely significant to a lot of Canadian married couples.

    In the beginning, God created them; “male and female created He them.” There is a difference; there is a distinction. It is physical, but it is also emotional and psychological. That is what makes a heterosexual permanent covenant different—because we complement each other. The biology shows that we are meant to come together, and all those things together—the physical, the emotional, the psychological—with a very firm commitment embody the uniqueness of that relationship I have with my husband.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: When you talk about emotional and psychological support, I can tell you that there are wide variations among heterosexual couples. My own experience is limited but I can tell you that there is no single model for all heterosexual couples as far as psychological and emotional support is concerned. I think it is important to state it clearly. The only difference may be in the physical way the members of each type of couple expresses their love.

    You have used rather strong words. For example, you said that one should protect society. So, if same-sex couples were allowed to marry, why would society be less protected? Do you believe that heterosexual people would marry less? Do you think heterosexuals would stop being attracted by the other sex? Would they stop having children? What would society need to be protected from? If same-sex couples were allowed to marry, what would be those consequences that would be so dire for our society that they would lead to its destruction?

[English]

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    Ms. Rosalie Boots: I'm not sure that in my presentation I was that strong. I did not say it would destroy society. I'm saying there is a good in having children where they have a male role model and a female role model, a mother and a father in the same household.

    When I spoke, I spoke about the differences between marriage and common-law relationships. I see marriage not only as different from same-sex relationships, but also marriage as different from a common-law relationship. There is a sense of bonding; there is a very firm commitment to that bonding in the decision that is made in marriage.

    I was not trying to say that making some kind of legal recognition of same-sex couples was going to destroy our society, but what I am saying is that studies have shown that individuals and children do better in a home where they have a mother and a father.

  +-(1230)  

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    The Chair: I think Ms. Dent wanted to respond, and then I'm going to go to Mr. Macklin.

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    Ms. Beverley Dent: I just wanted to point out that in Canada at the present time, it is quite legal for two people of the same sex to be married. It's just not legal for them to get married.

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    The Chair: There you go.

    Mr. Macklin.

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: Thank you, Chair, for that lead-in. I appreciate that.

    I want to thank all of you for appearing today and being subjected to our questions.

    Coming from a background of study in science, I did appreciate Ms. Dent's presentation today. I think it shows how we have created certain constructs within our society and leave out a lot of people who don't necessarily fit neatly into those pigeon holes we've created. It doesn't necessarily help us get where we want, but it shows us that even in the process of getting there we're omitting other considerations. So it was very important that you brought that forward today, to make sure we were aware of the variations within the genetics of life. I don't want to necessarily question you, but I want to just congratulate you on bringing that forward, because I think it's important for us to remember that.

    I want to look at the concept advanced by Ms. Anderson and Ms. Boots and the preservation of marriage as it's presently defined. If we truly sit back as an interested, concerned country looking at those who at the moment are disadvantaged in terms of respect and dignity within the gay and lesbian community, how far do you believe you would be prepared to let us go in legislating? You've said you wouldn't want us to go right to a full marriage so there would be an inclusiveness. How far are you prepared to let us go in terms of legislating to get as close to marriage as we might be able to, in order to gain whatever respect and dignity we can gain from recognizing, legally, the relationships that are there?

    Could I hear, in no particular order, what your thoughts are on how far you believe we could go and whether you would be able to accept that?

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    Ms. Rosalie Boots: When I speak of marriage, I speak of marriage as opposed to a common-law relationship. I know that many would like to see something beyond just the legal capacity for those in same-sex relationships, but I would see having the same legal rights and benefits as those in common-law relationships.

    Marriage is a permanent commitment made before a community of sorts, be it a justice of the peace with witnesses, or within a church where they are making a public commitment. That, to me, is marriage.

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: If I could just add one little point, right now in a common-law relationship you have to wait at least a year before you get any sort of legal recognition of that relationship. Could you see us getting rid of that limitation as it related to the couple?

    How far would you let us go in bringing as much equality--if one can use that term--as possible to that relationship?

  +-(1235)  

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    Ms. Rosalie Boots: Our Canadian bishops have said if it's to be done it must be done in fairness and dignity...so as our committee seems to make that fair and respect the dignity of all those who want some sort of relationship that is not a relationship as we now understand it in marriage.

+-

    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: Ms. Anderson.

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    Ms. Elaine Anderson: I guess I see that sort of as a moot point, considering what I've read. I've been following some of these hearings, and particularly John Fisher of EGALE has vowed that he will take nothing less than full legal status. I don't think there's any point in talking about something less than the definition of marriage, because that's what we hold to be distinct, meaningful, and purposeful. Whatever else you might choose to do to recognize same-sex unions apparently won't be enough, so I don't see the point of taking a stand on it.

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: As legislators, we still believe in the supremacy of Parliament, despite what others may say. It may be ill-founded at the moment in some people's minds, but we'd like to believe we have some supremacy and some tools to work with.

    Since you want to hold tight to marriage as it's defined, how close could we come, assuming we have that power?

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    Ms. Elaine Anderson: I just don't see what could be done. I absolutely empathize with the position that you as legislators have. As John Fisher has already pointed out, we already have all the legal rights that go along with marriage. All that's left is the stamp of approval.

    So if you were to actually have some kind of civil registry that would officially recognize the legal rights that are already in place, I couldn't really have an argument with that, because, as he's mentioned, they're already in place. There's nothing to object to, other than making it official.

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: Thank you.

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    The Chair: Mr. McKay, I have a couple of questions. We have time left, so there's no big rush here.

    Ms. Anderson, I don't like to correct Mr. Fisher on this, but the reality, as I understand it, is that the only way a same-sex couple can access those benefits we talk of as being the legal rights that currently exist, such as pensions and so on, is by waiting a year and becoming recognized in common law, whereas a heterosexual couple doesn't have to wait a year. So that in and of itself constitutes an inequality. If I'm wrong, please correct me, but I think that's an accurate description of the circumstances.

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    Ms. Elaine Anderson: [Inaudible—Editor] ...years in Saskatchewan--

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    The Chair: In any event, the point is that there isn't equality if one group gets to do it tomorrow by being married and the other is denied the opportunity to do it tomorrow because they can't.

    I'm sure somebody will report to Mr. Fisher that I've corrected him.

    A couple of the arguments that have been put to us to cause us, as a committee, to support the exclusion or prohibition that currently exists--we all acknowledge that this exclusion exists; there is a prohibition against same-sex marriage--have been based on social disruption. It was a term that Ms. Anderson used.

    I don't want to describe where you came from in using the term, and please, this is intended to inform the committee. But many have argued that all kinds of things have happened to marriage; we hear a lot about divorce as having affected marriage in the negative.

    I'm not sure that I understand the analogy between an action on marriage that allows people out more easily, presumably, and an action on marriage that allows people in. It doesn't seem to be analogous to me. I can understand that it is a change and that's the common denominator between the two things, but they don't seem to be the same kind of change, instinctively, to me. So I would want, if I could, more clarity on that social disruption that you speak of.

    On the freedom of speech, I think it's important to point out for the record, perhaps, that very often limitations on freedom of speech are illustrated by other people objecting to an opinion. But we have five political parties represented on this panel, and we've heard people come before us and say that same-sex relationships are immoral, and we've heard people say the same-sex relationships are unnatural, and we've accepted that testimony as a genuine expression of opinion.

    We've also had people say that people who say that are prejudiced, and even use harsher terms, and we've accepted that testimony because in my mind, and I think in the minds of the committee, both of those expressions are legitimate expressions by citizens of Canada in this discussion.

    We ask for respect. We ask for people to be sensitive to other people's feelings. That's just civility. But we have not denied anybody the opportunity either way to express their genuinely held beliefs. It hasn't even come up. We have five political parties representing the elected people in Canada.

    My sense is that in the context of what is legitimate political debate, we are pretty democratic in the country. I would ask the question, is there a recognition that there is, however, a line that expression--we may disagree on where that line is--in fact can pass where it then becomes harmful? Can that line exist? This is not to debate where it is, but to ask whether that line can exist. Can you say something in the interest of freedom of expression at some point that is beyond a line that is acceptable in freedom of expression? I want to know if it's accepted that there is such a line.

    Ms Anderson.

  +-(1240)  

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    Ms. Elaine Anderson: In the context of this kind of meeting, I think here we're protected by parliamentary privilege. I'm sure that it certainly opens up people's feeling that they are allowed to express their opinions maybe more openly than they could in some other settings. This is a different type of setting.

    Certainly the Supreme Court of Canada has said there is a line, and I would agree that there is a line. I think you have to be very cautious in a free and democratic country to start drawing that line arbitrarily, even if it's something that is deeply offensive.

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    The Chair: I'm a civil libertarian by instinct, and that's why I asked the question about the possibility of creating a place beyond which people can't pass. We are protected here, but we engage our constituents regularly in politics.

    Last Sunday I had 675 people in my constituency on this subject in a public forum, and the same kinds of arguments were made, although some people would object on both sides. Somebody would say from the back of the room, shame, or something like that. That happens. That's part of the discourse. But the reality was that there wasn't any consensus in the room that anybody should be limited really in terms of what they were able to say. So I think there's something there.

    On the question of social disruption.

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    Ms. Elaine Anderson: Could I, first of all, mention that there does seem to be a sliding scale. If you look at the decision of Chamberlain v. the Surrey School Board, where the chief justice actually stated that majority religious values cannot exclude minority viewpoints, that does sound reasonable on the face of it. But realistically what they have said is that in the public school system there is a limit on the impact that your religious convictions can have on what is brought into the school, to the extent that there are actually people who, if they want to choose to send their children to a public school, have to accept the fact that their children are going to be taught values that are absolutely contrary to what they would like their children to learn. Of course, there's the option that they can send their child to a private school in some situations, but not always, or they can home-school. But should that be the case?

    That's a situation where we're talking about a public school system. It's not related specifically or directly to this issue of marriage, but I'm saying that we're starting to move in that direction. More and more, that right to freedom of expression is being very much trod upon, and that's the concern.

  +-(1245)  

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    The Chair: Mr. McKay.

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    Mr. John McKay: Thank you, Chair. After Mr. Macklin's comments about the supremacy of Parliament, I think maybe I like the category of the illusion of the supremacy of Parliament.

    I wanted to also pick up on what the chair was talking about and the issues of having people of faith speak into the marketplace of ideas. I think there have been some difficulties with people of faith speaking into the marketplace of ideas and articulating what they hear on Sunday morning on Monday through Saturday, and having that message heard.

    I appreciate that at this stage in our history, where we are a post-modern society and a secular society, there is a sense of being put upon and that, as you say and hear, the people of faith are accused of bigotry, discrimination, and intolerance and are told that to abide by equality provisions they must not speak out. In other words, sit down and shut up, and privatize your own religion. It think this is an unacceptable position to be in in a true pluralistic society. But that's something for another day.

    I think the real point here is that you want to speak to your concept of good in society, beyond what your faith community brings to you and your understanding of yourself and your family. So you want to speak to the larger society on what your concept of good is, and you make a point, Ms. Anderson, that “It's my submission that redefining marriage to include same-sex couples does not strike this balance. Reformulating an institution with deep historic and religious significance to a majority of the population would not balance the interests.” Essentially, you're speaking to a cost-benefit analysis here.

    Give me a feeling, Ms. Boots and Ms. Anderson, of what are the costs and what are the benefits of the traditional form of marriage. The cost is clear. We are excluding some people. Before this debate started, we excluded some people if the requirements were not met. If you weren't 18, you couldn't go; if you had mixed consanguinity, you couldn't go; if you weren't male and female, you couldn't go. Those were exclusionary concepts. My interest here is to try to arrive at a rational reason as to why the exclusion of male-female should be continued.

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    Ms. Elaine Anderson: My answer, going back to your first initial comment, which I never actually responded to, regarding the social disruption is that I have made an assumption, but it is an assumption based on a lot of reading--not necessarily research, but reading--of what it is that makes up the marital union between a man and a woman. These elements of fidelity, and monogamy, and covenant union are unique to the heterosexual relationship. The study I pointed out in my paper, which was done by a group from Statistics Canada, says that because of the fact of indifference to marriage we've gotten into more short-term relationships and there's a whole host of problems that go along with that.

    When you're talking about social stability.... And really I know that marriage has been somewhat dismantled already in our society, that it doesn't have the same status in the minds of everyone that it could have, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be protected, and it doesn't mean that if we do fall within that standard that has been there for generations throughout cultures in history, there isn't a benefit to that. There has clearly been a benefit in the stability of marriages and families because of that unique unitive relationship.

  +-(1250)  

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    Mr. John McKay: Ms. Boots.

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    Ms. Rosalie Boots: I think this is not a short-term experiment. Cultures have valued marriage because most of the time it works. In a very fast-moving society we are seeing some upheaval, but cultures across the ages have seen some upheaval and have come back to the same style of marriage because it works. I'm not saying it's perfect; I'm not saying it always works, but generally it works. The studies have backed that up.

    Married couples do better emotionally and physically not only compared to folks who live alone but also compared to common-law couples. Children do better. It works. If we look at our natural order, we are built that way. Male and female are built physically that way. We can take our cues from nature. It works. I think that is the benefit and I think that is why our churches have--many of our churches, not all of them--and many of our cultures, Judaism included, have said this is good. It works. It's not perfect, but studies have backed up that usually it works.

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    Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly: On the issue of social stability, I'd like to point out that for non-heterosexual couples, for homosexual couples, their social stability right now, the way things are now, is impeded. Not being allowed to marry does impede the social stability of homosexual couples. So if we are talking about social stability as a good for everyone, it ought to be included for everyone.

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    Mr. John McKay: I've heard that argument before, and to reduce it to its pithy terms, it's that marriage is an elixir that will suddenly create social stability in the gay community. I must admit I have trouble accepting that. I suspect that the reasons for what stability or instability exists in that particular subset of society are far more complicated than simply changing the definition of marriage.

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    Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly: I quite agree that it isn't an elixir that will change everything, but it will allow more social stability than there is now, in my opinion.

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    The Chair: Mr. Marceau.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    Ms. Boots said that “we can take our cues from nature…. But there are limits to that because, if that were the case, and this is a rather pedestrian example, I would have to walk to Quebec City to go back home because nature did not fit me with wings and normally...

[English]

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    Ms. Elaine Anderson: I have my volume at maximum and I can't hear you. That's as high as...okay.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Ms. Anderson, I would like to come back to what you said, and I am not doing this to put you on the spot. When you referred to the components of heterosexual marriages, you mentioned faithfulness.

[English]

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    Ms. Elaine Anderson: I'm not hearing anything.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: So you said one of the elements of heterosexual marriage was fidelity, and I invite you to read the National Post of yesterday and today. There is apparently a fascinating book on mistresses and the role of mistresses in history. Apparently it is fascinating. I am looking forward to reading it.

    You listed love, conjugality, emotional support, monogamy--again, I refer you to this new book--and the capacity for reproduction. I tried to write them all down, but you were speaking fast and English is only a second language to me. But those are the elements I put down.

    So I would submit to you, and I would like your comments on this, that fidelity is possible within a gay relationship, just as the absence of fidelity is very much possible in a man-woman relationship. I would say that love is very much possible in a gay relationship. I would say that conjugality-- i.e., support in different little things--is possible in a gay relationship. Emotional support is possible in a gay relationship. Monogamy is possible within a gay relationship, and it possibly may not exist within a man-woman relationship.

    So the only thing that seems to differentiate both types of relationships is the capacity for reproduction, and this is a point we touched on earlier; i.e., some heterosexuals for different reasons can't or don't want to reproduce. So using your own elements, which one of the elements that you list as defining marriage does not apply to a gay relationship?

  +-(1255)  

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    Ms. Elaine Anderson: First of all, I'd have to say that the ability, the capacity, to procreate is actually a fairly significant part of marriage. It has been passed over quite casually by some, and particularly by the Ontario Divisional Court, as being something less than important. Obviously you can see that to me it's something I hold to be very important. The raising of children in family and society is something that is immeasurable in terms of its value, and it is something that is simply not possible, just from a basic point of view, in a gay or lesbian relationship.

    That in itself is a huge distinction. However much we would like to downplay it, it is a very great distinction.

    However, there are also other elements too. I'm sorry, I don't have a great familiarity with the gay and lesbian community, but from what I.... For example, Dr. Paul Nathanson, who is himself a gay man, who was before this committee on February 20, I believe, has stated that there are members of the gay community who are not interested in this, in having these elements of marriage imposed upon them.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: You would agree, though, that there are heterosexuals who do not want that imposed on them either. We are basically the same age; you probably know people who would rather go like a butterfly from flower to flower than be in a monogamous situation.

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    Ms. Elaine Anderson: Absolutely.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Should that view or that preference for having a non-monogamous life exclude them from marriage?

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    Ms. Elaine Anderson: Well, it certainly shouldn't be recognized in law. The law shouldn't follow that line of thinking.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Okay, but if somebody has different experiences, that doesn't exclude him or her from marriage.

    I would submit to you that a lot of people we know--well, who I know, because I don't want to put words in your mouth or qualify your circle of friends--were miles away from monogamy in their youth, yet at one point in time decided to settle down. That would not be a reason, because they had different experiences in their younger years, to exclude them from being able to marry. You would agree with that.

·  +-(1300)  

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    Ms. Elaine Anderson: I guess I don't understand the point, how that would detract from the definition of marriage.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: You're basically saying that you don't know the gay lifestyle, and we have heard in this committee that gays shouldn't be able to marry because they don't tend to be monogamous, because they don't value fidelity, etc. My submission is that, well, if that's a qualifier to be married, a lot of heterosexuals would not qualify to be married.

    Going back to your own list, your main difference between a male-female relationship and a gay relationship is the thing that from your point of view was discarded too easily by some courts; i.e., the capacity for reproduction. Then again, we to back to the possibility that some heterosexuals cannot, because of age or infertility, or will not because of choice, decide to reproduce. If that's the only thing that differentiates homosexual and heterosexual relationships, if the main difference is the capacity or the willingness to reproduce, that would disqualify a lot of heterosexuals from marrying.

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    Ms. Elaine Anderson: No, you don't formulate a rule based on the exceptions to the rule. Certainly there are exceptions to the rule...and if you have a good response, please jump in.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: I didn't mean to grill you.

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    Ms. Rosalie Boots: Coming from a background that lends itself to marriage, a Catholic one, I'd say that one of the requirements is that you be open to having children. The church has recognized that the mind frame that we may have children together is part of the bonding process, and they continue to recognize that.

    I know that has taken all kinds of different angles with the idea of contraception, but contraception is a man-made thing. Some people are naturally not able to have children, granted, but many of those people still recognize that if that happened in a relationship, it would be part of the wholesomeness of their relationship. If for some reason, yes, even though they think they are not able to have children, the having children together or the participating in the act to have children together is somehow part of a whole unity of relationship.

    The Catholic Church is very strong in that because that is one of their requirements. Even if it were someone in the situation of Reverend Kimmerly and his fiancée, they would have to recognize that God is in control, that it's your nature--whatever--and that the capacity, if it should show itself, even though it looks like it's not going to, is still part of that relationship.

    I'm going a bit off on a bit of a tangent here, but I think it answers that question a little bit, that a recognized part of that relationship is that in a committed relationship it is part of the bonding that together we would love to be able to create a new life. Some may choose to say maybe it's not right for us at this time, but there's still a recognition of that capacity, and that capacity is part of the bonding process.

    Does that hinge on what you were getting at a little bit?

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    The Chair: Reverend Kimmerly wants to speak to this, and if Ms. Anderson also wants to follow up, that's certainly okay.

+-

    Right Rev. Bob Kimmerly: I'd like to ask, if a lesbian or gay couple were willing to have children come into their relationship, which is about as likely as me and my fiancée having children, would that then qualify them for marriage?

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    The Chair: That would be a rhetorical question. If any of the people on the panel want to answer...but I'll restate it. Reverend Kimmerly was asking the question, if a gay couple were open to bringing up children, if the same possibility were to exist for a same-sex couple to do that as existed for--I don't mean to be so personal--a heterosexual couple who wasn't able to have children, would they basically be in the same place? Would that not be the same circumstance?

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    Ms. Elaine Anderson: I really can't see how you can equate the two, where one has the capacity and the potential to procreate and the other has absolutely none, barring some scientific breakthrough. I don't really think it's a valid question.

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    The Chair: There may be. I'm very definitely leading Reverend Kimmerly in this, but there would be situations where it would be impossible for a heterosexual couple to have children--physically, medically impossible--in the same way as it would be impossible for a same-sex couple to have children. The question that was put is, where's the difference?

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    Ms. Elaine Anderson: It seems we keep coming back to this from this angle of, well, there's this wild exception we should be considering before we formulate the rule, and we keep losing track of the larger picture.

    The larger picture is clearly that there is a distinction between the two types of relationships we're discussing here. There may be exceptions on both sides, but realistically, the heterosexual marital union is the only place where primarily--and I'll just repeat the words of Justice La Forest because I can't find a better wording than what he has said--“It is the social unit that uniquely has the capacity to procreate children and generally cares for their upbringing”. And before that he said that he was not troubled by the fact that not all these heterosexual couples in fact have children, because it is this unique foundation. This is the only unit in society that expends resources to care for children on a routine and sustained basis.

    We're talking about sustainability. We're talking about stability here. That's the point we're trying to make, and we can't get caught up in the exceptions

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    The Chair: We risk losing control here. We have a few minutes left, so let's bring it to a very dignified conclusion before we go all over the place.

    Are there any other responses anyone wants to put to this, because we have sort of gone back and forth?

    Ms. Dent.

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    Ms. Beverley Dent: I'd like to point out that religion is a lifestyle choice, whereas being different, being gay, lesbian, or transsexual, is not a choice. At least, it's not a choice for the vast majority of us.

    I guess I don't have too much sympathy for Mrs. Anderson, because the sanctions I have experienced from society and the negativity I have experienced are so great that I am sure very few people would ever choose to be different. One thing I don't think she has experienced is the situation where many of us choose to leave this life prematurely because the conditions make it so hard for us to live here. I don't think that's anything she can ever understand.

    Thank you.

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    The Chair: If there are no other questions, I would like to thank the panellists very much. It has been a very interesting one.

    We have one person before members leave, Nicole White.

    I would ask the panel to excuse themselves, and I thank them very much. We're going to take a couple of minutes to say in person what I've just expressed on behalf of the committee.

    I suspend for a couple of minutes.

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    The Chair: I assume that sitting before me is Nicole White. I'll be somewhat flexible. You have two minutes, but don't feel rushed and don't feel you need to speak too quickly. I say that for my interpreters. Please proceed.

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    Ms. Nicole White (As Individual): I first want to thank you so much for letting me address the committee. It's kind of informal, practising out in the hallway and such.

    I'm going to regurgitate some of the things I've heard this morning, so, sorry.

    The issue of separate but equal has come up quite a few times, and we all know there are laws making all of us equal under the law, but in our society it's simply not true. But I do believe that having the government legislate marriage for same-sex couples is a necessary step--a baby step, but still a step.

    Even with the equality we do have, there is still racism, sexism, and homophobia. I think things have changed for the better within the last 20 or 30 years, and I personally believe that the legislation is only the first step. Quite honestly, I really want that choice to marry or not to marry. I realize and respect the fact that not all queer people want marriage for themselves, and that's fine, but for myself I think I should have that choice.

    I can't help but notice how many of these great parliamentarians around me have wedding rings. I would just like you all to stop and consider why you chose to get married and to dedicate yourself to that one person, to be loyal and faithful and monogamous for the rest of your life. It's just a question.

    Now, in the world we live in, I personally believe we should be encouraging love and nurturing instead of teaching intolerance and allowing some people to use religion as a guise to preach hatred and bigotry. We keep talking about possible consequences to legalizing marriage, and the idea about allowing adoption and allowing children seems to be a big issue. I'm wondering why we haven't talked about the thousands of gay couples in this country who already have children and who are adapting just fine.

    Basically, I have nothing more to say, just that I plead with you to try to find it in your hearts to realize that the love I may have for someone else should be equal under the law. I'm queer and I'm here, get used to it, and I want the choice to marry. Really, it's as simple as that,

    I just want to thank you so much for your clear and open minds, and I wish you the best in your decision-making process. That's all.

    Thank you.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much. I appreciate that, and I thank everyone for being here, especially the folks who have been here all day. It was worth all the trouble we had getting here.

    The meeting is adjourned.