Urges the withdrawal or substantial amendment of bill

May 31, 2005 – The Catholic Civil Rights League (www.ccrl.ca) today appeared before the Legislative Committee on Bill C-38 to argue on behalf of upholding the traditional definition of marriage. Bill C-38, which would extend the definition of civil marriage to couples of the same sex, has passed second reading and will go back to the House of Commons for final reading and vote upon the completion of committee hearings.

The league was represented by President Phil Horgan and Regional Director Richard Bastien, who presented the league’s concerns in French. They were joined by MP Pat O’Brien. The presentation stated that Church teaching requires that all persons be treated with equal dignity and respect. Marriage, the brief said, is not a question of equality but rather of historical and cultural definition, set apart and enshrined by all societies because of its unique ability to produce and nurture children.

Urging the government to either withdraw Bill C-38 or make substantial amendments to guarantee freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, the brief itemized the many concerns Bill C-38 raises for all religious groups, charities affiliated with Churches, schools and those employed in the solemnization of civil marriage.

“Too often people have attempted to dismiss these concerns as things that will never happen since C-38 only touches civil marriage,” said Mr. Horgan. “In fact, some of these things – including human rights complaints against clergy for upholding the teachings of their faiths, teachers being suspended for writing letters to the editor, and challenges based on refusal of services – are already happening with Bill C-38 not even passed.”

Committee members encouraged the league to suggest amendments to the bill that would address religious and human rights’ concerns. Some of these amendments are included in our written brief.

“We’re glad that we had the opportunity to present our brief in person to the committee,” said Mr. Horgan, “and we hope that our work will lead to the withdrawal or substantial amendment of this bill.”

The full text of CCRL’s brief can be viewed on our website, or requested by e-mail at ccrl@ccrl.ca.

“From its beginnings, marriage has evolved into a relationship recognized as a sacrament by some religions, and honoured as life’s most important commitment by all religions and almost all non-religious philosophies,” the league stated. “Thus it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to re-define marriage without creating a conflict with the religious and conscientious beliefs held by most Canadians.”