Religious Groups Ordered to Move Aside

March 19, 2004 – It is with a sense of extreme disappointment that the Catholic Civil Rights League responds to today’s 5-member decision of the Quebec Court of Appeal, on the feast day of the patron saint of Canada, St. Joseph.

The Quebec Court of Appeal’s decision to quash our appeal regarding same sex marriages in that province discloses how religious groups have become marginalized in the debate over matters of public policy.

The Catholic Civil Rights League and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada had sought to proceed with the appeal of Madam Justice Lemelin’s September 2002 decision granting same sex marriage rights in that province (which was otherwise subject to a two year period of suspension, pending the deliberations of Parliament, which was also set aside by today’s ruling). The original appeal in Quebec had been launched by the federal government, but was subsequently abandoned by it when it changed sides in this debate following the Ontario Court of Appeal’s June 10, 2003 decision to grant same sex marriage rights in that province.

Although Quebec law allows party intervenors the right to proceed with appellate cases in matters of public interest, today’s decision suggests that those rights can be lost along the way in some circumstances. Despite the purported uniqueness of its ruling, the League was ordered to pay the costs of the proceedings.

As we noted last October when an effort to appeal the Ontario Court’s decision was quashed by the Supreme Court of Canada, appellate judges have shown a remarkable willingness to bow down to the demands of gay advocates to avoid hearing arguments from religious or other pro-family groups on decisions which tear down the fabric of society. Instead, our arguments will only be allowed to be received at the Supreme Court’s reference hearing currently scheduled for October 2004, assuming it goes ahead. The reference is within the complete control of the federal government and could itself be abandoned.

Today’s ruling did not address the merits of arguments for or against same sex marriage. The decision focused on the ability of intervenors to raise arguments at the appellate level in matters of far-reaching public interest, a proposition which appears to disappear like the morning dew under the unrelenting pressure of gay advocates. In fact, the Quebec Court of Appeal appears to have shied away from the opportunity to participate in the same sex marriage debate. That contribution could have been unique, as Quebec has recently passed legislation to recognize civil unions in that province for non-married couples. Whether such a regime satisfies demands for equality will have to wait.

Three groups of appellate judges have had their turn. It looks like the people of Canada will soon get their own opportunity to engage in a dialogue with judges in the upcoming federal election.

Canadians who believe that the traditional understanding of marriage is crucial to the well-being of children, to religious freedom, and to the future of Canada will vote for candidates who are prepared to take the necessary steps to protect male-female marriage.

The alternative is to allow the democratic process to be overwhelmed by increasing demands from judges to comply with dictates of their rulings in the next case that they choose to hear.

St. Joseph, pray for us.


For more information contact: Philip Horgan, Vice President
tel: 416-466-8244, fax 416-466-0091, email:

Catholic Civil Rights League assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.