Last Updated: Wednesday - 01/05/2011
October 15, 2001
Same-sex ruling applauded
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA — A ruling by the British Columbia Supreme Court rejecting same-sex marriages is good news for the interfaith coalition that intervened in the case.
The issue is now expected to go before the Supreme Court of Canada.
Justice Ian Pitfield agreed Sept. 3 that Canada discriminates against same-sex couples by not recognizing their marriages. However, he ruled that such discrimination is justified under the Charter of Rights because the main purpose of marriage is to provide a structure for the raising of children.
"The British Columbia Supreme Court has courageously affirmed marriage despite intense pressure to redefine it," said Gary Walsh, president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.
"It has affirmed that marriage is by its very nature a monogamous union between a man and a woman. This is a very positive decision for Canadian society."
The EFC was part of the interfaith coalition, which also included the Catholic bishops of Ontario, the Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver and the Canadian Catholic Civil Rights League. Catholic Church officials were not immediately available for comment.
Eight B.C. couples argued in two actions before the court in July and August that their marriages should be recognized in the same way as heterosexual marriages. Similar challenges are to be made in November by couples in Ontario and Quebec.
Whatever the results "the cases in all three provinces will ultimately be heard together by the Supreme Court of Canada," said EGALE (Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere), the national gay rights organization.
Pitfield ruled that only politicians can settle the issue and that judges could make only "incremental" changes to law.
"A judge-made change to the legal nature of marriage would be much more than incremental," Pitfield wrote. It would be a change that would "affect a deep-rooted social and legal institution," he said.
Parliament last year re-affirmed the definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
In January, two homosexual couples were "married" in a gay church in Toronto, but the Ontario and federal governments did not recognize the unions as legal. The Netherlands and Germany are the only two countries that allow same-sex marriages.
In June, a Leger poll showed that two thirds of Canadians believe lesbians and gays should have the right to get married.
The Catholic Church's perspective was outlined in the interfaith coalition's submission to the court. "The Catholic Church believes and teaches that the matrimonial covenant can only be between a man and a woman and that 'God himself is the author of marriage,'" it said.
"The matrimonial covenant is, by its nature, ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring and is one of the seven sacraments recognized by the Church - alongside Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation, priestly orders and the last rites."
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