Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 22, 2002
Same-sex ruling upsets churches
By ART BABYCH
"Ultimately, we will need a ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada as to the institution of marriage."
- Janet Epp Buckingham
Phil Horgan, vice-president of the Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL), said the decision by the three-judge Ontario court has left the league "disappointed and bewildered."
A particular concern, he said, was the court's failure to "provide explicit protection to religious communities and other conscientious objectors to a definition of marriage which is sinful or which they would find objectionable."
Horgan pointed out that marriage is a sacrament in the Catholic Church. "The current decision, if allowed to stand, would engage religious denominations in potential litigation for the next generation in order to protect their most deeply held beliefs from further attack," he said.
The court's ruling comes less than a year after the British Columbia Supreme Court found that while Canada discriminates against same-sex couples by not recognizing their marriages, such discrimination is justified under the Charter because the main purpose of marriage is to provide a structure for the raising of children.
However, in the Ontario court's ruling, Justice LaForme wrote, "I do not accept that the objective of procreation is a basis that can support the restriction against same-sex marriage. Rather, it could reasonably be argued . . . that it appears to be a mere pretext used to rationalize discrimination against lesbians and gays."
Janet Epp Buckingham, general legal counsel for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC), said the ruling by the Ontario court must be appealed.
"What we have with these two decisions is Parliament being told by the Ontario court to redefine marriage, and told by the British Columbia court that it cannot redefine marriage. Ultimately, we will need a ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada as to the institution of marriage."
No Canadian province currently recognizes same-sex marriages.
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