Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of August 25, 2003
Faiths unite against same-sex marriage
Christians, Sikhs, Muslims defend traditional marriage
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Several Edmonton faith groups are determined to preserve marriage as an institution for one man and one woman.
With that purpose in mind, they created a coalition called the Edmonton Faith Coalition for Natural Marriage.
Made up of Roman Catholics, evangelical Protestants, Muslims and Sikhs, the coalition was formed in July to fight a Liberal government plan to draft legislation allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.
"All of us want to maintain the definition of marriage as one man and one woman exclusively," said John Lynch of the archdiocesan Social Justice Commission. "Gay people can't get married. It's very simple.
"Marriage is (between) one man and one woman open to procreation and that's the way the human race started. No other way. Never did two men or two women procreate and they never will. That's the natural thing of it and no parliament will ever be able to change that."
The scriptures of all participating faiths "indicate that marriage is a sacred thing between a man and a woman and we feel it ought to be kept that way," said coalition member Garry Rohr, representative of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada Alberta District.
"This has been the norm since the beginning of time. Family starts with a man and a woman in a covenant relationship. Homosexuals can enter into any kind of contract arrangement that they want to but that doesn't make it a marriage."
"What we are saying is keep the definition of marriage - one man, one woman exclusively - and give the gay community the rights that they want but don't call it marriage," Lynch said. "We want to keep the idea of marriage the way nature meant it to be and not have a court or parliament make that decision."
Rohr said the coalition's primary focus is to meet with members of Parliament and "let them know that a large segment of their constituents are members of a faith group and almost all of them would agree that marriage is defined between a man a woman to the exclusion of all others."
The government plan to legalize same-sex marriages effectively began in mid-June, when it decided not to appeal an Ontario court ruling granting gay and lesbian couples the right to marry.
However, Prime Minister Jean Chretien has said the government will be proposing legislation "that will protect the right of churches and religious organizations to sanctify marriage as they define it." At the same time, he said, the government "will ensure that our legislation includes and legally recognizes the union of same-sex couples."
Scores of gay and lesbian couples have already married or taken out marriage licences following the June 10 ruling of the Ontario Court of Appeal that redefined the traditional definition of marriage from a union between a "man and a woman (only)" to a union of "two persons." Earlier judgments in British Columbia and Quebec courts also said same-sex marriage must be recognized.
But the Edmonton Faith Coalition say that's unnatural and is urging Alberta MPs to respect and retain natural marriage and deal with issues of equality for gay couples through separate legislation.
"Natural marriage is a fundamental institution of society," the group says in its policy statement. "It's the only sexual relationship that has the biological potential for reproduction. Without natural marriage, there would be no human race. It therefore should be preserved as unique among all human relationships."
The coalition has met with Alliance MP Deborah Grey and several other Alberta MPs in recent weeks. The government has promised to put the proposed legislation to a free vote in the House of Commons and already some 70 Liberal MPs are threatening to vote against it.
The dissenting MPs are urging instead that Canada adopt more conservative "civil unions" in which gays would be able to register their relationships but they would not be official marriages.