Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 9, 2005
Speak Out against gay 'marriage', Henry urges
Pro-family rally draws 3,000
By RAMON GONZALEZO
WCR Staff Writer
We must be courageous in the defence of traditional marriage," Calgary Bishop Fred Henry told an enthusiastic multifaith crowd of nearly 3,000 people May 1.
Henry urged the crowd to continue to make their opposition to same-sex marriage known to both federal and provincial politicians.
"The time has come for the Government of Canada to use its coercive powers to legislate that a couple being married must be one man and one woman," he told the rally.
"This is not a fascist statement or a Hitler-like position, not even an anti-homosexual stance, but it is the Christian teaching on the primordial status of marriage and family life."
Henry, who faces two complaints at the Alberta Human Rights Commission alleging he discriminated against homosexuals in a pastoral letter he wrote opposing same-sex marriage, was the rally's main speaker.
"Those who seek to promote same-sex marriage in the past couple of months have begun to realize that same-sex marriage is a non-starter," the bishop said to loud cheers. "It is unacceptable to the majority of Canadians."
Won't be silenced
Henry described the human rights complaints as an attempt to intimidate him and said they have no foundation in fact.
"As a matter of fact, these complaints constitute a violation of my right to freedom of expression and freedom of religion," he said. "But I will not be silenced and, more importantly, you must not be silenced. You must continue to speak the truth in charity."
People of all ages, ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs attended the rally, including Christians, Muslims and Sikhs. Like Henry, leaders from all faiths urged the crowd to stand up against Bill C-38, which seeks to legalize same-sex marriage.
Organized by the Committee for Support of Traditional Marriage, the rally began with a noisy march down streets surrounding the park. Cars honked at the crowd as marchers waved signs that denoted their stance: God Defined Marriage, It's All About the Kids and One Woman One Man. Children carried balloons with similar messages.
"I'm here to defend marriage the way God designed it," said Jayne Briscall, a mother of four carrying a sign that said God Defined Marriage.
"It's been that way since the beginning of time and I don't see any reason to change it now. I hope the politicians will notice this crowd."
When the marchers arrived back at the park, their space had been invaded by a small group of gay marriage supporters waving signs such as Hate is not a Family Value, Hateful Rhetoric Incites Violence and Murder, and True Christians Do Not Pass Judgment.
The crowd peacefully tolerated the group but when a handful of gay marriage supporters stood in front of the stage with their signs held high some in the crowd rushed to block them with their own signs.
"Folks, we are at war for the soul of this nation," rally organizer David Fletcher told the crowd. "Thank you Paul Martin for waking us up. You have managed to wake a nation, a nation that is now filled with a righteous anger. Remember, it is up to us to send a message but let's keep it simple; just two words: enough is enough. That's our battle cry."
Father Martin Carroll, the pastor of St. Theresa Parish, introduced Henry but also delivered a message of his own.
"For marriage, I believe, there are two essential components: a mutual loving relationship and openness to new life," Carroll said. "Marriage and the family form a natural community that is more fundamental than the artificial community that is the state. The state has no authority to change a society that's more fundamental than (the state) itself. That's the message which we need to send to the politicians in Ottawa."
Henry delivered a similar message. "The government has the solemn obligation to protect, not to reengineer, an institution that is more fundamental to human life than the state itself," he said to wild applause.
"It is not unjust or a limitation of anyone's legitimate right to freedoms to insist that a marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman."
The bishop of Calgary also had a message for Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, whom he accused of flip-flopping on traditional marriage.
Don't let Ottawa dictate
"One minute he is the champion of traditional marriage and promises to renew the notwithstanding provision of the Alberta Defence of Marriage Act and the next minute he reverses himself and allows the notwithstanding clause to expire on March 22 arguing that the provincial legislation would end up being a waste of taxpayer dollars," Henry said.
"I can't think of a better place for Alberta to invest its money than in the defence of marriage and family life.
"Mr. Premier, you constantly say that you would not allow Ottawa to dictate to Albertans; the time has come for you to be proactive, not reactive.
"The solution is simple: renew the notwithstanding provision of the Alberta Defence of Marriage Act and add an amendment to the existing act stating that in order for a marriage to be solemnized in Alberta and a marriage licence issued the couple needs to be a man and a woman."
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