Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 20, 2005
Same sex will taint curriculum
Lawyer warns Bill C-38 will translate into moral equality for homosexuality
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
Same-sex marriage will compel schools to teach students that same-sex marriage is morally equivalent to heterosexual marriage, says a Catholic lawyer.
Peter Lauwers, who has acted in a number of religious freedom court cases, told the House of Commons committee examining same-sex marriage Bill C-38 that one view of pluralism sees differences as merely a temporary step to ideological conformity.
In the other view of pluralism, differences of opinion are a "permanent feature of human life and therefore of life in a liberal democracy," Lauwers said.
He said he believes the latter view is the true definition of pluralism, but that does not seem to be the view held by the courts.
Appearing June 8, Lauwers warned that Bill C-38 and its interpretation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would "compel public schools to teach their students that same-sex marriage is morally equivalent to heterosexual marriage, that same-sex sexual relations are morally equivalent to heterosexual sexual relations and behaviour, and, to the extent that these concepts are explored from a mechanical perspective in health and physical education classes, the exploration must be equivalent."
"There is little doubt that, given the relative lack of support for the change in the definition of marriage in the Canadian populace generally, this new reality would not be welcome," Lauwers said.
"Canadian tolerance may support adult homosexual conduct in certain places at certain times, but it is not likely to support teachings in the local public schools that conflict radically with the moral values held by parents," he said.
However, Lauwers predicted that the state is moving towards imposing its "new orthodoxy" and will use the schools to "integrate" students into this view.
Lauwers represented the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops (OCCB) in last year's Supreme Court marriage reference, and acted on behalf of the Catholic school board involved in the gay prom case.
He warned that equality tends to trump religious freedom when the two rights clash before the courts. The case of Marc Hall, who won a court injunction enabling him to bring his gay male date to the prom, was an example.
Many families will choose to "opt out" of public education, but a private religious school may not provide the refuge parents hope for, he warned.
"The threat to charitable status and the requirement of compliance with this new orthodoxy is a problem for parochial schools."
Lauwers said students should also have the opportunity to opt out of classes in the public school system that impose teachings against their moral values.
"Ultimately this problem will not get properly solved until parliament gets out of the marriage business," Lauwers said. "My thinking is that this fight on the nature of marriage is one that does not belong on the floor of the House of Commons."
"The state has an interest in long-term relationships, how they are established and how they are dissolved, unquestionably, and particularly about children. It does not have an interest in defining what marriage is," he said.
"That is the business, I would suggest, of civil society; religions, if people are religious, and other groups if they're not."
Other witnesses from the Christian, Sikh and Jewish faiths have also contended the state has no right to change the definition of marriage.
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