Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 5, 2005
Ex-politicians vow to make marriage an election issue
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
Independent MP Pat O'Brien and Dr. Grant Hill used to sit on opposite sides of the House of Commons, but on Nov. 22 they launched a nonpartisan campaign to fight same-sex marriage in the upcoming federal election.
As co-chairs of Defend Marriage Canada, O'Brien and Hill say they will lead a multi-party, multifaith coalition of Canadians working to elect a pro-traditional marriage Parliament.
Their goal is a true free vote in the House of Commons.
"This issue is not over in the minds of millions of Canadians," said O'Brien, a Liberal who left the party last spring to sit as an independent because of the way the party handled the debate. Two-thirds of Canadians still support the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.
Hill, who left politics before the 2004 election, said Defend Marriage Canada will fundraise and organize politically on a nonpartisan basis.
The group will also publicize scholarly articles and research that show how traditional marriage provides the best outcomes for children on its www.defendmarriagecanada.org website.
O'Brien said that while many faith groups support traditional marriage, no single group is behind the movement. They represent a broad coalition of Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs and other faiths.
He pointed out that many non-religious people support traditional marriage as well.
O'Brien said that when Calgary Bishop Fred Henry testified before the legislative committee looking into Bill C-38 last June, he never used Scripture or references to Catholic doctrine when he logically took apart same-sex marriage arguments "point by point."
Truly free vote
O'Brien and Hill said their goal is to have a true free vote in the House of Commons on marriage. Hill said that if they lose a true free vote, they will respect that democratic decision.
The Tories and the Bloc Quebecois allowed a free vote on marriage last spring.
O'Brien said the NDP did not allow a free vote, and punished the one member who opposed same-sex marriage. Bev Desjarlais now sits as an independent.
"The so-called free vote in the Liberal Party was a monumental farce," O'Brien said. "There was lots of coercion of Liberal MPs. They were leaned on big time."
O'Brien said it was an outrage that Liberal cabinet ministers were forced to vote against their consciences. He also criticized the way the bill was rammed through committee, with many witnesses receiving only 24 hour notice to appear.
Neither O'Brien or Hill will run in the next election.