Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 11, 2006
Bishops urge free vote on marriage
Let politicians vote according to their conscience
"You don't pick and choose rights."
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has urged a completely free vote on a motion on whether to reopen the debate on marriage, a vote that would allow politicians to vote "in accordance with their conscience" on same-sex marriage.
Call your MP
The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) called on all Catholics to contact their MPs in advance of the vote.
"The Roman and Eastern Catholic bishops of Canada uphold the exclusive union of a man and a woman as central to marriage, and thus cannot accept the civil redefinition as the union of any two persons," said a Nov. 30 statement signed by CCCB president Archbishop Andre Gaumond of Sherbrooke.
"Our conviction is shared by many other Canadians from all religious traditions, as well as those who hold no religious faith."
"Our society needs to do more to encourage the committed relationship of man and woman which remains so basic to all civilizations, and has proven to be the best support for the rights and needs of children," said the statement.
The Conservative government announced that the debate on whether to reopen the same-sex marriage issue would begin the week of Dec. 4.
"As the keystone of society, the family is the most favourable environment in which to welcome children," the CCCB statement said. "At the same time, freedom of conscience and religion needs to be ensured, while also respecting the dignity of all persons, whatever their sexual orientation."
"Now is the time for Catholics, if they haven't yet done so, to call their MPs, meet their MPs, write to their MPs and ask them to vote in favour of the motion," COLF director Michele Boulva said in an interview.
The newly elected Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said he will vote against reopening the debate.
Charter of Rights
"To me it's a matter of the Charter of Rights," he told journalists Dec. 4 following his Liberal caucus meeting as leader.
"You don't pick and choose rights. It's also a matter of abusing the House because I don't see how the minister of justice will end up with a law that is constitutional the way the motion is phrased."
Dion said he had not discussed with his colleagues about whether he would force Liberal MPs to toe the party line. The Liberals have traditionally allowed MPs to vote their consciences on moral issues. A number of socially conservative Liberals would balk at a "whipped" vote.