Mr. Speaker, I am privileged to follow my colleague from Scarborough East because I share many of the sentiments he has expressed.
First, let me say that I am a member of parliament. My decisions are made here and they are made by my brain and my conscience. I am not bound by any policy decisions made by a Liberal convention. The Reform Party may be bound by the suggestions from policy conventions but not me. These are merely suggestions of policy that have come from the membership of the Liberal party. But, when push comes to shove, as members of parliament we have to decide on our own consciences in this Chamber.
I have no difficulty saying that I support this motion. It is a little premature for me because I would have liked more time over the summer to formulate a better expression of my thoughts concerning the controversy surrounding same sex couples in terms of the benefits they should receive and the absolute necessity in my mind in preserving the legal concept of marriage as a union of opposite sex couples.
The reason I support this motion is because there are two very important things behind the need to recognize the legality of marriage as an opposite sex union. First, it is the idea that many Canadians still believe, despite the fact that there are some Canadians who have lost some faith in the various organized churches, absolutely in the sanctity of marriage. We owe those Canadians an obligation to respect their feelings on this issue. We should not willy-nilly trample on something that has been a tradition for many thousands of years.
For me the really crucial issue with respect to the legality of an opposite sex union being termed a marriage is the idea of adoption. I voted against my government several years back on this very issue. I support absolutely the need to support couples who are in an emotionally dependent relationship that becomes materially dependent, be they same sex couples or couples that are dependent for other reasons. I feel very strongly that while I support that idea absolutely, I am very concerned that we must never, in furthering that goal, extinguish the rights of others. By this I mean specifically children. My fear about recognizing same sex marriages is that it would infuse a right for homosexual couples to adopt children.
Right now there is a discretionary ability for homosexual couples to adopt children and I think that is fine, because I am not one to say that it is impossible, indeed, even unlikely, that a homosexual couple might make excellent parents. What I am not prepared to say is that, all things being equal, a homosexual couple make equally as good parents as a heterosexual couple. I do not think society and our understanding of the human psyche has progressed that far that we can be prepared to make that judgment.
The idea or the concept of retaining the legal concept of marriage as an opposite sex union is, I think, extremely important in terms of preserving the rights of children, the right of a child to be brought up by heterosexual parents.
That being said, I really do welcome this debate, because what has happened is that in the courts, when we leave it to the courts, the judges sit back and they hear the evidence presented before them. However, if that evidence is flawed or that evidence is incomplete, then what happens is that the court will make an incomplete decision.
We saw that in the use of the word conjugal, which came up in Bill C-78. The government used the word conjugal based on its use in previous court decisions. When I examined that, I discovered that the courts did not consider the meaning of conjugal. The courts merely made a change to existing legislation and ignored the fact that conjugal means heterosexual, unless we had a situation where even the supreme court was implying that the word conjugal means same sex unions when it does not mean that at all. What we have to do—