Madam Speaker, this motion arises out of the controversy that followed various supreme court decisions and various other court decisions that were intended to extend various benefits to same sex couples.
I really believe that the controversy is an empty controversy if we as legislators apply ourselves to a few relatively easy changes.
I believe that the majority of Canadians believe in the principle, in the rightness as described in our charter of rights, of making sure all Canadians have equal access to benefits and that they should not be discriminated against because of sexual orientation.
I believe that over the last 20 years Canadians have come to more and more recognize that homosexuality is something that is given to us at birth, that it is not really an alternative lifestyle. It is something that nature or God gives us. It is a flaw, perhaps, or an abnormality. I should say there is nothing unnatural about an abnormality because every one of us is born with differences, weaknesses or strengths.
I think all of us as Canadians believe that we should not discriminate against people merely because they are different from the norm. Indeed homosexual couples and homosexual individuals I think are generally acknowledged to have contributed mightily to the creative life in any country or any community to which they belong.
That having been said, I think we can fix this situation by a few simple legislated definitions. The first should be to legislate a definition of marriage that means legally that marriage is a union between opposite sex couples. Second, we should legislate a definition of spouse.
We have no choice but to connect spouse with the idea of marriage because the dictionary defines spouse as husband and wife, and only the courts can play Samuel Johnson at their whim and redefine language whenever they please. We as legislators have to respect language in both English and French and make sure that we are using current language and using words as they are intended to be used.
Then what we should do is create a new definition and call it dependent partner. We define dependent partner as an adult who is in an emotionally dependent relationship with another person leading to material dependency. We can extend that definition to say that it involves siblings, that it involves parent and child, or that it involves people of the same sex who are in a physical relationship with one another.
Once we do that then the rest should fall in place. As long as we set aside the fear associated with defining same sex couples as being married, as having the right to adopt children or as eroding the sanctity of marriage, I think the vast majority of Canadians, whether they are very religious or not very religious, will join with this parliament in agreeing that we should make sure all people who are in an emotionally dependent relationship should have equal access to benefits. The advantage to this is that we take, for the most part, sex out of the definition.
I certainly believe, as a former Liberal prime minister once said, that parliament has no business in the bedrooms of the nation. I believe that is so. We should be talking about dependent relationships, not sexual relationships.
I think this is an easy solution. We should think about it over the summer. I am glad the Reform Party put this motion forward today because we are coming to the end of this sitting and we need to reflect on this issue so we can easily resolve it when the fall comes.