I voted against it. It was an extremely emotional, high strung atmosphere and a very unsatisfactory resolution to the particular problem.
The fact remains that time moves on and what people are really concerned about is the protection of the family. We do not lose rights based on our sexuality or who we are having sex with. We also, in my view, should not gain rights in that regard. It should not be a defining principle.
As Prime Minister Trudeau said, we have no business in the bedrooms of the nation, so why would we be using that as some kind of measuring stick to determine whether or not someone has access to some particular right? What I like about the Alberta solution, although I do not know the cost of it and I am sure that is being looked at, is that it de-sexualizes the whole issue.
I heard a gay rights lawyer say that if we simply adopt this without looking at the nuances and the difficulties, we could have a grandmother declare that a three year old grandson is now economically dependent and therefore subject to the survivor benefits. The three year old would then get the survivor benefit when the grandmother passes on. This would throw pension plans so dramatically out of whack that no one would be able to afford them. We would be unable to determine the level of premium we should set. I understand that there are some problems.
I believe we should recognize that this is not about homophobia. This is about recognizing the strength of what makes the country good and what makes the country strong. It is the family. I would doubt that there are very many people, even gay members of parliament, who would disagree that family is the key to the strength of the future of the nation. My colleague for Mississauga South used the term “a line in the sand”. I would use “thin edge of the wedge”. This is ultimately what the debate is all about.
I have a quote by David Corbett of the Foundation for Equal Families. He said:
Nobody has proposed a solution that would have marriage as an institution available to same sex couples. It is not constructive contribution to the debate and it is certainly premature.
What does that tell us? It tells me that we are not going to do it at this time because it will upset the apple cart. We will move along an inch at a time until we can make more ground. Let us call it for what it is. The gay rights activists absolutely want to have same sex marriages recognized. They may say they do not, but I honestly believe they do.
Does that mean we have to get homophobic and panicky? I do not think so. I think it means that in this country, the country over which we have the domain as parliamentarians, we will only recognize, as our common law states, that a marriage is two people of the opposite sex and excludes anyone else. This is common sense to me. I do not think we have to have a knee-jerk reaction to it.
I say to those in the gay community that I have no problem with their right to not be discriminated again in terms of housing, employment, education, equal opportunity, jobs within the government, procurement or whatever. We should not discriminate against them based on their sexuality. However, they have no right to claim that they have expanded rights based on their sexuality. As far as I am concerned, it cuts both ways.
One of the things I find most fascinating about being in this place, especially when many of my esteemed colleagues prior to arriving here made their living in pursuit of the law or defence of the law in one way or another, is when the debate indicates that we should let this particular issue go through the courts because they will adjudicate and make the decision. However, on this particular issue we cannot have the courts make that decision because we are parliament, we are the ultimate and we have the right to tell them what to do.
We have a judicial system that is one of the finest in the world and supported with a parliamentary democracy that is absolutely one of the finest in the world. What we need to do in all cases is to make sure that those two systems work in balance; where parliamentarians can say what it is they want to have happen in terms of the law, but that the judicial system must be available without interference from politicians to interpret that law, be it the charter of rights or any other individual law.
I support the family. I support men and women being married. I believe they are the only two who can be spouses. The government supports that and we will stand behind that regardless of any attempts to portray us in any other light.