Mr. Speaker, I listened to the comments of the NDP member who spoke eloquently about his position and intentions in the vote on Bill C-38.
I am flabbergasted in the sense that this whole issue of the charter argument keeps coming up time and time again. If we sit back and look at it and analyze what is happening with the use of the charter in this country, the Liberals, the NDP and whoever else supports this kind of initiative, it is being used by them to cover up a myriad of sins. When I say a myriad of sins, look at it: decriminalization of marijuana, decriminalization of prostitution, and same sex marriage. It is all in the same basket, and the Liberals and NDP love to use the charter to that end. It is to the detriment of this country.
It is 37 years ago that I stood before an altar before God and declared my vows in my marriage. It was before God that I was united in holy matrimony. The gravity of that moment was not lost to me because it was for one man and one woman to be joined together as it has been over the centuries, since the beginning of creation. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that we would be here today on the verge of redefining an institution that has stood as the union of one man and one woman since the beginning of time. But here we are.
I can remember this debate taking place 10 years ago in the House when a private member's initiative was brought forward to have the union of same sex individuals under that legislation. I spoke to that bill at that time. Twice the member that introduced the bill stood up on a point of order to object to my comments about the marriage of same sex people. Twice the Speaker told him to sit down because if the Speaker were to tell me to shut up, he would be doing an injustice to the House. He said that this is a place for strong opinions and we had better have strong opinions on this issue because a whole generation to come and beyond are going to be affected by what we do and what we decide in the House.
Needless to say, that bill was defeated, but here we are again today, 10 years later, with the same initiative coming forward, this time from the government of the day. The very titles of marriage are gender specific, husband and wife. The Supreme Court itself remarked in Egan v Canada decision that marriage is by nature heterosexual. Who has the right to define an institution that exists in all cultures in all corners of the world? It predates the existence of our own country by millennia, in fact since creation, had that been the case.
My personal feeling is that we must put this to the people in a national referendum. On this matter I am representing my own views and not necessarily the views of my party. If we are to have a free vote on this subject, we must also have free speech. I encourage all members of the House to do the same. The family is the foundation of our society and marriage is the cornerstone of that foundation. The preamble of the Canadian Bill of Rights recognizes this and expressly affirms:
--that the Canadian Nation is founded upon principles that acknowledge the supremacy of God, the dignity and worth of the human person and the position of the family in a society of free men and free institutions.
The proposed redefinition of marriage is the most important social issue that has ever faced our country. Capital punishment and even abortion really do not equal it.
The Prime Minister, and this goes back to my colleague from the NDP, says religious institutions will not be compelled to perform same sex marriages should this legislation pass.
Who is he kidding? When a Christian printer from Toronto is fined for refusing to do business with a gay and lesbian advocacy group, how can he say religious institutions will not be next and be compelled to perform same sex marriages?
When mayors across the country are hauled up in front of human rights commissions for refusing to issue gay pride proclamations, how can he say now religious institutions will not be compelled to perform same sex marriages?
When charitable tax status of a Catholic diocese is threatened by a Canada Revenue Agency official for a pastoral letter opposing gay marriage, how can he say religious institutions will not be compelled to perform same sex marriages?
When this government orders padres in the military to perform same sex marriages, how can he say religious institutions will not be compelled to do the same?
Any politician who says religious institutions will be protected from having to perform same sex marriages is either disingenuous or naive. Should this legislation pass, what will happen next?
Even if we were to believe the falsehood that religious institutions would not be compelled to perform same sex marriages, there are other forms of religious persecution that would occur should this legislation pass.
For example, would religious institutions be required to recognize same sex unions? If two people are married in accordance with the new legislation and then present themselves to their local church, synagogue or mosque to request membership, is that religious institution required to recognize them and accept them in its organization as married or to commune them?
If the religious institution declines to accept them as members because of its adherence to the traditional definition of marriage, how will this legislation protect the church and its members from attack under the human rights legislation?
Would a religious institution risk losing its status as a charitable institution, if it were to continue to refuse to recognize same sex marriage or if it were to teach its members, and prospective members, that such a relationship is the perversion of what marriage ought to be, according to God?
It is plainly visible what this legislation will lead to. Just ask Bishop Henry of Calgary. The charitable tax status of his diocese was threatened by a Canada Revenue Agency official after he wrote a pastoral letter stating that the Prime Minister's views on abortion and gay marriage contravene the Catholic faith. It was the bishop's responsibility. He was compelled to deliver that message.
Passage of this legislation will only accelerate the religious persecution that is already under way in this country. Since that particular time, guess what has happened to Bishop Henry? He has been called up before the Alberta Human Rights Commission and the complaints about his opposition to homosexuality and same sex marriage are being questioned. He is under threat to freedom of speech, and so is the rest of the country.
Who has the right to say what marriage is? The courts? The politicians? I suggest neither. The Constitution says Parliament can legally define marriage, but that legal recognition reflects what marriage is, not what some social engineers want it to be. The Supreme Court of Canada backs up this assertion.
Allow me to quote from the Egan v. Canada decision, upon which I will conclude. It states:
Marriage has from time immemorial been firmly grounded in our legal tradition, one that is itself a reflection of long-standing philosophical and religious traditions. But its ultimate raison d'être transcends all of these and is firmly anchored in the biological and social realities that heterosexual couples have the unique ability to procreate, that most children are the product of these relationships, and that they are generally cared for and nurtured by those who live in that relationship. In this sense, marriage is by nature heterosexual. It would be possible to legally define marriage to include homosexual couples, but this would not change the biological and social realities that underlie the traditional marriage.
On that note, I urge all members in the House to vote against this bill.