Mr. Speaker, I have spoken at times with some of the Liberals across the way and they have asked me what exactly my problem was with this, why it would make a difference and what it would do to marriage.
One of my constituents recently published an article that very adequately summarizes the issue being discussed here today. I am grateful to Phil Johnson of the Osoyoos Baptist Church for his gracious agreement to allow me to read his submission which I now read in its entirety. The article is entitled, “Marriage is not a 'Living-together-thingy'”:
Recently, my wife and I were looking for some new furniture for the living room. Fortunately, the English language is rich enough to have more than one word to describe the different pieces we can sit on. They are not collectively referred to as 'The sitting-on-thingies'.
If our language was not so rich, to become more specific in our speech we would have to refer to the 'single-sitting-on-thingy', the 'double-sitting-on-thingy' and the 'three-or-more-sitting-on-thingy'. Wonderfully, the English language has provided us with single words that accurately describe a chair, a loveseat and a sofa.
Marriage is the same way. It is not a 'living-together-thingy' where any two or more people living together is called 'Marriage'. God has defined marriage as a man and a woman committed to each other for life. Any other relationship outside this is not marriage. This is not a matter of cultural preference. This is a definition that has been around 1000's of years.
Surely, the English language is rich enough to furnish another word or term to describe a same sex or other union. Why must the term marriage be used? The word we use to describe the union between one man and one woman is Marriage.
If you are going to come up with a new type of union, come up with a new term to describe it.
Just like we have a 'single-sitting-on-thingy' as a 'Chair' and 'three-or-more-sitting-on-thingy' as a 'Sofa', so we need to have a whole new word to describe this new type of union.
We could even run a nationwide competition to create a new word, that years from now could invoke warm and sentimental feelings, just as they do now about marriage. The chair does not feel discriminated against because it is not called a sofa.
Why is the term 'Civil Union' unacceptable? Perhaps, it has nothing to do with the recognition of a lifetime commitment between two people, and everything to do with the destruction of the idea of what marriage truly is? Why did the lesbian couple that took their cause to the Supreme Court apply for a divorce only five days after they were married? Hmmm.
New definitions will not destroy the institution of marriage, but it will drastically dilute its meaning and we will all lose in the end. A chair is a chair and a sofa is a sofa. For thousands of years, the English word to describe one man and one woman in a committed relationship to the exclusion of all others has been marriage. It does not mean, a 'living-together-thingy', however you want to define it this week.
I think the article Mr. Johnson sent in sums up very well the concerns that a lot of people have. I would like to tell members about my riding and the concerns people have in my riding.
As members might well imagine, coming from rural British Columbia, the government's Bill C-68 firearms registry bill was a huge issue. As the costs went from an estimated $2 million to almost $2 billion and still rising, their outrage became even more pronounced, However, as big as that is, it is dwarfed by the way people feel in my riding about this particular bill.
I have had over 4,000 letters and e-mails from constituents. I have even taken the trouble to stir the pot a bit to suggest that not many people are writing in supporting this and, if they are out there, I am not hearing from them. Out of those 4,000 letters that generated a total of 15 people who support this. There might be some support for this somewhere but it certainly is not in British Columbia Southern Interior.
As far as how this is being handled in the House, it is very interesting. It is a free vote, say the Liberals who introduced this bill. Well it is not quite a free vote. It is a free vote for the people on the backbenches but the members of the cabinet were told that it was not a free vote for them. They must vote the way they are told or they will be kicked out of cabinet and have their shiny new cars taken away.
It is a free vote for the people on the backbenches, except that I happen to know some of them quite well and quite a number of them do not support the bill. The pressure on them to comply with the way the government tells them to vote, even though it is a free vote, or, alternatively, to make sure they are absent when the vote is taken, has been intensified.
Members of another party, the NDP, the kissing cousins who live down the street and who dream of grandeur they will never realize on their own, do not have a free vote. They have been told that they must vote in support of their Liberal cousins. Even though the Liberals themselves have said that it is a free vote, the NDP have said that its members must support the Liberals in this because it dare not ever allow this to be a free vote.
When the Prime Minister was asked about having a referendum on this he said no, that he would never allow a referendum on an issue like this because he had little doubt that the majority of Canadians did not support the bill and he would not allow the majority to dictate to a minority. Is that not a wonderful process we have in the House of Commons where the majority does not rule?
I hear the Liberals yipping and yapping across the way wondering why we would expect in a democracy that the majority would ever rule or even have a say that they would listen to.
This is a very unfortunate bill. I had a lesbian couple come into my office to verify something I had said. I said that I had no quantitative evidence for this but that I believed that a lot of gay and lesbian people did not want or ask for this legislation. They did not want the notoriety. They are just people like everyone else. They have their jobs, their friends and their recreation. They want to go about their lives like the rest of us do. However along came the Liberals saying no, that they had to elevate them to something they had not asked for because they have very strange ideals. The couple who came in said exactly that. They said that they had never asked for this. They said that their lives were just fine until the Liberals came along and that now all of a sudden they were under a spotlight. Maybe that is what the Liberals intended but who knows.
In closing, I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to the Liberal Party of Canada because this is the kind of issue that will help me in the next election. It will help me to be one of the Conservatives who come back to replace the government. We will not play around with bills that very few people ask for. We will not arbitrarily rule on things where the majority is not allowed a say. We will bring in the kind of good legislation this country has waited for. It will be interesting to hear what kind of yipping and yapping the Liberals do once they are sitting over on this side of the House.