Bill C-38, the Anti-Marriage Bill

 

House of Commons Hansard - March 24, 2005

Mr. Stockwell Day (Okanagan-Coquihalla, CPC):

 

Mr. Speaker, to be constrained by parliamentary rules to only 10

minutes to speak about a law intending to alter a social definition,

marriage,  that has existed since time immemorial is a challenge

indeed, but one which I will try to meet.

A far more serious defect in the debate is the disturbing act of tyranny
on the part of the Prime Minister and the leader of the NDP who are
muzzling their MPs and forcing them to vote a certain way on such an
important topic.

On the issue itself, first allow me to give a historic overview.
Discussions on marriage certainly are not new. In the historically
reputable journals of a Jewish physician by the name of Luke, almost
2,000 years ago, he recorded a debate between Jesus and various
religious and community leaders. It is clear in their discussions that
the monogamous nature of marriage was accepted as the norm despite

the fact that the Hebrew culture had embraced polygamy during an

earlier time in its social development.

Jesus used that opportunity to underline the fact that the earliest
writings of Mosaic tradition, notably the Pentateuch account, made it
clear that the God of the Hebrew people intended that marriage would

be between one man and one woman exclusively.

For the two millennia following Christ's teaching on the matter, right
up until this day, that has been the western world view. Even during the
post reformation period of the enlightenment and the development of
rationalism, there was never any serious consideration given at any time
in western society to change the definition itself. Therefore, though
marriage is rooted in the religious base of the Judeo-Christian
construct, and other religions, even philosophical and social
commentators who were not theistic never suggested a change in the
meaning of marriage itself.

This is also true in Greek, Roman and other western eras when
homosexuality was accepted and practised somewhat freely and openly.

At no time was there a group of activists demanding a definitional change
of marriage itself.

Today, our legal system derives significantly from the pillars of the
Judeo-Christian concepts. In the development of common law from its
British, American and Canadian precedents, even those who rejected the
concept of nature's God still drew heavily from the concept of nature's
laws.

Simply put, this is the belief that certain facts of the nature of the
universe, including human nature itself are so obvious that they are
deemed to be self-evident. Therefore, by extension, human laws were
drawn up to be in harmony with the self-evident laws of human nature

and the universe around us.

Some people accept a divine creator, God, behind these laws of nature.
Others still accept natural law and common law but without acknowledging
a divine intelligence behind them. The fact still remains that until a very few

short years ago, neither group felt intellectually, philosophically or religiously

compelled to alter a millennia old definition that actually predates governments

and even predates the church, synagogue and mosque.

A very few years ago a tiny group of militant homosexuals suggested, and
then demanded, that they had a right to appropriate the term marriage to
describe their unions. That group of course has grown to encompass

other advocates. They continue to demand this despite the fact that many
homosexuals themselves do not support a change in the definition of
marriage and despite the fact that their conjugal relationships enjoy
the full range of equality benefits that are available to heterosexual
couples.

It should also be acknowledged that just because a person or a group
demands a certain right, or says that a right exists, does not mean that
the right exists either in relative or absolute terms just because they
demand it. There is no absolute right for instance to freedom of speech.

One cannot go onto an airplane and shout, "hijack". The person would
find out that there is a limit on freedom of speech. Even a taxpaying
citizen does not have the right to stand in the parliamentary galleries
above us and give a speech. The individual will be stopped, as a woman
was right here only a few weeks ago.

Marriage is not an absolute right either. I cannot marry my sister, or
my brother for that matter. I am sure they will be relieved to hear that
today. I cannot marry my grandmother. I cannot marry my neighbour's
wife. She is already married. I cannot marry a 14 year old. So, simply
declaring a right to be human or absolute does not make it so.

Our national media refuses to report that even the Supreme Court did

not say marriage was a human right in all cases nor did it say that the
heterosexual definition violated anyone's right or that the heterosexual
definition of marriage was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court itself
did not say that nor did it command us in Parliament to change the
definition. The court did say that if change was to occur, it is
Parliament's role to make that change, not the courts, and I concur with
that.

If a poster misleadingly asks Canadians if homosexuals should have their
rights denied by not allowing them to take the word "marriage", many
Canadians being fair minded would say, no, not to take away their
rights. If the pollster asks the constitutionally accurate question,
should the definition of marriage remain with a man and a woman as long
as homosexual couples still have equality when it comes to benefits,
most Canadians will say to leave the definition of marriage alone and
let homosexuals have equal and beneficial unions also.

As we seem to be close to altering the definition, we must be prepared
to ask the tough questions relating to the consequences of such a
monumental change. Now some people get enraged when these questions

even are raised. I would say to those people once their anger has

dissipated, would they still answer the following questions.

Among the majority of my constituents who believe we should live and let
live, including letting the heterosexual definition of marriage live,
many have asked me to search out the following questions for them so
that they can more fully understand the consequences of the Liberals'
legislation and then decide if they like it or not. I therefore submit
these questions for consideration along with responses I have received
to date from the appropriate authorities whom I have already asked.

First, if the Liberals' law is passed, will sex education in the
schools, including elementary grades, include the same portrayals of
sexual activity which presently exist in heterosexual instruction? Will
there be the same presentation of homosexual activity? Of course there
will.

Second, will we see changes in terminology in our systems of public
registration, for instance, in the use of words like "husband", "wife",
"father", "mother", et cetera? Of course, these terms will gradually
dissipate and fall into disuse. It is already happening in Ontario in
the registration systems.

Third, is it true that Scandinavian countries which expanded the
marriage term have statistically reported depreciation, that is a
lessening
of appreciation, for heterosexual commitment to marriage?

Yes, in those jurisdictions the social indices themselves are clear.

Fewer heterosexuals feel legally compelled to officially marry and more
children are born outside of marriage's traditional terms. Some people
may say that is a good thing. Some may say that it is not. That is
simply a fact and it is tragic that the notion of what is best for
children gets so little discussion in this debate.

Fourth, following the move for marriage to include homosexual, lesbian,
bi-sexual, and transgender relationships, will polygamists demand to be
included also? Of course they will. They already are asking to be
included. Even non-religious polygamist groups in Canada are asking as
well as those who are polygamists within their religions. As a matter of
note, the few polygamists and bigamists whom I personally know are kind,
caring and loving toward their children and their multiple partners. I
am sure there are also abusive polygamists just as there are abusive
homosexual and heterosexual couples. However, being kind does not
translate into having the right to call oneself married any more than
the two elderly sisters who are raising an orphaned nephew can call
themselves married, even though they have a full right to all of the
social and financial supports that were available to the married
heterosexual parents.

Fifth, will religious freedoms be protected and respected? No, they will
not be. These freedoms are already disappearing. Marriage commissioners
who choose not to marry homosexuals are being fired. A Knights of
Columbus chapter in British Columbia is in court because it chooses not
allow a lesbian group to use its facility for marriage ceremonies. The
list goes on. Even the Supreme Court would not guarantee religious
freedoms, so let us not lure people into thinking that the religious
factor will be protected. It will not.

These are only a few of the undisputed consequences of embracing a
change in the definition of marriage. There are many more. If this is
the brave new world that members want, then by all means vote for

the change. If members want the definition to stay as it is, while still
respecting the rights and choices of others, then vote against the
legislation.

The point of respect is very important here. I dedicate my remarks today
to my mother and to my recently deceased father who brought me up
understanding and respecting a few things. First, is to respect marriage
itself. My parents did not have a perfect marriage. I was pretty good,
but it was not perfect. My marriage is not perfect. My wife is, but I
happen to be imperfect. However, that does not discount the fact that
the definition of marriage must be defended and protected.

As all human beings are, in my view, creatures of God's design, we must
respect all other human beings. That does not mean I have to agree with
their choices or agree with their opinions, but indeed I respect them as
human beings.

I hope we can keep these things in mind as we continue this debate.

 

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