Letter to Prime Minister Paul Martin
- from Melkite Catholic Bishop Ibrahim M. Ibrahim
The Right Honourable Paul Martin, P.C., M.P.
Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
How challenging and exciting it is that you are called in the course of your public duties to consider, for yourself and for Canada, questions that have bearing on the most dearly held human values and ideals. Such questions are often complex and volatile, touching on the very meaning of human rights, freedom, dignity, love, and the family – all of which have a direct bearing not only on communal concerns, but on our personal lives as well.
my position as bishop of the Melkite Catholics in
me to propose to you that the defense of the
traditional definition of marriage is key to insuring
both personal freedom and the continued prosperity of
The long-standing view of marriage as a life-long, publicly affirmed partnership between one man and one woman is a strong witness to its value for Canadian and global societies. Indeed, marriage is the oldest and most enduring society of all, pre-dating every other institution and enduring worldwide through the rise and fall of many other forms of social organization.
The organic family – in which a man and a woman join in a bond of love together to produce, raise and educate their own offspring – is by its very nature linked to the procreation and education of children, for which it provides a stable and integrated environment. Thus the extension of civil protections and benefits to married persons is not intended arbitrarily to legitimize life-long heterosexual partnerships over other types of partnerships, but rather, to serve the State’s compelling interest in protecting and educating Canadian children.
What, then, is the compelling interest for the federal government to change the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples? Would such a re-definition redound to the common good?
The answer is clearly “no.” There is no reason for the State to legitimize all of the various possible forms of personal partnership, nor to legitimize homosexual partnerships in particular. No personal partnership other than that of traditional marriage meets the “compelling interest” requirement. Because the possibility of having and raising children is an essential component in the State’s interest in protecting marriage itself, there is no compelling State interest in granting homosexual unions the privileges or protections of civil marriage.
Others would argue that it is not purely a question of the State’s interest, but more importantly of giving people “equal access” or “equal rights” when it comes to marriage – which they claim would validate homosexual behaviors to prevent unfair discrimination, hate speech, and the like.
However, discriminatory actions and hate speech are unacceptable regardless of whether homosexuals are ever accorded the privileges of civil marriage. In fact, such offensive actions are already prohibited by law. Therefore, it is not necessary to call same-sex partnerships “marriages” in order to protect homosexuals from violence, hate speech, and other attacks on their personal dignity. It must be clarified, too, that while many people do not endorse homosexual activities, they harbor no hatred of homosexual persons, and actively oppose discriminating against them.
It should also be noted that any definition of marriage by its very nature must exclude a variety of personal partnerships. These exclusions, however, are by no means cases of discrimination. By acknowledging that civil marriage must take place between exactly two people, the laws of Canada are not discriminating, for example, against polygamists. By requiring consent, moreover, Canadian laws are not discriminating against those who would use force to compel others into marriage. Similarly, by requiring that marriage take place between two persons of the opposite sex, the laws are by no means taking away human rights from same-sex couples.
I ask you respectfully on behalf of the Melkite Church in Canada to promote and uphold the good of the family as a perennial institution by affirming that marriage is the life-long partnership between one man and one woman. We firmly believe that this is best for Canada and most consistent with human dignity.
Thank you for your consideration,
Ibrahim Ibrahim, B.S.O.
Eparch of Saint Sauveur - Montreal