The Canadian Senate chamber
here for Senate Debates
was raised with the idea that homosexuals needed extensive counselling
in order to be like the rest of us. It was not until my adult years that
my view gradually changed."
Lois M. Wilson
do not have a state religion in Canada, nor have we ever had a state religion."
Lois M. Wilson
deny these rights to those who are not mainstream is a violation of the
Charter, a gross act of discrimination and a denial of the personhood
against those who suffer that discrimination."
Lois M. Wilson
cannot choose sides in the religious debate by enforcing one religious
view of marriage on all. Otherwise, we are on the path to state
religion, a concept that is currently unconstitutional and morally
Lois M. Wilson
we not respect diversity and choice in this country where we constantly
boast of tolerance and pluralism?"
Lois M. Wilson
hope that individual senators follow closely the Ontario
court case proposing recognition of same sex marriages. Among other
things at stake is the continuing violation of basic human rights for
a number of citizens of our country."
Lois M. Wilson
The Ontario Hearing Daily Reports
(November 5 - 9, 2001)
November 5, 2001
November 6, 2001
November 7, 2001
November 8, 2001
November 9, 2001
Judgement is expected in March 2002
vote for this bill [Bill S-9] would be to accept the Neanderthal idea
that common law is static and incapable of expanding to meet the changing
needs of society."
oppose it [Anti-gay Bill S-9] because it is discriminatory. It is an affront
to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It denies that all Canadians, regardless
of their religion, culture or sexual orientation, are equal before the
law, before the Charter, and before each other."
have been discriminated against in the name of the gods and their lives
ruined to maintain the hegemony of a fragile orthodoxy. They died in the
dungeons of the princes of the churches and of the states, or burned at
the stake by order of the churches or stoned in the public square of Imams.
They died in Nazi concentration camps. They were reviled in the pulpits
in the first days of AIDS ..."
day will come when homosexuals will be equal with heterosexuals. At that
moment, harmony will be returned, and the individuals of the group to
which I belong will walk in the light of day and under the stars at night
senators, to use religion to justify intolerance is cowardly. It is an
attempt to use faith to mask hatred."
Sen. Mobina Jaffer
Debate In The Canadian Senate
Regarding Bill S-9
(to remove certain doubts regarding the meaning of marriage)
March 13, 2002
Lois M. Wilson:
Honourable senators, on Bill S-9, to remove certain doubts regarding
the meaning of marriage, I was raised with the idea that homosexuals needed
extensive counselling in order to be like the rest of us. It was not until
my adult years that my view gradually changed. I have a male friend whom
I have known for 50 years who married and fathered children, two of whom
I baptized. For some years we lived in the same provinces, but then we
moved and I lost track of him. After a five-year interval, I ran into
him again and immediately knew something significant had happened to him.
"Your face is different," I said. "I cannot define it.
What has happened?" His astonishing response was: "I have never
been happier in my whole life. I have been a homosexual all my life, and
my wife and I finally came to terms with it and I am now on my own. We
parted amicably. My identity is now clear."
I could not deny this man's life or testimony. He is still the same responsible,
caring person I had known at an earlier time. Now relieved of having to
conceal what he fought against all his life, his sexual orientation, and
now able to affirm who he was, he was free to live more affirmatively
than ever before. A few years later, I met his male partner. I was an
overnight house guest and rejoiced in the obvious love, mutuality and
partnership evident in the relationship. He continues to see his former
wife and children, with whom he maintains caring relationships.
If anyone could demonstrate to me his partnership with his male partner
is any less responsible, any less in the qualities that make a healthy
marriage, such as expressing one's sexuality through commitment, trust
and love, any less a marriage than his former one with his then wife,
I would be glad to hear it.
Is the main public interest in marriage reproduction, continuation of
the species and procreation of children? I think not. A quote from the
1549 Church of England's Book of Common Prayer states the purpose of marriage
is for the "hallowing of union betwixt man and woman, for the procreation
of children." However, the 1549 Book of Common Prayer is not the
law of Canada and has never been the law of Canada. The Book of Common
Prayer is the prayer book of the established Church of England. We do
not have a state religion in Canada, nor have we ever had a state religion.
The dissenters suffered terrible persecution in England because of state
From the beginning of English rule, the enlightened policy of religious
tolerance was the official policy of the day in Canada. However, sadly,
Canada has also known religious intolerance. Some people thought that
the Book of Common Prayer should be the law of the land. Ontario's first
marriages were valid only if performed by priests of the Church of England.
Marriages that I would have performed in those former days would not have
been recognized as legally valid because I was not a priest of the Church
of England. Even Catholic marriages were not recognized legally until
1847, and Jewish and other non-Christian marriages were not legally recognized
until 1857. Fortunately, our society and our laws have moved somewhat
beyond that time of intolerance.
Even the rituals of the Anglican Church of Canada ceased making the main
purpose of marriage the procreation of children some time ago. In its
1959 prayer book, a prayer of the wedding ceremony for the expected children
was bracketed with the admonition that "this prayer shall be omitted
should the woman be beyond child bearing age." Wisely so. To tie
marriage to the procreation of children denies the validity of marriages
of post-menopausal women who cannot conceive children. In 1985, the phrase
"and that they may be blessed in the procreation, care and upbringing
of children" was removed from the prayer book and made optional.
In Canada, it is only required that the civil laws of the provinces and
territories be met. The law also respects the human rights of those who
are different under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. To deny these
rights to those who are not mainstream is a violation of the Charter,
a gross act of discrimination and a denial of the personhood against those
who suffer that discrimination.
The law respects religious choice and diversity. For Christian people,
all churches also provide a religious rite, but the Christian churches
in Canada do not make the law as to who can marry. They do retain the
right to decline to marry the people they do not believe are free to marry.
Those people can always go to another church or to a civil authority.
It is a reality that increasing numbers of persons of faith communities
authorized to perform marriages continue to bless the "holy unions,"
as they are sometimes called, or "same gender covenants." Some
faith communities have been presiding at holy unions and covenanting services
for years. These include some reform Rabbis,
ministers of the Metropolitan
Community Church and some of the United
Church, and even some Anglican
bishops. Parliament cannot choose sides in the religious debate by
enforcing one religious view of marriage on all. Otherwise, we are on
the path to state religion,
a concept that is currently unconstitutional and morally repugnant.
As we know, technological advances have made procreation of children
possible by those who are members of the same sex. That is the reality.
People marry even if they have no intention of having children or when
they cannot do so. Yet their marriages are not denied legality. The Modernization
of Benefits and Obligations Act, Bill C-23 of June 2000, makes it clear
that marriage means "one man and one woman to the exclusion of all
others." That is a quote from the 1866 UK judgment in the case of
Hyde v. Hyde. That should give us pause. The Hyde case is not a Canadian
case. It was decided in Victorian England, at a time when many women in
Canada were not even persons in the eyes of the law. Since then, the law
has changed and so has society, for the better, I think. The full definition
from Hyde is this:
For this purpose I conceive that in Christendom,
marriage is the lawful union of one man and one woman for life
to the exclusion of all others.
This "purpose" was to deal with polygamy. It had nothing to
do with same sex marriages. The phrase "in Christendom" is quaint.
Canada is not officially Christian, and we value religious diversity and
pluralism. The "for life" part came from the Church of England's
definition of marriage, as it did not allow divorce. The inflexible Hyde
case was good for England in 1866 but does not belong in Canada in 2002.
Not all homosexuals want to marry, but some do. Not all heterosexuals
want to marry, but some do. Can we not respect diversity and choice in
this country where we constantly boast of tolerance and pluralism? Some
same-sex couples want a way to say publicly they are responsible for each
other their whole lives long.
What about family values? The Supreme Court of Canada in a 1992 majority
decision in the case Moge v. Moge said:
Many people believe that marriage and family provide
for the emotional, economic, and social well-being of its members. Marriage
and family are a superb environment for raising and nurturing the young
of our society by providing the initial values that we deem to be central
to our sense of community.
If marriage is the best place to raise children and same-sex couples
choose to have children, surely those children should not be deprived
of what is best for them. There is food for thought in Madam Justice L'Heureux-Dubé's
comment on this worthy passage in her dissent in the 1993 case of the
Canada (Attorney General) v. Mossop as follows:
...these values are not exclusive to the traditional
family and can be advanced in other types of families. For example,
while we may see marriage as an indicator of stability, it appears from
the current rate of marriage breakdown that heterosexual union is not
an absolute guarantee of stability....stability is a desirable value,
but may be achieved in a variety of family forms....long lasting and
stable relationships have been maintained outside the bounds of legal
marriage, as well as within same-sex relationships.
In short, I hope the Senate does not pass this unnecessary bill. It is
not necessary to make clear what has been the practice since at least
the beginning of Confederation and confirmed ever since on numerous occasions.
There is no need to try to make clearer what is already the law of the
land. Remember that law is not static. I hope that individual senators
follow closely the Ontario court case proposing
recognition of same sex marriages. Among other things at stake is the
continuing violation of basic human rights for a number of citizens of
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Will the Honourable Senator Wilson take a question?
Senator Wilson: Certainly.
Senator Cools: It will take some time to respond to all of the points
Senator Wilson has made. However, in terms of the law of the land as it
currently stands, could Senator Wilson share with this chamber the result
of the legal court challenge in British Columbia respecting same sex couples'
assertions that the law of marriage discriminated against them, asking
the judge in the case, Justice Pitfield, to strike down marriage? What
was Mr. Justice
Senator Wilson: Honourable senators, I am unable to answer that question.
Senator Cools: For the sake of the record, this chamber should be aware
that there have been three challenges on the grounds Senator Wilson has
described. In point of fact, the first judgment in the first case has
been rendered, and the judge has upheld marriage as between a man and
a woman. The justice rejected all of the arguments put forward.
Honourable senators, perhaps I could defer and let my friend Senator
LaPierre speak. He seems to want to say something.
Hon. Laurier L. LaPierre: Honourable senators, I was just telling Senator
Cools that judges can be wrong.
Senator Cools: Out of order. I want an apology from this man.
The Hon. the Speaker: This is Senator Wilson's time. Does the honourable
senator wish to comment?
Senator Wilson: The burden of my intervention was that I am aware of
the law of the land and that there have been other court challenges and,
in particular, I am familiar with the Ontario court challenge. I do not
know how it will be resolved, but I would urge senators to pay close attention
Of Speech By Sen.
Senate Of Canada
March 6, 2002
Recorded in Senate
From a speech
delivered in the Upper House yesterday by Senator Laurier LaPierre on
Bill S-9, legislation that opposses gay marriage in Canada.
I am a gay man, living
in harmony with a kind and gentle man whose silver ring I wear with comfort
on the ring finger of my right hand.
Having admitted that,
I must tell you that my opposition to this bill has nothing to do with
my sexual happiness, nor do I want to be married to my ring-bearer, nor
do I need my union with him to be recognized by the government and society,
for I need only the recognition of my children and grandchildren, my extended
family and my friends. I have that.
Why, then, do I oppose
I oppose it because
it is not necessary. It is a bill, according to its framer and sponsor,
that makes evident what has been the rule of law since at least the beginning
of Confederation and confirmed on numerous occasions. There is no need
to make more evident or clearer what is evident and clear in our Constitution,
and which has been the de jure and de facto reality since we began to
function as a country.
I also oppose
it because it defies reality. Here is what the Law
Commission of Canada says: "There (are) no census data or reliable
studies on the number of lesbian and gay couples living together in Canada.
The available data from small-scale studies suggests that gays and lesbians
form enduring conjugal relationships in numbers comparable to the population
as a whole. It appears that a significant minority of Canadian households
consists of same-sex couples."
These unions are
part of the fabric of our national life. Gay people form unions and perform
the responsibilities imposed by that union just like married couples do,
and just like common-law couples do. That is the reality.
The Supreme Court
declared in 1999: "The capacity to form conjugal relationships characterized
by emotional and economic interdependence has nothing to do with sexual
There is another
reality, a reality the sponsor of this bill missed in her remarks introducing
the bill with readings from the scriptures and the Book of Common Prayer
of the Anglican Church. Again I quote the Law Commission: "Contemporary
Canadian understanding of religious freedom
and equality require that the state not take sides in religious matters.
The history of marriage regulation in Canada has thus been characterized
by a progressive uncoupling of religious and legal requirements, reflecting
a growing emphasis on the separation of church and state in a secular
and pluralistic political community."
Here is yet another
reality: Marriage is no longer exclusively the institutional instrument
for the procreation of children, an argument always put forward by proponents
of this bill.
Listen once again
to the Law Commission: "A review of the history of state regulation
of marriage helps illuminate that the state interest in marriage is not
connected to the promotion of any particular conception of appropriate
gender roles. Nor is the state reserving marriage to procreation and the
raising of children. People may marry even if they cannot or do not intend
to have children. The purposes that underlie contemporary state regulation
of marriage are to provide an orderly framework in which couples can express
their commitment to each other and voluntarily assume a range of legal
rights and obligations."
To vote for this
bill would be to accept the Neanderthal idea that common law is static
and incapable of expanding to meet the changing needs of society.
I oppose the bill
for those reasons but, above all, I oppose it because it is discriminatory.
It is an affront to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It denies that
all Canadians, regardless of their religion, culture or sexual orientation,
are equal before the law, before the Charter, and before each other. It
would be most inimical to the interests of the Senate if, instead of repairing
this massive injustice, we add to it.
All over this sacred
land of freedom, same-sex couples form unions. They have the right to
the status and the recognition of the validity of their union before the
law and before their fellow citizens. The stubborn refusal by some heterosexuals
to exclude some Canadians from the rights and status and recognition they
themselves enjoy unless their fiat is accepted -- a fiat originating in
the far away antiquity of time -- bodes ill for the harmony that must
exist between the different groups of a modern and democratic society.
We are told that
marriage has been ordained since time immemorial for the union of a man
and a woman. Well, it is not so. It became so. Antiquity was full of same-union
marriages, and it was so in the early times of Christianity and Orthodoxy.
This practice of same-sex union endured for centuries. Montaigne in 1578,
while visiting Rome, found such a ceremony in the Church of St. John of
the Latin Gate -- a ceremony, he concluded, that was an ecclesiastical
legitimization of homosexuality.
One cannot escape
the fact that marriage became a same-couple extravaganza, blessed by all
sort of deities, in order to assure the legitimacy of the children, the
safe passage of the inheritance and the status of royals, feudal lords
and families. They feared that illegitimacy, the fruits of which they
came to enjoy through adultery, would cause havoc with the social status
of the family and the tribal order.
The Church went along
with it, no doubt because men of the cloth have always feared the power
of women, particularly in sexual matters. Marriage made a woman the property
of her husband, thus controlling her to the largest possible degree. They
forced her to hide her femininity under yards of cloth and contrived with
the men of her family to keep her ignorant and chained to the stove --
a state that has been the fate of women in every conceivable church and
religion we believe in and which have all been established by men wearing
skirts. The Taliban, who also wear skirts, were only following tradition.
To achieve the subjugation
of women it was necessary for the promulgators of marriage to launch a
campaign of discrimination against homosexuality -- a campaign that coincided,
oddly enough, with what became the compelling obsession of most religions:
Many have been discriminated
against in the name of the gods and their lives ruined to maintain the
hegemony of a fragile orthodoxy. They died in the dungeons of the princes
of the churches and of the states, or burned at the stake by order of
the churches or stoned in the public square of Imams. They died in Nazi
concentration camps. They were reviled in the pulpits in the first days
of AIDS, a moment in our history that I know much about, and they still
die in the dark streets and parks of our cities. They were and are discriminated
against, an abuse too often blessed by the silence or the conspiracy of
But we have survived.
Despite the denials of our rights, the gay women and men in my country
today are better off than I was even 10 years ago.
More and more Canadians
accept same-sex marriages. Provinces are studying legislation to recognize
such unions, as are religions of various kinds.
The day will come
when homosexuals will be equal with heterosexuals. At that moment, harmony
will be returned, and the individuals of the group to which I belong will
walk in the light of day and under the stars at night without fear.
November 22, 2001
Senator Mobina Jaffer
Calls For End of Marriage Discrimination
Hon. Mobina S.B.
Jaffer: Honourable senators, I was dumbfounded yesterday when this
chamber debated a bill to deny marriage to homosexuals. The debate came
at a time when Vancouverites still ache at the horror committed last Saturday.
Tragically, Aaron Webster
was violently beaten and killed. All Vancouverites were horrified by his
murder. This hate crime was committed by young men. These young men had
not been schooled in the Canadian value of tolerance.
A crowd of more than 1,500 people gathered on Sunday in shock and anger
to call for change. The crowd was reminded by Inspector David Jones of
the Vancouver police that Mr. Webster's murder was a hate crime. Inspector
Jones also noted it was most probably not the first hate crime committed
by Mr. Webster's murderers.
When honourable senators
rise in this house to speak in favour of Bill S-9, I remind them that
they are giving comfort to those who hate. They are telling more generations
of young Canadians that we should not treat homosexuals equally: Homosexuals
must not use the word "marriage" to describe their relationships.
They are denied the use of this word and the recognition of love in relationships
that it conveys to hundreds of thousands of Canadians. They are also teaching
that intolerance of homosexuals is both proper and righteous.
to use religion to justify intolerance is cowardly. It is an attempt to
use faith to mask hatred.
The words of the
Reverend Martin Niemoller in 1945 are well known to all honourable senators.
First they came for
Communists, and I didn't speak up - because I wasn't a communist. Then
they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up, because I was
a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time - there was no one
left to speak for me.
we have an obligation and a duty as members of the Senate of Canada to
bring honour to this institution. Honour is brought by demonstrations
of tolerance. I implore all honourable senators: We must continue to work
The Hon. the Speaker:
Senator Jaffer, I am sorry, but your speaking time has expired.