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Ontario asks Ottawa accept court decision

 

 

 

 

 

Our year in review - 2002

 

 

 

 

 

Manitoba joins Ontario in asking Ottawa to end marriage discrimination and accept the Ontario court decision.
Manitoba ready for same-sex marriage

 

 

 

 

 

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Registered Domestic Partnerships (RDPs)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Love Wins Over Hate - Ontario Orders Canadian Government to Validate Same-sex Marriages

 

 

 

 

 

Link to the Justice Minister's alternate realities for marriage - through the looking glass.

 

 

 

 

 

Link to Dr. Robert Wintemute's University of Toronto lecture about religion vs. sexual orientation

 

 

 

 

 

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Advocacy - Letters - Letters to MPs - 2002

Letter's To Members of Parliament
In Support of Equal Marriage

2002

November 18, 2002

Hon. Andy Scott, M.P.

Dear Sir:

I wish to go on record as being in favour of granting full recognition of and equal treatment towards marriage between same sex partners. For too long, we have treated these friends, neighbours and contributors to society as second class citizens. It is long past time that we do the right thing by them and move on to more important matters.

I have heard the argument that extending same sex rights and benefits to same sex couples will somehow diminish those rights and benefits enjoyed by heterosexual couples. The argument is disingenuous in assuming that protecting rights and benefits is somehow a "zero-sum game", that giving rights to one group means taking them away from another. The protection of the rights of minorities is critical in a democracy and without that protectionk, the foundation of our society is weak.

I can think of no valid argument to deny equal treatment to same sex couples. The argument that marriage is for procreation only is an insult o older couples who marry after the woman has completed menopause. Are yhou going to retroactively deny benefits and demand repayment from couples who chose deliberately to rmain childless? So the argument that marriage is for procreation only is secious.

Arguments about fidelity and life-long commitment in marriage fail when we begin looking at the statistics for heterosexual marriage. Who is to say that same sex couples would not do at least as well over the long haul? Arguments abou the financial impact on society are obviously irrelevant given the small percentage of the population which is homosexual.

Why should a homosexual person not have the same right as I to take time off to care for a loved one or to make provision for a loved one in any of the ways that I am allowed? Why should the homosexual be denied naming their loved one as next of kin?

It is time to move into the twenty-first century and remove the obsolete doctrines of discredited churches from the laws of the land. Our laws should be based purely on secular principle and one of the most important of these principles is the equal treatment of people.

Yours sincerely,

J. Anthony Fitzgerald
Fredericton, New Brunswick


August 6, 2002

Dear Sir [Paul Martin]:

We realize that you will be a candidate for the leadership of the Liberal party, so your views are very important to the voters of Canada. Yet, we have not heard a murmur from you in respect to the debate on equal marriage. Other members of your cabinet and caucus have come out in favour of your government following the wishes of the Canadian people, and providing us with our rights "Now." But, you and the Prime Minister have remained silent on the issue. Mr. Martin, we have had a 34 year long engagement, much longer than most marriages. We are also Christians, who believe strongly that marriage of same-sex couples can only strengthen the country,not weaken it. Yesterday, we walked in Vancouver's Pride parade, carrying our signs, that read equal marriage now. As we walked we received thunderous applause along the route. Not only from our own community, but from the thousands of families in attendance. Members of your own party showed their courage, by publicly announcing their support for our right to marry. We applaud them. However, the two front runners in the race for leadership have said nothing. Your silence is deafening. When your caucus discusses this issue in the very near future please support us in our fight for true justice, our wait has been a long one.

Lloyd Thornhill Bob Peacock


July 30, 2002

Dear Ms. Bulte,

Thank you so much for your recent comments in support of the Ontario Superior Court ruling on same-sex marriage. As one of the participants in this case, it is very heartening to see one of our elected representatives taking to heart both the words of the court and the responsibility of our political leaders to ensure the guarantees of our Constitution do not become empty words.

You have provided an example of leadership, courage and have encouraged me in a time when I am keenly feeling the barbs and sneers of those people who would seek to deny me equality under the law. I know you may receive negative responses from people and some of those negative responses may spill over from respectful disagreement to personal attacks and hatred, but I also know that your voice will have a positive impact on both your elected colleagues and those whom you serve.

With leaders like you I can believe that we will create a Canada where all families are treated equally.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Joe Varnell


July 30, 2002

Dear Mr. Mills

It has been some months since we spoke at your office concerning the federal government's laws concerning same-sex marriage. Since that time, several developments have occured and I feel that it is time to touch base again on this issue.

On July 12, 2002 the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario ruled that it was unconstitutional to deny gays and lesbians marriage and on Monday of this week, the justice minister announced his decision to appeal that decision.

Mr. Mills, I know that you did not share my views on this subject, however I know also that you are capable of seeing both sides of this issue. Indeed, when we last met you informed me that some of your family were in favour of same-sex marriage. My spouse and I asked you to arrange a meeting with then justice minister, Anne McClellan and you agreed to try. The meeting never happened, but you kept your word in trying to arrange things. You proved to me that despite our ideological differences, you were willing to act in good faith on my behalf as a constituent. I am therefore asking you again to act on my behalf.

Please personally advise your government colleagues and in particular the Prime Minister and Justice Minister that they are making a mistake and causing immesurable harm to a family in your riding by prolonging this debate. My family, Mr. Mills. Not some abstract idea or some anonymous face. Me, Mr. Mills. A constituent in your riding whom you have met. A person you have sat with is being hurt by the actions of your government.

Tell them on my behalf, as my representative, that what they are doing is an affront to the human dignity of someone you know. I am not dramatizing or overstating these effects Mr. Mills. I would like you to express to your caucus members the costs of delay in the human terms of someone you know.

Urge the government to pass legislation now that brings Canada's marriage laws into line with the equality provisions of the Charter. Gay and lesbian families in this country have fought many long battles for the simple dignities that others take for granted. Will your colleagues make us fight to Ottawa one more time, or will they show true leadership?

I know that there are some that disagree on this point. I know that some of those people are homophobic, but the vast majority of those who disagree are, I believe, people of good conscience who do not wish me ill, but who do not share my opinion. That is their right. But ask them Mr. Mills, what is the personal cost to them? What negative message is sent to them by giving a family in your riding the right to marry? Will they fall out of love? Will they become second-class because my family can now do what they can? I urge you to ask these questions of every single person who contacts you and asks you to oppose same-sex marriage. If I am to be denied my rights by my fellow citizens and my government, surely I am at least entitled to a rational explanation of why. A rational explanation, Mr. Mills. Not one couched in fear, speculation or interpretations of scripture.

I understand that the government can point to how it has amended 68 laws to give gay and lesbian families equality, but they only took those actions when the courts forced them to. They are, taciturnly perhaps, promoting an environment where homophobia can grow by sending a message that gay and lesbian families are unworthy of marriage. They send a message to the people that our relationships are second-rate and by extension, so are we.

Please put your personal ideologies aside Mr. Mills and act in accordance with the fundamental precepts of the Charter and equality. It is difficult to do that sometimes, but that is what a leader is for.

Sincerely,

Joe Varnell


July 23, 2002

Mr. Mark Assad,
M.P. House of Commons Ottawa, Ontario

Dear Mr. Assad,

I am writing regarding the recent ruling by the Ontario Superior Court in favour of same-sex marriage. Although this court ruling only applies in the Province of Ontario, it is widely understood that it will have important legal implications in Québec and across Canada. Moreover, it is not unlikely that the federal government would appeal this ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada. As a registered voter in Gatineau, I would like to request you to do whatever you can within your official capacity to support same-sex marriage, and to endorse it should the federal government decide not to appeal the Ontario ruling and seek to change the current definition of marriage by an act of parliament.

Both the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Charte des droits et libertés de la personne of Québec prohibit discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation, and yet the current 'opposite-sex only' definition of marriage is in clear contrary to the terms set out in these documents. Gay and lesbian Canadians and Quebeckers are thus denied the equality and the very basic human dignity accorded by these two charters due to the blatant violation of the constitution by the federal government.

Although the Québec Civil Code was amended last month to allow same-sex couples to solemnize their relationship by registering for civil union, civil union is at best an interim measure pending the rectification of the current federal marriage law, and is definitely not a substitute for marriage. The claim that civil union for same-sex couples is 'equal but separate' to heterosexual marriage is not only false, but also highly discriminatory and renders gay and lesbian Canadians second-class citizens. C

ompared to the rest of Canada, Québec has always been exceptionally supportive of equality and same-sex marriage. The National Assembly of Québec is the first and, until now, the only provincial legislature in Canada that has unanimously endorsed same-sex marriage. A poll conducted by Léger Marketing in July 2001 showed that 75.6% of Quebeckers were in favour of same-sex marriage, a proportion well above the Canadian average of 65%. Further back in 1977, when the Charte des droits et libertés de la personne was amended, Québec was one of the very few jurisdictions in the world that enshrined the prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation in their constitutional documents. Backed by a strong public consensus as such, I would therefore strongly urge you, as the Member of Parliament for Gatineau, to defend our unique value of tolerance and support for equality by requesting the federal government not to appeal the Ontario ruling, and by arguing vigorously for the case of same-sex marriage should it be tabled in Parliament.

Yours sincerely,

Thomas Lau
Gatineau, Québec


July 18, 2002

Dear MP Lunn,

When we talked one day outside my house in Gordon Head, I asked you if you would support same-sex marriage. You shook your head, said that you accept the fact that you have gay people in your staff, that in your opinion we have all the same rights by various ammendments to the legal statutes, and ran on down the street. I implore you to rethink this stance.

As stated by three justices in Ontario, we don't have equal rights. If my partner of 19 years and I were to move to another province, we would have to start all over again proving that we had lived together for the 6-month to 2-year requirement that varies from province to province for common-law recognition. As it stands now for example, if we moved to, or visited another province, we would not have automatic access rights to each other if we were hospitalized and we would have to wait the term again to have health benefits through our jobs. We raised our 4 children together and they felt the discrimination of their stepmothers not being able to be married like other step-parents were. The stigma of a Registered Domestic Partnership "option" smacks too much of the days when the Nazis registered homosexuals, so I would never want to do anything (like registering in a targetted group) to ease that happening here.

As when inter-racial marriages were first thought to "infringe upon the rights of those who hold traditional family values", so it is with the ranting against homosexual marraiges now. If as you say, we are equal on your staff, then don't put our marriages at the back of the bus. Please make the choice to turn and support full constitutional rights, to run in full support towards us, instead of tearing off scared, down that street of denial and phobia again. Stand up proud with the majority of Canadians in the knowledge that love is love, and deserves equal support in our good country. Not only Canada, but the world will be the stronger for it, by our modelling.

With Sincere Thanks In Anticipation Of Your Support As My MP,

(Ms.) Robin Roberts


July 18, 2002

Dear Ms. Fry:

We know that you have always been a strong supporter of equal rights for our community. As you have shown visible support, by your involvement in Vancouver's Pride Parade. You have also fought for increased funding, for PWAs, and other worthwhile causes in the community. As constituents, we now call on you to follow the direction set by the recent Ontario Supreme Court decision, on same-sex marriage. We urge you to lobby the Prime Minister, and your caucus, to not waste more time and money, appealing this decision. Instead, we demand leadership of your government. The conservative government of Ontario have declared that they will not appeal the decision. We ask that the liberals not be followers, but leaders, in writing and passing legislation quickly, that will finally place us on an equal footing with other Canadians. Help us marry the one we love, we and our families demand nothing less.

Yours respectfully,

Lloyd Thornhill Bob Peacock
Vancouver, British Columbia


July 18, 2002

Mr. Bill Casey
MP Cumberland-Colchester

Dear Mr. Casey:

On Friday, July 12, 2002, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that denying same-sex couples the equal right to marry is discriminatory and unconstitutional.

While the gay community rejoiced in this landmark decision and the fact that the Government of Ontario will not oppose the decision, we are still very aware that the Federal Government of Canada has not yet taken a stance on the unanimous decision of the Court.

As a gay man in a long-term same-sex relationship and a member of your constituency I am writing you today to determine if we can count on your support for equal marriage? I am also looking to establish your party's stand on this issue. Do you believe Parliament should do the right thing and extend marriage to same-sex couples? If you are supportive of equal marriage would you please speak to your party members and leader and to the Attorney General of Canada Martin Cauchon and let them know that you support extending equal rights to marriage to same-sex couples?

This is a very important issue; one that affects many of the constituents that you represent. I would like to relate to you a story that will demonstrate to you how important this issue of same-sex marriage really is. As I mentioned I have been in a long-term relationship for 6.5 years. My partner and I have a Registered Domestic Partnership with the Province of Nova Scotia. In February of this year he suffered a massive heart attack and I was left to make decisions on his behalf in relation to his treatment, care, etc. Nova Scotia recognizes us as a common-law couple and so there were no apparent problems surrounding my being consulted as the partner or spouse. Had this happened in another jurisdiction outside our home province, our RDP would not have been recognized and I would not have been able to carry out the wishes of my partner should the need have arisen. Fortunately, he received excellent care and recovered from the near fatal attack.

The next two weeks after his attack were spent by his bedside in ICU - with IV tubes and a heart monitor as the only lifeline between this world and the next. Suddenly I was faced with the realization that my partner might not survive and other than our family members and a few close friends, no one would recognize the loss for what it was because we are not legally recognized by the state as a family. Despite what the religious right and the fundamentalists proclaim, gay families are real families. We have regular jobs, mortgages, car payments; we have sorrows and joys, and we are taxpayers. What outrages us as citizens of this country is that those tax dollars (which include our gay tax dollars) are being wasted by the Federal Government to discriminate against its own citizens. We are being denied our basic human rights and it is costing us millions of dollars to fight and win what should be inherently ours.

A recent Leger Marketing Poll demonstrated that over 65% of Canadians support granting same-sex couples the equal right to marry. Quebec and Manitoba have announced they will support the Government of Ontario. I urge you to do the same to put an end to this discrimination today. We are not interested in some second-class alternative, but seek the full equality that marriage provides. Please provide me with a written response to this matter indicating your position on this very important issue. The appeal deadline is fast approaching. We are counting on your support.

Sincerely yours,

Don Tabor
Atlantic Region Representative (male)
Egale, Canada


July 17, 2002

Dear Ms. Pupatello,

As members of your constituency here in Windsor, and as one of the couples granted equal rights to marry under the Ontario Superior Court ruling last week, we are writing to ask that you put your full support behind the ruling, and behind not launching a costly, ineffective appeal to the ruling.

Love is a precious, wondrous commodity in today's society, and we are asking, as fully adult human beings, that we not be denied the right to choose freely the person with whom we wish to spend the rest of our lives. We are asking that you support us in our struggle to make our marriage as legal as it is loving.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter, Ms. Pupatello.

Sincerely yours,

Hedy Halpern & Colleen Rogers
Windsor


Read a selection of comments from our mail. Link to our media coverage of related issues.