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Equality - In Our Faiths - News from 2001

December 21, 2020

Law Commission of Canada
Supports Same Sex Marriage

The Law Commission of Canada, in its role as Parliament's advisor to the Justice Minister, released a report, Beyond Conjugality, which recommends removing restrictions on marriages between persons of the same sex.

"Civil recognition of same-sex marriage does not alter the right of religious denominations to perform wedding ceremonies without state interference according to the values and traditions of their faith. While the state could recognize same-sex marriages for the purposes of civil marriage, it could not take any position on religious marriages. As is the case now, some religious institutions would choose to sanctify same-sex unions as marriages, while others would not. As it does now, the state would recognize the marriage performed during a religious ceremony by a person authorized to do so under provincial and territorial marriage statutes. The preconditions for each type of marriage, religious and secular, could differ as it often does today. For example, as mentioned earlier, the Roman Catholic Church does not permit divorce and will not perform a religious ceremony if one of the intending spouses has been divorced. Nonetheless, Canadian law permits both a civil divorce and a civil remarriage, whatever the religion of the parties. This is a result that should be celebrated in a society that values religious pluralism."
Beyond Conjugality (December 21, 2001)
Law Commission of Canada

May 30, 2001

The First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto

At its Annual General Meeting on May 28, 2001, the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto voted to support same-sex marriage. In an atmosphere of excitement and pride, the members of First Unitarian voted overwhelmingly to support “the legal recognition of same-sex relationships within the institution of marriage”.

The congregation also voted to support the Metropolitan Community Church – Toronto in its use of the banns to officiate same-sex marriages. The MCC has already used this method to marry two couples. The members of First Unitarian will support their ministers should they choose to use the banns as a means to officiate same-sex marriages.

Mark Morrison-Reed, co-minister, explains: “Marriage is the legal/sacramental recognition of the love between two individuals and their commitment to care and support one another in good times and bad. Such familial commitments are the primary bond that holds society together. The rights that are accorded a married couple are based on the prior acceptance of the responsibilities in marriage. Unions between same-sex couples, like traditional marriages, should be recognized as sacred and worthy of protection and respect.”

The First Unitarian Congregation was established 1845. We are an open-hearted, tolerant, non-doctrinal faith. Visit our website at www.firstunitariantoronto.org .

Read the affidavit of the First Unitarian Church filed in the Ontario legal proceedings

Resources about faith and homosexuality:

Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell, "Just Married: Gay Marriage and the Expansion of Human Rights", (2002), Doubleday / University of Wisconsin Press.

John Boswell's "Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality", (1980), University of Chicago Press.

"Does the Bible Condemn Homosexuality? An Interview with Dr. Reverend Cheri DiNovo", The Turning Magazine, Summer, 2004

Jim Hill and Rand Cheadle, "The Bible Tells Me So - Uses and Abuses of Holy Scripture", (1996), Anchor Books.

Tom Horner, "Jonathan Loved David: Homosexuality in Biblical Times", (1978), Philadelphia: Westminster Press.

Vaughn Roste, "The Queer-positive Bible", a paper presented at the Diversity Conferences of Alberta, March 9, 2021

Open letter to religious leaders on marriage equality, (2004), Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing

Robin Scrogg, "The New Testament and Homosexuality"
(1983), Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

Bishop John Shelby Spong, "Rescuing the Bible From Fundamentalism", (1992), Harper San Francisco

"Same-Sex Marriage: Popular Discontent and the Canadian Unitarian Response" (Video)

"What We Wish We Had Known: Breaking the Silence, Moving Toward Understanding. A Resource for Individuals and Families", The Presbyterian Church, Mt. Kisco, New York, Third Edition.

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