April 12, 2004
democracy or theocracy?
Attorney General, the formal representative of the public, no longer defends the
law. It’s a private party that wants to continue the debate and maintain the validity
of the traditional definition of marriage."
The religious extremists that have been promoting marriage discrimination have met with repeated losses in the courts and resistance in the streets around the world. Canadian court experience has confirmed that faith-based arguments against same-sex marriage amount to an attempt to impose personal religious beliefs on the public.
In Quebec, the Catholic Civil Rights League (fighting, in true Orwellian fashion, against civil rights for same-sex couples) attempted to appeal a Superior Court decision in favour of same-sex marriage. The Quebec Court of Appeal ruled that the general standing of the Catholic Civil Rights League (they did not represent the public) remained unaffected by the case. On March 19, 2004 the Quebec Court of Appeal declined to hear an appeal and opened marriage to same-sex couples in that province.
A lawyer representing our friends Michael Hendricks and Rene Leboeuf (Quebec's first legally married couple), told Lawyers Weekly (April 9), “In order for a group or an individual to challenge federal law, they have to show that were specially affected by it, that it affects you personally or the group in some specific way, and not as members of the public.”
Anti-gay religious groups have lost their past six court attempts to maintain marriage discrimination in Canada. Increasingly, the separation of church and state is becoming reinforced by the actions of gays and lesbians who wish to exercise their rights as full and equal citizens. It's a trend that is growing elsewhere, as courts and groups respond to religious interference in the public sphere.
In San Francisco, the religious right's Alliance Defense Fund was shut out of a same-sex marriage court case. Superior Court Judge James Warren ruled that the group's interest was merely political. In order to intervene, the group had to demonstrate that harm results from either maintaining or lifting the prohibition against gay marriage.
"We're dealing with a political interest," Judge Warren said (San Francisco Chronicle, Apr. 9, 2004).
In London, on April 4, Outrage! activists gathered outside Westminster Cathedral to protest the Vatican's position against gay rights (Select photo at right to enlarge).
"Your church protects paedophile priests, while persecuting gay people in loving relationships," Peter Tatchell told Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor as his Palm Sunday procession entered the Cathedral. "You support legal discrimination against gay people and oppose gay equality and human rights."
Through the Outrage! news service, the organization's Brett Lock said, "The Catholic Catechism denounces gay relationships as 'debased', 'disordered' and a 'grave depravity'. In February, the Vatican backed a Catholic theologian who urged that gay children should be 'commanded' to undergo psychiatric treatment. The Pope attacked gay marriages last year, saying marriage equality was 'evil' and he vilified supporters of gay equality as 'gravely immoral'. He also denounced homosexual equality as a 'deviant trend' and condemned same-sex relationships, saying they were 'without any social value'."
The highest courts in Canada say differently. We hope the latest blow to bigotry will cause people with spiritual aspirations to question their beliefs and reevaluate their spiritual leadership. Whether gays or Galileo, if a heresy proves to be otherwise, than the dogma must change. That is perhaps the biggest impact that same-sex marriage will have on these failed interveners. Change may result from within.
It couldn't happen soon enough for children in faith communities every where.
What you can do