Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Same-Sex Marriage: The MPs' Roundup, Part Three

Yesterday, the House of Commons resumed debate on Bill C-38, the Civil Marriage Act. Once again I'm going to summarize the positions of MPs who spoke on this bill, including links to their parliamentary websites in case you want to contact them.

Please note that while Stephen Harper has proposed an amendment to this bill, it has yet to be accepted by Parliament. Thus, when an MP says (s)he supports Harper's amendment, I've assumed they will vote against the bill if the amendment is not passed.


Ms. Diane Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk, CPC): Con. She thinks changing the definition of marriage is an attempt to create a "one-size-fits-all" category, and believes a distinction for same-sex relationships is necessary. She doesn't think the bill can protect relgious freedom, pointing out that in four provinces, marriage commissioners have already lost their jobs for refusing to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Hon. Karen Redman (Kitchener Centre, Lib.): Pro. She points out that same-sex marriage is already legal in parts of Canada (including Ontario) and that the bill merely extends the right to all Canadians. She believes the religious provisions of the bill merely affirm what was provided for in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. She cites a letter from the moderator of the United Church of Canada, pointing out that some denominations do support same-sex marriage.
Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick (Prince Albert, CPC): Con. 90 percent of his constituents want him to defend the traditional definition of marriage, so he's doing just that. He's appalled that other parties such as the NDP aren't letting their members vote freely.

Ms. Louise Thibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ): Con. She intends to vote her conscience on this bill. She's noticed the polarizing effect of this debate: people either agree with the bill opposing discrimination, or oppose the bill and support discrimination. Her third way is to oppose the bill and oppose discrimination. She supports the traditional definition of marriage as an expression of natural law.

Mr. Jay Hill (Prince George—Peace River, CPC): Con. He's disappointed that the Liberals are mischaracterizing the Tory position on same-sex marriage and says that opposition to SSM does not equal discrimination. The Supreme Court made no ruling declaring traditional marriage to be unconstitutional, so the government's not being forced to do this by the Supreme Court. He believes the idea of recognizing civil unions is a reasonable compromise; the traditional definition needs to be kept because it includes the implicit idea of procreation and raising children.

Mr. Dale Johnston (Wetaskiwin, CPC): Con. He points out that up to 2003 the Liberals had supported the traditional definition of marriage, as evidenced by parliamentary votes. He believes the law should continue to recognize the traditional definition of marriage while granting same-sex couples the same rights. He doesn't think the bill can protect religious freedoms since solemnization of marriage is a provincial responsibility.

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, CPC): Con (as is). She's supporting amendments to the bill made by Stephen Harper for five reasons: traditional marriage has always been between one man and one woman; its preservation is in the best interests of children; the amendment is needed to strengthen protection of religion; the argument that marriage is a fundamental right isn't valid; and finally, one can grant equal rights for civil unions and protect the traditional definition of marriage.

Mr. Bradley Trost (Saskatoon—Humboldt, CPC): Con. He calls the bill a direct attack on the institution of marriage, and that it could malign the religious freedoms of Canadians. He argues that the traditional definition is necessary because it carries the implied responsibility of procreation and creating a family.

Mr. Larry Miller (Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, CPC): Con (as is). More than 95 percent of the constituents who have written to him want the traditional definition of marriage protected, so he's supporting the amendment proposed by Stephen Harper. He's talked with several constituents who are gay and they've told him they can accept the compromise of a civil union. There won't be a need to use the notwithstanding clause with the amendment because the Supreme Court never declared traditional marriage to be unconstitutional.

Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Newton—North Delta, CPC): Con. His position has never changed, unlike the Liberals. He sees no problem in recognizing same-sex relationships, but this shouldn't require changing the definition of marriage. There are ethnic communities (such as the Sikhs in B.C.) who consider the bill an attack on their traditional beliefs.

Mr. Ken Epp (Edmonton—Sherwood Park, CPC): Con (as is). He sees this bill as an example of why Canadians are disillusioned with the political process; government, in this view, never listens to the people. He believes the Harper amendment is a reasonable compromise since the Liberals' original bill is flawed.

Mr. Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot, CPC): Con. He calls this the most contentious piece of legislation he's seen since being elected to Parliament. He also agrees that the traditional definition of marriage must be kept due to its relationship to the institution of family. His constituents back him in his opposition to this bill.


The score today: Pro 1, Con 11.
So far: Con 30, Pro 15.

These numbers may change depending on the fate of the Harper amendment. If the amendment fails, then C-38's in trouble ...