In Canada, Marriage Is on the Line

Episcopate Poised to Make Plea to Supreme Court

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OTTAWA, OCT. 5, 2004 ( The Canadian bishops’ conference will argue before the nation’s Supreme Court that the government proposal to include same-sex partners in the definition of marriage is unconstitutional.

At the same time the conference will argue that the traditional definition of marriage is constitutional.

The bishops’ conference has been granted intervener status before the high court as the tribunal’s justices respond to a request from the federal government on the constitutionality of its proposed legislation. Court hearings begin Wednesday.

The bishops’ conference believes the federal government’s proposed legislation would result in two grave harms.

First, it would eliminate the state’s interest in protecting and promoting, for its benefit, the institution of marriage. The conference will argue that marriage protects and promotes the traditional family for the benefit of current and future generations of children and, consequently, for the benefit of society as a whole.

Second, this proposed legislation would impose a social and moral orthodoxy that contravenes freedom of conscience and religion, the conference said in a news release.

At the heart of the demand for same-sex marriage, the bishops’ conference argues, is a demand for respect and moral approval of the underlying sexual relationship, a demand that could only be met by many Canadians through abrogation of their religious beliefs.

Bruce Clemenger, president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada — representing more than 3 million Canadians through 130 affiliated denominations, ministry organizations and educational institutions — says the redefinition of marriage would cause conservative Christians to feel stripped of public language with which to express their values on marriage.

«We will have lost the [public] language to be able to describe something that’s very meaningful within a religious tradition,» he told the Globe and Mail.

«How will parents impart their values to their children,» he asked, «in a society where their definition of marriage is seen to be discriminatory?»

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