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Publications - April 29, 2003
 

37th PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights


EVIDENCE

CONTENTS

Tuesday, April 29, 2003




¾ 0830
V         The Chair (Hon. Andy Scott (Fredericton, Lib.))
V         Ms. Solange Lefebvre-Pageau (Director, “Centre de recherche et d'éducation à la vie familiale”)

¾ 0835

¾ 0840
V         Le président
V         Professor Danielle Julien (Department of Psychology, “Université du Québec à Montréal”, As Individual)

¾ 0845
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Pierre Valois (As Individual)

¾ 0850

¾ 0855
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton—Melville, Canadian Alliance)
V         Ms. Solange Lefebvre-Pageau

¿ 0900
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         Prof. Danielle Julien
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         Prof. Danielle Julien
V         Le président
V         Mr. Richard Marceau (Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, BQ)

¿ 0905
V         Ms. Solange Lefebvre-Pageau
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Ms. Solange Lefebvre-Pageau
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Ms. Solange Lefebvre-Pageau

¿ 0910
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Le président
V         Mr. Pierre Valois
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John McKay (Scarborough East, Lib.)

¿ 0915
V         Prof. Danielle Julien

¿ 0920
V         Le président
V         Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga—Maisonneuve)
V         Prof. Danielle Julien
V         Mr. Réal Ménard

¿ 0925
V         Prof. Danielle Julien
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin (Northumberland, Lib.)
V         Prof. Danielle Julien
V         The Chair
V         The Chair

¿ 0935
V         Ms. Nathalie Ricard

¿ 0940
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. Chuck Cadman (Surrey North, Canadian Alliance))
V         Dr. Margaret Somerville (Samuel Gale Chair, Faculty of Law, McGill University; Director, McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law)

¿ 0945

¿ 0950
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. Chuck Cadman)
V         Dr. Karine Josée Igartua (“Centre d'orientation sexuelle de l'Université McGill”)

¿ 0955
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         Dr. Margaret Somerville
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         Dr. Margaret Somerville
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz

À 1000
V         Dr. Margaret Somerville
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         Dr. Margaret Somerville

À 1005
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Dr. Margaret Somerville
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Dr. Margaret Somerville
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Dr. Margaret Somerville
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Dr. Margaret Somerville
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Dr. Margaret Somerville

À 1010
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Dr. Margaret Somerville

À 1015
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Dr. Margaret Somerville
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Dr. Karine Josée Igartua
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Dr. Karine Josée Igartua

À 1020
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         Dr. Margaret Somerville
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Nathalie Ricard
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Marlene Jennings (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, Lib.)

À 1025
V         Dr. Margaret Somerville
V         Mrs. Marlene Jennings
V         Dr. Margaret Somerville
V         Mrs. Marlene Jennings
V         The Chair
V         Dr. Margaret Somerville
V         Le président
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         Dr. Karine Josée Igartua

À 1030
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         Dr. Karine Josée Igartua
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Nathalie Ricard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         Dr. Karine Josée Igartua

À 1035
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         Dr. Karine Josée Igartua
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         Dr. Karine Josée Igartua
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         Dr. Karine Josée Igartua
V         Dr. Margaret Somerville
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         The Chair
V         The Chair
V         Mme Vivian Barbot (présidente, Fédération des femmes du Québec)

À 1045

À 1050
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Francis Lagacé (Spokesperson, “Coalition québécoise pour la reconnaissance des conjoints et conjointes de même sexe”)
V         Mr. Jean-Pierre Leclerc (Spokesperson, “Coalition québécoise pour la reconnaissance des conjoints et conjointes de même sexe”)
V         Mr. Francis Lagacé

À 1055
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Francis Lagacé
V         Mr. Richard Marceau

Á 1100
V         Mrs. Vivian Barbot
V         Mr. Francis Lagacé
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Francis Lagacé

Á 1105
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Le président
V         Mrs. Marlene Jennings
V         Mrs. Vivian Barbot

Á 1110
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Francis Lagacé
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Francis Lagacé
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         Mr. Francis Lagacé

Á 1115
V         Mrs. Vivian Barbot
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jean-Pierre Leclerc
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Evangeline Caldwell (“Fédération des femmes du Québec”)
V         The Chair
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Suzanne Vadeboncoeur (Director, Research and Legislation, “Barreau du Québec”)

Á 1135
V         Le président
V         Ms. Jocelyne St-Cyr (President, “Association des parents catholiques du Québec”)

Á 1140
V         Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier (Vice-President, “Association des parents catholiques du Québec”)

Á 1145
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Jocelyne St-Cyr
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier

Á 1150
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Suzanne Vadeboncoeur

Á 1155
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Ms. Suzanne Vadeboncoeur
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier

 1200
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin

 1205
V         Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin

 1210
V         Ms. Suzanne Vadeboncoeur
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Ms. Suzanne Vadeboncoeur
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Ms. Suzanne Vadeboncoeur

 1215
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Marlene Jennings
V         Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier
V         Mrs. Marlene Jennings
V         Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Suzanne Vadeboncoeur

 1220
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Marlene Jennings
V         The Chair
V         Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John McKay

 1225
V         Ms. Suzanne Vadeboncoeur
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Marlene Jennings
V         Ms. Suzanne Vadeboncoeur
V         The Chair
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mat McCamus (Queer McGill)

· 1335
V         Mr. Matthew McLauchlin (Queer McGill)
V         Mr. Mat McCamus

· 1340
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Matthew McLauchlin
V         The Chair
V         M. Daniel Genest (Coalition des Protestants Évangéliques du Québec)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Daniel Genest

· 1345
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. Chuck Cadman)
V         Mr. H. John Relton (As Individual)

· 1350

· 1355
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. Chuck Cadman)
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         Mr. Daniel Genest
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         Mr. Daniel Genest
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         Mr. Daniel Genest

¸ 1400
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. Chuck Cadman)
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. Chuck Cadman)
V         Mr. Matthew McLauchlin
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         Mr. Daniel Genest
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. Chuck Cadman)
V         Mr. Richard Marceau

¸ 1405
V         Mr. Daniel Genest
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         M. Daniel Genest
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Daniel Genest
V         Le président
V         Mr. Matthew McLauchlin
V         Mr. Daniel Genest
V         Mr. Matthew McLauchlin

¸ 1410
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         Mr. Daniel Genest
V         The Chair
V         Mr. H. John Relton
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin

¸ 1415
V         Mr. Daniel Genest
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Matthew McLauchlin
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Mr. H. John Relton
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Mr. H. John Relton
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Mr. H. John Relton

¸ 1420
V         The Chair
V         Mr. H. John Relton
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Marlene Jennings
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mat McCamus
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Richard Marceau

¸ 1425
V         Mr. Matthew McLauchlin
V         The Chair
V         The Acting Chair (Mr. Richard Marceau)

¸ 1430
V         Mr. Garnet Colly (As Individual)
V         The Acting Chair (Mr. Richard Marceau)
V         Mr. Alan Elhaj (As Individual)

¸ 1435
V         The Acting Chair (Mr. Richard Marceau)
V         Mr. Roger Thibeault (As Individual)
V         The Acting Chair (Mr. Richard Marceau)
V         Mr. Roger Thibeault
V         The Acting Chair (Mr. Richard Marceau)
V         Ms. Dara Lithwick (As Individual)

¸ 1440
V         The Acting Chair (Mr. Richard Marceau)
V         Mr. Martin Andrews (As Individual)
V         The Acting Chair (Mr. Richard Marceau)
V         Mr. Jeffrey Rock (As Individual)
V         The Acting Chair (Mr. Richard Marceau)
V         Ms. Adèle Auxier (As Individual)

¸ 1445
V         The Acting Chair (Mr. Richard Marceau)










CANADA

Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights


NUMBER 039 
l
2nd SESSION 
l
37th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

¾  +(0830)  

[English]

+

    The Chair (Hon. Andy Scott (Fredericton, Lib.)): I call to order the 29th meeting of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

[Translation]

    Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), we are resuming our study on marriage and the legal recognition of same-sex unions.

[English]

    This morning, between now and 9:30, we have we have appearing as individuals Solange Lefebvre-Pageau, Danielle Julien, Johanna Vyncke, and Pierre Valois. I think each of you understands you have seven minutes to make an introductory presentation, and that will be followed by conversation--questions and answers--with members of the committee.

    I'll turn first to Solange Lefebvre-Pageau.

[Translation]

+-

    Ms. Solange Lefebvre-Pageau (Director, “Centre de recherche et d'éducation à la vie familiale”): Affiliation: Ms. Solange Lefebvre-Pageau (Director, Centre de recherche et d'éducation à la vie familiale) Good morning. Ladies and gentlemen, I represent the Centre de recherche et d'éducation à la vie familiale, a non-profit organization which I founded, the purpose of which is to promote family values. Our sole purpose is to give the family its meaning, one that is consistent with the Creator's plan, that is the plan for creation, particularly at a time when our society is experiencing unprecedented confusion over the greatest realities of life.

    We are convinced that the uncompromising defence of heterosexuality is the only way to fulfillment, health, happiness and balance. While respecting homosexuals as persons, we cannot remain indifferent and mute before the advance of homosexuality. The homosexual phenomenon, which is falling like an avalanche on humanity, dangerously calls into question the male-female relationship, the only one that truly brings life and social harmony.

    To erect homosexuality as a norm and, which would be even more serious, to reinforce it through marriage and the recognition of same-sex unions would tend to rob of its substance the institution of marriage, which is based on the mutual support of men and women and on procreation. To extend marriage to persons of the same sex would further add to the confusion of minds about human realities: sexuality, love, couple, marriage and children.

    What distinguishes heterosexuals from homosexuals is that the former mostly marry to start a family. To extend that option to homosexuals, on the ground of enabling them to enjoy the same privileges as heterosexual couples, would reduce marriage to an act devoid of meaning. Homosexuals clearly are demanding marriage without being in a position to meet its requirements.

    In his plan for love, the Creator of life and the universe provided for the existence of the sexual relationship, humanity's most expressive act of love and commitment, which unites man and woman in deep intimacy. God laid down this indisputably mysterious choice in the body of each man and woman. This act of love, which is good, beautiful and noble is bound to be experienced in a complementary manner between the sexes in marriage, and to be respected in its dual purpose, which is the communion of two beings in their bodies, hearts and souls and the generous openness to children.

    Desacralizing marriage would have serious spiritual, educational and social consequences. For believers, it would mean claiming to make God adjust to another vision of marriage, the union of same-sex partners, instead of complying humbly with His plan for creation, under which man is provided with the aid of woman.

    In educational terms, promoting the complementary nature of the sexes through the emotional and sexual education of our young people, something already extremely difficult in Quebec, will become impossible. And yet young people, who are vulnerable and at times ambivalent, need to learn to build their sexual being and to construct the demanding link between man and woman, which requires that individuals be humble, that they surpass themselves and that they be open to the person of the opposite sex.

    These two objectives can only be achieved by giving young people the right to an environment conducive to the development of their heterosexuality. When marriage, the bastion of the family, is attacked, what remains as an example for our youth? In social terms, continuing to deny the values that are the building blocks of our civilization, to the point of distorting the institution of marriage would be tantamount to adopting a logic of death.

¾  +-(0835)  

    My contribution today to the debate on opening marriage up to homosexuals is part of the fight I have been conducting for 30 years in the education and health communities, since I have a master's degree in nursing, to preserve the values of our civilization. The upheavals experienced in a world that is losing its guideposts have led me to write books on love and sexuality for parents and young people. I'm going to introduce those volumes to you.

    The first is entitled Accueillir mon être sexué, an introduction intended for young people 12 to 16 years of age. I have also written for parents. I wrote for youths 12 to 16 years of age, and primary school educators asked me why wouldn't I write a volume for children 6 to 12. After examining the major question of sexuality in order to determine what programs and books existed in the schools, I came to a point, one year later, where I asked myself what parents had to give to their children from birth to the age of 6. I realized that the most essential moment for building a sexual being was between 0 and 6 and that, between 6 and 10 or 11, there had to be a sexual silence to enable children to internalize the most important sex education lessons their parents had given them through their testimonials and teaching. That volume is entitled L'éducation de l'enfant à l'amour et à la sexualité: la responsabilité parentale...

    I wrote another brochure on the theme, Papa, maman, j'ai besoin de vous! Pourquoi ce cri? Lastly, I recently wrote the brochure, Sida, condom... et après? The third edition will be out shortly. It has already been translated into French, English, Spanish, Italian and Chinese.

    So desacralizing marriage, I believe, would have serious spiritual, educational and social consequences. For believers, it would mean claiming to make God adjust to another vision of marriage, the union of same-sex partners, instead of complying humbly with His plan for creation, under which man is provided with the aid of women.

    In educational terms, promoting the complementary nature of the sexes will become very difficult, when we know perfectly well that young people from 12 to 18 years of age and over need to be assisted in continuing to build their sexual identity.

    I have more things to say, but I'll stop there.

¾  +-(0840)  

+-

    Le président: Thank you.

    Danielle Julien and Johanna Vyncke.

+-

    Professor Danielle Julien (Department of Psychology, “Université du Québec à Montréal”, As Individual): Good morning.

    Before presenting my arguments, I would like to tell you who I am. I'm currently a professor in the Psychology Department at the Université du Québec à Montréal. First, I trained in philosophy at the Université de Montréal, and that training was followed by bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. I earned my Ph.D. at the Université du Québec à Montréal. Following my Ph.D. in psychology, I spent two and a half years at the University of Colorado, in Denver, at the Centre for Marital and Family Studies, where I conducted research on family realities and family adjustment problems, in particular marital relations and children in the context of unsatisfactory marital relations.

    In 1987, I became a Canada fellow. For five years, I had the opportunity to conduct research on a full-time basis at the Department of Psychology at the Université du Québec à Montréal. It was then that I began to develop expertise on the questions of family realities in relation to homosexuality. In 1987, I began my first research on the conjugal relations of gays and lesbians, which led me to develop research on the children of gays and lesbians and on intergenerational relations in families where there are gays and lesbians. So we're talking not only about young gays and lesbians who have problems with their family of origin, but also about gays and lesbians who have children, about the development of those children and the relationships between grandparents who have gay and lesbian children and their grandchildren. That's the expertise I've developed over the years, and I am currently continuing my work in the field.

    My remarks today will concern more specifically the question of the development of the children of gay and lesbian parents. We know that hesitations to allow two individuals in a stable same-sex relationship to marry rest partially on worries regarding the development of children being raised by gay and lesbian parents. People hesitate for five main reasons.

    First, they wonder whether children will not develop gender-confusion problems, whether they'll be confused about their own sexual identity.

    Second, they wonder whether those children will develop problems with sex roles. In other words, will boys become effeminate or will girls become tomboys? Thus, will the children adopt inappropriate behaviour relative to our culture's expectations?

    Third, they wonder whether those children are more likely than children of heterosexual parents to become gay or lesbian themselves.

    Fourth, they wonder whether those children are at increased risk of being sexually abused compared to children of heterosexual parents.

    Lastly, they wonder whether those children will develop psychosocial development problems at school, whether they will be more rejected by their fathers and whether they'll have cognitive, emotional, behavioural, concentration and other problems at school.

    On all of these questions, we have currently accumulated 20 years of research, research which was mostly conducted in the United States, but also in England, Belgium, France and now here in Quebec as well. Other initiatives are being developed elsewhere in the world.

    I would say that, the analytical framework in these studies as a whole has always been to take groups of gay and lesbian parents who have children and to compare them systematically to control groups, that is to say to heterosexual families living in similar conditions in terms of partners and in terms of the ages of the children under study.

¾  +-(0845)  

    The findings on all these questions are very clear. We have tens and tens of studies to date, and from one study to the next, the conclusions are relatively the same: compared to the children of heterosexual families, those of gay and lesbian parents do not develop more gender identity problems or sexual identity problems, or become gay or lesbian themselves once they are adult or suffer from sexual abuse. They do not develop more psychosocial adjustment problems, cognitive affective adjustment problems or behavioural problems. In both groups, some children developed problems, but the incidence of such problems is not greater in families in which the parents are gay or lesbian than in other families.

    To sum up, I have no recommendations to make to legislators as to whether, in legal terms, you should or should not grant gays and lesbians the right to have access to marriage. However, in view of the current state of science, I don't think that the arguments in favour of any decision that is taken can be based on the question of normal childhood development.

    Thank you very much.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Valois.

+-

    Mr. Pierre Valois (As Individual): Good morning. First I'm going to tell you who I am.

    I acted as Deputy Attorney General in criminal cases before the Youth Court. I was the Director of Legal Affairs and Research for the Quebec Consumer Protection Bureau and Director of the Quebec International Adoption Secretariat.

    Five years ago, when the government was aiming to achieve a zero deficit and allowed certain persons to leave the public service without penalty, I opted for retirement, thinking in particular that I would offer my expertise to the gay and lesbian communities in their efforts to achieve equality.

    That's how I became Chairman of the Table de concertation des lesbiennes et des gais du Québec. That's the federation of gay and lesbian organizations. So I was the general representative of all the gay and lesbian communities in Quebec.

    In my first term, I chaired the follow-up to the estates general of the gay and lesbian communities of Quebec. In 2000, we prepared a document that I would like to file with you. Can we file documents here?

    An hon. member: Yes.

    Mr. Pierre Valois: I would like to file it because, on page 4, there is a provision that the gay and lesbian communities of Quebec would like passed and which is consistent with what we're doing here today.

    I'll give you one final detail about me. In February, the man of my life and I celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of our union. People often talk about instability, about this and that. I'm another example that proves that that vision of matters is incorrect.

    I left the public service without severance pay, because that would have been against my principles. I did so in order to help build our society. Gays also hope that their rights will be respected and that they will be considered as full-fledged citizens. We give everything we have to give to society, and there is no reason why the equivalent should not be given back to us.

    As I have very little time, I'm going to try to provide an overview of a few points.

    Homosexuality is not a choice, any more than heterosexuality is. What would the heterosexuals in this room say if they were asked to become homosexual? You would say it's impossible because it's not in your nature. It's the same thing for us. It's like skin colour and all other human characteristics: you can't do anything about it. It's such a stable effect of nature that, throughout history, in all civilizations, in all species on the planet, five to 10 percent of populations have always been gay and lesbian. There's nothing more natural than that. Discrimination against homosexuals is as unjust and revolting as that against blacks or any other person.

    Marriage is not the property of a single human group. It's a universal institution, as are the rites of death and the rites of birth. These are three moments which, throughout the history of humanity, have belonged to all human beings. No religion can claim to own the idea. There is no copyright on it, any more than there is on the right to be buried, to receive funeral rites or birth rites.

    I'm going to show this by means of a few examples. I would like to cite an example of which you are undoubtedly aware. In 1967, only 36 years ago, in Washington, the last battle to maintain the law prohibiting interracial marriages was waged before the Supreme Court of the United States, no less. I don't think there's any more relevant example. The same argument was made for the government as is being advanced today, that is to say that interracial marriage was a threat to the stability of marriage, to the structures of society and so on. The same arguments have always been advanced against the vote for women, against the abolition of slavery and so on.

    A few words on the history of marriage in the West. You hear all kinds of incredible absurdities such as: “Marriage has always been the union between a man and a woman.” How can anyone say anything so obviously false? Rome, Greece and Egypt, which laid the foundations of our society, as we all know, always permitted same-sex marriages. We didn't invent it. Cicero talks about the very stable marriage between Curion and Antonius.

¾  +-(0850)  

Juvenal tells how he attended the official wedding ceremony of two men. The historical record includes the marriage of Nero, Emperor of Rome, who married Sporus in a public ceremony. Emperor Heliogabale married Hierocles in 218, and his biographer describes the relations the emperor had with other men as adulterous. Is there any more obvious example of the fact that marriage between two men was not only permitted, but even practised at the highest level of the state? Basil the 1st, Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire at Constantinople in 867 to 886, the last emperor known to have married a man, married Nicolas in a church ceremony.

    How can it be claimed that religion has a right and that it is impossible for two men or two women to marry, when the very bases of our civilization show this is not true? Same-sex marriages continued until the fifteenth century. There's extensive evidence of this. The oldest document dates from the thirteenth century: the Barberini manuscript 336, which is in the Vatican Library, describes how the wedding ceremonies of same-sex couples should take place. It was of course handwritten at the time since this was before the invention of the printing press. There were 17 copies in the twelfth century, nine in the fifteenth century and 11 in the sixteenth century.

    I see I have one minute left. I have so many things to tell you! The Christian Church is completely absent from marriage throughout the entire first millennium. Marriage didn't become a sacrament until 1215 with the Lateran Council. It wasn't until early in the second millennium that priests began to take part in weddings. Why didn't they before that? Because Roman marriage was always a public ceremony and the Church had no reason to be there. The Church was reluctant to take part in weddings because marriage at the time was synonymous with sexuality. For a pious Christian, sexuality was something...

    I'm going to have to stop. I hope you'll ask me questions because I have a lot of other examples to give you in this area.

¾  +-(0855)  

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    The Chair: Thank you.

[English]

    Mr. Breitkreuz, for seven minutes.

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton—Melville, Canadian Alliance): Thank you very much.

    I thank the presenters this morning for coming before this committee to give us your views on this issue, which is very fundamental to our society, of course.

    Much of the discussion we've heard since we've been here in Montreal has revolved around the whole issue of rights and equality. You introduced something else to the mix. Near the beginning of your presentation, you mentioned that this whole discussion has not included responsibilities. Because you are the first one to mention that, I was wondering if you could elaborate on it.

    What do you mean by homosexuals wanting marriage without the responsibilities?

[Translation]

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    Ms. Solange Lefebvre-Pageau: Of course I believe that homosexuals are looking for love and happiness, but I'm convinced they don't accept their responsibility with respect to their bodies. You see that clearly when you look at nature. I said earlier that the call to marriage was laid down in our bodies. We, men and women, are made for each other biologically and physiologically.

    Just consider the man's sperm, a question I studied a few years ago. This is something very beautiful and, I would even say, excellent. I've been a widow for 25 years after five years of marriage. If there's something that I missed over those 25 years of widowhood, it was precisely the man's sperm. If I had had a sexual encounter last night with a husband I loved, I would probably have slept much better. It obviously provides a certain amount of relaxation. The biologically complementary relationship between man and woman is a responsibility that we have to accept. We must share the best of what we have simply on a physiological level.

    But there's something else. As you can see, I'm a religious person. I know that two human beings are created for eternity. Man and woman, we must help each other prepare for that encounter, the sole essential encounter that takes us to the afterworld. We are bound to experience that as man and woman and to show that responsibility. That's a fundamental thing for me.

    I taught for 15 years at the college level, where I gave a course called “Fertility, health and independence”. What did I hear from the mouths of young people? “Madam, why weren't we taught what you're teaching us today when we were teenagers? Now we have to rebuild ourselves from A to Z, and that's not easy.”

    Not so long ago, I even had the opportunity to see a television interview with a man you all know, Jean-François Bertrand. He said he was bisexual. He liked thrills. Today, this man, whom many love because of his personality—he was even a member of the Parti québécois—says he needs to rebuild his sexual being.

    Young people today have a right to have real parents and teachers who are able to educate them. Unfortunately, we aren't offering them that opportunity. Before talking about homosexuals' right to marriage, I say we must first help our young people understand what a man really is, what the complementary relationship between man and woman is and what the rich nature and beauty of a man and a woman are. I'm proud to see heterosexuals starting to talk about celebrating their heterosexuality. If there's one demanding thing, it's really the act of building a male-female relationship. So we need parents, teachers and laws.

    There must be an end to this barrier to including the spiritual aspect of human beings in our schools. I believe human beings are also spiritual beings. Preventing that, as has been done in the past, is serious and even criminal. Fortunately, I believe there is a new movement, a breath of fresh air in Quebec that will enable institutions to take things in hand and provide books that I could never provide when I was teaching. When Clause Ryan was Minister of Education, he even wrote to the person who had evaluated one of the textbooks that he was going to bring into the schools. But what happened? He was prevented from doing so. Why? Precisely so that this homosexual vision could be promoted.

    Obviously, when we talk about welcoming one's sexual being, that calls for a whole process, a whole approach. It requires biological, physiological, social and spiritual knowledge. Wanting to separate these things runs counter to the needs of young people who must synthesize these aspects in their personalities and construct themselves.

¿  +-(0900)  

    Unfortunately, few people in Quebec and even Canada are actually trained to prepare our young people for this path. I'm convinced that we have a lot of work to do, that we must mount an education operation for our world today.

[English]

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    The Chair: You have half a minute, Mr. Breitkreuz.

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Ms. Julien, where was your work published?

[Translation]

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    Prof. Danielle Julien: My curriculum vitae is in the file I submitted, which also contains about four pages on what I've published in American, Canadian and French scientific journals. You have the details on everything I've published. If you don't have it in hand, I can show it to you or circulate it.

[English]

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: The point I am trying to make is this. Was it published in reputable journals, was it peer reviewed, and what were the comments?

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    Prof. Danielle Julien: Yes, in the Journal of Family Psychology, a top journal of the American Psychological Association, and the Journal of Marriage and Family,

[Translation]

which is also a prestigious journal. Those two publications are the most internationally renowned scientific journals on family issues. I received an award in 1994 from the International Communication Association for the innovative aspect of the methodology in my work. If you want, I can cite others. In Canada, I've published articles in the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, of which I'm currently the editor. The work I'm doing has thus been judged by my peers as being of a very high level.

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    Le président: Thank you.

    Mr. Marceau, you have seven minutes.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau (Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, BQ): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I thank the witnesses for their excellent testimony.

    Ms. Lefebvre-Pageau, I would like to know what you mean by roles and the complementary nature of the sexes.

¿  +-(0905)  

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    Ms. Solange Lefebvre-Pageau: When I talk about complementarity, I'm talking about union, uniting. You know as well as I do what the physical complementarity of the sexes is. In psychological terms, we are two very different beings, two very different worlds, with two entirely different visions. Not so long ago, I gave a marriage preparation course on the psychology of the man and of the woman. When you address the question of complementarity, you see how rich and stimulating it is.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: I'm sorry, because we only have seven minutes. We're talking about complementarity, but there is a danger of acting as though there were a kind of collective agreement stating what a man does and what a woman does. Other witnesses have previously said that the woman is more tender and would therefore take care of the children. She's more of a “doll”, as we would say in Québécois. She'll take care of the children and the man will do the more difficult things around the house.

    It's become a bit of a standard joke within the committee, but, at home, the tool box belongs to my wife, not to me. That doesn't correspond to this type of complementarity. Instead of referring to the sexes, doesn't complementarity depend on the two persons in the couple? Doesn't complementarity depend on each person's character, not sex?

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    Ms. Solange Lefebvre-Pageau: Of course, complementarity also refers to our strengths, but we nevertheless belong to two different worlds. Humanity is divided in two, men and women. So both of us are bound to truly pool our potential, our strengths, our values and even our weaknesses. The meaning of this complementarity is that we must truly achieve the unity of our society. We must not contemplate separation; we are human beings to be constructed in beauty, and we are truly bound to achieve unification.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Ms. Lefebvre-Pageau, I would like you to help me with the following thing.

    You are religious and you have said so many times, and you base a large part of your testimony on that.

    The problem I'm trying to solve is this. Very religious people and even ministers, among others ministers of the United Church and the Unitarian Church as well as rabbis, who have very rich and very solid religious traditions, have come and told us that their theology permitted them to accept same-sex spouses and to consider same-sex couples as a strength and that those couples should be recognized in the same way as opposite-sex couples.

    Why should we impose your interpretation of the divine will on people who have another interpretation of the divine will? As legislators, it is not for us to say that your personal conception of the divine will should be imposed on the United Church, the Unitarian Church or other churches.

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    Ms. Solange Lefebvre-Pageau: My concern is not to impose my vision. I'm simply telling you my convictions and my interpretation of what I call love, sexuality and the couple.

    I've worked on the question of fertility. I have worked in this field for 30 years. I became a writer because I truly believe in the notion of man and woman. My model is Jesus. It's even been said of Jesus—as you know, there is a play on this subject—that he was homosexual, as well as the apostles.

    I feel we're wallowing in confusion. I believe the truth exists. I'm alluding to the Bible. I'm convinced that, whatever our religion is, if we are truly faithful to our teaching, we are bound to recognize that man and woman were created by God to become matched beings.

¿  +-(0910)  

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Thank you.

    Mr. Valois, you outlined your quite impressive curriculum vitae for us, and I would like to have your opinion as a jurist on the four options presented to us.

    Would I be wrong in my analysis if I said that, of the four options before us, that is to say the creation of a registry, leaving marriage to the religions, the status quo and opening marriage up to same-sex couples, three are unconstitutional, and for the following reasons?

    The first option is that of a national registry. Since Parliament only has jurisdiction over marriage and divorce, every other matter would be a question of property and civil law and would therefore be a provincial jurisdiction. So that's an option that this federal committee must rule out.

    The second option is to leave marriage to the religions. That would also be unconstitutional by reason of the division of powers, because it's the provinces that decide who is entitled to celebrate the marriage: the priest, notary, rabbi and so on. So this committee must rule out two options as a result of the division of powers.

    The third option, which would be to retain the definition as it stands, that is to say the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, must be ruled out by reason of the Charter because it would not be consistent with the right to equality. All the courts that have considered this question to date, in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, have agreed on that. The only point is section 1, and I believe that Judge Lemelin's judgment on that is more solid than that of British Columbia.

    As legislators, regardless of our values or what we think of homosexuality, we are legally and constitutionally “forced” to show that the only constitutional and legal way for this committee is to ask Parliament to adopt same-sex marriage.

    Is that your legal analysis of the situation?

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    Le président: Mr. Valois.

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    Mr. Pierre Valois: Affiliation: Mr. Pierre Valois I follow you very clearly. Moreover, the document I referred to states at page 4 that the gay and lesbian communities do not want a second-class marriage, a civil union. Quebec created the civil union because it has no jurisdiction over marriage. It's good that the provinces offer that option, but we don't expect that from the federal government. I'll take advantage of the opportunity to tell you that, if that's the opinion you wish to adopt, the gay and lesbian communities will tell you to keep it for yourselves because they don't want it. The members of those communities are saying that they don't want federal civil union and that, if they aren't considered as sufficiently worthy citizens to deserve citizen equality, it's better to forget the matter and leave it for the courts to decide.

    If you don't have the courage to apply the Charter and adopt the only legal option, which is to make marriage accessible to all citizens, including human beings who are homosexuals, as are the funeral ceremony and other fundamentally human institutions, forget it. It's the courts that will decide. But if you agree that marriage should be open to everyone, we'll tell you, of course, that that's the only possible way. Keep quiet if you don't give us access to marriage. Let the courts decide and let justice prevail. But, since it's your duty, open up this fundamental institution to all citizens.

    All you need is a little political courage. When the federal government decided to abolish the death penalty, an immense majority of Canadians were opposed to abolition of the death penalty. The federal government made the only possible decision, to abolish it, and citizens followed. Today, a majority of Canadian citizens are telling you that marriage should be open to everyone. You don't even need courage. You simply have to make the decision to put an end to this absurd discrimination.

    You talk about leaving marriage to the religions. I've tried to show you that this is not a religious question. Christianity itself was not at all interested in marriage during the first one 1,000 years of its existence. It didn't take an interest until later on and marriage was made an institution in 1215. So, religions have been interested in it or not depending on the period and their will. You can let the religions adhere to it or not, but marriage is a matter of state. It's up to the state to decide.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. McKay for seven minutes.

[English]

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    Mr. John McKay (Scarborough East, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you, witnesses, for coming this morning.

    I want to direct my questions to Professor Julien.

    I'm looking at your recommendations. Your first conclusion is that heterosexual and homosexual parents are just as competent. That's fair. Then you go on to say that gay and lesbian parents constitute a vulnerable population and that a higher proportion of the population suffers from health problems. I take it you're referencing higher rates of suicide, substance abuse, victimization, and things of that nature. Then you go on to say this greater vulnerability of the sexual minority population may lead to adaptation difficulties in their children. I'm just curious, since you say the parents are as competent, but there may be some adaptation difficulties.

    Then you conclude that we should change the definition of marriage. I would have thought, on a scale of 1 to 10, that is probably one of the last conclusions you would arrive at, given that the issues are suicide, victimization, substance abuse, and things of that nature--that those are the issues that need to be addressed. Given that in Quebec, particularly in this society, the registration system, as I understand it, gives a dead heat equality, from what I can see, between homosexual and heterosexual couples, I respectfully suggest that your conclusion seems a little strange. Even if we relabelled access to marriage today, it wouldn't do a thing about suicide rates, victimization rates, or substance abuse rates. As I say, it's almost an inconsequential issue rather than a substantive one.

    Put that in the context of some testimony we got yesterday, where one witness brought forth--how shall we say it--the underbelly of the marriage project, some of the leading thinkers of gay rights movements and things of that nature. I don't know who Paula Ettlebrick is, but she says things like “Being queer is more than setting up house.... Being queer means pushing the parameters of sex, sexuality, and family, and in the process, transforming the very fabric of society”.

    Then somebody--I don't know who this is--Jack Nichols, says, “The time has come to reject nostalgia for traditional family groupings.... More encompassing definitions that bypass blood-line requirements must be instituted”. I don't know what that means. I guess it is to throw open the rules of consanguinity.

    Then, on fresh, new kinds of relationships, we had several witnesses yesterday arguing in favour of a kind of “marriage R us” concept, which was any grouping of adults, bearing no resemblance to past rituals but opening doors to greater measures of individual happiness.

    We put those two things in the context of whatever issues arise out of the gay and lesbian community having to do with victimization, suicide, drug abuse, etc., and then we have another issue here where people are openly saying they are here to blow up the institution of marriage and redefine how people traditionally group each other.

    I am curious, therefore, as to why you would think this is such an important thing to do for gays and lesbians.

¿  +-(0915)  

[Translation]

+-

    Prof. Danielle Julien: I'm going to answer you in French.

    There are two parts to my report. The first part sums up childhood development based on empirical research from the past 20 years, and the second part sums up the public health question based on what recent surveys have shown about the health of gay, lesbian and bisexual persons.

    The emergence of studies with representative samples is very recent. For years, we had studies on the health of gay, lesbian and bisexual populations based on small samples, often not very representative of the population.

    But recently, with the national health surveys emerging around the world, in particular Health Quebec's social and health survey, which was published in 2000, we have a fairly consistent picture which shows that those populations have a greater percentage of individuals suffering from mental health problems, suicide attempts and high-risk behaviour, that is to say drug and alcohol abuse and so on.

    I raised that point because the analytical models put forward by the Health Quebec team and by other teams around the world underscore the fact that those populations develop health problems not as a result of intrinsic characteristics, but as a result of environmental circumstances which make their lives a bit more difficult. For example, more of these types of problems are found among ethnic minorities and low-income populations.

    The resulting conclusion is that we must put a stop to the social environment conditions that lead these persons to develop problems. This is true of disadvantaged socio-economic populations, it's true of ethnic minorities which suffer from varying degrees of discrimination depending on their environment, and it's also true of homosexual and bisexual populations.

    I wrote that because the state has a responsibility for public health, a responsibility to put a stop to all discrimination which could cause these types of problems. I see no contradiction between these problems and adding a full right of access to marriage. It can't be said that, if ethnic minorities develop more problems, we're going to prohibit them from marrying and having children. The same logic applies to homosexual and bisexual persons.

¿  +-(0920)  

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    Le président: Mr. Ménard, you have three minutes.

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    Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga—Maisonneuve): Ms. Julien, I have three idols in life: René Lévesque, Freud and you, and not in that order. From the very first meeting of this committee, I have cited your studies, and I even believe I filed what you filed in Quebec City.

    There's something profoundly dishonest in this committee, beyond religious convictions. I respect what Ms. Lefebvre-Pageau says. I don't share it at all, but I can understand that one might have that vision of the world. You know that this is the eighth debate we've had. From the Criminal Code amendment on hate crimes to the debate on marriages, this is the eighth debate we've had since the Chrétien government has been in power.

    There are always people trying to have us believe that the legislative environment is not important, as though the message being sent to gays is that, even if they're not real citizens, can't have access to the same rights and can't participate fully in public life, the legislative environment is not important. It would be for other groups, but not for gays.

    A second particularly dishonest bias is that an attempt is being made to have us believe that, if you're in a homosocial environment, you're going to become a dysfunctional citizen. I would like you to be able to prove to the committee this morning that 20 years of research does not support that view. Can you convince my colleagues, whom I will not name, that living in a homosexual environment does not make homosexual persons dysfunctional or less good citizens?

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    Prof. Danielle Julien: I describe research on children in my report, and also in the one that was submitted in Quebec City. In the last report I submitted, I talked about an even more recent article updating research. No, there is no empirical research showing, based systematically on research methods recognized by the scientific community, that the children of homosexual parents have more problems than the children of heterosexual families. There are children in those families who have problems, and there are also children in heterosexual families who have problems, and those problems are attributable to the same reasons. But the percentage of children of homosexual families who have problems is not greater.

    So there is no evidence that homosexuality in itself can be a factor resulting in adjustment problems in children. That's my field of expertise.

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: You've made a second major contribution together with a colleague from the United States. We are often given to think that you can't be both homosexual and a good parent. You know that, with education, marriage will bring to a close a period of institutional demands. But gays and lesbians also want to be parents. I believe your work reveals that one can be both homosexual and a good parent. What information can you share with the committee on that subject?

¿  +-(0925)  

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    Prof. Danielle Julien: The studies show, and all the cases presented by the American Psychological Association fully attest to this, that lesbian mothers and gay fathers are as good parents as any others. They are people who get up in the night when their children are sick; they are people who get up in the morning to feed their children. They take them to school, they pick them up at school, they do homework with their children. They have similar parental activities to those of heterosexual parents and show the same sensitivity to children. In fact, they have the same life. They are not different from heterosexual parents.

    Furthermore, in environments where there is more intolerance, parents suffer more. They may have to face more parental stress. But research on children, based on representative national samples, including one study in England on preschool-aged children and another in the United States on teenagers, shows that the children of lesbian mothers and gay fathers are not disadvantaged relative to those of heterosexual parents. So the parents are similar in both groups.

[English]

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    The Chair: Merci.

    We'll have a very quick question from Mr. Macklin.

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin (Northumberland, Lib.): Thank you, Chair.

    I was interested while looking at Dr. Julien's paper and then listening to Madame Lefebvre-Pageau about the complementarity of the sexes and acknowledging the importance of conjugality. Yet I look at your recommendation, Dr. Julien, and you indicate that you would like to see the redefinition a voluntary lifelong union between two consenting adults, and I wonder why you've left out any reference to conjugality.

[Translation]

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    Prof. Danielle Julien: My reference to conjugality comes from my field. These are two persons who decide to live together and form a union which may or may not lead to plans to have children. So I don't have any particular legal reference.

[English]

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    The Chair: I want to thank you very much, panel, for your informative presentations. They have been very helpful to these deliberations. And it is a particular pleasure to meet the inspiration of my good friend Mr. Ménard. Merci beaucoup.

    We will suspend so the next panel can come forward.

¿  +-(0928)  


¿  +-(0934)  

[Translation]

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    The Chair: Welcome everyone.

¿  +-(0935)  

[English]

    I am reconvening the 39th meeting of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. From now until 10:30 we will have before us, as an individual, Nathalie Ricard; Margaret Somerville, Samuel Gale professor of law and director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law; and from the Centre d'orientation sexuelle de l'Université McGill, Richard Montoro and Karine Josée Igartua.

    You all understand that you have seven minutes to make a presentation, and that applies to individuals or groups. After that we will have a dialogue with members of the committee.

    I will go first to Madame Ricard.

[Translation]

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    Ms. Nathalie Ricard (As Individual): Affiliation: Ms. Nathalie Ricard (As Individual) I'm going to speak in French, with your permission.

    I would like to thank all the members for the opportunity to speak on a subject which, until quite recently, seemed private, whereas it is a matter of social justice, democracy and public health. So thank you very much.

    I'm going to explain briefly how the opportunity for all citizens to marry, notwithstanding their sexual orientation, is consistent with the deeply-held aspirations of the gay and lesbian communities and how this is also a question of welfare for the general public of Canada. This is a matter of public interest, in an overall health perspective.

    Why would anyone want to marry when there are civil solidarity pacts in France, common law marriages in the Anglo-Saxon countries, de facto unions in the Scandinavian countries and elsewhere in the world, and civil union in Quebec? And why don't all these arrangements and laws meet the needs of gays and lesbians?

    What about marriage? Marriage, by what it means, enables people to take part in a common, universal language, in all the rights shared by all societies and civilizations. Through its ritualization, it also confers a feeling of truth on this transcendent institution, whereas the other forms I have just named seem like arrangements, stages prior to final and comprehensive acceptance.

    According to Mohr, marriage appears as an institution, the sign that incorporates sexuality, both heterosexual and homosexual, in daily life. That's a point to note. One potential point of resistance within the population would be that the conception of sexuality does not include a diversity of sexual orientations. However, that is not the case since surveys and studies currently show that the population of Canada has already reached that level of tolerance.

    But what is happening? Why, despite that tolerance, is there a paradox? Why isn't there always complete acceptance of diversity and homosexual reality? In everyday life, in family life, there are barriers, and those barriers lead to exclusion, marginality, violence and rejection. There is no truly profound acceptance of what it is to be homosexual and to live a homosexual life.

    Unfortunately, there are a number of known and documented examples of this. One of the most difficult moments for young gays and lesbians occurs when they have to come out of the closet, when they decide, out of a concern to be true, to tell their parents about their sexual orientation. At that point, the parents often go through a very difficult time. They experience that as a trial accompanied by denial, shock, guilt and often rejection. Many young people find themselves in the street or have to live in a family environment that is uncomfortable and full of things unsaid, which affects their self-respect.

    The problems often carry over to school, where homosexuality is barely beginning to be demystified. Young people who are not really gay or lesbian, but whose appearance does not correspond to what is considered masculine or feminine suffer insults and are threatened and often attacked.

    Studies show that their attackers hurt them in order to assert values that condemn homosexuality—the weight of religion is significant here—and also because they want to win the approval of their peers, their significant peers. Unfortunately, and this is where there's still a lot of work to be done to combat sexism, it's thought that gays are not real men, that they're not virile, whereas that's not the case. This can be significant for young people who are building their identities. It's a question of education, and we have a lot of work to do.

    The attackers are also there to have fun. Unfortunately, gays and lesbians often present their experience in the form of a caricature, and they make easy targets of ridicule. The media and public authorities also have a major duty in this area because there's too much silence surrounding the violence that gay and lesbians suffer. Public authorities have the symbolic power to break that silence.

    It also often occurs that attackers hurt gay and lesbians in order to protect their own homosexual desires, to counter their internalized homophobia.

    That shows that, even today, homosexuality, although tolerated, is not entirely accepted. It doesn't have the founding rites that will make it accepted and incorporated in family life.

¿  +-(0940)  

    The suicide rate among young gays and lesbians is unfortunately still higher than among other young people.

    In addition, isolation and silence are the harmful consequences for all individuals and couples, regardless of sexual orientation. The negativism surrounding homosexuality and lesbianism has negative consequences for all families, whether they're headed by heterosexuals or homosexuals.

    In what way does the government have a role to play to counter this negative climate which undermines the public's overall health? There is no doubt in my mind or in those of a number of militants, writers and researchers, that the government has an inevitable and irreplaceable symbolic role to play in our society. Parliament takes action on systemic homophobia. It has the power to counter the message that there are second-class individuals in the Canadian population. Imagine that criminals like the Hell's Angels can marry publicly. That was seen in the media a few years ago. The event was covered in the media, and our major stars went to sing at their weddings.

    I'm going to give you other examples. In your environment, in your families, you all know people who have been married a number of times, who get married after seeing someone for a few weeks or even a few days, which is accepted and does not pose a problem, whereas there are honest homosexual couples, who are trying to be responsible citizens, who even raise children and who do not have access to marriage.

    What message does that send to people, to children? That it must be terrible, even odious and catastrophic to be gay. This social response, because of the lack of status and lack of protection for gays and lesbians, violates the spirit of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The difference in treatment of one class of citizens contributes to contempt, fuels discrimination and shapes prejudices and negative attitudes toward minorities.

    Parents still have trouble accepting the different sexual orientation of their children because they feel guilty and are afraid for them. They say to themselves that they will never be able to go to the wedding of their son or daughter, that they will never be grandfathers or grandmothers. These are barriers which we create in our society and as a result of which gays and lesbians are not fully integrated.

    We want there to be no more “nevers”. Opening marriage up means opening up to the possibility of limitless horizons for the young and old of our society. It's a source of vitality in a perspective of overall health, hope, justice and respect, and the government has the power to act in this regard.

    Thank you very much.

[English]

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. Chuck Cadman (Surrey North, Canadian Alliance)): Thank you, Madame Ricard.

    Madame Somerville.

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    Dr. Margaret Somerville (Samuel Gale Chair, Faculty of Law, McGill University; Director, McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law): Thank you.

    First of all, I would like the committee to note that I handed in an amended brief this morning, and that's the one that should be used. Since those briefs going to be read into the committee's record, I want to speak about some other points that are not in that.

    Also, for the sake of brevity I am going to use the term “same-sex marriage”, but I want to note that I believe this term is inherently contradictory if one believes, as I do, that marriage describes a relationship with an inherently procreative potential. In other words, marriage has a biological base.

    I was interested in Maître Valois' answer to the statement about people having the same rights to a funeral and that therefore they should have the same rights to a marriage. Indeed, a funeral has a biological base too, and you don't have one until that biological base is fulfilled. I would argue the same thing occurs in marriage, that there is a biological reality as well as a cultural reality around marriage.

    I also want to note that we should distinguish marriage from same-sex partnerships. Even in this morning's newspapers I see those two are confused by some of our politicians. In my view, there is a very major difference between same-sex partnerships legally recognized with full benefits, which I fully support, and same-sex marriage.

    For me, marriage is the societal structure that symbolizes and institutionalizes the inherently procreative relationship, that is, the relationship between a man and a woman, and it can't do that if it is changed to include same-sex couples. I believe that society, as is shown by millennia of history across all human society, needs such an institution. It needs it especially now, when reprogenetic technologies are opening up previously unimaginable possibilities for the transmission of human life, for instance, cloning or, in the future, making an embryo from two sperm or two ova.

    If it is argued by same-sex marriage advocates that it is wrongful discrimination to exclude same-sex couples from marriage, it would likewise be wrongful discrimination to prohibit them from making a child from two sperm or two ova. The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal has already held that failure to pay for an infertile couple's treatment for their infertility was discrimination within section 15 of the charter, but that in this case it was justified because the cost of treatment and governmental discretion in the allocation of health care resources justified the exclusion. But if a couple were willing to pay themselves, you could not justify that prohibition. It would simply be discrimination.

    I note here that Bill C-13, the new human reproduction bill, rightly in my view prohibits cloning. However, it does not, as far as I can see, prohibit procedures such as making children from two sperm or two ova. Moreover, in its latest draft it does prohibit denying access to reproductive technologies on the basis of sexual orientation or marital status. So as an aside, I would suggest that such procedures should be added to the prohibited activities listed in clause 5 of that bill.

    Marriage should be considered from a child-centred perspective. It is primarily meant to protect children and, if at all possible, ensure that children are raised by their own biological mother and father. The argument for same-sex marriage, in contrast, is adult centred. The strongest argument for same-sex marriage is for the protection of children brought into a same-sex relationship, but in my view that does not justify same-sex marriage.

    First, if, as I argue, marriage institutionalizes and symbolizes in society the inherently procreative relationship, then to recognize same-sex marriage is to destroy that institution and symbolism. It is not simply to change it.

    Second, I believe that a child has a right not to be created from the genetic patrimony of two men or two women, from cloning, or from multiple genetic parents. Therefore, same-sex relationships should not be included within an institution that symbolizes an inherently procreative relationship.

    Third, bringing children into same-sex relationships should not be seen as within the norm but as an exception to it. Although it is considered a radical view by some people and often seen as politically incorrect, I believe that the societal norm should continue to recognize that a child needs a mother and a father and, if possible, unless there are good reasons to the contrary, its own biological mother and father as its raising parents. Adopted children search for their birth parents. And current moves to give children born through reproductive technologies, using donated gametes, access to the gamete donor's identity show a deep human need to know our biological family origin.

¿  +-(0945)  

    Recognizing same-sex marriage would make bringing children into a same-sex relationship part of the norm, rather than the exception. That is not to deny in any way that children don't do well in same-sex households--they do--but the question is, should that be the norm or should it be an exception to it?

    That brings me to a point that I have not addressed in my brief. The committee has publicly stated that it's going to the Netherlands and Belgium to look at the Netherlands' and Belgium's legalization of same-sex marriage as a possible precedent for Canada. May I respectfully suggest that you take great care in making comparisons. I have studied euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in the Netherlands for over 25 years and I have published a book that is the accumulation of my research. An oft-sounded warning in ethics comes to mind: good facts are essential for good ethics.

    The Dutch have a silo approach to societal values. In short, their tolerance for a wide variety of viewpoints does not imply a basic integration of these values across society. There is a range of explanations for this situation--historical, sociological, and societal levels, and psychological reasons. However, I will not go further into that, but I raise it for your consideration.

    I would also point out that Dutch secular society, to an unprecedented degree, in comparison with all other western democracies except perhaps now Belgium, is intensely individualistic, with an intense emphasis on individual autonomy. I will leave that point.

    I will go to my final point. In dealing with the question of whether to change the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, you are really discussing whether to abolish marriage as a societal institution that symbolizes, protects, and promotes the inherently procreative relationship. You must keep in mind that there is no other institution to replace it. Consequently, you must consider not just the claims of same-sex couples, but also whether society needs such an institution, and whether you would be justified in implementing the major and radical change in the structure of society that eliminating marriage's function in relation to procreation would entail.

    To change the definition of marriage would be to change the nature of marriage. Definition and language in general create human reality. We don't just change words; we change the nature of an entity when we redefine it. Definitions are frames that we place on events, concepts, or circumstances to give them meaning.

    Far from everyone in the gay community wants same-sex marriage, precisely because they believe that marriage does not reflect or accommodate their values, aspirations, commitments, lifestyle, or rituals. Those in the gay community who want same-sex marriage are right to seek meaning in their relationships and to want to have that meaning publicly recognized. They are wrong, however, to try to do it by co-opting the institution of marriage. It cannot function in that way without being deformed and destroyed.

    Thank you.

¿  +-(0950)  

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. Chuck Cadman): Thank you, Ms. Somerville.

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    Dr. Karine Josée Igartua (“Centre d'orientation sexuelle de l'Université McGill”): Thank you.

    Members of the Standing Committee, allow me first to introduce my colleague and myself.

    Dr. Montoro and I are both staff psychiatrists at the McGill University Health Centre. We are also assistant professors in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University, and in September 1999 we co-founded the McGill University Sexual Identity Centre, known under the acronym of MUSIC.

    It is the first and only academic mental health centre in Canada dedicated to providing mental health services to the gay and lesbian population; thus, we have seen firsthand the devastating impact of homophobic discrimination on the lives of hundreds of Canadians. As responsible clinicians, in addition to treating the sequelae of homophobia, we felt it important to come here this morning to share our knowledge of it with you in order to prevent further mental health casualties.

    Marriage has been part of Canadian society from the beginning. It is a state-sanctioned symbolic recognition of the importance of relationships between individuals. Society views marital relationships in a different light from common-law ones. There is an assumption of greater stability, commitment, monogamy, and mutual support. Indeed, Canadian law also makes these assumptions and provides a legal framework for these partnerships to flourish.

    Inherent in the institution of marriage is protection not only for the individuals who marry but also for their children. At this point there is a segment of the population and their children who are denied access to the protection provided by this institution. Beyond the limitation imposed on their civil rights as gay and lesbian families, refusing them the right to marry also devalues, in the eyes of Canadian society, the legitimacy of their relationships.

    The present state of Canadian law sanctions discrimination against gays and lesbians despite its own Charter of Human Rights. When the state so blatantly devalues a segment of society, it is not surprising that certain individuals take it upon themselves to take the discrimination further.

    As the standing committee has no doubt heard over the last few weeks, many otherwise reasonable people have equated homosexuality with immorality, bestiality, and pedophilia. These stereotypes persist despite scientific evidence of their falseness. Perhaps it is pure ignorance. Perhaps it is a thinly disguised expression of hatred. Whatever it is, it can still exist because the state has not yet taken a clear stand that homosexual citizens are equal in the eyes of the law and deserve to be treated with the same dignity as all Canadians.

    At MUSIC, we have treated many victims of homophobia. All our patients deal with the daily stress of homophobic messages, the presumption of heterosexuality, the perpetual dilemma of whether or not to risk revealing their homosexuality. Many have been denied work, promotions, housing, even social services because of their sexual orientation. Too many have also been physically assaulted as victims of hate crimes.

    Allow me to tell you about a patient of mine. We'll call him Bob—obviously not his real name.

    Bob is a 50-year-old man who was walking home from the corner store one sunny afternoon. Unbeknownst to him, five young men were following him. As he opened his front door, they pushed him into his home, tied him up and blindfolded him, beat him over the head with a baseball bat, attempted to drown him in the toilet bowl, then vandalized his entire home. His partner arrived home three hours later to find “Fucking Faggots” spray-painted over their walls and furniture, and Bob lying unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    Hate crimes such as this are but the tip of the iceberg. They're the most extreme expressions of anti-gay sentiment. An iceberg tip, however, cannot exist without its more extensive, though less visible, base. In the same way, physical violence towards gays and lesbians would not exist without society sanctioning non-physical violence and discrimination towards gays and lesbians. One other of my patients saw herself refused public mediation when separating from her partner of 10 years because both of them were women. No later than last week, a secretary in our own department refused to work with the gay and lesbian population of our clinic. More disturbing still was the fact that management chose to heed her requests rather than encourage non-discrimination in a public Canadian institution.

    In this climate of subtle and not-so-subtle forms of homophobia, it is not surprising that gays and lesbians suffer from depression and anxiety.

¿  +-(0955)  

Studies in our centre and other centres have linked these mental health conditions directly with homophobia. Even more disturbing are the rates of suicide among gay and lesbian youth. Over half will have suicidal ideas and 30% to 40% will attempt to end their lives.

    Research has shown that the fear of being discovered to be gay, the fear of rejection, and the experience of violence and discrimination are all associated with suicide attempts. Obviously to help the gay and lesbian youth we need to change their negative perception of their own homosexuality. We can only do this by changing the societal attitudes that engender these negative perceptions and that allow the discrimination and the violence to occur.

    The government can do this by allowing all Canadians to marry irrespective of their sexual orientation. In doing so, the government sends a strong message that homosexual relationships are of equal value and that homosexual individuals are equal citizens.

    It is with this in mind that the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all issued position statements encouraging the state to implement legislation protecting same-sex conjugal and parental relationships. All of these professional associations have recognized the state's role in promoting mental health of individuals.

    As Canadian mental health professionals, we ask that our government assume its usual leadership in matters of non-discrimination by rectifying the inequalities that still exist in Canadian law. By granting access to the institution of marriage to all citizens irrespective of sexual orientation, the Canadian government would clearly be stating that discrimination would no longer be tolerated because all citizens have the same value.

    The recognition of same-sex marriage would contribute to the sense of self-worth of all gays and lesbians, would demystify these relationships for the general population, would lead to less societal discrimination, would enhance the mental health of gays and lesbians, and would promote a more integrated society.

    Thank you.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    I go to Mr. Breitkreuz, for seven minutes.

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Thank you very much. I appreciate your coming before the committee to give us your presentation.

    Ms. Somerville, I really would like you to elaborate a little bit and maybe react to another presenter. In the conclusion of your paper--and I am not sure if I have the updated version--you make the statement that:

In conclusion, society needs marriage to establish cultural meaning, symbolism and moral values around the inherently procreative relationship between a man and a woman, and thereby protect that relationship and the children who result from it.

    I want to zero in on that. Were you able to hear the presentation by Professor Danielle Julien, which occurred just before you came here? Are you familiar with her publications?

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    Dr. Margaret Somerville: Yes, I did. I am just not sure it's the person I'm thinking of. Is she the person from the Yukon who is the psychologist?

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Yes, she was here just before you.

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    Dr. Margaret Somerville: Yes, I did hear that.

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: I had asked a question but, because of time constraints, was not able to get an answer. I saw deficiencies in the study that she did, and there were some key questions I felt she omitted, or did not ask, when she did her study. Could you give us your reaction to that?

À  +-(1000)  

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    Dr. Margaret Somerville: I am not an expert in her field, but certainly I was interested to listen to her study, and of course, as a researcher and scientist, you always look at the studies afterwards and decide about it.

    One of the notes I made in listening to her was that she seemed to say there wasn't any difference in terms of the children between having two women as parents or two men as parents. There was also a question asked about the complementarity of the sexes, because that is the basis of saying that the children need those two different role models.

    My thought went to the fact, because I was just reading something yesterday, which was a feminist critique of the legal system. One of my students had done a research paper on how she believed that the tort or civil responsibility system is essentially male-based and male-reason-based and that it doesn't reflect the way women would deal with that situation. I thought, isn't it amazing that we have a very strong feminist contingent in the law who are severely critiquing the legal system because it only reflects one of the sexes' views of how it should be? Yet we think when we start to talk about same-sex marriage in that way, as though it doesn't matter, that there's not a difference between the two parents.

    Further than that, I'm not an expert in that, except that I have read the literature on complementarity. It would seem to me from a biological basis--and certainly at the moment I am doing some work in the ethics of the neurosciences--what that is showing is that there are different brain functions between men and women, for instance. That doesn't mean that one's inferior to the other; all it means is that we're different. I see it as different and equal.

    Therefore, my presumption would be that the role the father plays is different from the role the mother plays. Perhaps even the biological mother and father in some ways may be different from people who aren't the biological mother and father. But all of that doesn't mean that children can't be nurtured and nourished and have a good life in a family of two same-sex parents. That is a different question.

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Thank you. I would like to explore that more at another point, but we are limited by time here.

    You made some interesting comments, and I would like you to elaborate on them with regard to comparing our society and this issue to that of the Netherlands. I wish you would explain a little more. For someone like me who is not immersed in this, I would really like more background on some of the cautions that you are raising in making comparisons between Canada and the Netherlands.

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    Dr. Margaret Somerville: Yes, I can very briefly. For instance, I had a look yesterday at the work of Derek Phillips, who is an eminent professor of sociology at the University of Amsterdam. He is one of the people who have tried to explain why the Netherlands is like it is and why it is different from our society, even though it is still a western democracy, of course. He says that multiple divisions come from great difficulties in the Dutch society in accepting the ambiguity and tension that result when people of different viewpoints are interacting in the same group. The way the Dutch deal with that is unlike our way. What they do is they separate into their different groups, and each deals with it in the way they want to. He gives a simple but powerful example. He said, for instance, Dutch journals do not reflect the diversity of opinion. They characteristically have one single form of opinion in each separate journal, so it is a different way.

    There is a related phenomenon that I had some experience with, because I did a lot of work on the ethics and law of AIDS during the 1980s. When the whole of the western world, including Canada, after a lot of thought, decided that it was acceptable to have a permanently unlinked, anonymous HIV reporting—and this sounds complicated—for the purpose of what is called zero prevalent surveys to find out how widely and where AIDS is distributed in a country, every western country in the world agreed that it was ethically acceptable and legally allowed, except the Dutch, who went into huge conniptions about this and finally said, no, you can't do it because it would be to breach individual autonomy, even though you would never know who those people were or what their names were or anything like that.

    One of the other things he warns of is that indifference also masquerades as tolerance in the Netherlands. Anecdotally, when I have been talking to people about same-sex marriage, a lot of people who have responded to me have said things like, who cares what happens; marriage is not worth anything anyway. One of the things I think we have to think about is what we need to do to make marriage important again. That is where we do not agree, of course.

À  +-(1005)  

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Breitkreuz.

    Mr. Marceau, you have 10 minutes.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you witnesses for being here this morning.

    I will begin with a comment and will then move on to questions. Professor Somerville, in your presentation, you referred to biological parents and said a number of times that children had to be raised by their biological parents, and you repeated something of that kind during the question and answer period. I must tell you honestly that I find that statement quite hurtful for adoptive parents and adopted children.

    Your remarks implied that biological parents do the best job and that their children do better than children raised by adoptive parents. Personally, I find that comment hurtful.

    Now here's a question. The basis of your argument is procreation. So I've done a little research—it's only in English, and I apologize for that—on the vows stated in the wedding ceremony.

[English]

They are: to have and to hold from this day forward, for better and for worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.

[Translation]

    Where does procreation come into it?

[English]

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    Dr. Margaret Somerville: Those are the vows. Did you put in the vow of faithfulness there? I don't think so.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: A priest gave me that.

[English]

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    Dr. Margaret Somerville: And forsaking all others, yes. Why we forsake all others is because marriage is essentially the commitment of one's reproductive facilities. There is even case law--and this sounds horrible, but there is a case called Orford v. Orford where the courts had to decide in the 1920s whether artificial insemination was adultery, because the woman in this marriage had been artificially inseminated in order to have a child. What the court did was try to work out what was the essence of adultery. What it ruled was that it is when a married person—I just can't think of the word that they used—is submitting their reproductive faculty to somebody who is not the other married partner.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: And what year was that?

[English]

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    Dr. Margaret Somerville: That was 1925, but it was the definition of marriage.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: All right, but you also know that, in 1925, according to the definition of marriage, in Quebec, among others—you work at McGill University and you're a Quebecker—the husband was the head of the family and the woman owed him fidelity and obedience. A woman who married became virtually incompetent from a legal standpoint; in that respect, she was the equivalent of a child. You're talking about a definition that dates back to 1925; I would ask you to...

[English]

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    Dr. Margaret Somerville: Could I reply to that? I think that is a really important point and it is one of the points I hoped would come up.

    I make a distinction between what I would call the essence, or the nature and quality, of the institution and its collateral features. The fact of the woman, for instance, being not equal to the man I think is a collateral feature in the marriage; it is not of the essence of it. To me the essence of marriage is the procreative commitment and capacity.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: I understand that. On the other hand, I can tell you that, if all those around this table or in this room were asked what they thought was the essence of marriage, the answers would be highly varied; some would tell you that it's procreation, others mutual support, still others material benefits and, lastly, some would say that it's friendship and mutual support. So the essence of marriage is highly subjective.

    That said, you raised the question of procreation and I would like to return to that subject. As I have done a number of times in this committee, you talk about people who do not want to have children or can't have children. In my opinion, if the basis of marriage is procreation, those who can't or won't have children shouldn't have to marry.

    However, your answer, from someone who holds a doctorate, surprised me. You responded to my argument that such situations did not taint the “procreative symbolism of marriage”. So, in such cases, procreation, in your view, is no longer an absolute priority, and you then talk about symbolism. You reduce your own argument on procreation to something symbolic.

    However, symbolism is inherently subjective because it is interpreted differently by each person. I was very surprised to see that your argument came down to a question of symbolism.

[English]

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    Dr. Margaret Somerville: We have to make a distinction between the operation of an institution at an individual level and at a general societal level.

    Humans have always created what is called the societal, cultural paradigm around the two great events of every human life. One of them is birth and the other one is death. It is no accident that this morning we have talked of birth and funerals, marriage and funerals, because they surround those two great events.

    Part of the birth ritual, procreation, is marriage—marriage that symbolizes the inherently procreative relationship. Just because that symbolism is intangible does not mean that it is not extremely important. Indeed, it is very old and it is universal across human society, so if we are thinking of changing that, which is what you are arguing for, we have to understand the full impact of what we are doing. That is what I meant.

À  +-(1010)  

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. McKay.

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    Mr. John McKay: Thank you, Chair. Thank you, witnesses.

    I would say that marriage and funerals are not two great events. One is a great event. The other is not such a great event for the guy who's going.

    Professor Igartua argues that marriage sends a message, and the message that she wants to get out is the equality of homosexual relationships, the acceptance of homosexual relations, that it will lead to greater self-esteem, the improved mental health of homosexual couples, etc. She then concludes that those consequences will flow from the acceptance of homosexuals in marriage.

    Professor Somerville, you, on the other hand, argue-- and I read last night's paper and I don't know whether it's changed since then--in regard to one of the options being proposed, that should Parliament repeal the laws on marriage and abandon the area of marriage, it would not be a neutral act; it would necessarily change the values and symbolism, which are virtually the same words as Professor Igartua associated with marriage.

    Then you go on and say that: “The discrimination involved in the exclusion is a secondary effect which is not desired but unavoidable, and it is justified or excused by the primary purpose which otherwise cannot be realized”. In some respects the two of you hit on the essence of this argument that marriage is a message, which is quite clear.

    I am directing this question to you, Professor Somerville. Do you agree with the conclusion that is arrived at by Dr. Igartua, that the other issues that motivate the homosexual community to move this project forward will in fact be resolved by the admission of homosexuals into the status of marriage?

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    Dr. Margaret Somerville: I can't answer that question because I don't know and I'm not an expert on it.

    But I listened to Dr. Igartua's presentation. I am in full sympathy with what she says. I think it is appalling, and that is why I am very against people who oppose same-sex marriage on the basis of opposition to homosexuality. If that is why you are opposing it, I'd think very seriously about whether we shouldn't abandon marriage. But I don't think we need to do that, and I do think we need to work extremely hard to remedy the absolutely awful type of situation that she described to us this morning.

    I don't think we need to change the essential nature of marriage to do that. In fact, I think it would be harmful for all children, whatever their later sexual orientation, to do that, because I still think children are best brought up by their own biological parents. That is another part of why I think we have marriage. But it is true that we need to work extremely hard to stop discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

À  +-(1015)  

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    Mr. John McKay: You say that changing the definition of marriage would not be a neutral act, and I tend to agree with that. It would change the values and symbolism associated with marriage. Can you be a bit more specific about that? I am not sure we can forecast this.

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    Dr. Margaret Somerville: I think what marriage is and what it has been over history is a societal, cultural institution that symbolizes, supports, and helps to regulate the inherently human reproductive relationship and the conditions that in all of our western democracies now we place around that; that is, its aspiration at least, even if it is not always fulfilled, is that one man and one woman remain faithful to each other and, between them, produce children, and that this institution is meant to both encourage and support that situation so that we have the next generation of humans. That's essentially what it is about. It is about the transmission of human life from one generation to the next.

    We are facing unprecedented challenges to respect for human life at the moment because of our new reprogenetic techno-science. Therefore, what I have argued in my brief is that it is more important than ever to keep both the symbolism and the institution that puts value on that inherently procreative relationship for society and for generations to come, because we won't be just changing this for ourselves, we will be changing it for all future generations. We have to think about impact down the line as well.

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    Mr. John McKay: Professor Igartua, people who argue for the traditional definition of marriage in a manner that, say, Professor Somerville has here are frequently characterized as homophobic. And I think you used the phrase “subtle and not-so-subtle forms of homophobia”. Would you take the view that argumentation such as Professor Somerville's is in fact homophobic?

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    Dr. Karine Josée Igartua: I'm going to sidestep that question a little bit and actually look at her argumentation. She's making an argumentation based on biology. And although this is not a debate of reproductive technologies and cloning, when I listened to her presentation that's what it sounded like.

    Yes, there is a procreative potential in some couples who marry, but not in all couples. We don't forbid post-menopausal women from marrying. We don't forbid infertile people from marrying. And her argument about biological parents staying with biological children really puts adoptive children and adoptive families as second-class families, something that Quebec law--I'm not familiar with other provinces--abolished in 1982, when they made all children equal.

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    Mr. John McKay: So can we conclude, therefore, that people who advance positions such as Dr. Somerville's, which protect the traditional values that are inherent in marriage, are not arguing from a homophobic basis, whatever that--

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    Dr. Karine Josée Igartua: I'm not going to agree or disagree with that. I'm saying that the argument of procreation for marriage doesn't hold water. And what motivates it behind this, I'm not sure; I can't speak for her psyche. But what I'm saying is, that argument in and of itself doesn't hold.

    Where Dr. Somerville and I agree is that marriage is a profoundly symbolic institution and that this symbolism, depending on how it is handled by the government, either sends a message that everybody is equal and that everybody deserves the same dignity or that some people deserve dignity and some people don't.

À  +-(1020)  

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    The Chair: Mr. Breitkreuz. Three minutes.

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: I would like to use some of my time to allow Ms. Somerville to react to that, because she hasn't had an opportunity to do that.

    Ms. Somerville, how would you reply to what Dr. Igartua just said?

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    Dr. Margaret Somerville: I don't have a problem with what Dr. Igartua has said. I think she's right. I think there's terrible discrimination against homosexuals and that we have to prevent it. But I think it's wrong to try to do that by saying we're going to change marriage as one of the ways to do it.

    I also want to respond to the adoptive parents situation. I'm not saying they're second-class citizens at all. But one of the things we need to look at is what do we.... For instance, a good comparison is surrogate motherhood. There's no practical difference between a surrogate mother and a woman who gives up her child for adoption. The difference is that the surrogate mother gets pregnant intending to give away the child, whereas the adoptive mother usually accidently gets pregnant. And then we have, in society, this feeling of the terrible trauma for her of giving up that child and giving it to somebody else. And I think this shows us that not only is it true that parents naturally bond to their children, or at least we hope they do, and we want to encourage it, but also we make a special situation around where we see a woman as forced to give up the child for the benefit of the child, which is adoption, as compared with surrogate motherhood, where we see her as simply choosing to give up the child, and we don't accept that.

    On the whole, surrogate motherhood is not accepted, and indeed, the new Bill C-13 is going to discourage it even further by prohibiting any professionals being involved in arranging it, prohibiting any advertising, prohibiting any financial transactions.

    So there are differences between those situations.

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    The Chair: Ms. Ricard wanted to intervene at this point. Is that right?

[Translation]

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    Ms. Nathalie Ricard: I would like to comment on a number of points that have been debated. First, I would like to mention that I think it's unfortunate that you did not receive my brief in English; I think that, because of that, a number of people were unable to read what I wrote or to know who I was.

    So I'll tell you briefly that I've done research on homoparental families. I find it interesting to present my viewpoint since I've published on the subject. In my opinion, people very often adopt the comments of homosexual parents without really considering what they actually said and how they live their lives.

    In the preceding comments, I believe there was confusion between procreation and reproduction. It is very important to draw a distinction between the two. It is true that procreation in the biological sense belongs solely to heterosexuals, and there isn't one homosexual who will claim the opposite. However, it is also true that heterosexual marriages do not lead solely to procreation, but also to reproduction. I believe that, in that respect, Ms. Somerville develops an argument that concerns all methods of reproduction. But that's not the point of the discussion. We're talking about the institution of marriage and how marriage can lead our society to be more open, to integrate and accept the reality of homosexuals into the reality of the family. That's important. That makes all the difference in fighting discrimination.

    I must be brief, but I would like to say that, in my view, it is very important, in the context of our everyday life and our experience of life, to think again about the place marriage occupies in all families. It is important to open this institution up to all citizens.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mrs. Jennings.

[English]

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    Mrs. Marlene Jennings (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, Lib.): First, I would like to start by thanking all of you for your presentations. You've all raised some really important issues.

    I would like to ask you something, Dr. Somerville. Basically you come down, as you've just said, to a biological argument saying that marriage is society's institution that recognizes an inherent potentially procreative relationship between a man and a woman. Then you pose the question, is it discrimination if Parliament continues to limit marriage as an institution to opposite-sex couples? And you say yes, but discrimination at times can be positive, and while it may cause harm, the greater good justifies the harm that it creates.

    Am I right?

À  +-(1025)  

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    Dr. Margaret Somerville: That's one line of argument, which I've explored, but it's not the only one.

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    Mrs. Marlene Jennings: No, I understand that. I want to deal with just that one line of argument.

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    Dr. Margaret Somerville: Yes, except that I think it's very important to put it in the context that I also believe the essence of marriage is outside of a discriminatory context. But if you want to do the discrimination argument, that's the way you do it.

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    Mrs. Marlene Jennings: Well, you deal with the discrimination argument and you say, if we're dealing with the discrimination argument, you believe that in that case the discrimination is justifiable because the greater good outweighs the potential and real harm it may cause.

    My understanding of Canadian constitutional and charter law is that normally when one discriminates in a positive fashion, it's to redress an inequality that has existed and still exists, and with one notable exception, it's a minority group that is being protected or that the redress is aimed at for the past and current discrimination. The one notable group is women. In fact, we are the majority of this society, but we know that historically the condition of women has been that of a minority group.

    In this case, how would we then justify the discrimination against a minority group, but discriminating in favour of the majority? I'm really interested, because I have difficulty with your argument.

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    The Chair: We'll go to Ms. Somerville and then Mr. Ménard.

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    Dr. Margaret Somerville: The answer is to put it in charter terms; that when you're discriminating in favour of women it's affirmative action, which is discrimination for positive reasons, and that is justified under the charter as affirmative action. But the justification I would use here is not that justification. It's a section 1 justification: what is “reasonable in a free and democratic society”--the Oakes case, and all of the balancing that goes on under that test, which was set up by the Supreme Court of Canada. So it's a different justification.

[Translation]

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    Le président: Mr. Ménard.

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: I'm not going to continue along the lines of this elegantly delusional anthropological vision that some witnesses want to present to us. Instead I would like to carry on with Richard and Karine Josée and on the question of the legislative environment and what it can mean for self-acceptance.

    From what I understand, you are two health professionals who devote the better part of your energy to ensuring that people who go to see you accept themselves and live in a more acceptable environment.

    I'm going to come back to something that I think is very important. The Criminal Code was amended to add provisions on hate crimes. I don't want to discuss the legislative aspect, but I would like to know whether, as health professionals, you note anything specific about the fact of having been a victim of hate crimes, particularly those directed against the victim's sexual orientation.

    Furthermore, if I understand correctly, in the memory suppression mechanism and in everything entailed in the passage through the stages of victimization, there is something very particular. Ultimately, the only way to fight all that is to live in a more accepting environment. In that respect, marriage among common law spouses and all the range of legislative measures can help those who discover their homosexuality at the age of 15, 18 or 40 to accept themselves better.

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    Dr. Karine Josée Igartua: As you noted, we devoted part of our brief specifically to hate crimes.

[English]

    There is data out of California, specifically, that has studied the effects of hate crime and compared the victims of hate crime to the victims of random crimes—people who got attacked to steal their wallet as opposed to someone who was attacked as gay bashing. What they found is the effects—the post-traumatic stress that occurs—is much stronger in a victim of a hate crime. In fact, the psychological sequelae last around five years, whereas the psychological sequelae of a random act of aggression last around two years. The thinking behind that is that it's because it goes to attack the essence of what the person really is; it goes to attack their sense of self-esteem.

À  +-(1030)  

[Translation]

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: You chose to use English to convince us. I don't bear you a grudge.

[English]

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    Dr. Karine Josée Igartua: I was listening to some of the previous interventions, and you had a question about adaptation difficulties with parents. I wanted to address that specifically, because I think it is a valid question you had for Danielle Julien, and I'm not sure you got a satisfactory answer.

    It is true that there are high rates of suicide, that depression, anxiety, and substance abuse are more common. What we have found in our centre is that these things occur during the coming-out period. If we have to put an age package on it, we are looking at the early twenties. This is when all of this happens. In fact, suicide attempts correlate most strongly with the period of coming out to one's parents, which is interesting, because families should be a source of support but in this case are a source of stress.

    Gays and lesbians who have kids do not have kids by accident, obviously, so they are not having kids in their early twenties; they're having kids much later. You could ask the Lesbian Mothers Association for some data, and I am sure they would be happy to give it to you.

    These women and men are having kids much later on. They are having kids after this period of crisis. They have to have a certain sense of self-esteem and confidence within themselves before they decide to bring kids into their lives. That was one thing I really wanted to clarify for you.

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    The Chair: Madame Ricard. I think she even wanted to speak before you suggested she wanted to speak. Go ahead, Madame Ricard.

[Translation]

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    Ms. Nathalie Ricard: Thank you very much for allowing me to speak again.

    I would like to come back to the question of homophobia and the difference between hate crimes based on homophobia and those based on antisemitism, racial and other problems. Two researchers, Nardi and Bolton, have done a great deal of research on the subject in the United States. Here the research on this problem is not as far advanced. Those two researchers said that the most significant difference with regard to crimes based on sexual orientation—read homosexual—is that this thing is not named and denounced. There is still too much silence around it. The fact that public authorities do not take a clear stance and say that they want institutions to be open to all citizens sends a biased message to the public. It suggests that it is all right to discriminate against gays and lesbians because they aren't like everyone else. That's the highly significant part of the symbolic message that they've noted. In the case of other hate crimes, antisemitic and others, people mobilize and say they don't agree and that it's not right. In the case before us, it's less clear and that's why we're asking the government to take a position. It has the power to send a clear message so that this discrimination stops and the silence is broken on violence against gays and lesbians.

[English]

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Macklin, please be very brief, because we are over the time now.

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: Thank you, Chair, and thank you, witnesses.

    What seems to be coming up constantly is the question of self-esteem within the homosexual community and how to raise that self-esteem. The government obviously showed some degree of leadership from the federal perspective in the Modernization of Benefits and Obligations Act in the year 2000. It basically provided from the federal perspective an equality of access to services and benefits at the federal level.

    The question that is being raised and very articulately put this morning is the question of whether or not a significant benefit would be achieved by the homosexual community by gaining rights to the symbol of marriage. As I reflect on it, I am concerned about whether or not access to the symbol either depreciates the value of the symbol or in fact might even cause a backlash and therefore not be as positive as you might suggest in terms of raising self-esteem within the homosexual community.

    I wonder if you could comment on that, particularly Professor Igartua and Dr. Somerville.

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    Dr. Karine Josée Igartua: If the concern is depreciating the symbol, then we have to look at what would make the symbol depreciate. It would be adding something negative to the symbol. Adding something negative in this case would be adding homosexuals to the symbol. Inherent in that concern is the idea that homosexuals are negative in some way, or that they are bad in some way. That is what is inherent in the concern of devaluing marriage.

À  +-(1035)  

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: That can be looked at as negative, but if you add something different, that also has an effect, doesn't it?

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    Dr. Karine Josée Igartua: But your concern was not changing; your concern was depreciating.

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: That is right.

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    Dr. Karine Josée Igartua: Depreciating implies adding something negative.

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: There is an implication, but there is also a possibility that it could be simply different, and therefore the meaning is not as—

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    Dr. Karine Josée Igartua: It may be different and equal, not different and depreciated. If it is depreciated, it is because you've given it something negative.

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    Dr. Margaret Somerville: I agree with that. I think it's an unfortunate choice of words.

    My objection is that it necessarily destroys that symbolism because marriage cannot symbolize the inherently procreative relationship if it includes same-sex couples. Whether the destruction of that symbolism is a good thing or a bad thing is a further question. I happen to think it is a very bad thing for society. To the extent that we have to compensate the homosexual community for any negative effects of restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples, then I think ethically that puts an onus on us to do more than we are doing at present.

    There is another point that has not come up. As well as the homosexual community and its claim to same-sex marriage, there is a grouping of communities who believe that the inherent nature of marriage and their own religious beliefs, as we heard this morning, mean marriage can't include same-sex couples. We don't have to agree with those beliefs to say that it is a good thing for us in Canada, as far as we are able, to try to respect others' religious beliefs—particularly of those with whom we disagree, because that is ultimately the test of a civilized society. So I think we also need to think about those claims, even though we disagree with them, and about what is required for mutual respect.

    There is a section in my brief on mutual respect from both sides, which I think is extremely important.

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: Thank you.

[Translation]

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    The Chair: You've been a great help to us in our proceedings. Thank you.

[English]

    It has been a particularly interesting and thoughtful round, and we appreciate that.

    I want to make a very quick change—two minutes this time for everybody to leave and the next panel to come forward. We are running seriously behind schedule.

    I will suspend for two minutes.

À  +-(1038)  


À  +-(1042)  

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    The Chair: I call back to order the 39th meeting of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

    From now until 11:30 a.m. we will be hearing from la Fédération des femmes du Québec, Vivian Barbot and Evangeline Caldwell.

[Translation]

We will also hear from the representatives of the Coalition québécoise pour la reconnaissance des conjoints et conjointes de même sexe, Francis Lagacé and Jean-Pierre Leclerc.

[English]

    I think you understand it is seven minutes for the presentation; then there are follow-up questions. I am going to start immediately. We are running a little late, so I warn members of the committee that I am going to be very conscious of the time.

    We'll go to the Fédération des femmes du Québec, Madame Barbot.

[Translation]

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    Mme Vivian Barbot (présidente, Fédération des femmes du Québec): Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for allowing us to speak before you today.

    On behalf of the Fédération des femmes du Québec, of which I am President, I want to outline to you the vision of our 850 individual members and 160 associate members who make up the Fédération des femmes du Québec.

    Our federation is also known for organizing the World March of Women in 2000, an initiative in which 6,000 women's groups from 161 countries took part. This means that the positions we adopt are widely shared. The federation is known for its egalitarian vision of society, so that, between men and women, there is that community of interest which will enable us one day to achieve equality. It's in that context that we are making our recommendation to you.

    The Fédération des femmes du Québec recommends that the government change the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples. The idea would be to replace the words “a man and a woman” by “two persons”. Putting an end to the exclusion from marriage of gay and lesbian couples is the only way to eliminate discrimination against gays and lesbians. In addition, it would confer full-fledged citizenship on them.

    We're going to talk about the three points addressed in the discussion paper.

    The first is marriage.

Some feel strongly that governments should continue to support marriage as an opposite-sex institution, since married couples and their children are the principal social unit on which our society is based.

That's what's stated in the discussion paper.

    In our opinion, the expression “married couples and their children” used as a synonym for family is entirely false. Families change over the years. Unfortunately, we observe that homoparental families, that is to say those consisting of same-sex spouses, are often forgotten when it comes to matters of family and, of course, marriage. Thousands of families consist of gay and lesbian couples and their children. In our opinion, this reality must be included in any discussion of marriage and, especially, of equality.

    In particular, I would like to say a word on the connection between procreation and marriage. Its cited as an exclusion, whereas it is not stated that procreation is a reason for marriage. If such were the case, a lot of couples would not be entitled to marry. However, that is not the case.

    With regard to religion, it's said that a number of persons think that religion is opposed to same-sex marriages. That is not the case. On the contrary, a number of churches, in particular the Unitarian Church, the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto and the Quakers, are entirely prepared to celebrated such marriages.

    As to the matter of forcing priests or other religious ministers to celebrate marriage, the Civil Code of Quebec in particular provides a potential solution in article 367, which states:

367. No minister of a religion may be compelled to solemnize a marriage to which there is any impediment according to his religion and to the discipline of the religious society to which he belongs.

    Furthermore, marriage, it is said, could remain an institution involving two persons of the opposite sex. In that scenario, the definition of marriage would be the union between a man and a woman, and the federal government could include an override clause. In our opinion, that would be inadequate. That would be the first time Parliament proceeded in that manner and it would be utterly discriminatory as well.

    The second part talks about developing a registry which would be considered the equivalent of marriage. Obviously, when you talk about equivalents, you thereby admit that it's not the same thing. You talk about the notion of “separate but equal” and you introduce a special law. Here again, this is a discriminatory measure since the laws must be made in such a way that they can apply to everyone.

À  +-(1045)  

So, by setting aside same-sex couples, we would be reinforcing a discriminatory situation.

    Section 16 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms prohibits discrimination. That section has two parts:

(1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

    That's very clear. Second, it states:

(2) Subsection (1) does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

    Thus, the second part of section 15 does more than make access to equality programs possible. In fact, it actually shows the Charter's interest as an instrument for inclusion which promotes full-fledged citizenship for all Canadians.

    In our opinion, marriage could very well include same-sex couples, and an act is needed in order to include same-sex couples in marriage. Acts, regulations and programs would not have to be amended. There would be just a few concordances to establish with the Divorce Act. In Quebec, reference can already be made to article 365 of the Civil Code.

    As to religious institutions, we already talked about them earlier.

À  +-(1050)  

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    The Chair: Mr. Lagacé and Mr. Leclerc.

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    Mr. Francis Lagacé (Spokesperson, “Coalition québécoise pour la reconnaissance des conjoints et conjointes de même sexe”): Affiliation: Mr. Francis Lagacé (Spokesman, Coalition québécoise pour la reconnaissance des conjoints et conjointes de même sexe; Confédération des syndicats nationaux) I am the spokesman for the coalition, and Mr. Leclerc is the co-presenter. I'm also a member of the CSN and Mr. Leclerc is a member of the FTQ. He will start and I will take over after that.

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    Mr. Jean-Pierre Leclerc (Spokesperson, “Coalition québécoise pour la reconnaissance des conjoints et conjointes de même sexe”): Good morning. Thank you for agreeing to hear us.

    The purpose of the Coalition québécoise pour la reconnaissance des conjoints et conjointes de même sexe, which was founded in 1998, is to eliminate systemic discrimination against gay couples, lesbian couples and their families in legislation and social policy as well as in the labour market.

    In addition to organizations for the promotion and defence of gay and lesbian rights, the Coalition includes major players from civil society. All the members of those organizations represent more than a million individuals. The Coalition has spoken out in favour of the passage of acts, such as the Act to amend various legislative provisions respecting de facto spouses in Quebec City in 1999, the Modernization of Benefits and Obligations Act in Ottawa in 2000 and the Act instituting civil unions and establishing new rules of filiation in Quebec City in 2002.

    The Coalition is also the co-complainant in the Hendricks-Leboeuf case, involving that gay couple and the Attorney General of Canada in a discrimination case under section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Coalition believes that the government should play a leadership role in this issue and put an end once and for all to the manner in which gay and lesbians are treated as second-class citizens.

    Now let's talk about efforts to achieve equality. Based on the inclusion of sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination in the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1977, the gay and lesbian communities had a solid legal foundation enabling them to claim equal rights and respect for their persons. The passage of legislation finally recognizing same-sex couples in the late 1990s was welcomed with relief. But full equality has not yet been achieved. The message sent by Canada's current laws is that some types of unions are better than others and are recognized by the state.

    In Quebec, it has been recognized that gays and lesbians, same-sex couples and the families they form are as valid and as humanly useful to society as the others. Article 365 of the Civil Code of Quebec has been amended to provide that marriage is a union between two persons.

    But civil union has its limits. The first of those limits is that it cannot affect the substantive issue which is a federal jurisdiction. The second is that it is not exportable. There's no guarantee that civil unions can be recognized as equivalents in the other provinces. The third limit is that it does not apply to federal statutes. As a result, it cannot serve as a basis for providing Canadian citizenship to a foreign spouse who has married a Quebecker.

    The fourth limit is symbolic in nature. As the symbolic function is what distinguishes civilized beings from others, this aspect is of the greatest importance in relations between citizens and in general conduct in society. The fact that civil union is not marriage leads people to believe that marriage, which is reserved for opposite-sex couples, is a superior form of union and that same-sex couples are less worthy of recognition than others. In an advanced democratic society, this type of situation is unacceptable.

    What same-sex couples are seeking in access to marriage is to provide the family they compose and any children they may have with the rights and responsibilities falling to any Canadian family. The creation of a different union for same-sex couples or any other parallel solution would create a variation on the theory of separate but equal. We do not think that doctrine desirable in a democratic state.

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    Mr. Francis Lagacé: Now I'm going to address the objections directed at us.

    It's said that the purpose of marriage is procreation, but procreation is unrelated to marriage in theory or practice. First of all, it's concerns for passing on family property that have supported the prevalence of marriage. One need look no further for the cause of all the problems suffered by bastards in the history of the West. Fortunately, the civil law has abolished the notion of illegitimate child.

    I'll set aside the other objections that have already been clearly stated, such as adoption and the existence of children outside marriage, which refute this idea of procreation.

    Another argument set up against us is that same-sex marriage goes against religion. That argument is fallacious as well because some religions accept same-sex marriages and no one is forced to celebrate marriages against his beliefs.

    Another objection is that same-sex marriages open the door to polygamy. We don't understand that argument because we don't see how recognizing same-sex couples would be an incentive to variable geometry marital structures. We know perfectly well that, in the case of polygamy, one person has and dominates a number of spouses of the opposite sex. That is not at all what we are seeking and it has nothing to do with it. Furthermore, Minister Cauchon himself recently recognized this.

    Now let's analyze the options that have been put forward by the committee.

    It's stated: “Marriage could remain an opposite-sex institution.” We would prefer to talk about a different-sex institution. Under the current situation, same-sex couples are kept in a second class. The situation perpetuates discrimination and deprives couples and their families of marriage-related rights and obligations, while isolating them socially. This is not a good situation.

    The discussion paper also talks about the creation of a civil union or a registered partnership reserved for same-sex couples without touching the definition of marriage. This solution is even worse than the problem, since it certifies the odious theory of separate but equal, which justifies discrimination and segregation. This solution is utterly unacceptable.

    “Marriage could be changed to also include same-sex couples.” This is the best solution since it's the only one that makes it possible to recognize gays and lesbians as citizens equal to other citizens.

    “With the cooperation of the provinces and territories, Parliament could leave marriage to the religions.” We think this solution is impracticable because it runs counter to the evolution of Western societies, which secularize institutions rather than give them a religious nature. It also opens the door to major disputes between the various provincial legislatures for harmonizing the various statuses.

    Our final recommendation is thus to amend the act so that marriage is accessible to same-sex couples.

À  +-(1055)  

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Marceau, you have seven minutes.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thanks to the witnesses for their presentations, which were very interesting.

    Mr. Lagacé, I'll start with you. Some opponents came to warn us and ask us to take precautions and watch out because we had to consider all the possible ramifications and consequences, and they told us that in a tone that suggested dark consequences for civilization as a whole if this proposal were adopted.

    I know that you know a lot about what's going in the world. Apart from Belgium, which very recently adopted same-sex marriages, the only example we have is the Netherlands, which has permitted same-sex marriages for a little more than two years. According to the studies you have seen, have more people in the Netherlands declared themselves homosexual because marriage was now available? Has there been a decline in the birth rate? Have heterosexuals stopped marrying? Have heterosexuals stopped seeing each other because homosexuals have access to this institution?

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    Mr. Francis Lagacé: No. None of the studies or information we've seen, none of the reports that have been prepared on the situation in the Netherlands or Belgium state that there have been any of these catastrophic consequences for society. So it's not true. Everything is continuing as it did before: the birth rate has not changed, there aren't any more divorces and no more people have declared themselves homosexual.

    It's true that, in the history of society, the more we advance in time, the more people declare themselves homosexual because more and more people are aware of the fact and accept themselves. But they aren't people who suddenly become homosexual; they are people who already were homosexual and who are now beginning to say so. If we find that it's bad to say who we are, that's a big problem.

    I don't think we can see that kind of problem, we know that approximately 200 couples have been married since civil union came into effect in Quebec last year. It's even a little more than that, but, around March, there were 200 couples. We're not seeing the collapse of Quebec society. On the contrary, I believe it's doing very well, even better than before.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Isn't the argument that marriage will be undermined if homosexuals have access to the institution fallacious, and couldn't the contrary occur? People like you, like Mr. Hendricks or other couples who've come to meet us, spend time and money—and God knows that lawyers are expensive; I'm one—and energy because the battle is emotionally exhausting. Wouldn't providing access to marriage to people who believe in it so much that they're prepared to fight all these battles reinforce the institution instead of undermining it, in view of the fact that these are people who believe in it and who have shown it with all the initiatives they have taken and all the efforts they have made to gain access to it?

    Similarly to what you said, I would suggest that everyone read a book by Stéphane Nadaud entitled Homoparentalité: une nouvelle chance pour la famille? It's a book that was published by Fayard, in France, last year. It's an excellent book that shows how far families are consolidating by the fact that they've been recognized. It shows that, if same-sex spouses had access to marriage, that would provide equal status, as a result of which there would be recognition on both sides and marriage would no longer be a kind of bone of contention between gays and lesbians and heterosexuals.

    For the moment, there's a kind of separation as a result of which gays and lesbians say they aren't as worthy as others, that they are second-class citizens, that they look at others who are all right, who are normal, who are entitled to more, who are entitled to better, whereas they have to be content with what's left. We're realizing that homoparental families would benefit a great deal from that recognition.

    Another argument advanced on many occasions is that some people and religious institutions are afraid of being required to marry same-sex couples. In my opinion, that fear is unfounded because freedom of religion is protected by the charters. The Catholic Church, for example, is not forced to marry divorced persons or even to ordain female priests.

    That said, that fear was raised a number of times in this committee. Ms. Barbot referred to it. I'm going to put my question to Ms. Barbot, and, Mr. Lagacé, you will continue if you have something to add. Would you be comfortable if this committee decided to suggest that same-sex couples had the right to marry, and if we added a clause that would be article 367 of the Civil Code which states that no minister of religion may be forced to perform ceremonies that go against the dogma of his religion? We could even go further than the Civil Code and state black on white that no religious organization could lose any benefits or advantages, in particular fiscal ones if that religious organization or institution refused to marry same-sex couples.

    As people who are strongly, firmly and eloquently in favour of same-sex marriages, would you be comfortable with that clarification on religious freedom?

Á  +-(1100)  

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    Mrs. Vivian Barbot: Obviously, you refer to freedom and the word is there. At the same time, we want to preserve everyone's freedom. My freedom stops where that of others begins. So it is out of the question, when anyone requests access to something that concerns everyone, to create barriers to the freedoms of others. Consequently, your proposal is very well received.

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    Mr. Francis Lagacé: That doesn't bother me, but I'm going to tell you that no such provision is even necessary, in view of the fact that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms already guarantees freedom of religion.

    For example, the criteria of civil marriage and the criteria of religious marriage are not the same. In civil law, you may marry your first cousin, but you can't do so in the Catholic religion. There's nothing in the act requiring a Catholic priest to marry two first cousins.

    So I have nothing against that clarification, but it is absolutely not necessary.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: You understand that what I'm trying to do personally is to enable the state and religious institutions that so wish to marry same-sex couples, while allaying or eliminating the fears of a number of persons who came to state their views. That's the purpose of that proposal.

    I have one final question, which will be very brief. What would you say to the people who are so opposed to same-sex marriage that they came to tell this committee that, if the courts permitted same-sex marriage, the notwithstanding clause would have to be invoked to remove that right and freedom? How would you respond to those people?

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    Mr. Francis Lagacé: In that case, that means that people want to use the notwithstanding clause to justify unreasonable discrimination, just as the notwithstanding clause would be used to discriminate against cultural communities. That would be odious.

Á  +-(1105)  

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Thank you.

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    Le président: Mrs. Jennings, you have seven minutes.

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    Mrs. Marlene Jennings: I'm delighted that you've accepted my question; that's no doubt because it's a good one.

    Perhaps you attended the meetings we held this morning or even yesterday. If so, you heard certain arguments. I won't discuss those advocating the recognition of same-sex unions; instead I would like you to express your ideas on the arguments that were advanced against recognition.

    One of those arguments was presented by Professor Somerville. She relied on the premise that marriage is an institution that recognizes an inherent procreative relationship and that society must protect the institution. In my view, including recognition of same-sex couples would change the institution and what it symbolizes in a negative way, to all intents and purposes. She said that it would change it to such an extent that it would no longer be the same and that it would no longer have the same value in our society.

    I would like to hear Ms. Barbot, Mr. Lagacé on behalf of the CSN and the Coalition, and Mr. Leclerc on behalf of the FTQ and the Coalition. That's the first question.

    The second question concerns the argument that society would be opening the door to all kinds of possibilities for creating human beings through technologies other than traditional biological procreation. Out of a fear that that would grant same-sex couples an absolute reproductive right, according to that argument, we should retain the definition of marriage as it stands; that would put a stop to cloning, among other things.

    I would also like you to focus your attention on the following question. I must say that I felt personally hurt when we addressed the theory that biological parents would, in all cases, be preferable to adoptive parents. I'm not an adopted child myself, but I have a brother and a sister who are. I consider that they are my brother and my sister and that they were my parents' children.

    I know that some women in a number of societies carry a child for a member of the community to whom they are not necessarily related biologically, a woman or a couple who cannot have children. That's a historical fact that anthropologists have demonstrated and it was observed before the Europeans arrived. It was the Europeans who put an end to the practice.

    I would like you to comment on those two questions.

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    Mrs. Vivian Barbot: I'll talk about procreation first. Obviously, it's not stated anywhere that the purpose of marriage is procreation. As was said earlier, if that were the case, a lot of people would be excluded from marriage. However, the idea is to make it so that couples are able to be together for all kinds of reasons and to find in the institution what they need to be responsible for each other in life and to live life harmoniously with their children, where they have children.

    You will allow me a personal story. I have three children, one of whom is adopted. That child is homosexual. You have a child who tells you, at the age of 27, that he's homosexual. He's an extraordinary child, who has always given satisfaction and who always developed properly. I feel that my husband and I form an open family. Obviously, when you set that out as a principle, you don't know how far that openness goes. It is very easy to hide behind clichés and to say to yourself that your openness stops there, on the pretext that society has limits and that they must be respected. My husband is also white. If those laws had to be relevant, I wouldn't be married to that man and we wouldn't have adopted a child, and that child would be extremely unhappy at being unable to present himself as he is in his own family.

    This question is first and foremost a human question. The idea is to enable individuals who are completely normal—I even have trouble using the word—to develop, to be able to have children, to have a family which is like other families in all respects.

    They are neither better nor worse than others. If the law continued to prohibit this path, it would be extremely discriminatory and it would be truly an insult to Canada. We would have deviated from all the principles that have long governed our society.

    [Applause]

Á  +-(1110)  

[English]

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    The Chair: Mr. Lagacé.

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    Mr. Francis Lagacé: I would like to address the question of--

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    The Chair: What happens over the course of the day is that everybody listens to testimony and there's a tendency to be overly exuberant. I'd rather we not do that, if that's possible, but keep it at the level of the discussion.

    I don't want anyone feeling the need to support our witnesses by elevating a level of applause.

    Mr. Lagacé.

+-

    Mr. Réal Ménard: Or a kiss.

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    The Chair: Only during periods of suspension.

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: Don't be afraid.

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    The Chair: Mr. Lagacé.

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    Mr. Francis Lagacé: I would like to address the question of new technologies of reproduction in English in order to be sure that people understand what I have to say on that matter.

    There is no such thing as a claim to have an absolute right to procreate or to reproduce. We already do. We have children, so we are not asking for different ways to have or to raise children. We have them and we raise them. So this is not major.

    The question of new technologies of reproduction is a totally different question and is not addressed here, and we are not interested in it at all. We are talking about the institution of marriage in order to protect our families and our children.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    To Mr. Ménard.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: You aren't the toughest panel we've had; you're more in perfect sympathy with what we're saying. I believe we can go a little further in our thinking; you are all familiar with the background to this debate and we don't have to convince you of the reasons why this is an important debate. I would prefer to debate with you an additional argument to those that have been advanced.

    The question can be asked from a logical and sociological standpoint. When the Statistics Canada people, the second witnesses to come before the committee, came to meet us, they told us that, according to the last census, in Canadian society, 70 percent of people living as a couple reported that they were married, compared to 83 percent in the previous census. Some people wonder why gays want to enter the institution of marriage, when it's a somewhat deserted institution. It will readily be understood that, at 70 percent, marriage is still the institution preferred by the majority, although it is true that people are marrying less. If my boyfriend, who is black, wanted to marry me tomorrow morning, I would say yes with pleasure, but he doesn't want to because he's not at that point yet. That doesn't mean that you won't receive an invitation one day, but that's an observation. I would like you to explain why marriage is qualitatively superior to civil union and why people don't want just civil union. I'm talking about marriage as a symbol. I'm not talking about its legal effects, but rather about the values it entails. Why do you think it's important that members of the gay and lesbian community adhere to those values?

+-

    Mr. Francis Lagacé: I wouldn't want to steal an argument from Vivian, but it's the same as in the case of interracial marriages. If a civil union were created for interracial marriages, that union would give people the same rights, but it wouldn't be an equal marriage. What is the point in having a right to marriage when you're persons of different races? It provides social recognition. That means that we're equal citizens.

    When you label certain persons by saying that they aren't the same as others, people wonder whether those persons don't have some genetic defect or something else. That simple notion is utterly unacceptable in a civilized and democratic society.

Á  +-(1115)  

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    Mrs. Vivian Barbot: The question of the percentage is fallacious as well. If marriage is in decline and we want to increase the popularity of marriage, we can take measures for everyone. The fact that homosexuals adhere to marriage won't change the situation in any way.

    I'll tell you about women who, as everyone knows, haven't yet achieved equality with men. If the little protection that the law affords them is still unaccessible, they run a greater risk of being victims of discrimination. So, in that respect, we're talking about double discrimination.

    Why would an institution that is at everyone's service make it possible to exclude a certain class of people on false grounds? That's how we must attack the problem, it seems to me. This is a question of rights and freedoms, and that's true for gays and lesbians as much as it is for anyone.

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: And what do you say about values?

[English]

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    The Chair: Monsieur Leclerc.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Jean-Pierre Leclerc: I will simply add that, ultimately our fight for access to marriage is a fight for a right. I don't believe that, if homosexual couples were granted the right to marry tomorrow morning, all homosexual couples would jump at the chance tomorrow morning. They want a right, access to marriage. We live in the same society as heterosexuals and, on the whole, we have the same values and the same tendencies. It's not certain that all homosexual couples want to marry.

    I've been living with the same man for 32 years, and we're fighting for access to marriage, but I don't think we would marry if we had access to marriage. We've been living together for 32 years, and our life is built that way, but we get the impression we're second-class citizens because we don't have the choice to decide whether to marry or not. We can't marry, and that's the problem.

[English]

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    The Chair: Ms. Caldwell.

+-

    Ms. Evangeline Caldwell (“Fédération des femmes du Québec”): Mr. Chair, there are a few things. Earlier on we were mentioning symbolism. It goes further than symbolism. This is an institution of state. It is a civil institution. We are citizens. We're knocking on the door. We want in. Basically, that's what we're trying to do—we're trying to get in. Why are we trying to get in? Because we believe in it. Because we think it's a structure that can well serve not only our relationships but also our families, our children, as it does serve heterosexual families and children.

    But there's an added consequence to giving gays and lesbians civil marriage, and that is this thing called recognition. Recognition is going to ripple through the layers of society and that recognition will also help foster a climate of legitimacy of gay and lesbian relationships. I don't think we can underestimate that. It's subtle. It's not something you can grab and say, okay, I've got it. But it's something that permits significant and fundamental change in the conversation of how we are perceiving gay and lesbian people. In that sense, too, it's also important that we have access to an institution of state that is accessible to just about everyone else.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    I thank the panel very much. It's been very informative and I'm sure it will help our deliberations. Thank you for your time and attention.

    I'm going to suspend for five minutes to allow the next panel to come forward.

Á  +-(1120)  


Á  +-(1130)  

+-

    The Chair: I call back to order the 39e séance du Comité permanent de la justice et des droits de la personne.

    For the next hour we will have before us, from the Barreau du Québec, Pierre Gagnon and Suzanne Vadeboncoeur; and from Association des parents catholiques du Québec, Jean Morse-Chevrier, vice-présidente, and Jocelyne St. Cyr.

    I think you understand that you each have seven minutes to make a presentation on behalf of the organization you represent. That will be followed by questions from the committee.

    I go first to le Barreau du Québec.

[Translation]

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    Ms. Suzanne Vadeboncoeur (Director, Research and Legislation, “Barreau du Québec”): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Ladies and gentlemen, committee members, first I would like to emphasize that I am accompanied today by the elected president of the Barreau du Québec, Mr. Pierre Gagnon, who will take up his official duties on June 2.

    I am Director of the Research and Legislation Service and Secretary of the Standing Committee on Family Law of the Barreau du Québec; that's the committee that studied the discussion paper that is currently before us.

    First, I must tell you that the Barreau du Québec has always intervened in fields as important as family law, and it is a pleasure for us to accept the invitation concerning the discussion paper dated November 2002.

    Since this question is under extensive social and legal debate, the comments set out in the Barreau's briefs, which are produced by the Family Law Committee, are not necessarily unanimously supported by the 20,000 members of the Barreau du Québec. Like Canadian and Quebec society, the Barreau is a microcosm.

    In Quebec, the Barreau intervened in the debate on civil union. As you are likely aware, Quebec has faced legal challenges on a number of occasions, the leading one being the Hendricks case. In that case, the Superior Court granted a motion for declaratory judgment ruling invalid section 5 of Federal Law-Civil Law Harmonization Act No. 1 so that each language version takes the civil law and common law into account. I would remind you that section 5 states the following: “Marriage requires the free and enlightened consent of a man and a woman to be the spouse of the other.”

    The Government of Quebec preferred not to wait for the courts to decide the question and decided to introduce draft legislation to start a public debate on civil union. At that point, the legislation concerned only homosexual couples; ultimately, however, Bill 84, which was passed last year, applies to both heterosexual and homosexual couples.

    The provinces do not have jurisdiction over marriage and divorce, but we're nevertheless talking here about an institution which is intended to be a virtually identical reflection, with a few exceptions, of marriage, with all its legal effects, its solemn and public character and so on.

    The Barreau du Québec submitted a brief on both the draft legislation and the bill itself and came out in favour of the new institution of civil union. Having regard to the paper before us and the previous positions of the Barreau du Québec on this matter, the Barreau's Family Law Committee examined the paper and the three approaches it contains and opted for the second, that is including homosexual couples in the institution of marriage as we know it.

    With regard to observations, I would first say that, in my opinion, it is now up to Parliament and not the courts to resolve the question of same-sex couples. Although Parliament has stated on three occasions since 1999 that heterosexuality had to be a requirement of marriage, we believe that the courts set aside the government's orientation. It is therefore now up to Parliament to adopt a final position.

    Then, we observe that Quebec society has considerably evolved over the past 40 years, that is since the Quiet Revolution triggered by the Lesage government's coming into power in 1960. Socially, we have come to the point where we no longer consider it permissible to develop certain institutions which, like marriage, perpetuate social and legal inequalities.

Á  +-(1135)  

    Whereas same-sex marriage might have seemed paradoxical scarcely a few years ago, today we can only observe that homosexual couples are increasingly living in lasting conjugal unions, and increasingly with children. Social legislation has moreover evolved in the same direction, and, in recent years, we have seen an increase in the number of acts, regulations and programs recognizing same-sex spouses as having the same rights and benefits as those enjoyed by opposite-sex spouses.

    It is clear that, in the minds of some persons, the consequence of this new social reality is the break-up of the family and traditional values. That's why I believe the opportunity afforded us to start a public debate on this question is welcome.

    Marriage is synonymous with stability for heterosexual and homosexual couples.

    Since I have only one minute, we could come back to questions later. I therefore wish to state that the Barreau is in favour of the second approach. In the brief, you can read the reasons why we rule out the status quo and the purely religious marriage approach.

    I would like to say a few words on the option proposed to you by the Chambre des notaires, that a fourth ground for divorce be introduced, divorce by consent, and that it be excluded from the courts. For the reasons set out in the brief, the Barreau du Québec is strongly opposed to this formality and this amendment to the Divorce Act. In our view, divorce must remain public and solemn and marriages must continue to be dissolved by the courts, which are the only neutral and impartial arbiters that can genuinely guarantee that the rights of the parties concerned are respected. Thank you.

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    Le président: Thank you very much.

[English]

[Translation]

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    Ms. Jocelyne St-Cyr (President, “Association des parents catholiques du Québec”):

    Good morning, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for having us. I would like to introduce my companion, Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier, mother of four children and doctor of educational psychology, who is our expert at the association.

    For a number of years now, we have spoken out quite regularly on the major issues concerning the family. Over all those years, we have given voice to our members, associate and individual, who essentially come from families that have children in the schools.

    We are members of the Regroupement inter-organismes pour une politique familiale au Québec, and we cooperate with the Office international de l'enseignement catholique in Brussels. We reach nearly 7,00 families in Quebec scattered across 900 parishes. We are the link between school, the family, the Church and society.

    This brief will briefly address the idea of maintaining the definition of marriage as an institution involving two persons of the opposite sex, for the following reasons: respect and safeguarding the institution of marriage, its social value, education within marriage and freedom of religion.

    What does marriage mean for us? We have relied on the teaching defined by the Catechism of the Catholic Church and by an exhortation entitled Familiaris Consortio, which states:

The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman.
The natural law is immutable and permanent throughout the variations of history;

Conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter [...] it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility. In a word it is a question of the normal characteristics of all natural conjugal love.

    We identify with this definition of marriage. For us, the wedding ceremony is a personal and social act which commits the spouses for their entire lives, as man and woman, founders of a family, educators of children and living family cell within society.

    We also emphasize, as does the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the importance of procreation in marriage:

By its very nature, the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory.

    To give any other meaning to marriage is to distort it. We cite Jacques Chirac, President of the Republic of France:

We must not take the risk of distorting [...] [this] right [of marriage] or of trivializing it by putting it on the same level as other human realities of our time, which tend far away from the founding values of the family.

    Changing the definition of marriage, in our view, would affect our psychological and social identity as individuals and as married couples. We would no longer be able to identify with a social institution that would no longer reflect the most complete marital union, the basis of the family and society.

Á  +-(1140)  

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    Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier (Vice-President, “Association des parents catholiques du Québec”): What would be the characteristics of a form of marriage that would include two persons of the same sex? The fertile and procreative aspect of the couple and thus its status as the basis of the family network and as the core of society would be lost. That change would reduce marriage to the dimension of the interpersonal relationship, a relationship which itself would change in its essence. That relationship would mean an emotional and sexual exchange, but would lose the aspect of sexual complementarity between man and woman, with its resulting fertility. In fact, it is that complementarity which gives the emotional and sexual relationship its full meaning. In our view, it would a highly reductionist model of marriage to limit it to the least common denominator, the emotional and sexual aspect, as permanent or faithful as it might be.

    We could not subscribe to that proposition and we could not see ourselves in it, since it would lack two of the most fundamental characteristics of marriage: complementarity in union and fertility for procreation. On the other hand, marriage would be assigned characteristics which do not belong to it, that is sexual relations between persons of the same sex.

    Let's talk about the social value of marriage. This results in obligations for society. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us:

The importance of the family for the life and well-being of society entails a particular responsibility for society to support and strengthen marriage and the family. Civil authority should consider it a grave duty to acknowledge the true nature of marriage and the family, to protect and foster them, to safeguard public morality, and promote domestic prosperity.

    How can the value of marriage be transmitted in society? In our view, children are taught by the value and importance that society and the law attach to marriage. When society values marriage through the legal recognition it grants, that position is instructive for young people.

    On the other hand, when society promotes values incompatible with those of parents, there is a weakening and impoverishment of the transmission of parental values. Parents are put in a position of contradiction with social values instead of being helped by society in transmitting their family values.

    The recognition of civil unions between persons of the same sex would do enormous harm to society by weakening the family, according to Pope Jean-Paul II, who, on November 4, 2000, advised politicians around the world in the following terms:

...Christian legislators can neither contribute to formulating such a law nor approve it in a parliamentary assembly.

    He was speaking of all laws which might do harm to the family by attacking its unity and indissolubility or which could give legal validity to the union between persons, including those of the same sex.

    For a number of years now, in Quebec and elsewhere, in many books, videos and exercises used in the schools, the relationship between persons of the same sex has been presented as an alternative with respect to which a young person must make a choice. In October 1987, homosexuals marched on Washington, demanding the right to the teaching of homosexual acts in the schools.

    In 1972, the Gay Rights Platform sought encouragement and support for sex education courses taught by homosexual men and women, presenting homosexuality as a valid, healthy and viable lifestyle compared to heterosexuality. The organization also wanted any act limiting the age of sexual consent to be repealed.

    If those values are taught in the schools...

Á  +-(1145)  

[English]

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    The Chair: Ms. Morse-Chevrier, I haven't been able to get your attention, but our time is now very close to expired. Could you bring it to a conclusion.

[Translation]

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    Ms. Jocelyne St-Cyr: The institution of marriage is dear to us as married couples and Catholics concerned with the welfare of children, the family and society. In its present form, marriage reflects the deep and full commitment of a man and a woman to each other in permanent freedom and love.

    For all those reasons, we ask you to maintain marriage in its present form as an institution involving two persons of the opposite sex the vocation of which is set down in the very nature of man and woman, for the good of children, young persons, couples, families and society itself.

    Thank you.

[English]

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    The Chair: Merci.

    Mr. Breitkreuz.

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Thank you very much.

    Again, I want to thank you for your presentations here this morning.

    To the Association of Catholic Parents of Quebec, I appreciated your presentation as well. You have presented a very consistent theme, that the purpose of marriage is for procreation, and as parents, by definition, you are taking care of children. What effect do you think a change in the law could potentially have on children, positive or negative? I would like you to reflect a bit on that, because I didn't really pick up much in the presentation that explained the positive or negative effects this may have on children. In my mind, this is something that needs to be considered.

    The second part of my question to you would be this. If we make a change in the law and move in the direction of allowing for same-sex marriages and we see that it has a negative effect on children, do you think it is possible to reverse that, then, through legislation and go back to where we were? But the first part of my question is the one, as time is limited here, I'd rather you do first.

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    Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier: For us, there are quite a few negative effects that would take place if the courts and the legislature were to recognize marriage for same-sex couples. The first is the effect it would have on schools and on school programs. This is already present in schools in Canada and the United States and probably elsewhere.

    For the last two decades in Quebec we have had sex education programs. These have included contents on homosexual relationships where the children were put in a position of having to take a position with regard to same-sex relationships, both at the primary school level and the high school level. Even though the programs didn't include it at the primary school level, the videos and books that were in the schools did include that scenario in the schools. This was in the values clarification approach. But if society were to condone homosexual relations officially through the institution of marriage, this would give greater impact to the favourable impression that children would have of this as a possible lifestyle. We feel that it could, first of all, influence their choice, because in primary school and in the beginning of high school--and even pre-primary school because there is sex education even in kindergarten--this could affect the child's own sexual orientation. Secondly, it could cause conflict between the values that the child would be presented with at school and in the home.

    Homosexual relations are not accepted by the Catholic Church, and for Catholic parents it would put the parents in a difficult position wherein their children would be told, or at least given the impression through the contents of the materials, that this is a viable alternative for them as a lifestyle, whereas their parents would be teaching them otherwise. It would cause conflict within families and division within families.

    Also, it could cause difficulties with their faith, since children being brought up in the Catholic faith--as you know, we're a Catholic parents association so we're speaking particularly for that faith, but I'm sure it also applies to other faiths--are being taught by their faith that homosexual relations are unacceptable morally, but if in the schools they are being given the other impression, then it could also put them at odds with their faith and contribute to a breakdown of the children's faith and, therefore, of their religious and cultural heritage associated with that faith.

    It could also affect the question of adoption. Although adoption is already permitted to homosexual couples in Canada, it is nonetheless, we believe, preferable for a child to have both a mother and a father of different sexes that can give a child the model of the male-female relationship, the mother-father relationship, and the husband-wife relationship, which a homosexual couple can't really convey in the same way. Therefore, we believe that it's important, as much as possible, to take every measure to make it such that children would be likely to be adopted by a couple made up of a man and a woman.

    Those are some of the main points with regard to children.

    As to whether or not we could reverse a law once it is allowed, I'm not an expert in legal matters. We've been working for the last 20 years on different legal aspects, mostly to do with schools, and the trend certainly seems to be that once something is in place it certainly takes many years before it is reversed, once having gone through the whole process. To me, that just stands to reason. I can't see it being something that would be easily reversed.

Á  +-(1150)  

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Thank you.

    Maybe I'll turn to our legal experts.

    If in fact we see this is having a negative impact on our children, the most vulnerable in our society, and we feel that the changes that were made were not acceptable and that 10 or 20 years from now those changes have to be reversed, do you think it's possible to go back to what we have now? If it proves that what we have now is the best way of handling this issue and we make a mistake in this area, do you think we can reverse that?

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    The Chair: Ms. Vadeboncoeur.

[Translation]

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    Ms. Suzanne Vadeboncoeur: It's not a legal question.

[English]

    It's a social matter more than a technical matter. I think the House of Commons always has a choice to vote any legislation it wants; that's not the question that matters. It's the social consensus that will dictate the way a situation either has to be reversed or another law has to be voted.

    Technically speaking, it's possible to come back to the former situation, that's for sure; but it depends on the consensus. I think nowadays it's hard to say whether there is a consensus or not. I don't think there is big consensus on either side.

    To answer your question, yes, technically it's possible, but it will depend on what the social consensus will be then.

Á  +-(1155)  

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    The Chair: Mr. Breitkreuz, your time is up.

    Monsieur Marceau.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thanks to the witnesses for their presentations. I'm going to start by addressing the Barreau du Québec, Ms. Vadeboncoeur.

    A number of witnesses, among others constitutionalists, the Chambre des notaires du Québec and the Canadian Bar Association, have come and told us that, of the four options suggested in the Justice Minister's discussion paper, the creation of a national registry would not be constitutional because of the problem of the division of powers. You refer to that in your brief.

    The solution of leaving marriage to the religions would raise the same problem of division of powers because the person who marries couples does so on the basis of a licence from the province where he or she practises. Parliament thus could not tell a priest, an imam or a rabbi not to marry couples. Once again, this is the problem of the division of powers.

    The solution of leaving the definition of marriage as it stands currently raises serious problems with respect to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as we know. The three courts that have considered the question, the courts of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, have held unanimously that that violated the right to equality under section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Discussions have focused on section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and two courts have held that this is not justifiable in a free and democratic society. So, legally speaking, because of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the division of powers, there would only remain the possibility of granting same-sex couples the right to marry.

    Some have raised the possibility, and I would like you to tell me whether you think this is constitutional. If we take it for granted that my reasoning on the four options is right, if Parliament ever decided, in its legislation on marriage, to define marriage as the union between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others and if, within the Marriage Act, it created another form of union for same-sex couples, but that would not be called “marriage”, would simply being included in the Marriage Act save the creation of another conjugal form that would not be marriage?

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    Ms. Suzanne Vadeboncoeur: It's hard for me to give you a constitutional opinion in 30 seconds, but my first reaction is that, if the federal government legislated on a question of contract of civil union or domestic partnership, on the basic conditions of a marital union which is not called a marriage, that would be quite dubious in constitutional terms because it would be leading into the field of property and civil law.

    Moreover, that's why Quebec legislated with regard to civil union. It had a perfect right to do so. In one of our briefs on civil union, we raised a constitutional problem. As civil union was so identical to marriage, the problem could be that we could not do indirectly what the act prohibited us from doing directly. However, that's another problem.

    To answer your question, I would say that, if the federal government decided to legislate on a marital union that would not be called marriage, there could be a constitutional problem.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Thank you.

    Now I have a question for the Association des parents catholiques du Québec. You cited the Pope, who said that no Catholic legislator should do anything that would weaken marriage or that could threaten the indissolubility of marriage.

    Based on that, are you saying that not only should we not permit same-sex couples to marry, but that we should also eliminate the possibility for people to divorce?

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    Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier: With respect to divorce, the Catholic Church states that spouses may separate.

  +-(1200)  

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: But not divorce.

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    Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier: Divorce is a matter of civil society. The Catholic Church holds that, when a person is married and his or her marriage is still valid, that person may not remarry. For the Catholic Church, civil divorce does not represent the necessary dissolution of marriage. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: So we understand each other on the fact that the Catholic Church does not permit the dissolution of marriage, but that it agrees to live in a society where divorce is possible. We agree on that point.

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    Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier: Yes, divorce serves certain purposes.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: So based on the same principle, and recalling that we're not talking about religious marriage, in that no one is asking the Catholic Church to marry same-sex spouses, why is it that we don't apply the same principle as for divorce? You said yourself that divorce was a civil matter?

    Why can't we leave religious marriage as it is, that is defined in accordance with the Catholic religion, if you are Catholic, or the Jewish religion if you are Jew, but at the same time permit civil marriage between same-sex couples? That wouldn't in any way affect the dogma of the Catholic Church and would not force the Church to marry same-sex couples, just as, moreover—because you mentioned freedom of religion—no one has tried to force the Catholic Church to ordain female priests or to marry divorced persons because that goes against its dogma and its dogma must absolutely be respected within the Church.

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    Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier: There are a number of answers to that. First, a case was recently reported in Le Soleil concerning the Netherlands, where homosexual marriage is recognized. In the Netherlands, a government official had, for religious reasons, refused to perform the necessary civil formalities for a marriage to be referred to her position. She refused to marry two homosexuals and she was dismissed from her position. She won her case in municipal court, but her case will be considered by a higher court. This case already shows us that, despite freedom of religion, a person may lose his or her rights.

    In addition, this question does not concern only those who marry, but also affects all religious institutions, such as Catholic schools that should use the programs of the Department of Education, as is currently the case in Quebec. That has already caused problems in the context of the personal and social training program, in its sex education component, because of homosexual content. For some parents, that's unacceptable and inconsistent with the Catholic nature of certain private schools. It used to be public schools as well. For that reason, parents withdrew their children from the schools. Now there are thousands of children in Quebec who are home-schooled because there are conflicts of values between family and school.

    I don't think you can definitely say that this won't affect those who marry religiously. There are homosexual groups, in the United States, among others, which have stated quite clearly that there is a progression in demands for their rights: first it's civil union, then it will be marriage. One need only look at the schools question in Quebec to see the progression in the loss of religious rights of the institutions in Quebec. First, the school boards lost their denominational status, then it was the schools. Even the existence of religious instruction programs depends solely on a notwithstanding clause. So we can't say with any certainty that this erosion of rights won't occur.

    Lastly, when you say “civil marriage”, we object to that because we don't think that's really a marriage. There can never be a marriage when it is a union of two homosexuals. Since it doesn't have the characteristics of a marriage, it's not really a marriage.

[English]

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    The Chair: Mr. Macklin.

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: Thank you, Chair, and thank you, witnesses.

    With respect to the Association of Catholic Parents, I would like to pursue this a little further. When we were in Sudbury, as I recall, the representative on behalf of the bishops of that diocese came forward. When questioned about whether or not the Catholic Church might be able to live with an equivalent in terms of values, an institution in parallel, it seemed that they thought it might be possible.

    Do you as parents see that such an equivalency might be available without necessarily intruding further into your religious concerns?

  +-(1205)  

+-

    Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier: It sounds like you're talking about a civil union.

+-

    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: Yes.

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    Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier: Not marriage per se but a civil union.

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: Not design, but similar, yes.

+-

    Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier: Well, on that I'll quote the Pope in French--I don't have the quotation in English--wherein he objects to the recognition of civil unions. Here he's speaking of heterosexual civil unions, but as far as we're concerned it applies all the more to homosexual unions.

    As a position of the church and of parents, we think it would have the same negative effects, although not quite as severe, as those we objected to in terms of marriage for homosexuals. Our idea is that it would be giving a model recognized by society and by the law to children and therefore validating a lifestyle we believe is harmful to them.

    Here is the quotation by the Pope:

[Translation]

    In June 1999, the Pope said before the Pontifical Council for the family:

    The institution of the family has come under repeated attacks for some time now. Those attacks are all the more dangerous and insidious in that they misjudge the irreplaceable value of the family founded on marriage. False alternatives to marriage have been proposed and legislative recognition for those alternatives has been sought. But when laws which should be at the service of the family, which is fundamental for society, turn against it, they acquire an alarming destructive capability. In some countries, an attempt is being made to impose on society what are called “common law marriages”, reinforced by a series of legal effects which erode the very meaning of the institution of the family.

    We feel this is all the more true for common law unions between same-sex couples.

[English]

    Does that answer your question?

+-

    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: And as Christian parents looking at the family unit--and obviously the innocents within it being the children--these situations exist today. This is not an anticipation necessarily of there being more.

    How do you feel about the fact that we are leaving out of societal recognition those children who now find themselves being raised by parents in homosexual unions? Do you not think we should do something to assist those children in gaining recognition within our society?

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    Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier: Well, I think it's not a question of the children getting recognition when you're talking about civil unions and marriage for homosexuals; it's perhaps about one of the child's parents getting recognition in liaison with a sexual partner. The child has the recognition and the rights of every human person in this society.

    But we feel it's to the advantage of the child living in a homosexual home--it's to every child's advantage--that society defend the value of marriage and the family. That child himself has sexual complimentarity because of his own gender, and therefore has the potential to be called to marriage and to a heterosexual union himself. We need to keep that institution as a model and the frame for families for every couple and every child who is called to that potential. The child also needs it as a model.

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: With respect to the Barreau du Québec, the question we always have when we hear from legal groups is, first of all, did you simply look at the issue before us in the strictest of legal context, or did you also look at the broader social picture when you were creating your presentation for us today?

  +-(1210)  

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    Ms. Suzanne Vadeboncoeur: As I said before, we had the opportunity to think it over when the avant-projet de loi and then le projet de loi itself on the civil union was presented at the National Assembly. So of course there are the legal arguments, the charter arguments especially, but among ourselves of course there have been some discussions, and we were talking more as citizens than jurists. And there is a certain malaise, of course. I have to admit that.

    But since l'Église et l'État sont divisés, the state and the church are divided, we don't have any religious political system, we have to approach this problem more, as members of the Quebec bar, as jurists than social citizens. And the arguments based on the Charter of Rights, especially section 15 of the charter, are unbeatable. I mean, we have to recognize that. All the courts go in the same way. I think, in the future if there are more cases presented before the courts, I think we will see the same result.

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Macklin.

    Mr. Cadman, for three minutes.

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    I'd just like to direct a question to the Barreau. Yesterday we heard from a couple of witnesses who were advocating for multiple-partner relationships. Now we've heard throughout the course of these hearings from a number of legal experts, including the Law Commission of Canada, that if we were to change the definition of marriage to include same-sex unions, there would be no rational or logical reason to exclude other relationships. I'd just like to hear your comments on this.

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    Ms. Suzanne Vadeboncoeur: As we said in our paper, I think marriage should be addressed separately from other unions. I know domestic partnerships exist in other provinces. Civil unions exist in Quebec. And for those people who want to have the choice not to get involved in a very legal encadrement, let them choose whatever they want.

    I think, if the definition of marriage is widened it's okay for us, but I think it should not address at the same time other kinds of relationships or conjugal unions.

    Does that answer your question?

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: The legal opinions we were getting from some people were that there would be no rational reason to exclude others. That's what I'm asking. Is that a valid opinion?

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    Ms. Suzanne Vadeboncoeur: I think the reason to exclude them is to let people choose what they want. There should not be only one union conjugale. If people want to just be conjoints de fait, well, let them do it, without any special rules--except for children, of course--but between themselves, if they don't want to be regulated by any rules, so be it. If they want to be regulated by certain rules, l'union civile, for example, well, so be it; and if they want to get married, well, so be it.

    I mean, what's important in Canadian society is the liberty of choice; and therefore there have to be many kinds of relations or unions or relationships that can be offered to Canadian citizens.

  +-(1215)  

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

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    The Chair: Ms. Jennings.

[Translation]

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    Mrs. Marlene Jennings: Thank you very much. My colleague emphasized that a number of witnesses, including the Canadian Bar Association, have told us that, if the definition of marriage were amended to include same-sex couples, the arguments for prohibiting polygamous marriages would no longer be valid.

    I was not present when the Canadian Bar Association made its presentation, but the question was asked during the question and answer period. Mr. Cadman is trying here to determine whether the Barreau du Québec agrees that, if the definition of marriage were amended to permit same-sex marriage, the legal and constitutional arguments prohibiting marriage between more than two persons would no longer be valid.

[English]

    Dr. Morse-Chevrier, you talked about how, if the definition of marriage is changed to include same-sex couples--I'm operating on the assumption it would remain two persons and it would not be more than two persons--that because of sex education in the schools here in Quebec, for instance, where it has to follow the program of the educational ministry, it could actually influence a child's own sexual orientation. Did I hear you correctly?

+-

    Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier: You heard me correctly. According to a study quoted in a book by Joseph Nicolosi, even at age 12, 25% of children--25.9%, in fact--still aren't sure of what their sexual orientation is. And in general, although the sexual orientation of a child is largely determined before the age of three, there's still variability in the sexual orientation the child can assume even into adolescence. Therefore, he or she is still fragile on the question of their identity.

    Also, in fact, sexual orientation is somewhat of a loose construct. Other studies show, if you look on the NARTH website--and I can't remember the author right now. I think it's--

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    Mrs. Marlene Jennings: I have another question.

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    Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier: Most homosexuals, at some point, also experiment in heterosexual relations. About a quarter of heterosexuals also experiment in homosexual relations. So what do we mean by sexual orientation? At least in terms of practices, it can influence them.

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    The Chair: I have to go to the first question before we can go to the third one. Go ahead.

    Oh, I'm sorry, Ms. Vadeboncoeur, I think she asked a question with regard to the position of the Barreau du Québec.

[Translation]

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    Ms. Suzanne Vadeboncoeur: In fact, I didn't hear what the others had to say either; so I'm going to answer your question cold by saying that expanding the definition of marriage would definitely not have the effect of abolishing legal and other barriers to polygamy.

    In my view, these are two completely separate questions. The basic conditions of marriage and divorce between heterosexuals are within the jurisdiction of the House of Commons. A second marriage is not permitted if the first has not been dissolved. Such conditions could definitely continue to prevail.

    It would be curious to read—and I'm going to do that as soon as I get back to the office—the arguments advanced by those persons who believe that that would remove all barriers to polygamy.

  +-(1220)  

[English]

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    The Chair: Perhaps you could call me when you read them. I'd be interested in your interpretation of them too.

    Now, Ms. Jennings is going to get a chance to ask one more question because I know that if she doesn't she's going to ask Mr. McKay to ask it anyway. So Ms. Jennings is going to ask the question, then Mr. McKay gets his question.

[Translation]

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    Mrs. Marlene Jennings: Fortunately, you read the brief and the transcriptions. Could you submit your ideas or answers to the committee in writing?

[English]

    Dr. Morse-Chevrier, let's take the premise that, indeed, widening the definition of marriage to include and recognize marriage between same-sex couples, two persons, would have an impact in possibly creating some confusion or influence on a child's ultimate sexual identity. Is there anything wrong with a child ultimately developing a sexual identity that is homosexual?

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    The Chair: Madame Morse-Chevrier, very quickly.

+-

    Dr. Jean Morse-Chevrier: As you know, the APA took homosexuality out of the DSM-4; however, the reason something is included as a psychological abnormality is partly that it causes distress or disability. Even though it's no longer included in the DSM-4, a lot of psychologists and psychiatrists still consider that there's a great degree of distress and also disability--in the sense of difficulty--in entering into relations with members of their own sex or of the opposite sex in accordance with the unity of the person, that is a unity of the psychological and the biological aspects of the person.

    Therefore, to our mind it is preferable to encourage a child to develop concordance between his psychological and biological identity. Also, the fact is that in society at large married people are among the happiest people in society, according to studies. We believe it is to the advantage of the child to favour the development of the psychological and sexual identity in accordance with his or her biological one, thereby leading to the fact that he or she would be more likely to be able to marry someday.

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    The Chair: Mr. McKay, please ask your final question.

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    Mr. John McKay: Thank you, Chair, and witnesses.

    I want to direct my question to the Barreau. One of the witnesses yesterday pointed to a certain absurdity in the dissolution of marriage. Adultery is currently defined as a man having sex with a woman who is not his wife; and vice versa, a woman commits adultery when she has sex with a man who is not her husband. He pointed out an absurdity in the context of same-sex marriage, that a man could have sex with a woman and, similarly in a same-sex female relationship, a female could have sex with a man, and neither of these would be considered to be adultery.

    Given that sexual orientation seems to be a bit of a moving target at times, have you given thought to how you would have to, in effect, redefine adultery for the purposes of dissolution of marriage for that kind of obvious sexual experience outside of the relationship—and also for the near adultery, if you will, of the artificial insemination of some kind or another for people who wish to have children?

    In the current Quebec situation, this is not a problem. Adultery doesn't matter, as it's not a relevant ground for dissolution of a registered partnership, but for a marriage it does become of significance.

    What would be the position of the bar on something of that nature? Would you simply propose the abolition of the concept of adultery, or would you, in effect, have to renovate the concept of adultery?

  +-(1225)  

[Translation]

+-

    Ms. Suzanne Vadeboncoeur: With your permission, I'm going to answer in French. I admit we haven't really discussed the problem of the definition of adultery. In Quebec, in the vast majority of cases, the ground for divorce raised is separation for more than one year, precisely in order to avoid having to accuse the other of reprehensible conduct. Great emphasis is placed on family mediation. The approach is already a bit more sensitive.

    Ultimately, adultery obviously means any extramarital relationship. So from the moment the definition of marriage is expanded to include same-sex marriages, if an extramarital sexual relationship occurs involving a person of the same sex or opposite sex, that's adultery in my opinion.

    You're right to emphasize that, with the act on civil union in Quebec, the wish was somewhat to set aside that kind of concept. A homosexual couple wishing to have children could manage to do so by resorting to assisted procreation, whether medically or otherwise.

    Medically-assisted procreation involves fertility clinics and all the scientific discipline that surrounds them. However, non-medically-assisted procreation may involve a sexual relationship with a person of the opposite sex enabling, for example, a spouse in a civil union to become pregnant and to carry out her “parental project”. Moreover, this entire notion of “parental project” is contained in the act on civil union.

    Lastly, to answer your question, I will say that, in my mind, it is clear in the context of the Divorce Act that adultery would include any extramarital relationship with a person of the same sex or of the opposite sex.

[English]

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    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    I want to thank the panel.

    On a point of order, I want to give a minute to Ms. Jennings. You have one minute to state your point.

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    Mrs. Marlene Jennings: I simply want to clarify that I was told it was the Canadian Bar Association who had made the arguments about polygamy, but it was in fact the Law Commission of Canada.

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    Ms. Suzanne Vadeboncoeur: Is that the only organization that did so, and is it in the paper?

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    The Chair: We commend the intervention by the Law Commission of Canada and its work with regard to their publication, Beyond Conjugality.That is what they were speaking to. I'm not going to interpret its presentation, as we'll have others do that for us. But in any case, that's where it came from.

    I thank you, and I thank the panel very much.

    I'm going to break, and we'll be back at 1:30. The meeting is suspended.

  +-(1229)  


·  +-(1332)  

+-

    The Chair: I call back to order the 39th meeting of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

    From now until 2:30, we will have appearing before us, from Queer McGill, Matthew McLauchlin and Mat McCamus; from the Coalition des Protestants Évangéliques du Québec, Daniel Genest; and as an individual, John Relton.

    You will each have seven minutes to make a presentation, and then there will be an opportunity for the members and you to exchange views. The seven minutes applies to groups cumulatively, if both of you intend to present.

    I will start first with Queer McGill, Matthew McLauchlin and Mat McCamus, for seven minutes.

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    Mr. Mat McCamus (Queer McGill): Good afternoon.

    Esteemed members of Parliament, we sit before you today in earnest. We are young men, each of us university students and Canadian students, but from a diversity of political backgrounds, social positions, and sexual orientation. And yet we stand together on this one particular issue in representation of an equally variant and equally diverse group of queer youth, united in our desire for what we will discuss with you today, which can be summed up with one word—equality.

    That the right to marriage be available to same-sex relationships, as it is to heterosexual ones, is a simple demand in the context of the equality of the sexes and equality of sexual orientation, which are values that our country already espouses. In our opinion, to stand against this simple argument is predicated upon a central fear—a fear of change. One of our principal messages to you today is that it is backward for a leader to be afraid of responsible change. The fear is baseless at best and bigoted at worst. It is baseless because the government would simply be recognizing and legitimizing an existing reality for a significant portion of its constituency.

    Same-sex relationships, which are equivalent to heterosexual marriages in all aspects except for the gender of the two participants, are already pervasive throughout our society. For that reason, recognizing same-sex marriages is not some grand social experiment. Instead, it is a necessary and inevitable modernization of Canadian law, affirming reality by recognizing equal marriages equally.

    This freedom would not come at the expense of anybody else's freedom. It is ludicrous to suggest that my marriage to a woman would somehow affect Matt's marriage to a man, or vice versa. To cater to the demands of those who fear change is an unacceptable postponement of an inevitable, and desperately necessary, act of leadership.

·  +-(1335)  

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    Mr. Matthew McLauchlin (Queer McGill): It's important to realize that the effects of having or not having the right to marry extend much further than only those who wish to marry. Having or not having a right has a powerful impact on our respect of ourselves as individuals and as gay and lesbian people. Of course, it is not the only factor, but it is a substantial one. The impact of this hits us hard when we're at our most vulnerable—when we come out. Coming out is such a crucial time for us that the atmosphere of oppression that gay and lesbian youth suffer from can affect our whole future.

    As we've discussed, it's essential to realize that a denial of the right to same-sex marriage has its own impact; it's not a simple neutrality. Even a solution that would provide the practical features of marriage without being marriage would solve many immediate problems for those of us in such relationships, but it would still be a continuing reminder of inequality, and a signal that we have failed to have our full humanity and the full dignity of our relationships recognized.

    What can it do to somebody to have their political leaders, the voice of society, say that they don't believe we're worth the effort, that they don't believe we're entitled to the same rights as our fellow citizens have? It has a number of impacts.

    First is the stigma of difference. A difference in the gender of our partners denies us the right that heterosexuals have. This stigmatizes that difference. It makes it into an inferiority on a concrete level when it ought to be another facet in the range of human variation.

    Another impact is exclusion. The gender of our partners excludes us from participation in an important social function, or rather, it excludes our participation in it from being recognized by the state in the same way as others are.

    There's also denial of rights, the terrible knowledge that the gender of our partners closes that door in our face and restricts the paths our lives can take.

    Finally, there's a feeling that government, the voice of our society, is not there for us in a way that it is for our brothers and sisters. The gender of our partners makes our lawmakers doubt that our rights are worth defending.

    Stigmatization, exclusion, denial, abandonment, and classic feelings of isolation are the soil in which self-hatred grows. Certainly, the situation is better in Canada than elsewhere, but what is left is no less hurtful and no less unnecessary than it would otherwise be. It can make us unsure of ourselves. It can make us lack confidence in our worth as human beings—and as gay youths, we know where that falls. We already receive so many such messages when we're growing up and coming out—sometimes from our schools, often from our families, and regularly from our peers. We do not need any further messages from government confirming our exclusion at this difficult time in our lives.

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    Mr. Mat McCamus: It's not the case, of course, that everyone who suffers from the effects of homophobia in their milieu or society will take drastic action. But it is well known that gay and lesbian youth suffer disproportionately from troubles such as depression, poor adaptation, and suicide. I'll be referring to the study Mort ou fif by Quebec researcher Michel Dorais concerning gay youth. He cites studies with a range of numbers, including a Calgary study from 1977, which found that young gay men accounted for 62.5% of young men who attempted suicide, even though gay men accounted for only 12.7% of the sample. Gay youth were at a 14 times higher risk of suicide than straight youth.

    Another study associated the stigma of difference, which we mentioned earlier, with young gay people who attempt suicide. It's also associated with other problems, such as depression and substance abuse.

    Half of the gay youth in a 1977 Quebec study suffered from feelings of depression, isolation, and rejection. Dr. Dorais says that homosexuality that is poorly accepted, poorly integrated, and lacks social recognition seems to multiply risks to both physical health and mental health.

    What does this have to do with marriage? In his study, Dr. Dorais identifies three specific ways out of the problem that help alleviate self-hatred and self-destruction among gay youth. They are: “breaking the isolation by an outstretched hand and solidarity; ending shame by equality and social recognition; fighting stigmatization by respect for human diversity”.

    A positive recommendation by your committee that full equality be extended to same-sex relationships would answer each one of these points. It would provide outreach and solidarity to gay and lesbian youth in that it would send a clear and specific message that their communities' concerns are being dealt with, and that their lawmakers and fellow citizens back them. It would strike for equality and social recognition, since marriage is the direct social recognition of our relationships, and such a recommendation would acknowledge equal entitlement to it. And it would show respect for human diversity, because it would expand the legal recognition of marriage to include the unions that are already present in our society. Rather than taking a path of continued exclusion, fearfulness, and shame, it would send a strong message of acceptance, diversity, and hope from the voice of our democratic society. And it would alleviate, rather than work to worsen, the problems of the most vulnerable members of the gay and lesbian community.

·  +-(1340)  

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    The Chair: That is your seven minutes. Can you bring this to a conclusion, please.

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    Mr. Matthew McLauchlin: We want to express to you the importance that you have in this regard. Your impact won't come only when what you recommend comes to pass, but also as soon as you make your recommendations. Just to hear that you chose to deal with our concerns, just to hear that our lawmakers and fellow citizens are taking a stand for us and are recognizing our equality and the worth of our relationship will make a difference. Of course, it won't be an instant cure for the struggles of gay youth, but what it can't do mustn't be a deterrent for what it can.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    I now go to Monsieur Genest from the Coalition des Protestants Évangéliques du Québec.

[Translation]

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    M. Daniel Genest (Coalition des Protestants Évangéliques du Québec): Affiliation: Mr. Daniel Genest (Coalition des protestants évangéliques du Québec) Thank you.

    First, I want to thank the government in power and the Department of Justice and its minister for making the effort to listen to the various views expressed by the public before this committee which is travelling across Canada.

    To start with, I'm going to introduce myself.

[English]

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    The Chair: Monsieur Genest, I'm sure that the members of the committee who aren't associated as closely as I am with the government would want you to know that it is in fact a parliamentary committee that is undertaking this exercise, as against the Department of Justice.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Daniel Genest: Allow me to introduce myself. I'm a father and I have four children aged 21, 20, 17 and 16. I have been a committed religious person for a number of years. We believe in God's unconditional love. I have friends in the gay community, and I've worked in the gay village with the Association Leroc, which helps young people. We try to create links with young transients and the gay community.

    At the outset, I also want to apologize for the present and past homophobic demonstrations of a minority of Christians, while emphasizing that fanaticism exists at all levels of society.

    I also want to mention, before starting, that there is also a kind of “religiophobia” and “christianophobia”. I'm not saying that as a complaint, but I simply want to mention that fact.

    First, it is important for us to clearly define the terms. As you have already heard, the notions of conjugal union or marriage do not necessarily apply to unions between same-sex partners. It is important for us to distinguish those terms. The terms “conjugal union” and “marriage” do not apply to same-sex unions.

    Second, we believe that, as is written in the founding texts of Genesis, God created humanity and created man and woman. Neither sex, neither male nor female, has an exclusive claim to the definition of what it is to be a human being. They are two aspects of the same entity. Neither sex alone can represent humanity as a whole in its fundamental expression. That's the ideal of marriage. The two sexes will join in a relationship of human, social, sexual, cultural, religious and secular intimacy and will form an exclusive conjugal union. We call that the creational order. It could also be called the biological order or the natural order. Neither sex can say that it represents all of humanity. That's fundamentally important for us, hence the expression “the two shall become one flesh”.

    I don't think I need to prove the universality of marriage. No state or religion created marriage. Marriage preceded all human organization and religious organization. I represent evangelical Christianity—that's a fact—but marriage was around before us, and I dare believe that it will be after us. The studies by Dr. Young, the Professor of Religion at McGill University, have previously been cited and have demonstrated this fact quite conclusively.

    No other type of union can have the universal nature of marriage. The structure of marriage protects children's rights. It is fundamentally important for us to permit the maximum development of the child's identity. Same-sex parents cannot play the role of biological parents, and that prevents the child from enjoying that fundamental human right. In cases of adoption, because of that right, the child is permitted to seek his or her biological parents. It is fundamentally important for us to maintain the structure of the marriage of a man and a woman because it enables the child to know both. If marriage is affected even slightly, it will weaken the child's emotional stability.

    Let's consider the relationship of marriage and pluralism. We live in a pluralistic society. We believe that including all other forms of union in the definition of marriage would go against pluralism. In a pluralistic society, I don't think each status should necessarily contain all possible definitions. Distinction and discrimination are not synonymous in our official languages. We feel that leaving marriage intact and permitting other types of unions is a manifestation of pluralism.

·  +-(1345)  

    There's nothing discriminatory about the status of marriage. As I just mentioned, distinction and discrimination are not synonymous. You don't resolve inequalities between the sexes or races by eliminating differences, but by treating people equitably. We believe the same is true for the question of marriage, that there is nothing discriminatory in wanting to preserve a definition that has been understood at all times and in all places. In 1998, the Court of Justice of the European Communities refused to consider as discriminatory the refusal to recognize same-sex relationships in the same respect as relations between persons of the opposite sex.

    I would like to raise other questions. If marriage were no longer to be understood as a heterosexual union or as no longer being defined by heterosexuality, shouldn't we necessarily include all other forms of union in the definition of marriage? You've heard the arguments for bisexuality and polygamy.

    I will go even further. I believe we are calmly witnessing a certain crumbling of the foundations of our democracy. Where will the rights of individuals stop when they are opposed to collective rights? So we join with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada in its request that the historical definition contained in the federal statute, that of the marriage of a man and a woman, be maintained. We aren't in favour of the government touching that definition, but if that's its will, we will not oppose it. It will have the opportunity to include other clauses as is already the case in Quebec.

    Third, we believe that changing the institution of marriage will weaken our human destiny.

    Thank you.

[English]

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. Chuck Cadman): Thank you, Mr. Genest.

    Mr. Relton, for seven minutes, please.

+-

    Mr. H. John Relton (As Individual): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    I appreciate the opportunity to appear before the committee and I'd like to commend the Minister of Justice for asking for discussion on this subject, even though I think there is only one viable option: that recommended by the Law Commission, that Parliament and the provincial and territorial legislatures should move towards removing from their laws the restrictions on marriage between persons of the same sex.

    I also understand that time is limited, so I will try to keep my comments brief.

    I'd like to begin by commenting on the ideas introduced by Dr. Young, Dr. Nathanson, and especially Dr. Cere in their testimony before this committee.

    Professor Young, a professor of religious studies at McGill, asked the committee to “...consider what might indeed change as a result of defining marriage to include gay couples. It would become very hard on political grounds, for instance, to foster men's commitments through culture to women and children.” She goes on to explain that her main concern is in fact that the change of the definition will lead to difficulties for heterosexual marriages. She went on to say, “Let me begin by saying every ethical analysis begins with an analysis of risks and harm. It's perfectly legitimate in this kind of discussion to put the risks and harms on the table along with the benefits.”

    Dr. Cere, who's involved with the formation of a think-tank, I believe, called the Institute for the Study of Marriage, Law and Culture, is the director of the Newman Centre, the Roman Catholic chaplin service at McGill. While I understand that someone with a degree in religious studies might be concerned with tradition and its protection, I find it difficult to believe that serious consideration can be given to Dr. Cere's underlying concern that if marriage is open to same-sex couples, heterosexual women will recognize that they have a much better option in raising children with other women, since heterosexual men are basically scum.

    I'm not stretching Dr. Cere's arguments. I'm happy to quote him directly. He wrote, and the quotation comes from an article entitled “Wars of the Ring”, still available on the Newman Centre website, which was published in the Newman Rambler:

In pure sociological terms lesbian parenting will have a lot going for it. Sociobiologists tell us that women instinctively look for strong mates capable of providing and protecting during the critical years of child bearing and child rearing. Now that the vital role of men in the reproductive process can be shrugged aside with the advent of sperm banks, there is no essential biological reason to “mate” men.

    He goes on further to say that experts tell us that:

...women are more hard-headed and practical when it comes to mate selection. In the new marriage market, other women may prove to be better mating options on a variety of counts. Women are becoming exceptionally good providers. Indeed in the latest generation of young adults, far more women are attending university than men. Women are less prone to disease, alcoholism, and suicide. They live longer and demonstrate better child rearing capabilities. Furthermore, there is the problem of irresponsible males and the endless conflicts associated with relationships that try to bridge the male-female divide. Men are greater risks to both women and children. They are more prone to violence and abuse. For all these reasons, a good “career woman” may prove to be a much more attractive mating choice for another woman than the hazards associated with conjugal relationships with males.

Will men and women begin to cluster and gravitate into separate sexual spheres?

    And I'm still quoting from Dr. Cere:

Will the industry of assisted reproduction have to be cranked up and subsidized by government? There are good reasons to suspect that this type of social evolution will be the inevitable outcome of these new reforms in social policy.

    In his brief to this committee, Dr. Cere mentioned, in passing, one author, Anthony Giddens. To quote Dr. Cere:

According to Anthony Giddens, Britain's most renowned sociologist, popular culture is creating a new grammar of intimacy. In The Transformation of Intimacy and, more recently, in the prestigious Reith Lectures, Giddens argues that we are moving from a “marriage culture” to a culture which celebrates “pure relationship”.

·  +-(1350)  

    Professor Giddens is the director of the London School of Economics. His writings have been used by world leaders, including Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, to develop ideas in what has been known as the “third way” in politics. He has helped to lead brainstorming seminars on the subject of both Downing Street and the White House.

    Anthony Giddens studied sociology and psychology at the University of Hull, gaining postgraduate degrees from London School of Economics and the University of Cambridge. He was a professor of sociology at the University of Cambridge from 1986 to 1996 and took up his current post as director of the London School of Economics in 1997. He has published over 30 books and has more than a dozen books published about his work.

    For The Reith Lectures in 1999, which he later reworked and published as Runaway World, Giddens gave five connected lectures on globalization, risk, tradition, family, and democracy. He made the point that:

...there can be no question of merely taking a negative attitude toward risk. Risk always needs to be disciplined, but active risk-taking is a core element of a dynamic economy and an innovative society. Living in a global age means coping with the diversity of new situations of risk. We may need quite often to be bold rather than cautious in supporting scientific innovations or other forms of change.

    I've quoted quite a bit from Dr. Giddens' book, Runaway World. In both the Reith Lectures and in the book, he goes on to argue in three of the lectures--on tradition, family, and democracy--that in fact the family has already changed and that in fact the inclusion of homosexual couples is a natural part of the change.

    More importantly, he saves the most telling argument for the end of his lecture on family:

The persistence of the traditional family--or aspects of it--in many parts of the world is more worrisome than its decline. For what are the most important forces promoting democracy and economic development in poorer countries? Well, they are the equality and education of women, and what must be changed to make these possible? Most importantly, what must be changed is the traditional family.

·  +-(1355)  

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. Chuck Cadman): Thank you, Mr. Relton.

    Now we'll go to the questions and answers. Mr. Breitkreuz, seven minutes.

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you very much to the presenters who have come here this afternoon.

    I'd like to pose my first question to the Coalition des Protestants Évangéliques du Québec. Can you give me an idea of approximately how many people you would be representing? How large a group?

[Translation]

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    Mr. Daniel Genest: I can't say exactly since we don't operate in a highly organized hierarchy. I represent between 40,000 and 45,000 persons today.

[English]

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: My impression in these hearings here that we've had for two days in Montreal, and as this committee has gone across Canada, is that there are many ethnic groups in our large cities that don't seem to be represented or having any representation before this committee. And yet I'm aware that in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver they make up a large part of the population of these cities, a very significant part, and I think an important changing part of these cities.

    You've mentioned in your presentation that you work with these people in the cities and I would like to ask you whether you feel they are being fairly represented? Many of them are new Canadians. Are their views on same-sex marriage being adequately represented before the committee here?

[Translation]

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    Mr. Daniel Genest: Many members of the cultural communities are obviously part of our assemblies. I don't have the statistics on the number of persons who appeared before the committee. However, most of the some 400,000 Allophones in Montreal are obviously people who often come from societies that are still Christian, not post-Christian or post-modern. Obviously, for them, the redefinition of marriage is not even a question. I can't say anything for the community as a whole. So it's up to the committee to see whether there should be greater representation of those groups.

[English]

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Thank you.

    You also made a comment that neither sex can say they represent the human race. Males can't say they represent humanity. I'd not heard that before, before this committee, and I feel that it could be a very important element. I wondered if you could elaborate on that please.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Daniel Genest: I believe that question is utterly fundamental. Before talking about the historic right of marriage, I think it must be said that, if the historical definition of the marriage of a man and a woman is altered, we're altering the very definition of humanity. Allow me to explain.

    Like my friend here, I think that neither man nor woman can individually represent humanity. I'm a human being and I'm therefore part of humanity. However, complementarity enables us to achieve equilibrium because the human being, by definition, is divided into two entities. The human being cannot be only one. If a human being is only one entity, we're going to fall into all kinds of aberrations, as the witness to my left said a bit earlier: men have a tendency to violence and so on. The phenomenon of complementarity alone makes it possible to balance the human being.

    For me, of course, that's written in the Bible, particularly where it says that God created man and woman. He created them man and woman. A human being is neither man nor woman; a human being is both. If anyone says it's only one or only the other, I think we're weakening our definition of humanity. If we touch the definition of humanity, I think we're inevitably weakening human potential of our destiny.

¸  +-(1400)  

[English]

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. Chuck Cadman): Thank you.

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Can I put another question on the table? I think I only have seven minutes.

+-

    The Vice-Chair (Mr. Chuck Cadman): Would you respond to that question before we start another round, if you don't mind?

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    Mr. Matthew McLauchlin: I'd like to say I'm very interested in and I'm in complete agreement with the witness that humanity is neither male nor female. As an argument, though, it has the disadvantage of being a complete non sequitur.

    My fiancé and I do not intend to represent all 6 billion people on earth; we just want to get married. We just want to have a household. We just want to be the two of us. We don't want to be the 6 billion people in the world. What our household consists of is not meant to bear any relation to the composition of the world. It's a complete non sequitur, bearing no resemblance to what this is about. It is specious in its intent, because the number of homosexual marriages is not going to reduce the number of heterosexual marriages. Basically it has nothing to do with what this committee is talking about.

+-

    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Does that fairly represent what you were trying to say, Mr. Genest? How would you respond, seeing as we're going in that direction?

[Translation]

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    Mr. Daniel Genest: I don't think we've had enough time to see the consequences of all the new types of unions that exist in contemporary society. Academic study is in its earliest stages, and I'm not an expert in psychology or law. However, the documents I've read show that there are definitely signs of instability stemming from the fact that we've begun to make legal, moral, psychological and philosophical changes to the definition of human being. In our view, the more that definition crumbles, the more instability there will be.

[English]

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. Chuck Cadman): Thank you, Monsieur Genest.

    Monsieur Marceau, seven minutes.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    First, thanks to the witnesses for their testimony. You've presented opposing views, but they were presented with considerable respect in a tone worthy of mention. Thank you very much.

    My first comment is for my friend Mr. Breitkreuz, who seemed to mention the absence of various communities. I have done the entire trip and I can say that the committee has met, among others, groups of Arabs, groups of Jews and groups of Chinese who came to give their views. I think it is important to state in the record that all population groups in Canada had the opportunity to be heard.

    Mr. Genest, I need a little help from you. You mentioned that your position was, among other things, based on your interpretation of Holy Scripture. Other religious groups admitted that they feared that homosexual marriage would be imposed on them. I'm trying, and that's why I would like your help, to promote the right to equality, of which all courts have said that it includes the right to homosexual marriage. Only one court ruled that this discrimination was justifiable, but the three courts that considered the question all said it was discriminatory. How can I, first of all, ensure the right to equality, which is a fundamental value of our society, and second, protect our vision of marriage and our freedom of religion, religion which prohibits you from blessing same-sex couples?

    The balance I'm trying to strike is to ensure that your interpretation of Holy Scripture, which you would like to see reflected in the civil field, among other things in the definition of marriage, is not imposed on people such as Matthew who want to marry, and that, at the same time, their vision is not imposed on you either. What do we do to enable Matthew to marry if he wishes, while protecting your right to say that that makes you uncomfortable and that you won't do it?

¸  +-(1405)  

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    Mr. Daniel Genest: That's an excellent question. I said in the brief that, in our opinion, “distinction” is not necessarily the equivalent of “discrimination”. As a native-born Francophone Quebecker, I believe we're able to grasp that. Even in federalism, you will understand that “distinction” is not necessarily the equivalent of “discrimination”. In some cases, it is, but in others, it is not.

    However, they have rights. It can no longer be said that there are no rights. We're in a pluralistic society, a secular society that grants increasing numbers of rights. Perhaps there should have been some earlier. We talk about the nature of marriage, not rights.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Yes, but...

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    M. Daniel Genest: That's where it gets complicated?

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: That's where it gets complicated. First, I agree on the difference between “distinction” and ”discrimination”. However, the three courts have said that this was not only a case of distinction, but indeed of discrimination. That appears to be somewhat settled. The question is now whether it's justifiable. That's where the debate is.

    The nature of marriage is very subjective. The term used this morning, and I believe that's roughly what you mean, is the “essence”. For some people, the essence of marriage is reproduction, for others, it's friendship, and for still others, it's comfort. I would like to have your view on the following question. You may not agree on this, but if we start from the principle that reproduction is not the essence of marriage, since couples that are infertile or that do not want to have children can marry, which negates that argument, if the essence of marriage can be fidelity, mutual support, friendship, the desire to build a life together and so on, what, in that definition of the essence of marriage, is not met by a homosexual couple? By virtue of what would a union of two persons of the same sex not have the same essence as that of two opposite-sex spouses, apart from reproduction, which, as I said, is not necessarily universal, even among heterosexuals?

+-

    Mr. Daniel Genest: The inability and the impossibility to reproduce are not necessarily the same thing. Reproduction is one of the elements of the definition of the essence of marriage. As you mentioned, it's true that it is not the only one. However, when you talk about complementarity, and thus about dimorphism, about “di-psyche” or “di-bio”, that phenomenon does not exist in a same-sex couple. So we're talking about nature.

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    Le président: Would you like to answer?

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    Mr. Matthew McLauchlin: No, I'm going to let him finish his thought.

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    Mr. Daniel Genest: I'm finished.

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    Mr. Matthew McLauchlin: I have two answers to the question you asked, but I would first like to say that the gentleman has no reason to fear that I'll impose my marriage on his Church because I'm not an evangelical Protestant.

    First, the fact is that the churches are already authorized not to celebrate the marriages of all the persons who already have permission to marry. There are churches that prohibit the marriage of a person with a person of another religion. They are not compelled to celebrate such marriages, although those marriages are permitted by law. Such couples must find other ways to marry and that's why we have civil marriage.

    Second, as regards the definition of the nature of marriage of which the witness spoke, 100 years ago in the United States, marriage between persons of different races violated what was thought to be the nature of marriage. It was thought to be absolutely absurd. It was simply unthinkable that two persons of different races would marry, and it was thought that all the dictionaries should be rewritten in order to permit it. People raised, word for word each of the arguments that I've heard raised in opposition to same-sex marriage, and they were no more valid then than they are now.

¸  +-(1410)  

[English]

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    The Chair: Mr. Macklin.

+-

    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: Thank you, Chair.

    Thank you, witnesses, for appearing.

    I would like to address my first question to Mr. Genest. You represent or reflect a religious perspective; and yet we have other religious groups coming before us, most notably in a sense, I suppose, the United Church of Canada, requesting the right and opportunity to bless and marry same-sex couples. You come to us as a religious group equally convinced that you want to preserve for yourselves the concept of marriage as heterosexual.

    Can you give us advice as to how you see us going forward and giving the United Church of Canada, for example, the opportunity to do what it, as a religion, believes it would like to do and yet also protect you in your religious beliefs? Do you believe there is anything we should specifically be doing to help you and preserve and protect you in that process?

[Translation]

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    Mr. Daniel Genest: We live in a pluralistic society, and this is a clear sign of that. Christian religious groups are now permitted to join persons of the same sex. We can live with that. It should be said that that represents a very small minority of organized christianity. It is very small, particularly in Quebec. It's a very small reality in Quebec, particularly for Francophones. The fact that there is this possibility is the expression of democracy. They do it, that's all. We don't want to impose or change anything in regard to that.

    However, I wouldn't want us to start off on the principle of reductionism and to think that the position we're presenting here is only representative of evangelical Protestants. I was broader than that in my brief: I based my remarks on a principle of humanity.

[English]

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    The Chair: Mr. Relton wants to respond as well.

    Mr. Relton.

+-

    Mr. H. John Relton: I just want to add to what the earlier presenter mentioned. In fact, the arguments being used are exactly the same ones as were used in the United States in the 1960s when the Supreme Court struck down the laws against marriage between races.

    I understand how fundamentally held those beliefs are. Although the laws were struck down in 1996, the State of South Carolina introduced a proposition to remove the old laws from its books, which was simply a way of tidying up the statutes. Forty percent of the people who came out to vote voted to keep the law against interracial marriage. I really do understand that beliefs like this can be strongly held.

    It doesn't necessarily mean that opinion polls should lead the way. Hopefully, in fact, this is a legal issue and comes down to legal principles.

+-

    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: Mr. Genest, does your religious group in fact feel threatened in this process? Do you believe you have enough protection within society today, or do you believe you should have more protection in the event the state was to recognize a broader definition of marriage?

¸  +-(1415)  

[Translation]

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    Mr. Daniel Genest: I know that a number of my colleagues feel insecure. If I have to speak on my own behalf, I don't feel insecure at all, personally. I can identify with the minorities, and I'm capable of identifying with all homosexual groups because I've been professing Christianity for 20 years and, wherever I go, I represent a very small minority in our Quebec society. So, personally, I'm not afraid, but I know that I have colleagues who fear that this will go further later on and that we will even have to marry same-sex couples. But I believe we live in a democratic system, and I don't think we're going to be forced to do anything.

[English]

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    The Chair: Mr. McLauchlin.

+-

    Mr. Matthew McLauchlin: A small point of information is that the Christian groups who want to marry same-sex couples and have so professed their desire in this hearing are not a small minority. The United Church of Canada is the largest Protestant denomination in this country.

    I would like also to add that in addition to what I said earlier about protections, I'm sorry that your colleagues, Monsieur Genest, se sentent menacés par la réclamation de nos droits; but I would have to ask how much more protection they need. They already don't have to marry anybody they don't want to. There's no reason to suppose that this will change.

    Basically, the only thing threatened is their ability to have all the other marriages of people in society who don't profess those religions or don't agree with that religious tenet go according to their definition. In other words, the only ability or freedom they would be losing is the ability to meddle in the affairs of others.

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    The Chair: We will now hear from Mr. Cadman for three minutes.

+-

    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    Mr. Relton, you read a piece written, I believe, by Dr. Cere that elicited a few laughs in the audience. I'd just like to run by you some comments we've already heard at this committee.

    On February 20 I posed a question to a woman who asked about a simple thing like how a young boy receives and relates to his male identity in a lesbian household. It was just a general question. I received as a response that he could get his male identity from his friends or his TV set and that the biological father was not really that important.

    On April 8 I asked another question along similar lines. I believe it was whether the daughter in the family had any relationship with the father; and I was told that the child did not have a father. The father of the child had been a sperm donor. The father did not exist as far as this woman was concerned.

    We've also had a couple of references in this committee to fathers being replaced by turkey basters.

    So I'd just like to hear your comments on that.

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    Mr. H. John Relton: I think it's worthwhile underlining that I raised Dr. Cere's comments because in fact he uses them to point to the inevitable outcome of what he says is the danger of opening marriage to same-sex couples. He doesn't suggest that it's a possibility or that there are already different issues being dealt with in society, whether in heterosexual or same-sex relationships. He raises it as an inevitable outcome.

    It's the underlying fear that he has when he suggests that marriage is the only way of dealing with this male-female interaction, which he raises throughout his presentation to this committee. He didn't in fact define in his testimony before the committee what his underlying fear was.

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: I'd like to know your opinion of the comments that we've actually heard at this committee.

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    Mr. H. John Relton: I'm sorry, could you repeat a few of those comments?

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Fathers can be replaced by turkey basters. A boy can get his male identity from his friends or his TV set. The father is not that important or the child doesn't have a father because there was a sperm donor.

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    Mr. H. John Relton: I obviously like Dr. Giddens' arguments. He took the time to think them through, present them in the Reith Lectures, and then put them into book form.

    He is not against family. In fact, he argues very strongly for the strengthening of family. I didn't read all of the quotations because of time limitations.

¸  +-(1420)  

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    The Chair: I think you're going to be haunted by time limitations again.

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    Mr. H. John Relton: In fact, he's very clear that he believes the law should lead to more support for families. He simply goes on to express his belief that it should include same-sex couples.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Ms. Jennings, you have three minutes. I'm going to be very tight on the three minutes.

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    Mrs. Marlene Jennings: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    Thank you all for your presentations.

    Earlier today, we heard from one of the presenters the argument starting from the premise that marriage is an inherently procreative relationship. That was the person's belief. As a result, the belief also was that children should be best raised by their biological parents.

    There's a danger, given the new reprogenic technologies, that if we allow same-sex marriage, it will somehow create an absolute right to any kind of reprogenic technology by same-sex couples and by heterosexual couples, in the sense of using two sperm to develop a human child, a fetus, or using any kind of genetic material from whatever source in order to create a fetus.

    Even though you aren't necessarily reprogenic technology experts, I'd like to hear your reaction to that kind of argument, from all three of you, please.

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    The Chair: Mr. McCamus.

+-

    Mr. Mat McCamus: Thank you.

    Although I would never consider myself an expert in biology or biochemistry, it is my field of study.

    I would definitely respond to your argument by saying that arguments as to the possible frontiers of human reproduction have absolutely nothing to do with this question of marriage simply because, without endorsement of gay marriage, the frontiers are still going to be pressed.

    Naturally, if we were suddenly able to develop the ability to combine two sperm in a way that would create a human being, there are going to be gay couples who wish to attempt this. There are going to be doctors willing to do it for them.

    The issue of parenthood, though important, is extremely secondary to what we're talking about. There is the issue, as has been said by Mr. Relton, of rights to get the same legally recognized relationship that we are trying to argue is in no important way different from heterosexual relationships.

    There have been numerous arguments, which I think have a tremendous amount of validity, that parenthood has already been derailed from our traditional notions of it. The question of how we wish to deal with the problem is a separate argument.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    Monsieur Marceau.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Richard Marceau: Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask all the members of the panel a question. I would like to come back to the issue of complementarity, which was raised a number of times and which leaves me somewhat confused. When you talk about complementarity, apart from the issue of procreation, as I said this morning, it's a bit like a collective agreement. You're saying that, in one couple, the man does a, b, c, d and e and the woman does a, b, c, d and e, as though, in a heterosexual relationship, there were predefined things that each person had to do. It's as though there were a predefined role for the woman and another predefined role for the man.

    Sometimes people think that this is a joke, but, at home, as I said this morning, the tool box, which traditionally belongs to the man, belongs to my wife, and, at the same time, I think she's capable of burning water. So this issue of complementarity in society today is not necessarily the same. I have male friends who stay at home to raise the children while their wives have a very busy and very satisfying professional life.

    I would like the panel to answer me, in order or disorder, perhaps starting with Mr. McLauchlin. How do you respond to this issue of complementarity, which was raised a number of times, according to which the man complements the woman and the woman complements the man, and to same-sex spouses could not be complementary to each other and meet the needs that the other person in the couple might feel?

¸  +-(1425)  

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    Mr. Matthew McLauchlin: We may be of the same sex, but we are individuals. I would say that my father or my mother have more things in common than my fiance and I. We already know that psychological characteristics are determined individually. It's not because a couple is heterosexual that there is a complementarity or an opposition and a difference. That's a biological determinism.

    It's not because two persons of the same sex get married that they aren't different. My apartment is disgusting; my fiance's apartment is clean. I grew up in a stable relationship; my fiance ran away from home. Everything's different between us, and it's not because we are men that it shouldn't be that way, and it's not because my parents are heterosexual that they don't have things in common. So I said that these are unfounded determinisms. In any case, that argument is not relevant.

[English]

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    The Chair: I want to thank the panel very much for their contribution to our work. Before you leave, and before members do also, I'm going to explain what's going to happen now.

    We will set up a microphone behind the table where the panel is sitting, and at that microphone we have nine people who will give two-minute statements. As we've gone across the country, we've found more people wanting to appear than had the opportunity, so we've established this opportunity for people to make two-minute statements. And to receive those statements, I'm calling on Mr. Marceau.

    I will suspend for two minutes to allow the microphone to be set up. I ask members not to go too far in order for us to begin immediately, as we have other time restrictions.

    Thank you very much.

¸  +-(1427)  


¸  +-(1429)  

[Translation]

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    The Acting Chair (Mr. Richard Marceau): Thank you very much.

    As Mr. Scott emphasized, we are now hearing two-minute statements. As you heard, this is an issue that appeals to people's deeply-held values. Both sides have lawyers who are very eloquent and who have deeply-rooted beliefs.

    I would ask people to be careful how they express themselves and to speak with respect, as has been done most of the time today. On certain occasions, we've had to deal with certain excesses. So I would ask you simply to state your point of view properly.

    I'm going to name the first three persons who will introduce themselves and I will be mean in enforcing the two minutes that are allotted to you because, to tell you the entire truth, we have to take the plane to Iqaluit soon and we wouldn't want to have problems getting there.

    The first person to speak will be Garnet Colly, and the second, Alan Elhaj.

    Mr. Colly, you may begin.

¸  +-(1430)  

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    Mr. Garnet Colly (As Individual): Madam, gentlemen, good afternoon.

[English]

    Respected committee members, thank you for offering me the opportunity to express my views on this extremely important question your committee is now considering.

    My views, of course, are coloured by my perception of the world as a gay man, in particular a gay may who was taught by his heterosexual parents and his secular education system about the importance of equality and justice. I have been in a loving relationship for nearly 12 years, a relationship with a man who was willing to support me, after only a few months together, in my decision to take my employer, Air Canada, to the Human Rights Commission because of its refusal to recognize our relationship in the way heterosexual relationships are recognized. That battle took four long years to win, but that company and so many others since have been able to move forward. Other have subsequently taken the battle further, to the point where we--and I don't mean only my partner and me; I think I speak for many gays and lesbians in this enlightened country when I say “we”--have won some measure of justice and almost full legal equality.

    That was written before being reminded of the reality by some of the presenters in today's session.

    One of the last hurdles I see ahead of us is the sanctioning of our relationships to the legal institution of marriage. Individual gay men or lesbians have various views and feelings about the institution of marriage in their own lives and relationships. However, as long as marriage exists as a legally sanctioned institution in this country, denial of the choice of this sanction to members of a minority who, like all minorities, are nonetheless an integral part of this society, is unacceptable discrimination that imposes on a part of the population something less than justice and full equality.

    Allowing a decision on this matter as important as finally recognizing gay men and lesbians as equals under the laws of land to be influenced by the interpretation of some institutions and their members of a document they consider as divine law is to reject the post-medieval or, may I say, fundamental principle of separation of church and state. It would be a serious step backward in the modern-day struggle to build a society in which all members are considered equal, feel themselves to be equal, and can work with the rest of the society toward common aspirations and goals.

    It will be to the eternal credit of those who resist an insidious trend to drag our society backward toward further inequality, discrimination, and injustice and choose instead to move forward.

[Translation]

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    The Acting Chair (Mr. Richard Marceau): Thank you, Mr. Colly.

    Mr. Elhaj, you have two minutes.

[English]

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    Mr. Alan Elhaj (As Individual): Thank you.

    As a graduate student at McGill University, I'm considering the implications for academic debate with regard to making the redefinition of marriage legal.

    Earlier today, Margaret Somerville was presenting with--I forget the name of the psychiatrist--from MUSIC or something like that. She was asked the question whether she thought Margaret Somerville's presentation was homophobic in any way. Somerville had explicitly said she's not and, in fact, expressed her support for full inclusion of homosexuals in society, in basically every sphere of society except for marriage. The worry I have is that this is such a new debate. In the last 10 years, most of the best research has been done on the side of the advocates for same-sex marriage. The other side has not really expressed enough academic views to the contrary or had time, really, to research it.

    The sense I get is that already you can see in universities the almost McCarthyistic attitudes expressed toward those who are not homophobic. I don't consider myself homophobic at all, but I have a serious interest in marriage and, as part of the generation that has been severely affected by these changes, into researching in this field. If I'm to come up with results that show me that, gosh, maybe the data does show this should be restricted to opposite-sex unions, then I feel perhaps there's almost, with the legalization of this, a kind of foreclosure to the discussion, so academic freedom suffers.

    Thank you.

¸  +-(1435)  

[Translation]

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    The Acting Chair (Mr. Richard Marceau): Thank you.

    We will now hear from Roger Thibeault, Dara Lithwick and Martin Andrews.

    Mr. Thibeault, you have 30 seconds, or rather two minutes.

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    Mr. Roger Thibeault (As Individual): Don't make me any more nervous than I am.

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    The Acting Chair (Mr. Richard Marceau): That's your charm. When I do that, there are 30 seconds left.

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    Mr. Roger Thibeault: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen members of the committee.

    My name is Roger Thibeault. My spouse, Theo Wouters, and I form a couple from Pointe-Claire who have been and still are victims, in our municipality, of comments such as those that the young woman who was here yesterday denounced. Having been raised by a homosexual father, she said that such remarks were a sign of ignorance. My spouse and I have been living together for 30 years in mutual respect, and the Government of Quebec has given us the privilege to enter into a civil union.

    My spouse and I join with Ms. Nicole de Sève of the Centrale des syndicats du Québec, who enjoined the government to stop postponing study of the question and to decide the matter once and for all. Allowing the public the freedom to choose marriage or union means simply respecting human rights.

    Thank you.

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    The Acting Chair (Mr. Richard Marceau): Thank you, Mr. Thibeault. The time that Mr. Thibeault did not use will not be given to others.

    We will hear from Dara Lithwick, Martin Andrews and Jeffrey Rock.

    Ms. Lithwick, you have two minutes

[English]

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    Ms. Dara Lithwick (As Individual): Bonjour. Hello. My name is Dara Lithwick. I'm 25 years old. I recently finished my exams at McGill's Faculty of Law. I also recently became engaged to my partner of three years, Marjorie.

    On a very practical note before this committee, I would love the law to change and marriage to be recognized so that I could book a date and book my rabbi before all the best venues are taken.

    On the one hand, with all the legal arguments and all the academic arguments, it shows that this is a very touching and personal matter that really touches at the heart of the relationship that society has with the individual.

    In the next minute, I would like to talk a little bit about history, law, and power, and how it relates to me and booking a venue, hopefully, in the next year.

    We've heard a lot about history in these arguments. History is important because it shows us where we've come from. It also tells us a little bit about where we are. We see a trajectory, and maybe that can help us decide where we're going.

    History really shows us what marriage has been. Over the past 30 years, we've seen how marriage needs to change now to continue with where the family and the future of the relationship we have with society will be going. The law doesn't exist without us. We make, uphold, break, change, and celebrate the law. The power is ours. Marriage, however it is defined religiously, is up to us.

    That's basically all I have to say. Thank you very much. I look forward to what's going to happen.

¸  +-(1440)  

[Translation]

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    The Acting Chair (Mr. Richard Marceau): Thank you. We will hear from Martin Andrews, Jeffrey Rock and Adèle Auxier.

    Mr. Andrews.

[English]

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    Mr. Martin Andrews (As Individual): Good afternoon.

    Yesterday, Professor Hugo Cyr argued that the separation of powers strongly favoured the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex conjugal unions. He began by stating that the federal government has jurisdiction only over marriage and not over any other type of conjugal unions. However, if the Constitution makes the distinction that Professor Cyr claims it does between marriage and other kinds of conjugal unions, doesn't it mean that the Constitution recognizes marriage as being significantly different from other conjugal unions?

    The contradiction in Professor Cyr's solution is that he wants the federal government to expand the definition of marriage to give it jurisdiction over other conjugal unions, which he claims the Constitution doesn't give a jurisdiction over.

    I only wanted that to be thought about a little bit.

[Translation]

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    The Acting Chair (Mr. Richard Marceau): Thank you.

    Mr. Jeffrey Rock.

[English]

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    Mr. Jeffrey Rock (As Individual): The first thing I want to say is how proud I am, as a Canadian, that the Canadian government has decided to have this committee go across the country. The fact that, no matter what the committee's decision is, you're going from town to town, even visiting some smaller towns, and asking people their opinions and getting a feel for the situation, I think, is a very important and very integral part of this.

    I'm representing a little of a different opinion as a Christian and a homosexual. For me, family is a very sacred thing. I'm from a small town in northern Ontario and I have a mother, a father, a brother. I grew up in a very tight-knit family. Sunday afternoon was always spent together.

    I want to say that, for me, my family is more important than my sexual orientation, and I'm at a point in my life right now where I can't really say what my view on this issue is, because I'm kind of split. As a member of the United Church of Canada, where gay marriages are legal, if I want to get married, I have that opportunity in the eyes of God to be married. And if I have the financial rights in government right now...the law to protect my rights as a homosexual person....

    In the eyes of the government, I may not be able to be married, but for myself personally, being married in the eyes of God and having those rights and feeling protected is the important matter here.

    I've seen some steps forward on it, and what happens is up to this committee. I hope you make the best decision, and the best of luck. Thank you.

[Translation]

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    The Acting Chair (Mr. Richard Marceau): Thank you.

    Ms. Adèle Auxier

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    Ms. Adèle Auxier (As Individual): Good afternoon everyone. I'm speaking to you as an individual, as a Canadian citizen, as a young person and as a student of political theory. I have a few comments to make as a participant in and observer of these hearings.

[English]

    I was here this morning--you were all here this morning--and one of the most compelling panels I've actually seen to date was the panel that involved Margaret Somerville and then Ms. Igartua from McGill. It was really interesting to see the discussion and the debate between those two. I think it shows some of the issues that are at stake and some of the key issues that have come up during these hearings.

    One thing that did disturb me during that hearing was when Mr. Macklin asked Ms. Igartua if she thought Margaret Somerville was homophobic because she opposed same-sex marriage. The question was so completely side-stepped that it really concerned me. It started me thinking about some of the political theory questions and issues that are important to me in terms of discourse and in terms of allowing respectful discourse between people who even disagree with each other very profoundly.

    I'm thinking specifically about the part of our public discourse that's going to deal with sexual ethics and sexual choices we have to make. I'm not talking about this narrow question you have to decide specifically here, but I'm talking about the way your decision on this question is going to affect how we talk about these things in public.

    Religions have always, as one of their core features and one of their core roles, helped people to make sexual choices, relational choices. And we're moving towards a time when part of that discussion is shut down, because if you say certain things about moral decisions or ethical decisions or sexual decisions that people make, you are going to be smacked with a label that makes you hors combat. That troubles me very, very deeply. It troubles me deeply as a young Canadian and it troubles me deeply as a person.

    I would like to wrap up with an example of that. You all know the situation of Chris Kempling, a very well-regarded school counsellor in B.C. who participated in a public debate that had implications on sexual ethics, and he was smacked with a one-month suspension by the BCCT.

    Thanks so much.

¸  -(1445)  

[Translation]

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    The Acting Chair (Mr. Richard Marceau): Thank you.

    Thanks to all participants. For those who are interested, I will say that the committee will travel to Iqaluit tomorrow. That will be the last part of the hearings.

    Between now and mid-May, the committee will make its report public and the government will have 150 days to respond to it.

    Thank you, Montreal, thank you everyone and good afternoon.

    The meeting is adjourned.

ParlVU