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LGBTory’s Same-sex Marriage Policy Proposal

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LGBTory’s Policy Rationale

Published on May 30, 2016

An explanation of the LGBTory motion to remove language defining marriage as “the union of one man and one woman” from the Conservative Party of Canada’s Policy Declaration. This motion was successfully adopted at the party’s Policy Convention in Vancouver in May of 2016.

Proposed Policy Amendment to the CPC Policy Declaration (2013)

Section K: Social Policy

Part 70 – Family and Marriage

We propose removing language from the policy document related to marriage from this section, specifically:

  • We believe that Parliament, through a free vote, and not the courts should determine the definition of marriage.
  • We support legislation defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
  • We support the freedom of religious organizations to refuse to perform unions or allow the use of their facilities for events that are incompatible with their faith and beliefs.

Rationale:

  • The first clause is not necessary. Parliament did, in a 2006 free vote, decide to let stand the 2005 law legalizing same-sex marriage in Canada. The law has been in effect for eleven years and the issue has been adjudicated in the courts. There is little to be gained from new marriage legislation restricting same-sex marriage at this time.
  • Removing the second clause would have broad public support and bring the CPC in line with a large majority of Canadian public opinion. Keeping it in the Policy Declaration would be a significant obstacle to the future electability of the CPC, as well as being an undue infringement on the established legal rights of a significant number of Canadian citizens.
  • The religious freedoms of faith-based organizations would be protected by moving clause 3 to a re-written section 79.

Part 79 – Faith-based Organizations

We propose removing Part 79:

The Conservative Party supports the right of faith based organizations to refuse the use of their facilities to individuals or groups holding views which are contrary to the beliefs or standards of the faith based organization without fear of sanctions or harassment and that discrimination based on the beliefs of a faith based organization be excluded from the definition of disallowed discrimination under Human Rights.

replacing it with new language:

Religious organizations have the legal freedom to refuse to perform marriages or allow the use of their facilities for marriage-related events that are incompatible with their faith and beliefs without fear of sanctions or harassment.

Rationale:

The purpose of part 79 is to protect the religious freedoms of faith-based organizations with regard to the performing of same-sex marriages. We believe the existing language is overly broad in scope and could be used to justify discrimination based on other aspects such as gender, race or national origin if it could be demonstrated that such discrimination was consistent with the “beliefs or standards of the faith-based organization”.

We also believe that supporting exemptions to the Canadian Human Rights Code sets a dangerous precedent that could be used to justify further exemptions that are not compatible with Canada’s free and democratic society.

The new proposed language balances the religious freedoms of faith-based organizations with respect to marriage with broadly-accepted principles of civil rights. Narrowing the scope of religious exemptions to marriage ceremonies rather than the vaguely-defined “individuals or groups holding views that are contrary to the beliefs or standards of the faith-based organization” achieves that balance while sending a message to social conservatives that their religious beliefs regarding marriage will be respected.

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