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Same sex marriage is an equality issue

The British Colombia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) is seeking leave to intervene in support of homosexual marriage in the federal government’s reference to the Supreme Court of Canada on this issue. The BCCLA will argue in support of judicial decisions across the country that the current definition of marriage violates homosexuals’ rights to equality under the Charter of Rights.

“In a free society, civil marriage cannot be tied to procreation or to certain religious views,” stated BCCLA President John Russell today. “Civil marriage is fundamentally an institution for people in committed, long-term relationships to assume publicly enforceable rights and responsibilities for mutual well-being and for the well-being of their children if they happen to have them. It is a transparently clear denial of equal benefit of the law to exclude homosexual adults and their children from living within civil marriages.”

Russell added, “Civil marriage can only survive in a free and democratic society by becoming a non-discriminatory institution. The federal government’s legislation is trying to achieve this.”

The BCCLA believes that opponents of same sex marriage that cite religious objections fail to grasp a key concept: “No one has suggested that a religion has to change its beliefs about marriage or perform same sex marriages. We would oppose any such suggestion on the grounds of religious freedom. But, similarly, religious opposition to same sex marriage can not be allowed to defeat the equality rights of homosexual Canadians who simply want to be treated with the same dignity and respect accorded to all citizens,” Russell continued. The government’s legislative reference to the Supreme Court specifically outlines the importance of providing protection to religion and lays out the government’s intention to enshrine such protections in the legislation.

Lawyers Elliott Myers, Q.C. and Craig Jones of Bull, Houser, Tupper will seek leave to intervene before the Supreme Court on behalf of the BCCLA in the reference of the draft legislation.