May 30, 2000
Catholic Church in Scotland ready to
compromise on controversial bills
A story published today by Catholic World News
reports that the Catholic Church in Scotland has offered to drop its opposition to the
repeal of Section 28 -- the law which bans the promotion of homosexuality by local
authorities -- in the return for recognition of the ideal of marriage in any alternative
John Deighan, the Church's Scottish Parliamentary officer has
written to Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) telling them an amendment to the
clause which recognizes marriage would end the Catholic campaign to keep Section 28.
"We are eager to see the end of the controversy which has seen
the Church and the Parliament at loggerheads," says the letter which was sent out on
Saturday. "I believe that an opportunity to draw a line under the issue exists in the
form of the amendment put forward by Labour back-bencher Michael McMahon."
McMahon's amendment would add two clauses, the first stressing that
most people find stability in marriage. The second would say that children from different
types of family unit should not suffer intolerance or stigmatization.
May 29, 2000
British Columbia Atty. Gen. says gays entitled to marriage licenses
A press release issued today by a gay rights group in
Canada reports that the Attorney General of British Columbia has issued a written
statement supporting the right of same-sex couples to marry.
The statement came in response to an application for a marriage
license last Friday by EGALE Board-member Cynthia Callahan and her partner Judy
B.C. Attorney General Andrew Petter has pledged to provide a legal
opinion as soon as possible on whether a marriage licence could be issued. The written
statement (set forth below) makes clear that in the opinion of the B.C. government,
same-sex couples should have the equal right to marry:
"In a modern society there is no justification for denying same
sex couples the same option to form marital bonds as are afforded to opposite sex
The Attorney General also called upon the federal government, which
is constitutionally responsible for questions of capacity to marry, to "resolve the
matter by clarifying its legislation and offering same-sex
couples the same opportunity to marry as is available to
This is the first time a Canadian province has ever expressed the
view that same-sex couples should have an equal right to marry.
Attorney General's Statement on Same
Sex Marriages Issued May 26, 2000
* Earlier today, a same sex couple made application
to the B.C. Executive Director of Vital Statistics for a marriage license.
* The Executive Director deferred his decision and asked for a legal
opinion from the Ministry of Attorney General.
* My Ministry will provide that opinion as soon as possible.
* It is unfortunate that the law in this area is uncertain.
* The federal Marriage Act is ambiguous but has traditionally been
interpreted in light of common law principles that have not allowed same sex marriages.
* Recently, however, the Supreme Court of Canada has held that
equality rights under section 15 of the Charter protect against discrimination on the
basis of sexual orientation.
* As yet, there has not been a definitive court determination on the
application of section 15 with respect to the Marriage Act.
* This area of the law requires clarity. This is a question of
dignity and fundamental human rights for a number of Canadians, and an issue of fairness
* While it is possible to leave the issue of same sex marriages to
be determined through years of litigation, it would be far better in my view for the
federal government to resolve the matter by clarifying its legislation and offering same
sex couples the same opportunity to marry as is available to heterosexual couples.
* In a modern society there is no justification for denying same sex
couples the same option to form marital bonds as are afforded to opposite sex couples.
* Rather than waiting for the courts to determine this issue, the
federal government should change the federal law to allow for equality for all couples who
are in a committed relationship.
* As a province, we have taken action to eliminate discrimination on
the basis of sexual orientation within our areas of competence. We are continuing to
remove legislative barriers that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
* Over the past 5 years we have amended more than 20 pieces of
provincial legislation to eliminate this form of discrimination, and we will continue with
our legislative initiatives in the near future.
* We have taken these steps because it is the right and the fair
thing to do.