Resolution 2006.02 Legal Protection for All Those Who Object to the Solemnization of Civil Marriage for Same-sex Partners

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Submitted by: Ontario Provincial Council

Whereas, On July 20, 2005, the federal government adopted the Marriage for Civil Purposes Act, changing the definition of marriage to the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others, thereby extending civil marriage to couples of the same sex, a change to which The Catholic Women's League of Canada is opposed; and

Whereas, The Act assures the right to freedom of religion for faith groups and protects their officials from being forced to solemnize marriage, or participate in other ways, when proposed marriage does not conform to their religious beliefs; and

Whereas, The solemnization of marriage is under provincial jurisdiction; therefore, be it

Resolved, That the national council of The Catholic Women's League of Canada, in 86th annual national convention assembled, urge the federal government to encourage provincial/territorial governments to provide legal protection that upholds the rights of religious communities and their officials to act in accordance with their religious beliefs in relation to marriage, and upholds the rights of conscientious objectors who choose not to provide services related to same-sex unions; and, be it further

Resolved, That the national council of The Catholic Women's League of Canada, in 86th annual national convention assembled, encourage provincial councils to urge the provincial/territorial governments to provide legal protection that upholds the rights of religious communities and their officials to act in accordance with their religious beliefs in relation to marriage, and upholds the rights of conscientious objectors who choose not to provide services related to same-sex unions.

BRIEF
Parliament has adopted the Marriage for Civil Purposes Act, which re-defines the institution of marriage as the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others, thus including couples of the same sex, a change to which The Catholic Women's League of Canada is opposed. This change in definition raises the issue of conscience and religious freedom guarantees in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms regarding the solemnization of marriage. Federally, the Act assures the right to freedom of religion for faith groups and protects their officials from being forced to solemnize marriage, or participate in other ways, when proposed marriage does not conform to their religious beliefs.(1)

However, since the solemnization of marriage is under provincial jurisdiction, it is necessary for provinces to enact legislation that guarantees full religious and conscientious protection for those who do not recognize, support or participate in any way in the solemnization of same-sex unions in Canada. Religious groups must be guaranteed the right to maintain their rules, practices, rites, teachings and traditions regarding the solemnization of marriage exclusively for heterosexual couples. Clergy, church personnel, volunteers and volunteer agency personnel, employers and employees of religious organizations and others involved in civil marriage ceremonies must be guaranteed the right to recognize, participate or otherwise be engaged in only those marriages that are consistent with their beliefs and traditions.

Persons affiliated with church-owned property, buildings, grounds, facilities and related resources require legislative protection from having to host, support or otherwise be involved with marriages other than within their established religious rites, observances and understandings, including the right to refuse access for such intents and purposes.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Government of Canada, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982.
???, Marriage for Civil Purposes Act, July 20, 2005.

FOOTNOTE
(1) Government of Canada , Marriage for Civil Purposes Act, July 20, 2005. 

Requested Members' Action:

Write letters to the prime minister, the federal minister of justice and a copy to your MP urging the federal government to encourage provincial/territorial governments to provide legal protection to uphold the rights of those who object to the solemnization of civil marriage for same-sex partners.
Write letters to the premier of your province/territory, your provincial/territorial minister of justice and a copy to your local member of the provincial/territorial government encouraging them to enact legislation that would provide legal protection for those who object to the solemnization of civil marriage for same-sex partners.
Invite your local members of the federal and provincial levels of government to a council meeting to discuss this matter.
Speak with your parish spiritual advisor to find out ways members of your parish council can assist your bishop (diocesan office) in broadening the conversations/discussions with respect to this matter.