Today’s letter – Lessons from Canada

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Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

As you consider your position on AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, you might like to hear from some people I consider to be real leaders, in a situation very similar to yours.

Starting in 2003, Canada’s most senior leaders steadily argued for “marriage” before adopting a Federal law in 2005. Their comments were critical for taking the people from being sharply divided on the issue to becoming overwhelming supporters for total marriage equality.

If people want to do something and it doesn’t hurt other people, doesn’t reduce other people’s rights, we should let them do it. Why not?

– Canadian Defense Minister John McCallum, August 13, 2003

My responsibility as Prime Minister, my duty to Canada and to Canadians, is to defend the Charter in its entirety. Not to pick and choose the rights that our laws shall protect and those that are to be ignored. Not to decree those who shall be equal and those who shall not.

– Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, February 1, 2005

I’m a Catholic and I’m praying. But I am the prime minister of Canada …I’m acting as a person responsible for the nation. The problem of my religion – I deal with it in other circumstances.

– Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, August 13 2003

Many Canadians will want to accept both of these principles: protect the traditional definition of marriage and protect the rights of minorities…. We cannot have it both ways. We must make a choice between traditional marriage and the protection of minority rights.

– Canadian Minister of National Revenue John McCallum, March 21, 2005

[S]ome have counseled the government to extend to Gays and Lesbians the right to civil union. This would give same-sex couples many of the rights of a wedded couple, but their relationships would not legally be considered marriage. In other words, they would be equal, but not quite as equal as the rest of Canadians. …[S]eparate but equal is not equal.

– Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, February 1, 2005

Less than equal is less than adequate. To create another institution [such as civil unions] just contributes to the fact that we would tell those members of the gay and lesbian community that they are not entirely part of our society. Why wouldn’t they be part of marriage?

– Canadian Justice Minister Martin Cauchon, August 13, 2003

If a prime minister and a national government are willing to take away the rights of one group, what is to say they will stop at that? How can we as a nation of minorities ever hope, ever believe, ever trust that [the constitution] will be there to protect us tomorrow?

– Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, February 1, 2005

We won’t be appealing the recent decision on the definition of marriage. Rather, we’ll be proposing legislation that will protect the right of churches and religious organizations to sanctify marriage as they define it. At the same time, we will ensure that our legislation includes and legally recognizes the union of same-sex couples.”

– Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, June 16, 2003

We embrace freedom and equality in theory, Mr. Speaker. We must also embrace them in fact.

– Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, February 1, 2005

I hope you take these to heart and lead the people the right way. Please start by advocating AB 43 and showing, in fact, that you believe in equality.

Sincerely,

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