Monday, February 14, 2005

Jason Kenney Did Not Say Anything Canadian Courts Have Not Said

Recently this author e-mailed Jason Kenney to compliment him on his taking a stand for traditional marriage. Amazingly, a personal reply came in less than 5 minutes. It was mentioned in the reply that these words were not originally his. Included was a press release in .PDF format. The release read:

OTTAWA – NDP House Leader Libby Davies showed her ignorance regarding the jurisprudence surrounding marriage when she attacked Conservative MP Jason Kenney for citing court rulings on the issue.

Davies was quoted by the Canadian Press (February 13, 2005) as saying, ``I wouldn't expect too much out of Jason Kenney on this (subject), but this is absolutely absurd. If there was an award for making an idiotic statement, this guy would get it.”

Davies was responding to comments made by Kenney during an interview with Punjabi media last month, where he reiterated an observation made by several courts in ruling on same-sex marriage. ``Marriage is open to everybody, as long as they're a man and a woman,'' said Kenney. ``It (the law) doesn't say you can't marry if you're a homosexual. The fact is that homosexuals have been married and do marry.''

Kenney was referring to the 1993 decision of the Ontario Divisional Court in Layland v. Ontario, which considered and rejected the claim that the opposite-sex nature of marriage discriminated against gays, stating that:

The law does not prohibit marriage by homosexuals provided it takes place between persons of the opposite sex. Some homosexuals do marry. The fact that many homosexuals do not choose to marry, because they do not want unions with persons of the opposite sex, is the result of their own preferences, not a requirement of the law. Layland v. Ontario (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations) (17 March 1993, Action No. 234/92, Ont. Div. Ct.)

This ruling was echoed by a finding of the Ontario Superior Court in the 2002 Halpern decision, where the majority found that:

The first, and perhaps obvious thing that can be said on this issue is that, there is no lawful impediment that is specific to sex, statutory or otherwise, that prevents gays and lesbians from marrying, provided they marry someone of the opposite sex. Halpern v. Canada (Attorney General), 2002 CanLII 42749 (ON S.C.D.C.)

The Layland decision was cited approvingly by then Attorney General Anne McClellan in a 1999 speech to the House of Commons, where she declared that “the government has no intention of changing the definition of marriage or of legislating same sex marriages.”

The finding of the Court in Layland was also cited by the Attorney General of Canada in its factum before the Court on Halpern.

“It is clear that Ms. Davies is unfamiliar with the jurisprudence surrounding this issue,” Kenney said. “She has every right to disagree with findings made by the courts,” Kenney said, “but she should show more respect than to call them ‘absurd’ and ‘idiotic.’”

Canadians are right to expect more moderate language from politicians debating this difficult issue.


At 2:51 p.m., Blogger RightGirl said...

Our Canadian politicians are not exactly known for their diplomacy, which used to be the main qualification for a life in politics. Yes, we should expect some restraint, but we aren't likely to get it. Our MP and cabinet members walks around, stomping Bush heads and swearing, calling their colleagues idiots - what do you think they say about us behind closed doors?


At 3:37 p.m., Blogger Flanstein said...

Kenney is a lot like many folks from the far right - they can barely contain their hatred and vitriol of all things different.

The Conservative party of Canada has NO hope of winning a future election if THIS is the best they can comeup with...

At 12:52 p.m., Blogger David Wozney said...

The existing lawful opposite-sex definition of marriage applies equally to every person in Canada no matter what his or her sexual orientation is.

Every individual is equal before and under the existing opposite-sex-definition marriage law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the existing opposite-sex-definition marriage law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

The Lawful Definition of Marriage in Canada

At 12:00 p.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Isn't this the same argument used in the discredited and overturned U.S. antimiscegenation laws? Blacks and whites are free to marry, just not to each other?

Frankly, this line of argument plays right to the fearmongering of the Liberals in the minds of Joe and Jane Canuck. "Conservatives are as intolerant and bigoted now as U.S. segregationists were then" - and similar bunk.

There are better arguments against SSM than this.

At 9:48 a.m., Blogger The Invisible Hand said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 9:50 a.m., Blogger The Invisible Hand said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 9:51 a.m., Blogger The Invisible Hand said...

I like how Flanstein's post is almost a parody of left-wing debate tactics on this issue: ignore all the actual arguments your opponent made and just yell "You're a bigot!"

Babbling Brooks: Isn't this the same argument used in the discredited and overturned U.S. antimiscegenation laws? Blacks and whites are free to marry, just not to each other?

Actually, no. Under miscegenation, a black guy could only marry black women, and a white guy could only marry white women. However, even under no-SSM rules, a gay guy and a straight guy have exactly the same list of people they're allowed to marry.

There are better arguments against SSM than this.

Kenney's statement isn't really an argument "against SSM," it's just evidence that SSM isn't a "equal rights issue" as the Liberals claim.


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