Canada: The EFC Reaffirms Marriage as One Man and Woman

General December 14, 2006

Ottawa – In light of Parliament’s decision today not to open the marriage debate, The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) affirms that it will continue to maintain that the institution of marriage is the public covenanting together of a man and a woman in a loving, enduring and exclusive relationship. The EFC holds that marriage bridges and celebrates sexual difference and is the primary relationship in which children are born and nurtured. This understanding was stated and confirmed in the Declaration of Marriage which was signed by over 50 religious leaders from various faiths across Canada – including Roman Catholic, Evangelical and Orthodox Christians and Muslims.

“In a plural and democratic society, faith communities must have language to communicate their principles and beliefs and the freedom to promote a distinctive relationship that has stood the test of time and been accepted into common use,” said Bruce J. Clemenger, president of the EFC. “In the wake of today’s vote, we call on Parliament and all Canadians to respect the diversity of views on the nature and meaning of marriage and to affirm the legitimacy of faith communities to abide by an understanding of marriage that has served the public good.”

As a social institution, marriage has historically been concerned with the common good of the couple, their children and society as a whole. By turning the focus to a matter solely of individual rights, other valid concerns are not being addressed. These issues include religious freedom, the impact on children and the benefits society gains from a stable environment in which future generations are conceived and raised.

“The process that governments in Canada have used to redefine social policy relating to marriage is flawed,” said Douglas Cryer, EFC director of public policy. “Rather than coming up with a substantive social policy relating to marriage and family, governments have been addressing the issue of marriage in a piecemeal fashion. There is empirical evidence that liberalized divorce and recognition of common law relationships have had a negative impact on children. In redefining marriage, the government has failed to either study the issue or give consideration to studies completed by other countries.”

Don Hutchinson , EFC general legal counsel, said, “In 1999 Parliament voted overwhelmingly – 216 to 55 – to keep the traditional definition of marriage. Within months the courts disrespected the opinion of Parliament and started actively engaging in the extension of the definition of marriage to include same-sex relationships. In 2003 government decided to stop the appeals process on this issue, essentially tying the hands of Parliament and the Supreme Court of Canada from being able to reinforce the 1999 decision of the House. Today’s vote could easily lead to marriage being redefined to recognize relationships of three or more people if government decides to continue the same strategy in the future.”

The EFC is deeply concerned about the social consequences of this experiment with marriage and the effects of this on marriage, spouses and children.

For more information or an interview contact:
Gail Reid
Director, Communications
905 479 5885 x227
Cell: 647 227 3464
[email protected]