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A Silent Revolution on Same-Sex Benefits


The federal Liberal government's Bill C-23 represents a sweeping change of law regarding same-sex relationships. It benefits only those in such relationships, and their gain is our society's loss.


C. Gwendolyn Landolt

 Author Notes

National Vice President, REAL Women of Canada

 Essay - 2/20/2000

While Canadians were dolefully following the debate about our $1 billion funds "lost" by the incompetent Department of Human Resources and Development, the Liberal government, without fanfare, brought in Bill C-23 which brings about a fundamental change, effectively amounting to a revolution in Canada. The bill provides that all benefits and recognition given to legally married couples will now be given to common-law couples, whether heterosexual and homosexual. Now, the only difference between a legally-married couple and the others, is that the latter will not be referred to as "spouses."

Previously, a few benefits had been awarded to heterosexual common-law couples on the basis that their partnerships made a contribution to society similar to that of legally married couples in that they had the potential to give birth and raise children. The awarding of these benefits was based on the social policy that heterosexual couples should be encouraged to make this unique contribution, so necessary for the continuation of society, (it didnít matter if they actually did so). Same-sex unions, however, by their very nature, cannot make this same contribution. So why are they now getting into the act and receiving benefits?

This concern for traditional marriage and its unique role in society is not based on nostalgia. In 1998, Statistics Canada released the results of its longitudinal study of 23,000 children, which disclosed that those raised in their biological two-parent family, experienced far fewer developmental problems. In its follow-up release in 1998, Statistics Canada found that 63% of common-law couples with children break up within 10 years compared to 14% of married couples with children. We are undermining traditional marriage by reducing it to the same level as other arrangements, which clearly are not as advantageous to children.

Justice Minister Anne McLellan has ignored this crucial point and insists that Bill C-23 is only "about fairness." It certainly isnít fair to other co-habiting couples that are not sexually involved. This bill only requires that couples reside together for a period of one year and engage in a sexual relationship - delicately referred to in the bill as a "conjugal relationship." What have their sexual activities got to do with anything? Committed couples living in non-sexual relationships, such as a mother and son, two siblings or even two friends, can be equally economically interdependent but donít qualify under this bill because they donít engage in sex. It seems apparent that these couples will have to lie that they're heavily into sex in order to get benefits. So who is checking and why is sex being used as a criteria for receiving benefits?

In short, we are bestowing economic and social benefits and legal protection on same-sex couples just because they enjoy their own specific sexual behaviour.

What is equally mystifying is that this bill isnít something Canadians want. The Justice Department requested the Angus Reid Polling Company to conduct a poll in June 1999. The poll found that while 67% of Canadians are in support of extension of benefits based not on spousal relationships, but on economic interdependency and need. This support was based only on the premise that the traditional definition of marriage - the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all other - remains the law in Canada. This, by the way, was also the wish of Parliament expressed in an overwhelming vote on June 8, 1999 that the government take "all necessary steps to preserve the definition of marriage."

Bill C-23 effectively eliminates, for all practical purposes, the traditional understanding and meaning of marriage. Moreover, this legislation opens the door for a final court challenge - to allow homosexual/lesbian couples to enter into a legal marriage. And why not? Theyíve achieved everything else they ever wanted - social and legal acceptance of their lifestyle, all paid for by the duped (again) Canadian taxpayer.

This legislation imposes one further blow to the taxpayer. It is being swept through Parliament under the iron fist of Prime Minister Chrťtien who has ordered that no free vote be permitted, regardless of the conscience of his MPs or the views of their constituents. Closure was invoked after a mere four hours of debate. Forget about public consultation - just a week at most. This authoritarian Liberal government is treating the voters like children in regard to this bill. In fact, this is the 60th time the Liberals have ended debate by invoking closure in this Parliament alone.

The result of this recent action is that we now have a revolution in Canada that we never wanted. The institution of traditional marriage, the union of a man and woman to the exclusion of all others for all purposes, is gone. Our society will pay the heavy costs.

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