The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops were met with skepticism from Canada’s highest-ranking justices when they presented their brief against same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court of Canada Oct. 7.
The bishops were among the groups to intervene at the Supreme Court in the federal government’s same-sex reference case. The court heard arguments for and against same-sex marriage Oct. 6 to 8, which it is expected to consider before making its nonbinding legal opinion on a draft federal bill to legalize same-sex marriage. The decision is expected in several months.
In his arguments, the lawyer for the Canadian bishops’ conference, William Sammon, said marriage as the union of a man and a woman is “ideal” for society. Justice Jack Major challenged Sammon, saying: “The ideal you speak of becomes more and more idealist, doesn’t it?”
Justice Ian Binnie challenged a brief presented by the Christian group Focus on the Family, which argued that the main purpose of marriage is procreation and the raising of children. Binnie dismissed the argument, saying: “To reduce the whole thing to procreation seems to be an oversimplification.”
The Islamic Society of North America also presented a brief, which stated that same-sex marriage violates the freedom-of-religion guarantees in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But Justice Rosalie Abella, who was appointed to the high court last week, said: “There are many religious institutions who are not in favor of divorce, but we have divorce available. How is it a diminishment of religious freedoms?”
The government of the province of Alberta, the only province to present arguments against same-sex marriage, said same-sex marriage pushes the “natural limits” of marriage and would require a constitutional amendment since the power over marriage bestowed on the federal government at the nation’s founding did not include homosexuals.