Marriage and Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Unions

Posted 2003-04-01 by Margaret Denike in Presentations to Government

Submission by the National Association of to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

The National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL) is a non-profit organization that has been working to improve the legal status of women in Canada through legal education, research and law reform advocacy since 1974. We recognize that each woman’s experience of inequality is unique due to systemic discrimination based on race, class, sexual orientation, disability, age, language and other factors. In our view, a just and equal society values diversity and is inclusive in it. In keeping with this mandate, NAWL is concerned about the impact of the prohibition against same-sex marriage on lesbians, bisexual women and transgendered women, and recommends that the exclusive preserve of marriage to heterosexual couples be abolished, and that all women have the right to marry the person of their choice.

NAWL is very pleased to have the opportunity to present our views to the members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, with respect to the question of whether the federal government should recognize same-sex marriages. In addressing this question, we urge you to keep in mind your constitutional obligations as lawmakers to promote a society in which all persons enjoy equal recognition at law, to prevent the violation of human dignity and freedom, to advance the equality of historically disadvantaged groups, and to not be swayed by political and social prejudice and stereotyping (such as that born of religious dogma and right wing ideology). These basic, guiding principles comprise the purpose of the constitutional equality guarantees, as affirmed unanimously by the Supreme Court of Canada, in the recent case of Law v. Canada (1999). It is your role to ensure that Canadian law reflects the egalitarian values and human rights that were enshrined in our Constitution in 1982. With this in mind, we call on you to remove the discriminatory restrictions on marriage between persons of the same sex, and to recognize their equal human dignity and their freedom to make such fundamental personal choices about their relationships.

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