Contrary to what some right-wing extremists would have you believe, the “majority” of Canadians are not opposed to recognizing same-sex relationships. According to a recent Gallup poll, 49% of Canadians support extending relationship benefits to same-sex couples, while only 44% are opposed. Significantly, support is higher among young people, with 64% of respondents aged 18 to 29 in favour of extending same-sex benefits. The poll also found that, after Quebec, Ontario is the province most supportive of same-sex relationship recognition.

 

Let’s not forget, also, that many lesbians and gays are unwilling to take a public stand on this issue or be vocal. A lifetime of prejudice and discrimination deters many lesbians and gays from publicly identif~4ng their sexual orientation even to their closest friends and relatives, let alone telephoning a constituency office to speak to a stranger, particularly if that person may be hostile to their rights. Do not imagine, however, that just because these people are not willing to be vocal, your decision in this matter will not influence the way they vote.

 

EGALE believes, and opinion polls show, that most Ontarians are committed to the traditional values of tolerance, respect for diversity, and equality.

 

The Media:

The days are gone when lesbians and gays were portrayed in the media by offensive and inaccurate stereotypes. Now, opposition to lesbian and gay rights is frequently portrayed as opposition to human rights. Lack of political will to change the law is frequently depicted as nothing other than lack of political courage to do the right thing.
Some examples of recent media headlines include:

“Political leaders fail to take high road on same-sex rights bill”
(Ottawa Citizen, May 22, 1994, p.A-3)

“Acting on principles only when they’re free”
(Globe and Mail, June 3, 1994, p.A-2)

“Lyn McLeod takes the flip-flop to new heights”
(The Law Times, May 30, 1994, p.19)

“Sorry, these benefits don’t apply to you”
(Globe and Mail, January 17, 1994, p.A-2)

“Gays can be fine parents, should get spousal benefits”
(Ottawa Citizen, May 22, 1994, p.A-3)

“A tale of one family: two women, one child”
(Ottawa Citizen, May 22, 1994, p.A-4)

The Courts:
Court decisions are consistently recognizing that lesbians and gays are protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that any laws which fail to protect lesbians, gays and their relationships are subject to constitutional challenge.
In at least four recent decisions, the restriction of relationship benefits to heterosexual spouses has been held to violate the relevant Human Rights Act: see Leshner v Ontario, unreported, Ontario Board of Inquiry, August 31, 1992, per Cumming, Dawson, Plaunt; Clinton v Ontario Blue Cross, unreported, Ontario Board of Inquiry, File No.92-00112/113, July 14, 1993, per House; Canada Post Corporation v Public Service Alliance of Canada re Guevremont, unreported, Arbitration decision 20101-R-93-004, March 8, 1994, per Kelleher; Lorenzen v Treasury Board, unreported, Public Service Staff Relations Board, File No.166-2-23963, 166-2-24000, September 24, 1993, per Galipeau.

The International Human Rights Committee recently released its first ruling on the ground of sexual orientation in the case of Croome v Australia. The Committee ruled that sexual orientation is protected under the equality guarantees in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Canada is a signatory. Yes, we will take this issue to the International Courts, if necessary!
Refusing to enact Bill 167 will not make the issue “go away”; it will simply mean that the lesbian and gay communities will have to challenge each and every’one of those discriminatory laws ill the Courts.
Is it a responsible use of Government money to spend millions of dollars defending unjust laws in protracted litigation?

The Vanier Institute of the Family

The Vanier Institute of the Family was established in 1965 under the patronage of their Excellencies Governor General Georges P. Vanier and Madame Pauline Vanier. It is a national voluntary organization dedicated to promoting the well-being of Canada’s families through research, publications, public education and advocacy. Here is the Institute’s position:

 

“Today, it is abundantly clear that… relationships of interdependency exist in a variety of forms and should be acknowledged, respected and recognized through the extension of so-called family’ benefits to same-sex couples.
That is the position we have maintained for some years. It is also consistent with our efforts to promote an open and inclusive definition of family [irrespective of] the sexual orientation of adult members.”
(Letter to ÉGALE, March 29, 1994)

 

The Canada Committee for the International Year of the Family
The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 1994 to be the International Year of the Family. The theme of International Year of the Family is: “Family: resources and responsibilities in a changing world.”
The United Nations has identified a number of principles which underlie the Year of the Family Proclamation, including the following:

 

“Families assume diverse forms and junctions from one country to another, and within each national society. These express the diversity of individual preferences and societal conditions. Consequently, the International Year of the Family encompasses and addresses the needs of all families.”

 

“…there are many different types of family structure, with different strengths and weaknesses. … Both within and among countries, any image of what constitutes the ‘ideal family’ will differ greatly. Policies affecting the family should seek to avoid promoting, implicitly or explicitly, a single ideal image of the family.”

 

In Canada, the Canada Committee for the International Year of the Family 1994 has been set up to coordinate the participation of community groups in Year of the Family. The Canada Committee has recognized the place of lesbians, gays and bisexuals within family programs by granting E’GALE (Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere) official partnership status with the IYF Committee.
Employers and Businesses:
Sixteen percent of Ontario businesses have already extended their employee benefits to same-sex couples.

 

Canadian employers recognizing lesbian and gay relationships include:
Provincial or Territorial Governments
Province of British Columbia
Province of New Brunswick
Province of Ontario
Yukon Territory
North West Territories
Municipal
City of Kanata
City of Langley
City of New Westminster
City of North Vancouver
City of Ottawa
City of Port Moody
City of Prince Rupert
City of Richmond
City of Toronto
City of Vancouver
City of Vancouver – Parks/Rec.
Corporation of Delta
District of Burnaby
District of Coquitlam
District of North Vancouver
Greater Vancouver Regional District
Metropolitan Toronto
Municipality of Delta – Police
Regional Municipality of Kitchener-Waterloo
Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton
Ville de Montréal
Labour Organizations
Canadian Union of Public Employees
Ontario Colleges and Universities Faculty Association
Public Service Alliance of Canada
Ontario Federation of Labour
Education
Acadia University
British Columbia Institute of Technology
Carleton Board of Education
Comosun College
Concordia University
Dalhousie University
East Kootenay Community College
McGill University
North Vancouver School District #44
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
Ottawa Board of Education
Ryerson Polytechnic
University of British Columbia
University of Guelph
University of Ottawa
University of Toronto
University of Waterloo
University of Windsor
Vancouver Community College
Wilfred Laurier University
York University
Health Sector
Alberta Health Care Association
(Member Hospitals or Health Organizations)
Community Health Services Saskatoon
Centretown Community Health Clinic (Ottawa)
Health Labour Relations Association (B.C.)
(Member Hospitals or Health Organizations)
Ontario Hospital Association
(Member Hospitals or Health Organizations)
Riverdale Hospital (Toronto)
Libraries
Burnaby Public Library
Hamilton Public Library
Library of Parliament
North Vancouver Public Library Board
Toronto Public Library
Vancouver Public Library
Public Utilities
Brampton Hydro-Electric Commission
Northwest Territories Power Corporation
Ontario Hydro
Toronto Hydro
Community and Social Services
Canadian Hearing Society
Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton-Wentworth
United Church of Canada
Children’s Aid Society of the District of Thunder Bay
Corporation of the City of Toronto at 519 Church Street
Elizabeth Fry Society (Ottawa)
Law Society of Upper Canada
Legal Services of British Columbia
Metropolitan Police
Metropolitan Toronto Children’s Aid Society
Saint Stephen’s House (Toronto)
United Way of the Lower Mainland
Vancouver Mental Patients Association Society
Young Men’s Christian Association (Toronto)
Young Women’s Christian Association (Toronto)
Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa
Private Sector
Globe & Mail
McLean’s Magazine
Ottawa Citizen
Toronto Sun
First Air
Cablevision Videotron Limitee
Telecable Videotron (St. Hubert & Levis)
Dow Chemicals
North American Life Assurance
Cami Automotive Inc.
Hudson’s Bay
Northern Telecom
Sears
Student Organizations
Central Committee of the Canadian Federation of Students
Langara Students Union
Students’ Union of Ryerson Polytechnical Institute
Public Interest/Development Or~anizations
A.K.A. Gallery Inc. (Saskatoon)
Canadian Council for International Co-operation
Canadian University Students Overseas
Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada
DECCA
Ontario Public Interest Research Group
OXFAM-Canada
Pollution Probe Foundation
This is not, by any means, an exhaustive list. It simply provides a few examples from various sectors to illustrate the degree of support for same-sex relationships.
Remember
Polls confirm widespread public support for same-sex relationship recognition

This issue will never go away. It affects our lives, our human rights, our opportunity to live in this society equally and with dignity. You can refuse to recognize our rights, but you can not make the issue go away. Face up to reality: Deal with it now!

Many employers already extend same-sex benefits.

Defeating Bill 167 will force the Government to spend millions of dollars trying to defend unjust laws in the Courts.

The Media is generally very supportive of lesbian and gay equality. Opposing human rights is no longer popular.

Equality: More than just a minority issue