Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa, Ontario, and other Canadians led a panel discussion on the impact of the 2005 same-sex marriage law on parental and religious rights in Canada, and what a similar law could do to Minnesota if marriage is redefined.
Several hundred people, including Catholic clergy, attended the Monday morning event at the University of St. Thomas Law School, which was sponsored by the Minnesota Catholic Conference.
The archbishop presented a series of cases that have occurred before the Canadian Human Rights Commission since the Civil Marriage Act came into effect, in which people’s religious rights and freedoms have been trumped by “hate speech” laws.
Oftentimes the charges are ambiguous but can lead to thousands of dollars in fines or worse. Few of these cases are covered by the media and many decisions include gag orders, so you never hear of them, the archbishop told the audience.
“This is not China; this is Canada,” he said, adding that “worrisome trends” are developing in the form of enforcement of same-sex marriage and lifestyles through coercion. These include harassment of Christians who stand up for their beliefs, public embarrassment, loss of employment, reversal of tax-exempt status, and numerous trivial lawsuits that in some cases have forced businesses to close.
Getting a say
Albertos Polizogopoulos, a lawyer and advocate for parental rights in Canada, told the audience that unlike Minnesota, Canadians did not get a say in the same-sex marriage law, “it was thrust upon us by the courts.”
The law not only redefined marriage, but family, as in cases where a child has two mothers and a biological father. It has also taken the focus of marriage off the children and put it on the adults, he said, and the unintended consequences are far-reaching. There have been several hundred human rights cases brought against people who are simply voicing their opinion in letters to the editors or speaking in a public forum.
Lorence summed up the battle against redefining marriage as similar to the battle against the Arian heresy of the third century, which was growing in acceptance among Christians. St. Athanasius went to his grave not knowing whether the doctrine of the deity of Christ would prevail in church teaching.
“It’s more important to be diligent and keep fighting on this. We need to be faithful and do what’s right and leave the results to God,” he said. “Future generations of people are dependent on us.”