OTTAWA, December 2, 2003 ( – The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has applied for leave to intervene in the Supreme Court of Canada reference from the federal government on its proposed same-sex marriage legislation.

The CCCB notice of motion argues that the proposed legislation would establish a social and moral order that would threaten freedom of conscience and religion. “If Canadian law would compel that intimate sexual relations at the core of same-sex unions be shown the same public respect and approval as sexual relations at the core of heterosexual marriages,” says the CCCB, “a risk is created that those who believe and publicly support the premise that homosexual sexual conduct is immoral, could be considered as anti-gay, homophobic, intolerant and no better than racists.”

The brief warns, “Once this social and moral orthodoxy is established, it becomes but a small step to remove charitable status and other public benefits from individuals, religious groups, or affiliated charities who publicly teach or espouse views contrary to this orthodoxy. It adds legitimacy to the charge [which is also being made] that those who teach or espouse these views are hate-mongers.”  The CCCB application also argues that the current definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman is constitutional and that there is an obvious and compelling state interest in the institution of marriage which is the creation and nurturing of the next generation of citizens.

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC), the Catholic Civil Rights League and the Islamic Society of North America have also sought to intervene in the case jointly as the ‘Interfaith Coalition’.  The Interfaith Coalition strongly argues that redefining marriage to include same-sex couples is not required by the Charter and will have a profound impact on clergy and religious institutions. The Memorandum of Argument states: “Clergy in many denominations and religious faiths are, by their religious principles, unable and unwilling to solemnize marriages between persons of the same sex. Similarly, millions of Canadians, represented by the Interfaith Coalition, by their religious principles, are unable to recognize same-sex unions as marriages.”  The full text of the CCCB application and that of the Interfaith Coalition may be found at: