Marriage: Has Canada Forgotten that Children have Human Rights?
(2 pages) NEW!
How Heterosexual Marriage Protects Children's Rights and Best Interests (6 pages)


This resources and links page is organized along three themes:

1- Children have rights

2- Children have needs

3- Testimonies



New York Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989),
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Convention (ratified by Canada in 1991) states in Article 7 that the child has "as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents".  Article 3 states that "In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration."


U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 16 declares the right to marry based on the traditional definition of marriage, and states that such a family is "the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State."


International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Article 10.1 on family and marriage states that: "The widest possible protection and assistance should be accorded to the family, which is the natural and fundamental group unit of society, particularly for its establishment and while it is responsible for the care and education of dependent children."   The expression "the natural and fundamental group unit" refers to the natural combination of a man and a woman required to create a child.


France: Parliamentary Report on the Family and the Rights of Children
Executive summary (English, 2 pages)   
List of proposals (English, 32 pages)

Key chapters on marriage and children (Certified English translation, 142 pages)
Full report (French, 453 pages)
This report was presented to the French National Assembly by a 30 member parliamentary commission (called a Mission) on January 25, 2006. Society and the legislator have the responsibility to ensure that children develop harmoniously. The right of the child must override adult aspirations. By virtue of the precautionary principle and in order to protect the best interests of children, the commission does not want to question the fundamental principles of filiation based on the « one father, one mother, one child » triad. For these reasons, the commission refuses to open up marriage, adoption and medically assisted reproduction to same sex couples.


Civil Marriage Act (C-38)

The law was adopted based on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the ruling by the Supreme Court. In the name of equality, it legalizes marriage for same sex couples. This law, like the Charter and the Supreme Court ruling, addresses adult rights, yet makes no mention of protecting children's rights or best interests. (see below)


Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Equality rights, under section 15 of the Charter, include race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex (without any mention of sexual orientation which was added by interpretation by the courts), age, and mental or physical disability. Children are only mentioned with reference to the right to lingustic education in French or English.


Supreme Court of Canada reference on Bill C-38

The Supreme Court of Canada's answers to four questions on same-sex marriage.  The court refused to answer question 4: "Is the opposite-sex requirement for marriage for civil purposes, ... consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?" first because, among other reasons, "the federal government has stated its intention to address the issue of same-sex marriage legislatively regardless of the Court's opinion on this question." The ruling does not mention children, their rights or needs.


Marriage: Why the Charter is Failing children

In Canada, the adoption of the Civil Marriage Act (C-38) in 2005 legalizing same sex marriage was entirely based on the imputed equality rights of adults in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Children are not mentioned in the Charter and hence their rights and best interests were not given any weight. We must reestablish the right of children to have both a mother and a father by defining marriage between one man and one woman, right which was negated by our Parliament. (2 pages)


The Other 'Rights Question' in Same-Sex Marriage - By Bioethicist Margaret Sommerville

" Same-sex marriage ... would also, unavoidably, be a societal declaration that children don't have any basic right to know who their biological parents are and that they don't need both a mother and a father. Same-sex marriage makes children's rights secondary to adults'. It contravenes the ethical principle that children, as the most vulnerable people, must come first." (one page)


The Rights of Children and the Redefinition of Parenthood

Presentation by David Blankenhorn, Danish Institute for Human Rights, June 2, 2005
"In Canada, in an amazingly contradictory pair of moves, it is now the right of an adopted child to know the identity of his or her biological parents; whereas in the case of donor-conceived children, revealing to the child the identity of his or her biological parents is a federal crime, punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or both. Also in Canada earlier this year, the federal government, as a part of its implementation of equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples, proposed striking the term “natural parent” from all of Canadian law, and replacing it with the term “legal parent.” ...This erasure not only represents a dramatic transfer of power from private life to the state, but is also, I believe, contrary to the best interests of children." (5 pages)  



Do Mothers and Fathers Matter?  

Summarizes the scientific evidence that man-woman marriage "is an important social good associated with an impressively broad array of positive outcomes for children and adults alike." Discusses fatal flaws in the studies finding no disadvantages to children raised by homosexuals. (5 pages)


Gender Complementarity and Child-rearing: Where Tradition and Science Agree

Reviews numerous studies on the unique and vital contributions mothers and fathers make in parenting. Notes the evidence of social and emotional difficulties and homosexual experimentation among children of homosexual parents, all of which were ignored or minimized by original researchers. Examines serious physical and mental health risks of the homosexual lifestyle and concludes, "the placement of children in settings where there is not a mother and a father begins a slippery slope, one filled with risks that neither the children, nor society can afford to take." (22 pages). 


Statement from the American College of Pediatricians Statement on Homosexual Parenting

They conclude: Given the current body of research, the American College of Pediatricians believes it is inappropriate, potentially hazardous to children, and dangerously irresponsible to change the age-old prohibition on homosexual parenting, whether by adoption, foster care, or by reproductive manipulation. This position is rooted in the best available science. (1 page + references)


Excerpts from: Divorcing Marriage: Unveiling the Dangers in Canada’s New Social Experiments - Daniel Cere and Douglas Farrow, editors

"We know also that biological parents usually protect and provide for their children more effectively than non-biological ones. That these facts are either ignored or trivialized by some advocates of gay marriage... says something about concern for children in our time."


For the Sake of the Children - by Paul Albers

"The government has made it clear that they intend to eliminate any difference between mixed and same gender couples, how then will government justify allowing society to continue to promote the traditional family structure as superior?... Inventing same sex marriage as a human and legal right will only make the situation worse. Promoting the ideal family as the best environment for children will become politically incorrect, in time it may be branded as homophobic. Meanwhile, same sex couples will have the government’s blessing and protection to experiment with the lives of children, deprive them of a basic right, and inflict lasting harm on their future." (2 pages)  



Louis DeSerres: How Heterosexual Marriage Protects Children's Rights and Best Interests, State of Massachusetts Judiciary Commission

"For the first time in over 150 years, the fight for human rights, which has led to the abolition of slavery, the emancipation of women and civil rights for African-Americans, is now in the process of turning backwards. With same sex marriage we are now taking away the fundamental rights of our most vulnerable citizens, children." Drawing from debates in Canada and France, this Canadian witness lists 14 child-centered arguments in favor of heterosexual marriage and why all children need the protection that would result from a marriage amendment to the constitution. (6 pages)


Senate testimony by an activist in favor of same-sex marriage

Ms. Evangiline Caldwell, Coordinator, Québec Coalition for the civil marriage of same sex couples: "The question may be why we still want marriage. ...marriage is the golden standard. Marriage is recognition. It is recognition of your relationship. It is recognition of your equality. It is recognition of you and your partner as being as committed as a heterosexual couple... The reason is equality, that we, our couples, our families, be treated in the same way, with the same respect and recognition, as heterosexual couples." (search for the words "golden standard")


Same-sex marriage: What about the human rights of Children? or... Emily: Same-sex Marriage as Viewed by a Child

"Proponents of same sex marriage claim that granting them the right to marry has no effects on you and me. They conveniently forget those who do not have a voice: their very own children... Is there a more natural and self evident birth right for a child than to have a mother and a father?" What happens when a child has two same-sex parents? Emily, a fictitious child, describes her experiences." (2 pages)


Dawn Stefanowicz' Testimonial - Has the welfare of children been considered in same-sex marriages?

A first hand account of same-sex parenting from the daughter of a homosexual man. She states: "Ultimately, children will be the real victims and losers if same-sex marriage is legally enacted. What hope can I offer innocent children who have no voice? What price is Canada willing to pay for sexual freedom, tolerance and diversity? Is that price children's lives?" (5 pages)


Margaret Sommerville (Samuel Gale Professor of Law, McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law) on Bill C-38, just three weeks before the vote in Parliament

"Ms. Margaret Somerville: I must admit, after reading this morning's paper, I wondered whether it was worth coming to speak to you, but I decided it was, if only to put a few things on the record that I think perhaps are not on the record so far... I see this whole same-sex marriage debate as an awful conflict of rights... I think the people who want to change the law to say that children don't need a mother and a father should show that's not harmful to children, and everything we know so far would be that it is. Everything we know about children is they want to know who their mother and father is, and not just them but that larger biological web in which they're embedded. You only just have to look at adults who want to go back and look at where their great-great-great-grandmother walked the earth generations ago...

A Member of Parliament: surely with this piece of legislation we're not throwing away anything. Aren't we extending rights?
Ms. Margaret Somerville: No, you're absolutely throwing away a child's right to a mother and a father." (Her complete testimony and the Q&A are worth reading in full.)

Other links on Marriage



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