LPC candidate wants equality for all Canadians
Martin Cauchon, the MP who devised the bill that led to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada and now a candidate to become the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada on April 14, 2013, sat down with OutWords for an exclusive interview.
Cauchon was first inspired to fight for LGBT rights when he was a law student working for a minister who hid his sexual orientation.
“I don’t understand why he has to hide the fact that he’s gay. He’s a competent minister. We should judge him on that, not his sexual orientation,” Cauchon said to his girlfriend at the time. “That is not my society. I want to make sure that one day this man will be free.”
It was with this in mind that Cauchon drafted a bill in 2003 that would see same-sex marriages recognized in Canada while he was serving as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada under Jean Chrétien’s government.
At the same time, the Court of Appeal for Ontario stated that the classic definition of marriage was against the right to equality under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“It was a question of equality and I really wanted to have same-sex marriage,” said Cauchon. “It was tough. There were a lot of people challenging it.” A poll revealed that 62 per cent of Canadians were opposed to same sex marriage at the time.
“When do we start traveling?” Cauchon asked his staff, hoping that he could convince Canadians to change their minds.
And change minds he did. Bill C-38 passed and on July 20, 2005, same-sex marriage became legal in Canada. “They call me the father of same-sex marriage,” said Cauchon after the debate between Liberal leadership candidates in Winnipeg Feb. 2.
“Today when we talk about equality, the next step is to get to what I call total social acceptance. And we are getting there,” Cauchon said.
– Meg Crane is Sports, Books & Movies editor for OutWords.