To Prime Minister Paul Martin on Same Sex Marriage, January 25, 2005

January 25, 2005

January 25, 2005

Sent by Fax - 613-941-6900

The Right Honourable Paul Martin
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON

Dear Prime Minister:

Clearly the debate around same-sex marriage is heating up. I am writing once again to offer the support of our union, the Canadian Auto Workers, and to encourage you to hold strong on protection of minority rights through the Charter and press forward with same-sex marriage legislation.

At the 2003 Canadian Auto Workers Union Constitutional Convention, 700 delegates from across the country - representing 260,000 members of our union - discussed and unanimously passed a new Pride Policy statement that includes an endorsement of legislation allowing same-sex couples the option to marry if they so choose.

As you may know, throughout the 1980s and 1990s our union bargained same-sex benefits with numerous employers. This wasn't just a tough sell with corporations, it was a tough sell with our membership. It took education, it took debate, and in the end it took leadership. Certainly, if I'd called an election on same-sex benefits back at that time, I'd have been subjecting minority rights to a referendum. This is something I simply wasn't prepared to do and I'm pleased by your recent comments that you aren't intending to go this route either.

Debate and discussion are important. But at the end of the day, Canadians are counting on politicians to do the right thing, and that means protecting the rights of all Canadians. Democracy isn't just about majority rule - a democracy in trouble is a democracy where minority rights are trampled. Same-sex marriage doesn't take anything from anyone (including religious freedom), it only strengthens our commitment to equality.

I am proud that our union used our collective power to bring about workplace changes in winning rights for gays and lesbians. And I am proud that our country as a whole is a seen as a world leader on equal rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender members of society. Same-sex marriage is an important step in the struggle for equality. It's time to take it.

You have our support.

Yours truly,
Buzz Hargrove


cc: Hon. Stephen Harper, Leader of the Opposition (613-947-0310)
Gilles Duceppe, Leader, Bloc Quebecois (613-954-2121
Jack Layton, Leader, NDP (613-995-4565)

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