Tory marriage law sends "clear message of intolerance," says AFL

EDMONTON - The Alberta government's new marriage law sends a clear message of intolerance against gays and lesbians, says the president of Alberta's largest labour organization.

Audrey Cormack, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, says the Marriage Amendment Act violates the human rights of gay and lesbian couples by denying them equal treatment under the law. She also says the law promotes intolerance against gays and lesbians by suggesting that their relationships are somehow illegitimate and "unnatural."

"Other governments in this country are moving forward in terms of recognizing the rights of gay and lesbian Canadians," says Cormack. "But, once again, the Alberta government is taking us back to a darker, less tolerant time. It's shocking to see a government using its power to promote intolerance against an identifiable group - but that's exactly what's happening with this law."

The Marriage Amendment Act was debated and passed yesterday, despite strong objections from both opposition parties. The new law in effect bans gay and lesbian marriages and goes on to say that Alberta will make use of the constitution's notwithstanding clause if the federal government ever decides to allow such unions.

Cormack says she finds the law "deeply disturbing" because it shows the Alberta government is willing to trample on the human rights of some of its citizens in order to pander to a vocal minority of ultra-conservative Albertans who feel threatened by "non-traditional" relationships.

Cormack points out that the Alberta government's new marriage law flies in the face of recent Supreme Court decisions that guarantee protection under the law in cases involving discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. She also says the Alberta law runs counter to the spirit of a new law currently being considered by the federal government that will guarantee gay and lesbian couples access to the same kind of spousal benefits already available to heterosexual couples.

"The government knows that the rules regarding marriage are under federal jurisdiction - and they know that this law will probably be struck down by the courts as unconstitutional. But they've decided to go ahead with it anyway," says Cormack. "It's a cheap political stunt designed to pander to the lowest and most backward political instincts."

For more information call:

Audrey M. Cormack, President  @  (780) 499-6530 (cell) /483-3021 (wk) 428-9367 (hm)

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