TORONTO, June 20, 2006 - The Catholic Civil Rights League today commented on the controversy surrounding the decision of Ryerson University to grant an honorary degree to Margaret Somerville, professor of the Faculties of Law and Medicine at McGill University. Dr. Somerville accepted the degree and addressed the graduates at yesterday's convocation ceremonies.
Some people have interpreted Margaret Somerville's opposition to same sex marriage as anti-gay and activists launched a campaign to have the honour rescinded. Several professors on stage turned their backs to her in protest. The university, while it refused to withdraw the degree, issued a statement suggesting it would not have invited her to receive it "if it had known her views on same sex marriage." (Margaret Somerville recently argued before a parliamentary committee that children need to know their biological origins and that the norm should be that children are raised by their biological parents. See opinion piece by Lorne Gunter.)
Commented Phil Horgan, President of the League: "Ryerson's half-hearted support of its own decision to give Dr. Somerville this honour is yet another example of how the forced acceptance of the gay "marriage" agenda is restricting free speech in circles including the academy. Independent or dissenting voices on this or related issues are increasingly marginalized. Is there any doubt about the likelihood of obtaining a teaching appointment at Ryerson if one espoused such views? How would a student be treated who shared Dr. Somerville's position? Academics such as Dr. Somerville, who have seniority and respected track records based on the wider body of their work, are somewhat freer to speak out. For younger academics, or students in the classroom, freedom of speech and the freedom to have a dissenting view from the politically correct vision are likely to be increasingly limited for those with traditional viewpoints. Parents and prospective students of Ryerson will now be aware of the narrow-minded approach of this school.
"We have said from the beginning of the marriage debates that changing the definition of marriage would have far-reaching repercussions, particularly on children's rights to be raised by their mothers and fathers, on freedom of religious and conscientious beliefs, on those who believe traditional marriage should be preserved, and on the future ability to espouse those views. Prepare to be further marginalized."
Catholic Civil Rights League (www.ccrl.ca) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.