Last updated on: 3/22/2011 | Author:

Margaret A. Somerville, DCL, LLB Biography

Founding Director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law
Con to the question "Should Gay Marriage Be Legal?"

“It is also argued by those advocating same-sex marriage, that excluding same-sex couples from marriage is the same act of discrimination as prohibiting interracial marriage, which has rightly been recognized as a serious breach of human rights. That argument is not correct. Because an interracial marriage between a man and a woman does symbolize the procreative relationship, its prohibition is based on racial discrimination which is wrong. In contrast, not extending the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, is not based on the sexual orientation of the partners, but the absence of a feature of their relationship which is an essential feature of marriage.

In conclusion, society needs marriage to establish cultural meaning, symbolism and moral values around the inherently procreative relationship between a man and a woman, and thereby protect that relationship and the children who result from it. That is more necessary than in the past, when alternatives to sexual reproduction were not available. Redefining marriage to include same-sex couples would affect its cultural meaning and function and, in doing so, damage its ability and, thereby, society’s capacity, to protect the inherently procreative relationship and the children who result from it, whether those children’s’ future sexual orientation proves to be homosexual or heterosexual.”

“The Case Against ‘Same-Sex Marriage,'”, Apr. 29, 2003

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Founding Director, McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law, 1986-1996, 1999-present
  • Samuel Gale Professor of Law, McGill University, 1989-present
  • Full Professor, Medicine, McGill University, 1984-present
  • Associate Professor, Medicine, McGill University, 1980-1984
  • Associate Professor, Law, McGill University, 1979-1989
  • Assistant Professor, Law, McGill University, 1978-1979
  • Attorney, Mallesons, 1974-1975
  • Registered pharmacist, 1963-1969
  • Consulted for the Global Programme on AIDS of the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, and the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva
  • DCL (Doctor of Civil Law), McGill University, 1978
  • LLB (Bachelor of Laws), Sydney University, 1973
  • AUA (Australian pharmacy degree), University of Adelaide, 1963
  • Honorary Doctorate, Sacred Letters, St. Mark’s College, 2010
  • Honorary Doctorate, Humane Letters, Mount Saint Vincent University, 2009
  • Honorary Doctorate, Science, Ryerson University, 2006
  • First Recipient, UNESCO Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science, 2004
  • Honorary Doctorate, Law, University of Waterloo, 2004
  • Honorary Doctorate, Law, St. Francis Xavier University, 1996
  • Honorary Doctorate, Law, Macquarie University, 1993
  • Honorary Doctorate, Law, University of Windsor, 1992
  • Fellow, Royal Society of Canada, 1991
  • Recipient, Order of Australia, 1990
Quoted in:
Pro & Con Quotes: Should Gay Marriage Be Legal?