(Anglican Church of Canada) Anglican Bishops in the Province of British Columbia have sent the following letter to the province's premier, the Hon. Glen Clark:

"As bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada in British Columbia, we write to express our support for the provincial government's proposed amendments to the Family Relations Act and the Family Maintenance Enforcement Act.

"It is a matter of fundamental equality and human rights that homosexual people should have the same obligations and protection under the civil law as other citizens of British Columbia. Our support for the proposed changes in this Province is consistent with positions taken by the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada and the national House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada in recent years:

"We affirm that homosexual persons are entitled to equal protection under the law with all other Canadian citizens."

(Guidelines of the House of Bishops, Mississauga, 1979)

"We condemn... bigotry, violence and hatred directed toward any due to their sexual orientation."

(General Synod, Ottawa, 1995)

"This House of Bishops supports the proposed amendments in the House of Commons to the Canadian Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation."

(House of Bishops, Mississauga, 1996)

"Religious organisations have a particular responsibility to safeguard the freedom, dignity and responsibility of every person, and to work for an end to discrimination. While we are aware that many people cannot yet accept homosexual relationships as equal in dignity with heterosexual relationships, nevertheless we have an obligation to safeguard the rights of same-sex partners as a matter of justice. Equality must be supported in substance, not just by rhetoric.

"We do not believe the proposed legislation will weaken the family structure, which is central to the well-being of society. On the contrary, by ensuring the same benefits and the same responsibilities for homosexual families as for heterosexual families, it will strengthen all families in their diversity and encourage long-term, stable relationships to the benefit of children, spouses and society as a whole."