Sam Oosterhoff should apologize over Bill 28 stance, says Hamilton councillor

Sam Oosterhoff's comments undermine LGBT equality, says Aidan Johnson, Hamilton's first openly gay city councillor. And the new MPP should apologize.

Oosterhoff says he opposes the bill because it uses gender-neutral terms, among other reasons

Sam Oosterhoff, left, is sworn in as MPP on Wednesday alongside Patrick Brown, leader of the Ontario PC party. (@brownbarrie on Twitter)

Hamilton's first openly gay city councillor is calling on the area's new 19-year-old MPP to apologize for comments that Bill 28 disrespects mothers and fathers by using gender-neutral terms.

I am disturbed that a Hamilton region MPP would attack the basic equality of LGBT families.- Coun. Aidan Johnson

Aidan Johnson, a lawyer and Ward 1 city councillor, said Sam Oosterhoff's comments about the All Families are Equal Act were "an attack on the equality of LGBT families."

Oosterhoff tweeted that Bill 28 — which streamlines the process for LGBT parents who have children, as well as surrogate and adoptive parents — was disrespectful to families. His opposition, he told media this week, includes that the bill lacks the gender-specific terms "mother" and "father."

"Of course he’s entitled to have that opinion," says Coun. Aidan Johnson. "But it is unacceptable for a member of provincial parliament to undermine constitutional law." (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Under the bill, same-sex parents will register births the same way heterosexual parents do, without having to go to court to adopt. It also allows the birth parent to enter into a parenting agreement with as many as three other people.

Oosterhoff told the Toronto Star the bill is "worrying" and a "horrible piece of legislation" that allows four adults to sign a contract to adopt a child, which "can lead to litigation on the child" later on.

Those comments are not only "legally confused," Johnson said, but insulting to LGBT families. And they undermine constitutional law, which protects equal rights.

"I am disturbed that a Hamilton region MPP would attack the basic equality of LGBT families," he said.

"It is unacceptable for a member of provincial parliament to undermine constitutional law."

Oosterhoff has been grilled on his social conservatism since he won Niagara West-Glanbrook in a byelection Nov. 17. He signed up hundreds of new Conservative members in the riding, campaign organizers said. Some of his support during his campaign came from his large family and church community.

"I’ve tweeted and that’s enough for now," says Johnson of his objection to Oosterhoff's comments. Johnson, third from right, helped raise the Pride flag this year. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Reporters fired questions at Oosterhoff again Wednesday, asking if he thought homosexuality was a sin. Oosterhoff didn't answer directly, instead saying "we need to treat everyone with dignity and respect."

When asked if he was homophobic, Oosterhoff said "absolutely not."

CBC Hamilton is pursuing comment from Oosterhoff and the Ontario PC party.

Oosterhoff wasn't sworn in yet when the vote happened Tuesday. The other new MPP of this month's byelections was sworn in on Monday. Oosterhoff says his happened Wednesday so his family and friends could be present, and his brother and sister-in-law had a baby on Monday.

Oosterhoff wasn't alone on his absence. Nearly half of the Conservative caucus did not attend.