OTTAWA (BP)–Canada legalized “gay marriage,” July 20, becoming the fourth nation in the world to redefine marriage and issue licenses to homosexual couples.
A bill passed by Parliament became law when the Canadian Supreme Court justice signed the bill on behalf of the governor general, who is ailing. The governor general is the representative of Queen Elizabeth II, and the signature — known as “royal assent” — usually is a mere formality. But evangelicals had written to Queen Elizabeth, asking her to step in and prevent the bill from becoming law.
The bill passed the Senate July 19 and the House of Commons June 28.
Practically, the new law doesn’t change much; courts in eight of 10 provinces and one of three territories previously had legalized “gay marriage,” and a ninth province, Prince Edward Island, also was moving toward legalization in the wake of a lawsuit. (Ontario was first, legalizing it in 2003.) But the law forces “gay marriage” on the rest of the country — Alberta, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories — and provides homosexual activists in America with a significant moral boost in their push to redefine marriage in the United States.
“There’s a lot of Canadians that will move to the United States, and some of [them] will want to have these different states … recognize their Canadian same-sex marriage licenses,” Mat Staver, president of the conservative legal group Liberty Counsel, told Baptist Press. “That’s why it’s so critical that we move forward with a federal Marriage Protect Amendment to amend our U.S. Constitution to preserve marriage as between one man and one woman.”
The new law also allows homosexual couples in America to “marry” in Canada and sue back home for recognition of the license. Canada’s marriage laws do not require residency. Even though Massachusetts recognizes “gay marriage,” it has a law that prevents out-of-staters from “marrying” if their home state would not recognize it. The law is being challenged in state court.
“Canadian policy and the policy in other countries has an effect on what America does — unfortunately — and we can’t just shrug it off and try to insulate ourselves,” Dale Schowengerdt, an attorney with the conservative group Alliance Defense Fund, told BP. “… It’s just right across the border. It strikes too close to home.”
Canada is the first North American country as well as the first non-European country to legalize “gay marriage.” The Netherlands took the lead in 2001, followed by Belgium and most recently Spain. Canada is the largest country geographically to legalize “gay marriage,” Spain the most populous.
Canada’s governing Liberal Party — led by Prime Minister Paul Martin — led the charge for legalization. Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper has vowed to try and reverse the law if his party comes to power in the next election, which is expected to be within a year. The current “marriages” would be converted into civil unions, he said.
Homosexual couples in conservative Alberta wasted little time in taking advantage of the new law, as two homosexual men applied for a license in Edmonton. Government officials there changed the words on the license from “bride” and “groom” to “partner 1” and “partner 2.”
Most recent polls have shown a slight majority of Canadians favoring the new law, although some polls have shown an even split. Homosexual activists in Canada, though, were celebrating.
“This is a proud and exciting time to be a Canadian,” Alex Munter, national coordinator for the homosexual activist group Canadians for Equal Marriage, said in a statement. “Today, we made history. Today, we affirmed once again our worldwide reputation as a country that is open, inclusive and welcoming.”
But evangelicals and social conservatives were saddened. For several years Canadian conservatives had been fighting against the legalization of “gay marriage.” Bruce Clemenger, president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, said despite the government’s effort, marriage remains the “union of one man and one woman” and an institution “ordained by God.”
“The unique, distinct nature of heterosexual marriage is no longer recognized in our law and public policy, but we will continue to promote and teach the biblical understanding of marriage in our families and churches,” Clemenger said in a statement.
Matt Daniels, president of the conservative U.S. group Alliance for Marriage, said Canadian developments are further proof that America needs a constitutional marriage amendment. AFM was the first group to promote the amendment.
“Federal lawsuits to exploit developments in Canada mean that only AFM’s Marriage Protection Amendment will allow the American people to determine the future of marriage in America,” he said. “… This historic national debate will come down to a race between AFM’s Marriage Protection Amendment and the American courts. Today’s news from Canada makes it all the more clear that AFM’s Marriage Protection Amendment is the only hope for the deeply-held values of the vast majority of all Americans to be protected under our laws.”
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage